Friday, January 14, 2005


Australia is not a safe place. Australians are safe, by and large, but only because we are so bamboozled by beer, high temperatures and reality television that we never get around to threatening anyone. The danger in Australia comes from our animals, or our Psycho Blood-Crazed Deathbeasts, as I prefer to call them.

Make no mistake; every Australian native animal is dangerous. The sharks are bitey and the rest of the fish are poisonous. The snakes are infamous for sinking their venom-enhanced fangs into innocent passers-by. Ants sting, magpies divebomb, and parrots can bite clean through a finger.

Male platypuses have poison spurs on their hind legs. Cranky kangaroos have been known to kill dogs. Dingos go one better and kill little kids. Emus are just plain nasty. Even the koalas, who are basically big sacks of eucalyptus-flavoured flab, are dangerous, if you are a certain Federal Minister for Tourism and having your suit ruined by koala whiz during a photo op constitutes 'danger'.

But my beef for today is with spiders. More to the point, my beef is with redbacks, the sleek, jet-black, unconscionably evil denizens of every household in Perth. They are not actually deadly most of the time (the last recorded fatality was in 1955, before the antivenom was developed), but their bite causes severe pain and often requires several weeks for recovery. My mother and one of my sisters have been bitten in separate incidents, and in both cases they required hospitalisation. All this might be academic if redbacks were not so ubiquitous. Leave a barbecue or a set of patio furniture in you backyard for more than a month, and it's pretty much guaranteed that there'll be at least one redback living in it.

So when I opened my meterbox this morning to turn on the sprinklers and felt my fingers touching cobweb, my instincts jerked my hand back instantly and let the door bang shut. When I opened it with a twig a moment later, there was a redback, hunkered down perhaps a centimetre or two from where my fingers had been.

I'm sorry, but it broke the rules. Stay out of the way, under a planter box or inside the hollow legs of the barbecue, and I'll pretend you're not there. Hide under the handle of the meterbox, on the other hand, and you'll only get what's coming to you. I did what all red-blooded Australian males do when provoked like this. I went inside, grabbed the bugspray, and sprayed it until it was a little white blob not dissimilar to a molten styrofoam peanut.

We Australians go through a lot of bugspray. Someone's got to show the Psycho Blood-Crazed Deathbeasts who's boss.


Blogger Spirit Fingers said...

That'll show it. I never trust any creature with more than 4 legs and that can't be served up to dinner with an apple in its mouth.

4:30 PM  

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