16 October 2005 Brisbane

A rain-lashed city. Over breakfast a discussion of the many types of deadly creature waiting for us in the typical Australian garage or bedroom. An uncomfortably large proportion of these are spiders. Donnie captures a Huntsman Spider from his bedroom in a glass to show us. For someone who prides himself as a ‘hatchet man’ he’s respectful and considerate of wildlife, and the spider gets released into the wild (from whence it will immediately reenter the house to escape the rain, but never mind).

We’ve been here nearly 24 hours so it’s time for Madame and Pest to hit the shops. Although I grumble and trail along in a passive-aggressive kind of way, I do sometimes enjoy clothes shopping and am impressed at the prices and quality of the clothes available here. I buy a shirt and some shorts for the promised ‘real’  Australian weather.

In the afternoon a barbeque in the rain-sheltered patio of the house with some of Liz and Donnie’s friends. Much discussion, and pretty knowledgeable at that, about Dylan, whose autobiography I’m enjoying, then a short jam with Callum, one of Liz and Donnie’s three sons, and his guitar teacher Alf, a professional musician and veteran of many bands.

Donnie works in the North of Australia and says that boat people from Indonesia and the islands near the continent pay their life savings to be illegally brought to Australia. Whole families pay for it and get just that – they are abandoned on a beach in the north, hundreds and hundreds of miles from anything, and die within days.