I've been performing as a storyteller for around 20 years now and this old tin trunk has been my faithful companion and sidekick for most of those years. I've carried it into so many shows I've got a certain fondness for it.
To be honest I don't know what it thinks of me, it's hardly been pampered. Then again, I have kept it out of the rain and off the rubbish heap. I have given it a purpose in life, a good, honest, inspiring job to do. It carries my storytelling props from show to show much like it once carried my grandfather's camp gear from railway surveying camp to railway surveying camp.
Somewhere we have a copy of a letter my grandfather Bob Bellingham sent home as a teenager from, we assume, his first job away from home. He was employed as a surveyor's assistant to chop down the prickly pears in the surveyor's line of sight on the new railway being built out across the Darling Downs in south west Queensland.
It's a good prop itself of course. It's a dead ringer for a treasure chest and it's been the stimulus for many a good pirate story. There's been a couple of tall tales told about my grandfather's involvement with pirates in the past as well. That story usually ends with my confessing that Bob Bellingham spent all the treasure on a new house on Balmoral Heights, a two toned blue Austin A40 car, lots of cigars and wild afternoons spent at the Gaythorne bowls club.
I tell the kids that, by the time I got the trunk, the only thing that was left in it was a tattered, old map.