My brother-in-law “Carrot”, the world’s nicest bloke, recently emigrated here with my sister from Nottingham. Being a Pommy, he’s nervous around things that slither and crawl, which is unfortunate when you are staying in leafy, insecty, spidery, snakey, Hornswood.
Let me recount Carrot’s first day in Australia.
I had made a poem for him, so he’d know what’s really dangerous in Oz, and what isn’t.
Australia has a myriad of spiders,
that can bite and really hurt.
The ones to be shit-scared of Carrot,
are the black ones, in the dirt.
Oz is full of many snakes,
most won’t try to bring you down.
The only ones who’ll fu#k you Carrot,
are the big ones, coloured brown.
So my lovely wife Isabel and I went in two cars to the International airport because they had heaps of luggage. Carrot and I were packing the bags in the back of mine, in the car park.
I politely opened the passenger’s door for Carrot. He went to get in and then recoiled in absolute horror.
Carrot – “OH DEAR GOD!! WHAT THE HELL’S THAT?”
Sitting in the centre of the passenger seat, was the most enormous Huntsman I have ever seen. Even by Hornswood big-arse-spider standards, it was huge. It looked like a Blue Swimmer crab and seemed to be rising up and down as it breathed.
I had seen Mr Huntsman a few days ago, as he ran across the outside of my windscreen and nearly gave me a heart attack. But I’d forgotten about him.
Me – “LOOK OUT CARROT!” I moved him aside. I was pretty keen to get rid of this unwanted arachnid.
Not wearing thongs, the quintessential Aussie spider-crushing tool, I had to squash him with the size ten Blundstone boot I was wearing. As I lifted my foot, he ran under the seat. Luckily he popped out on the floor of the back.
I landed a boot flush on top of the monster and squashed him flat! I don’t like spiders. I don’t “rehome” them. I was happy with myself for exterminating this one, considering it was in my vehicle.
I looked to Carrot. His mouth was ajar. His face was bloodless and being a Pom he already had a predominantly whitish hue.
Carrot – “WHAT WAS THAT?”
Me – “It’s ok. It’s a Huntsman. Big, but harmless.”
Carrot – “Harmless? Then why’s it called A HUNTS-MAN? I don’t mean to be rude but what sort of country is this? I’m still at the f#cken AIRPORT!”
About six hours later, he had calmed down and was drinking a good Aussie VB and wandering around our Hornswood backyard. All of a sudden he was waving and signaling for me to come down and check out something distressing about our gum tree.
Carrot (yelling from the garden) – “MATE I’VE FOUND SOMETHING AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS. ANY CHANCE YOU COULD COME DOWN HERE! SHARPISH!”
I hurried down to the backyard. Carrot was hesitantly standing guard at the tree.
Carrot (quite agitated) – “Over here mate. C’mon. Please.”
I was hoping, after he was airport-carpark-Huntsman’d, that he hadn’t stumbled upon anything worse. Our house backs onto thick Hornswood bush and a creek, so spiders, leaches and ticks, even the odd snake, are pretty commonplace. He was staring intently at the gum tree when I arrived.
He was very agitated, beckoned me over and silently pointed at the threat. I was on my guard but I came in close.
Now keep in mind poor Carrot had only been in the country a few hours, and there, you wouldn’t believe it, hanging on the side of the big gum tree that I’ve been past a thousand times, was a fairly large, brown… cicada shell.
Carrot – “LOOK OUT! What is it?” He was standing safely behind me.
I couldn’t help but laugh, loudly.
Me – “Carrot, you can relax. It’s just a cicada shell.”
Carrot – “A what? LOOK AT THE MASSIVE EYES AND CLAWS. Looks like an alien. IT’S DEAD AND STILL HANGING ON THE F#CKEN TREE!”
Me – “It’s a harmless insect.”
Carrot – “Insect? IT’S NEAR AS BIG AS ME F#CKEN HAND.”
Me – “Yeah, it outgrew that shell is all.”
Carrot – “You’re joking? NOW IT’S BIGGER?”
Me – “They’re nice though. Very Aussie. You can hear them beating their wings all-”
Carrot (interjecting) – “WINGS?? IT CAN F#CKEN FLY?? WHAT SORT OF F#CKEN COUNTRY IS THIS??”
Anyway, we were sitting on the veranda later and after three or four more VB’s I managed to calm Carrot down. He was actually starting to relax and see the funny side of his introduction to Aussie nature. But then a Christmas beetle kamikazed into his hair. I didn’t warn him not to sit under the light.
He jumped up but, with a seemingly newfound degree of mature resignation, he just dropped his head and laughed. He laughed and he laughed. We all did. Through the laughter Carrot did say “I don’t think I can do this”. But he laughed again.
I told him that’s exactly what he needed to do. Go with the flow. Don’t try to stand up against Mother Nature in Australia. She’s just too powerful here. You can keep her under control in Europe, but here you must learn to get along with Mother Nature and don’t be bothered by her presence. I said to him, just like you were a puny, white-skinned little Pommy boy who’s having his life made miserable by the soccer-loving school-yard bully back home, just try to co-exist!
In a moment of absolute epiphany, it dawned on him that mine was actually sage-like advice. I could see, right before my eyes, him take on a new perspective. Just at that moment, he’d completely altered the way he was going to approach his new life in this country. He’d got it wrong! He’d have to become positive about our closeness to nature. He had to embrace it, not hate it!
His bright new perspective lasted right up to the point that he sat down on the veranda to put on his shoes and a bull-ant bit him… on the scrotum.
It was a tough first day in Oz.
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