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PUZZLE ZONE

ACROSS 1. Heart-warming 5. Weaving frame 7. Very 8. Given excess salary 9. Dominions 12. Tribal leader 15. Sloped letters 19. Tree-dwarfing art

21. Absconders 22. Cajole 23. Cul-de-sac, ... end 24. Impaired hearing of

DOWN 1. Oven clocks 2. Bow & scrape 3. Holy pictures 4. Lubricant 5. Pruned 6. Crazy guys 10. Tenor’s solo 11. Long skirt

12. Must, ... to 13. The A of AD 14. Green growth on stone 15. Inborn 16. Gecko 17. Faint-hearted person 18. Made unlucky 19. Brazilian dance, ... nova 20. Nook

Puzzles supplied by Lovatts Publications Pty Ltd www.lovattspuzzles.com See page 48 for solutions.

THE MEANING OF EXISTENCE... AND OTHER SHORT STORIES

The Surprise Shoe Size Quandary By Stuart McCullough HOW surprising. As I held my heel aloft and the shop attendant wrestled with my foot in a valiant attempt to get it inside the shoe, she lifted her head to break the news. I would need to go up a half size. Frankly, I thought my growing days were far behind me; so the news that I’d gotten too big, if not for my boots then certainly my sneakers, seemed just the wrong side of astounding. ‘Are you sure?’ I asked, not quite ready to believe it, but I could instantly tell that the question had been interpreted not as a search for the truth but a challenge to her professional ability to judge shoe size. I quickly paid for the larger than expected sneakers and left. Truth is, this is not the first time it’s happened. In actual fact, I’d gone up another half size a few months earlier. That’s a whole size in less than a year. Before I go any further, I know what you’re thinking – unless, of course, you’re thinking, ‘Is it possible to build a rocket for a fully manned mission to Mars using only cardboard boxes and a length of string?’ But assuming that you’re not drifting off and contemplating DIY space travel, I can tell you’re harbouring some doubts about my incredible tale of my wholly unexpected middle age-growth explosion. Allow me to clarify. These sneakers weren’t just something to throw on my feet in order to leave the house and pick up milk and bread. We’re talking about my running shoes. And when it comes to such things, I make life-long decisions about brands and styles. In fact, the

shoe store has all my details on file, meaning I can (at least technically speaking) walk in and grunt my name and they’ll know exactly what I’m after. That’s right: this fundamental shift in shoe size owes nothing to the vagaries of inconsistent sizing between manufacturers. That’s because I’ve

been buying the exact same shoe on each occasion. There’s only one conclusion to draw in the face of such irrefutable proof – clearly, I’m not finished growing. It’s been decades since I’ve grown out of anything that didn’t involve a waistline. Gone are the days when I’d

glance down at the hem of my pants and panic when I noticed the large gap that had emerged between the end of my trousers and the start of my shoe, seemingly overnight. Teenage growth spurts often left my ankles unfairly exposed to the elements. It seemed to happen every other week. Such was the rate of growth that, for a time, it affected my sense of balance and it was not uncommon for me to fall over without warning as if my legs were stilts. Outgrowing your clothes meant they were the handed down to younger, smaller siblings. I suspect it wasn’t too bad for my brother Cam in that there’s just less than a year between us. It’s too little time for anything to become unfashionable. But it’s a full five years between me and my youngest brother, Lachlan. All I can say is that a pair of flared jeans that were the height of fashion in 1978 were destined to be deeply unfashionable by 1983. I guess the chief advantage in being the eldest is that I mostly avoided hand-medowns with the exception of things my father had kept. Unbelievably, my father had retained various items from his youth. They fell into two distinct categories – those things that were to be worn and those that were to be admired; kind of like museum pieces or holy relics. Unfortunately for me, my father’s football boots from the early 1950s were to be worn. They looked very different to every else’s boots and weighed about four times as much. Looking back, I think those boots marked the end of my career as a footballer.

The second category was far more interesting and contained items such as my father’s legendary spider tie – a silk monstrosity that had a spider and spider’s web sewn into it. Now there’s no one left to give me hand-medowns. That’s because I was about fifteen when my shoe size surpassed my father’s. It meant (if nothing else) I’d never have to wear a pair of antique football boots again. I can’t be sure, but when I woke up this morning I swear I felt taller. Not by much, but enough to be concerned. I couldn’t be sure, though, and the only way to determine whether I’m still growing is to undergo some kind of rigorous scientific testing. By ‘rigorous scientific testing’ I mean driving down to Tyabb to visit my father and line myself up against the doorframe where my brothers and sisters and I were routinely measured as we were growing up. I’ll admit that I’m becoming concerned. If my feet have started growing again, who knows where it’ll end? At this rate, I’ll be trying to get around with what looks to be a couple of water skis at the end of my legs. I’ll be knocking my head on the top of doorframes before I know it. Frankly, I fear for my ankles. They suffered enough during my teenage years when they were exposed to the harsh winter winds. They’ve softened with age, much like the rest of me. I just don’t think they could stand to go through it all again. And that, I feel, is the long and the (not so) short of it. stuart@stuartmccullough.com

Mornington News 29 August 2017

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29 August 2017  

Mornington News 29 August 2017

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