Ladies Down Under

by Amanda WhittingtonĀ 

A feel-good tale of four lasses from a fish filleting plant whose six-horse accumulator leaves them half-a-million quid better off.

The only question remaining was what they intended to do with all that cash, and it seemed a fairly safe bet that they might spend it on a sequel. Yet sending the ladies long haul seems to be about making a slender idea go a very long way – and listening to them witter and twitter through duty free puts you in mind of the days when a package to Australia was a form of punishment.

Yet something unexpected happens on arrival as the pace becomes less frenetic, the humour less coarse and the characterisation deepens. Whittington’s construction still relies too heavily on bizarre turns of fortune – the only odds longer than the girls winning half a million quid is that one of them should bump into an old flame at Uluru. But the cmpfire round of Waltzing Matilda and evokes the outback as a place of mystic spirituality and terrifying spiders.

We meet shopaholic Shelley, pragmatic Pearl and mumsy Jan, but it is generous-hearted Linda who stands out, so discomforted by her good fortune that she is willing to toss her entire windfall into a charity bucket. The reward for modesty is to be gifted with most of the best lines: “I bought a terrapin called Tony. After a day at the fish plant it’s nice to be able to go home and see something swim.”

It all climaxes in a flurry of fur and feathers as the girls join in the parade. Were it not for the height of their heels, one might confidently say Whittington’s creations could run and run.