16 May 2005

The Animals Will Feed Themselves...

Right at the start of this blog I did several things involving Jesus and for a while I planned to have an ongoing strip featuring the well known Palestinian carpenter and 'thought for today' merchant. Sadly the idea got spiked. Several months later I found some of the sketches of Jesus and noticed that one of them looked a lot like my Uncle Ade the Victorian (that's Victorian as in the Australian place as opposed to as in the olden time).

The moment I arrived in Australia at the rear end of 1999, Ade (cynical journalist and excellent anecdotalist) began to bombard me with tales of the life threatening wildlife I was likely to encounter on a daily basis in the bush/car/shower/bed. By the end of our 90 minute drive from the airport to Maldon ('Australia's First Notable Town') I imagined myself killed, carved up and eaten by an ant, an arachnid and a snake following a beating from a 'roo and a sulk from a hungover koala (never call em bears) the moment I stepped out of the car.


I later realised this was a rite of passage for visiting poms whose experience of danger is usually limited to drunken teenage mobs, traffic and MRSA in hospitals following a beating from a drunken teenage mob/a bump from some overzealous traffic. That's not to say Australia isn't a dangerous place - it has drunken teenage mobs and traffic all of its own. Just not as much. And randy magpies (an Australian brand of magpie, nothing like the 'one for sorrow, two for joy' types we have in blighty) may break your skull - during early spring they delight in dive bombing passers by resulting in two or three human deaths a year. Not to mention magpie deaths. One for sorrow, two for more sorrow, three for bloody scared and any more than that you're looking at a Hitchcock re-enactment. In some parts of Oz this danger is so severe the humans wear faces on the back of their heads to fool the magpies who only ever attack by sneaking up from behind.

As well as magpies there are sharks, schoolies, spiders, ants and snakes. I personally stood on a deadly poisonous brown snake although, sadly, nobody actually saw this feat (apart from the toddler-esque shriek and venomous fang evading 6 foot vertical leap) and that's the same as it not really happening at all to a family raised under the strict editorial policies of a cynical journo. Not to worry, a visitor to Oz will not feel left out if they have the misfortune to miss out on a near death experience of one kind or another - they'll still be able to boast of being eaten alive (almost) by a single aphid because pretty much everything bites like it's been stranded for years in the bush with nothing to munch on except an old jar of vegemite.

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