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The house (part 2)


Tony had the nicest sound system I ever shared. Except at venues.

The two huge Tannoy boxes were driven by a custom made breadboard valve amp putting out ‘who the fuck knows?’. We were never game to turn it right up. He had a TEAC radio-cassette deck and a carefully sprung and balanced belt-drive turntable of unknown make and obscure styli.

After the crates arrived from New Zealand he first set up in the lounge-room but the needle would skip when anyone walked in. So he made a wall shelf in the sun-room for it. But the old floor timbers transmitted too much vibration to the walls. So I decided to climb through the small wooden hatch in the sandstone foundations and check out underneath for a way to shore things up.

I was about to learn I wasn’t the only undesirable resident of Sydney’s North Shore.

The Sydney funnel web is a particularly primitive beast, not changed much since its ancestors were sticking their fangs into Sydney Funnel Webdinosaur hide. If it works, … Contrary to popular nightmare they don’t jump at you when they attack. They just lunge quickly with their front legs raised and fangs protruding. It’s other big creepy spiders with huge fangs that give rise to that old wives tale. Funnel webs can and do live underwater in swimming pools though, but that’s not very common. Mostly you find them under logs or bits of wood in slightly damp places like old sheds or beneath houses. Unless it’s been raining a lot and they come indoors to dry off in your bed.

As a chat with any realtor will quickly tell you, being primitive is no handicap to knowing your real estate. Funnel webs too prefer the leafy, well to-do suburbs of the North Shore.

I’d finally managed to move the old bolt and open the hatch between the sandstone blocks of the foundation. The floor was fairly high but not high enough for crawling. I would have to wriggle forward on my belly. My path was soon blocked by a low stack of rotting weatherboard sheets. Putting down the torch I grabbed the stack and tried to shove it aside. I felt the web tearing with my fingertips rather than heard it. By the time I got light onto it there were three funnel webs rearing up within inches of my nose.

Sydney funnel webs aren’t all that deadly. I know they’re one of the most poisonous spiders in the world and how aggressive they are compared to laid back web dwellers like the black widow. How they don’t just sting and scuttle off, but grab hold and bite, bite, bite … Sure they’ve killed dozens of people over the last hundred years, sometimes within minutes, but most of that was long ago. No one dies since they developed the antivenin. All the ambos carry it. I hoped.

Still, something about the thought of getting my face covered in funnel web bites made me feel insecure. Maybe worse than insecure. Contemplating advances in medical science didn’t really help.

So I slowly wriggled out backwards, holding the beam on the bugs even though I knew they’d aim by vibration not vision. Trying not to breathe in their direction. They don’t like it when you breathe.

In the end Tony mounted the shelf on a wall pillar that was unaffected by the shaking floor. He checked this time.

And you know what? Seven years later nearly the same thing happened. Only not with funnel webs.

From → autobiography

  1. Delinquent Angel permalink

    Hurry don’t be late
    I can’t hardly wait
    I said to myself when we’re old
    We’ll go dancing in the dark
    Walking through the park
    And reminiscing

    You do know how to spin a yarn, Michael. Really
    captured the essence of the now and gone.


  2. Delinquent Angel permalink

    Geez, I followed that hamadryad all the way to Burma
    and a 1916 dead blokes tale Capt. C.M. Enriquez
    dedicated to:


    There’s a long and tender vista of the dogs who travelled west.
    Of the dogs who loved and worshipped me, and gave mo all their best

    Who have comforted my exile, when I stood out all alone.
    Who have shared with me my fortunes, who have made my life their own

    Who have sadly mourned my absence, and rejoiced at my return

    What do you reckon, Michael: would you judge this “O Captain, my Captive” as having strip-mined traditions from-an-obscure-culture-under-pressure-
    from-colonisation to line his pockets with filthy lucre?

    I love his ‘bullshit warning’

    <<Of course there is no reason why you should believe all this. If the hamadryad business sounds a bit too thick, savours in fact too much of Burmese tall talk about dacoit Bo*s, and swarming leeches, you should not strain your credulity. Believe only just what you like in this book. You are under no obligation to read on to the end. But I hope you will, for there are yet many miles left, and I like ray travelling companions to go with me all the way.<<<

    Wish I could remember how to do html code. Meh.

    I love the old stories before wanker eco-spiritual entrepreneurs
    raped pillaged and sign-posted everything for sacred tourism.

    Are we there yet?


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