The move is done. Most of my possessions are sitting in a storage facility. The rest have been sold, given away, thrown away or are currently being sifted through to determine their fate. Credulous friends and colleagues raise a querying eyebrow when I tell them where I am now living. It seems that I have committed the crime of Relocating to The North-Western Suburbs of Sydney.
If you aren’t familiar with Sydney, this will need some explaining. People regularly geographically define themselves with directions: the Eastern Suburbs, the Inner West, the Lower North Shore, the Northern Beaches, etc. Directionally challenged citizens of this fine city must regularly be found wandering aimlessly at the opposite end of the compass.
Then there is The West – the amorphous amalgam of suburbs that are most clearly defined by not being East. To explain this strange division fully will take far too long, but news reports regularly talk about The West and the people living in The West as if they are some kind of separate breed of Sydneysiders, descended from goodness knows who in the distant mists of time. Ask anybody in the city to define The West however and you will quickly discover that the border is strangely porous and variable, frequently depending on which part of The Inner West the person lives in. For people living in the Eastern Suburbs, however anything that is not considered the Eastern Suburbs or CBD is The West. For the record, the Eastern Suburbs are actually to the south of the Lower North Shore and pretty much south west of the Northern Beaches. South Sydney is also mostly to the West of the Eastern Suburbs – please don’t try to reconcile this to any notion you may have of compass points, it really doesn’t work.
It is to this West that I have moved – specifically the North West.
The travel is longer, there is no doubt. However, the weekend I moved there the new(ish) Opal Card from Transport for NSW was extended to the North West, so I have no need to queue for tickets for about 99% of all the travel that I will do which makes things much more pleasant. Longer travel also means more time to read which I have absolutely no complaints about.
The other thing there is more of in the new house is wildlife. This has already been discussed but on the second night, things took a new turn.
Late on Monday night I was heading to the shower, towel firmly wrapped around waist. Stepping into the bathroom all was good until something caught my attention in the bath tub. Large, black and particularly upset looking. A spider. One that I knew I had never seen before in real life, but whose image is something seared onto all Sydneysider’s visual memory.
I quickly left the bathroom.
Calling downstairs, the next few minutes went something as follows:
Me: Hey, T & F – ummm, big black spider. Standing on it’s rear legs. Looks a bit upset. That isn’t good is it?
SFX: Two people running up wooden steps
F: Will just stick my head around the door and probably scream…
T: Ahhhhh. No. Probably not. Let me look.
Camera cuts to male (fully clothed) walking slowly towards the bath tub. Spider moves. Three people (two fully clothed, one with a towel round his waist) jump back quickly.
F: I can’t watch.
T: Let me get a glass and get rid of it…
T returns with glass and cardboard to slide under glass.
F: Don’t be stupid! That cardboard has holes in it – you will get bitten…
T: Hmmmmmm. Yeah…
(at this point, I was standing quite a way back, but I think I heard the next bit correctly)
T: This is probably too thin. These things can bite through toe nails, so a bit of cardboard won’t stop it
Thus began the attempt to get rid of a Sydney funnel-web spider. It is described thus on Wikipedia: “ It is a venomous mygalomorph spider with a bite capable of causing serious injury or death in humans if left untreated” Wikipedia also helpfully points out that “When biting, the funnel-web spiders maintain a tight grip on their victim, often biting repeatedly” Feel free to look them up here.
Apparently the male funnel-web spider gets amorous in the warmer weather and goes for a wander, on the hunt for a bit of spider fun and baby spider making action. I can (happily) say that the one in the bathroom will not be making any babies. Ever.
Strangely, all of the windows in the house stayed shut that night.
Welcome to the north-western suburbs.
And no, running to get a camera to take a picture was not high on my list of things to do. Firstly I was wearing nothing but a towel and secondly, staring potential death in the face is hypnotising. Thirdly, F and I were trying to make sure that her husband was being sensible and not about to get bitten. Although a picture of that could have been interesting…