Back in the boarding school days but in the happier days rather than the early days, Archie would be in the school’s musicals and have one of the lead roles. On one of the opening nights, Carl and I wanted to be there. So we organised with Arabella for her to babysit her little brother which was not a new experience, she had been babysitting him since he was born and he was now four and she was 15.
On the day of the opening night, Arabella came home from school and I’d already organised everything so the house was ship-shape and dinner was all prepared and Alfie had been bathed and was dressed in his pyjamas and I’d even fed the dogs. All Arabella had to do was put Alfie in bed at 6pm and read him a story.
Before we left the house for the one-hour drive out to the school, I told Arabella if she had any issues at all she was most welcome to send us a text and I would excuse myself from the theatre and phone her straight away.
Well…I didn’t receive any texts or calls so assumed all was going swimmingly.
But back at the house, Arabella had put Alfie to bed and had read him some stories and he’d fallen asleep rather well and then Arabella thought she would go downstairs to the office and start working on the computer. It was at the computer desk that she swears she felt an intruder tap her on her shoulder so she leaped up from where she was sitting and raced up the stairs to higher ground and to where my two dogs were sleeping peacefully in their baskets.
She phoned a friend and told her what had happened and that she could now hear noises coming from the downstairs so what should she do. And she and her friend work-shopped the situation for over an hour. Her friend had not come up with any sensible solution so Arabella said she was going to call the police.
We do not know why she didn’t phone us. We do not know why she didn’t phone one of our friendly neighbours. We do not know why she is prone to hysterics.
But Arabella phoned Triple 0, Australia’s emergency number and the woman said, ‘What is your emergency?’
‘I’m home alone babysitting my baby brother and someone’s broken in downstairs and I can hear him moving around’. The woman kept Arabella on the phone asking her lots of questions but meanwhile had dispatched no less than three unmarked police cars to our address. As the plain clothes detectives came up the drive, Arabella, while still on the phone to the police, saw four men coming towards her and believed them to be the intruders. She started screaming uncontrollably and was telling the woman on the end of the phone that she could see the intruders and they were coming to get her and the woman was trying to tell her that it was the police arriving to rescue her from the intruder downstairs.
But with so much screaming it took a while for Arabella to hear this and meanwhile the plain clothes detectives, realising they had been mistaken for crooks, help their ID badges up to the window. It finally dawned on out-of-control-Arabella that these were her rescuers, not her attackers and so she stopped her hysterics, long enough to allow them entry.
They did a recee of the house and said all the downstairs windows and doors were locked and that there was no sign of forced entry. Arabella said, ‘What about the man that tapped me on the shoulder?’
‘Do you think you could have imagined it?’ they asked and they also asked, ‘Do your parents normally leave you home alone?’
Meanwhile Carl and I were driving home and celebrating Archie’s fantastic on-stage effort. We still had the look of proud parents on our faces as we tried to pull into our driveway but couldn’t for all the parked unmarked police cars. ‘What is going on?’ I asked.
Walking inside the house we saw Arabella sitting on the couch, full of smiles, entertaining four police officers. We were given a re-cap of the story and did have to apologise to them for the incredible waste of time but they assured us, ‘It happens all the time’, and ‘We’re very happy to help’, and ‘We hope you had a good night out’.
When they left I asked Arabella, ‘How did we end up with three unmarked police cars and four policemen on the premises?’
‘Mum’, she said, ‘I swear someone tapped me on the shoulder. I had to call the police. Weren’t they nice to send so many of them around. And they were really nice too. They said they’d stay with me until you came home. Have you ever called Triple 0? They come really quickly. I think I might join the police force. Which one did you think was the best looking? How was the play? Did you get me a ticket? When can I go and see it?’
I thought she might have had a few regrets. Be feeling some embarrassment even. But no, she’d had more entertainment than we had – and we’d had to pay for ours.
Here’s a meal Arabella loves. It’s vegetarian, it has eggs, it’s low in fat, it’s within a uni student’s budget but it does have carbs. Uni students cannot afford to be too choosy.
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: This is a very inexpensive, vegetarian family meal.
- 3 tbspns peanut oil
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 cup bean sprouts, washed
- 1 tsp chilli sambal (sambal oelek), to taste
- 1 tbsp tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (for gluten free use GF soy sauce)
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 3 cups cook jasmine rice, chilled
- 2 tbsp deep-fried shallots (available in jars at the supermarket)
- 8 sprigs coriander
Heat wok or frying pan until hot. Add on tbspn of the oil, and swirl the pan around so that a thin flm of oil covers the sides. Add beaten eggs and swirl again so that a thin film of egg covers most of the surface. Cook quickly until egg sets, then loosen it with a knife and tip it out onto a large plate. Roll omelette into a cylinder and cut into thin slices.
Heat remaining oil in wok or frying pan, and fry onion and carrot until soft, tossing well. Add bean shoots, chilli sambal, tomato sauce, soy sauce and half the shredded lettuce and toss until well mixed, and the vegetables are tender.
Scatter rice on top of mixture with your hands, breaking up the clumps. Toss well until rice is hot, and well coloured by the sauces. Adjust flavour by adding more of the sauces if desired. Add omelette strips, remaining lettuce and fried shallots, toss through and divide among serving bowls or plates. Scatter coriander on top and serve.
This recipe is from Jill Dupleix, Old Food.