The Polar Wind and the Falcon. The Brothers Grimm Challenge; part IV



As every experienced storyteller knows, after introducing the characters and ‘setting the scene,’ it’s time to move towards the punch line. The best way to do this? Build tension through anticipation. However, this is always the tricky bit and this was a multi-layered story. Looking around the room, I realised it was time to do just that.

‘Fast forward to Saturday evening,’ I said, cutting to the chase. ‘I was sitting in my lounge room, staring at the phone on the table in front of me. I was willing it to ring with good news, and I certainly could do with some! The disaster that had occurred that afternoon, was too awful to contemplate. Just when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, my front door bell rang. I jumped up, bursting with hope, and hurried to the door. Expecting good news, I opened the door and was met by … Archie!

“You?” I said, not trusting my eyes. “What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be back until Tuesday!” The expression on Archie’s face told me something was terribly wrong. “What happened?”

“Pour me a stiff drink, and I’ll tell you,” was all Archie said. He followed me inside without saying another word, and before sitting down, threw something on the coffee table.  “Here, have a look at this.”

“What is it?’ I asked.

“Today’s paper; from Hobart.”

I picked up the paper and looked at the headline and the picture on the front page. “Jesus, Archie, what happened?”

“I followed your advice.”

“What do you mean?”

“Remember you told me the first thing I should do in Hobart was to hire a car and drive up to Mount Wellington to enjoy the spectacular view.”


“It was a beautiful sunny day, and that’s exactly what Hillary and I did. There was a car rental place just behind our hotel and I rented a Ford Falcon.”


“All went well until we reached the top. We didn’t meet a single car going up. That should have warned me, I suppose, but I had no idea …”

‘What are you talking about?”

“Something that started in Antarctica.”

“You’ve lost me.”

“Then let me enlighten you,” said Archie. “It left the South Pole heading north. Gathering speed as it raced across the ice it reached the Southern Ocean and whipped up gigantic seas on its way towards Macquarie Island. There it frightened the penguins as it howled along the cliffs and, enjoying itself, gathered more speed before reaching its destination. And do you know what that was, my boy?” I shook my head. “Mount Wellington! You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?” I shook my head again. “The bloody wind!”

I paused, letting all of this sink in. ‘The reason I’ve asked Archie to join me up here was to let him tell you what happened next.’ I could see from the expression on the faces in front of me, that my audience was enjoying the show. I was presenting an eyewitness; lawyers like that. ‘Archie, over to you …’ Archie took the microphone.

‘We were almost at the top,’ said Archie, ‘when I noticed something was wrong with the car. “I think we have a flat tyre,” I said to Hillary.

“You can’t stop here!” she shrieked. “Look at the drop, for God’s sake!” Hillary was right. The steep road was very narrow with a sheer drop of several hundred meters on one side. No guardrail. I had no other option but to slowly limp along and reach the top.’

‘What happened next?’ I asked.

‘As we negotiated the last bend, we heard it.’


‘The howling of a wind so strong, that it made the car shake and the windows rattle. Alarmingly. “What now?” shouted Hillary.

“I have to change the tyre,” I shouted back.

“In this? Are you out of your mind?”

‘My first mistake was to drive up to the top of Mount Wellington. That was excusable. My second, a big one, was to ignore Hillary’s warning. As things turned out, that was inexcusable!’

‘What did you do?’ I asked.

‘Foolishly, I opened the car door.’

‘What happened?’

‘Unfortunately, the car wasn’t facing into the wind, but in the opposite direction. Coming from behind, the Arctic wind — a gale — got stuck into the car door with all its fury.’

Archie paused, letting the tension grow. You could have heard a pin drop in the crowded room. ‘And then?’ I prompted.

‘The wind ripped the door clean off its hinges, lifted it up into the air like a piece of cardboard and then flung it against a rock some twenty metres away. I didn’t have the courage to look at Hillary,’ said Archie quietly. ‘After a while she began to shout. “See, this is what happens when you ignore me!” she said, rubbing salt into the wound.’ At first there was stunned silence, then the room erupted in laughter and applause.

‘What did you do then?’ I asked after the applause had died down.

‘I waited for a lull in the wind and then crawled to the back of the car — on a fours, mind you — and changed the tyre.’

‘And this traumatic experience was the reason you cut your holiday short?’

‘No, not exactly.  We decided to leave that wretched island because of what happened the next day.’

‘Oh? And what was that?’

‘The Sunday paper!’

‘Can you elaborate?’

‘Sure can. Here, let me show you.’

On cue, Tom-Tom, who had prepared for this, switched on her laptop and projected the front page of the Hobart Sunday paper onto the wall behind us.

Stunned silence, as the audience digested the writing on the wall.


Falcon gets its wing blown off on Mount Wellington

Eminent Sydney barrister, Cyril Archibald QC, and his wife were in for a big surprise on Friday when they drove up to the top of Mount Wellington in a Ford Falcon they had just hired.


The short article gave a hilarious account of how the car door was ripped off by the wind on top of the mountain. Next to the article was a photo. It showed an exasperated Archie standing next to the nonplussed rent-a-car representative. The man was pointing to the missing front door of the Falcon with Hillary looking on from a distance.

‘How did the paper get wind of this so quickly?’ I asked.

‘The car rental chappie, a cunning man, alerted the paper,’ said Archie. ‘As I found out later, the paper’s office was just behind the car rental place. The paper sent a photographer around who took some pictures as I was trying to explain what happened. The article repeats exactly what I put into the insurance claim form.’

‘And that was the end of the holiday?’ I said.

‘At breakfast the next morning, Hillary saw the paper. That was most unfortunate. She was beyond herself and refused to stay.  “Just look at yourself,” she said, almost choking on her muffin, “on the front page! Eminent Sydney barrister; ha! More like a vagrant. Look at your trousers; torn at the knees! And the car with no door! The whole island will be laughing at us.” She did have a point there. What could I do? We went to our room, packed our bags and caught the next plane back to Sydney, hoping no one would recognise us at the airport.’


When I turned and looked at the table in front of me, I saw that the Attorney General was wiping away tears of laughter. So did just about everyone else in the room. The story had surpassed expectation. However, the story wasn’t finished yet. In some way, the best was yet to come. But that will have to wait until next week, I’m afraid. Good night!


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