The Voyage – part three. The Lifebouy Bruce McCorkill
Brian and Carol’s marital boat is in danger of foundering on the rocks of boredom.
Brian is hanging around home and annoying Carol, who seems more interested in her new friend Rashid.
Their financial problems are worsening.
But Carol may have a life buoy in her hands.
Carol spent a lot of time pondering how she could help Rashid and Samira. At a training course she discovered the Refugee Residential Housing Scheme and asked her manager about participating.
Well Carol, it’s basically a scheme to help refugees live in the community while still being officially in detention. The government pays rent to the refugees to live in the community, in a suitable house, with an approved sponsor. It’s for twelve months while their claims are processed.
“Would Brian and I be suitable sponsors?”
“You would be perfect, beaut big house; you are decent people and a perfect family role model. Rashid and Samira would still have to attend the Migrant Resource Centre, but would live with you and pay rent. So far their refugee claim seems genuine; they should be able to formally move into their own home in a few months. I might add, the rent payment is quite generous, you may find it helpful.”
To Carol, she had been thrown a lifebuoy. It would get her friends out of the detention centre and would help her and Brian financially. She could get to know them better in a personal family atmosphere, and it would take away the burden of being alone with Brian and his complaining. It might also broaden Brian’s narrow way of thinking about the world, particularly the Muslim part. She liked the idea, thought Rashid and Samira would like it, the problem being convincing Brian to also like it.
Rashid and Samira, after some initial concerns, were in favour of the scheme.
“Carol, I am not sure about my daughter living in a house with your husband. She has been treated badly by men back home and on the trip here. Can I trust this man to treat her kindly and well? Also, some of the things you tell us about this Brian seem as if he doesn’t understand our way of life and beliefs. He may be quite hostile to us. Will he see me as an enemy?”
He probably will thought Carol, but answered brightly, with her fingers mentally crossed.
“Don’t worry Rashid, Brian has a funny way of expressing himself and thinks in an old fashioned way. But he really is a good man. I think you and he may get along well when you get to know each other. I’ve seen the way you repair equipment at the Centre, you’re really good with your hands. Brian is also good at fixing things, so at least you both have something in common.”
“Carol, I also have a few concerns about Brian. From what you say, he seems to have hostile views on refugees. I get the impression he does not show much respect for us. Will he cope with living with a modern liberated Muslim woman like me? Does he know that I have an education, that I am a feminist? Will he expect me to do the housework like a servant?”
Again Carol thought, yes he certainly will, and yes that was why Chloe was so keen to move out, but again put on her positive voice, this time with her fingers tightly mentally crossed.
“It will be all right Samira. He doesn’t really understand the true role of women, but together we can educate him. He can sometimes learn to understand things fairly well. He will come to think of you as a type of daughter.”
All right, so far so good. I think the pumps are working. Mind you, there is still water in the boat. Carol seemed to glide over Rashid and Samira’s issues a bit lightly. I can’t really see Brian instantly accepting Rashid as his sailing mate. Hopefully they may find mutual ground in the big shed with the tools. And I can hardly wait to see the feathers flying when Samira starts talking about women’s rights and tries to teach Brian the meaning of the word misogyny. l just hope they don’t antagonise each other too much.
But I’m now wondering if Carol just wants to get Rashid into the house so she can continue their cosy talks about philosophy and Eastern mysticism. She seems a bit too friendly with Rashid. What’s Brian going to think when they disappear to the upstairs study to sip Chai and further the cause of closer international relations? Maybe I’m being unjust. Hopefully Carol’s motives are on the level. But the final obstacle now is for Carol to convince Brian to accept this disruption to his suburban sandpit.
Predictably, Brian exploded like a hand grenade when Carol brought up the idea.
“What!!! Muslims living in my house, what will the guys at the club think? Can I still have pork chops and beer? Are they going to spend all the time praying? Is she gunna wear that thing on her head in the house? Will I be able to understand them? What will we all talk about? Do they follow the footy? Tell you one thing for sure – he’s not going near the Ford and she’s not going near my veggie garden.”
This ranting went on and on, until Carol’s patience ran out and she explained the facts of life to her husband, in that certain voice, which she used on special occasions like this.
“Listen carefully you thick skulled moron. Don’t you understand we are going broke, that is spelt “b-r-o-k-e”, do you want to sell your great big car, then the boat and finally our house? We need the money. And just to let you know, I’m getting sick and tired of you hanging around the house complaining. I need other people to talk to, interesting people who I can have intelligent discussions with. Not sitting around watching day time TV, which is spelt “b-o-r-i-n-g.”
I should explain something here. That certain voice of Carol’s, roughly translated into “if you have any idea of what’s in your best interests, you will listen to me or suffer big bad ugly consequences. Beginning right now when you can start sleeping on the couch. See if that changes your mind”
Like a good soldier, Brian assessed the situation and realised he was beaten. In his army terms, he was outgunned and outclassed by friendly fire. He still loved Carol and understood that while on the surface, he was the big man of the family, in practical terms she was the small smart one. He retreated to his shed with a beer and a spanner, and worked out how to break the news to the guys at the club.
Myself, I’m going down below decks for a well earned kip. These people are getting to be hard work. I need a bit of time to work out how to navigate them through the currents when they all get together in the big house for a welcome dinner. I reckon Carol has underestimated her husband’s resistance to these interlopers. I just hope it goes well and Brian behaves himself.