Toot and come in 

I remember being at primary school and the headmaster, who did a sort of General Studies lesson once a week, which among other things featured a general knowledge quiz, once told us about racehorse names. He said the idea was that the name of each parent horse was somehow used to create the name of the offspring. In this case the daddy horse was something along the lines of Pharoahs’s Pyramid and the mummy horse was called, ‘Invited for Tea’; their offspring was called, ‘Toot and Come in.’

I am not sure I remember exactly why the young Egyptian prince and king was so popular in the 70’s but he seemed to be everywhere. My brother even had a board game, called Treasure of the Pharoahs, so when it was announced that the exhibition of his treasures was coming to Perth, I asked my brother if he would like to go. My plan was to pay for his entry ticket as a birthday present.

Suddenly, impossibly, my 84 year-old father – who has been recovering from surgery – reared up in response to an advert and announced that he, too wanted to see the exhibition.

So this was today’s mission, to get into town, to get to the venue and to see the exhibition with my brother and my father. Tickets were available online  and you had to book a slot. We had decided to try and get the train into town and see how the old man was going on arrival. He still tires quickly after exertion and while the train is easy to catch, it requires a ten minute walk across town to get to the exhibition centre – that is if you are young and fit. My back-up plan was to get the train into town then cross over for the free bus which would take us across town.

‘The time is now 11.45 am,’ I said, ‘I am going to book in for 1pm.’

‘Why do people keep thinking I will need help?’ My father asked as we sat on the train.

‘Did you bring your inhaler?’ I said.

‘No’ he replied.

We made it without incident to the train station and into the city by 12:15pm. Our tickets were booked for 1pm. My dad was looking good and my brother bought him a tub of hot chips to sustain him. I could see the free bus at the stop, but we were not going to be able to get across in time until the next one and they would not let us take food. The Old Man seemed OK so we took the decision to march across the city – four blocks – knowing that once we committed to this path, there was no going back.

It was the wrong decision.

Around halfway through, my dad started getting tired and we took a number of rests a long the way. I started to go ahead and check that escalators were working or that doors were opened – just as well as when we finally got to the venue, there was construction work going on and we could not cut through the busport as planned. The old man was tuckered out. It took us 45 minutes to cross four blocks and I have never wished more for a mobility scooter. The main problem was that once inside the exhibition, there was more walking as well.

We should have thought it out better, but we didn’t and to be fair, there were plenty of places to sit down once inside the exhibit, but at some stage the overall exhaustion caught up with him and he did not want to keep sitting down, he just wanted to go home.

We had plenty of time to see what we wanted to see and to laugh at the audio commentator who insisted on calling it ‘goauld’ not gold for some reason,  (and there was a lot of it). We watched the story of Carter and Canarvon, but once the Old Man had decided he wanted to go, that was it.

I was not going to make the same mistake twice. I phoned a taxi and got a pick up from the venue back home. Within twenty minutes, my dad was back on his couch with a cup of tea and a biscuit and we were enacting comic recreations of the audio guide for my mother’s benefit.

It is a shame that we did not get to spend a lot of time in the last third of the exhibit. However, one of the things that was made clear, was the heat and exhaustion felt by people working at the dig.

Well today, if nothing else, may dad was able bring that to life for us. His effort getting himself around was nothing short of heroic and while we sat on St Georges Terrace for one of many breathers, he looked up at the buildings of Perth’s CBD and said without drama, ‘I used to manage most of these.’

Time well spent, I think.

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