S-S-SILENT AND DEADLY
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE SNAKE KIND ARE NEVER A GOOD IDEA AT HOME OR ABROAD, UNLESS YOU HAVE A SPARE PAIR OF SHORTS
Snake season is well and truly here, with the sneaky buggers on the move and reminding me of how terrified I am of them. I would gladly swim around Old Woman Island and brave the threat of the rumoured tiger shark family that reside there, or in the local canal where bull sharks allegedly rule, than walk through long grass barefoot in fear of something far more sinister: a Joe Blake. Strangely, as a kid growing up on a pineapple farm, I was trained by my Dad in the art of handling snakes. Not at first, though. I think the day I turned around from my trip to school because I saw a green snake crossing the road and came home crying was the day my dear old Dad decided I needed some education in identifying and dealing with deadly snakes on a regular basis. He was pretty good at it. Unlike the relocating of snakes these days, he dealt with them swiftly like cracking a whip, which was an art in itself. I understand these days we are more aware of the eco system and how nature works. Whereas in the 1960s, we were aware that we needed our chickens, eggs and, more importantly, pet dogs and horses than gently relocating a brown snake to a more friendly environment. Dad’s relocation of deadly snakes usually involved head trauma for the snake and a quick burial. Not so for pythons or green snakes. They were just ushered away from the chook pen to another part of the farm. I got quite good at it. Until one day I caught what I thought was a python and was handling it and showing off to my mates until Dad saw me and asked me why I was carrying a tiger snake around with me. Actually, it was an eastern tiger snake that looks a lot like a python that could have brought my short inglorious life to a premature end. I think that was the last time I touched a snake and may be the last time I needed to change my undies as well. I have been basically terrified of them ever since – apart from a trip to India when a mate insisted I go to a snake charmer, which was the next time I nearly filled my shorts, and it wasn’t from the vindaloo. That was terrifying, but I was fortified by a few Kingfisher beers which did help. How it worked was that we went down this back alley and found this old dude with a flute and a cane basket. He didn’t speak English and gestured to me to sit down in front of him, which I reluctantly did. He then handed me a python that he put around my neck that looked like it was dead. But as soon he started playing his flute, it was all happening. The python came to life, moving gently around my shoulders and neck. The cobra started out of the basket, dancing to the music, with the end result being that it was an inch away from my face – that close that I could feel its breath. Did it fix my fear of snakes? Definitely not. If we get one in our yard, I’m first to the phone to ring snake catcher Mark Neath. Best money I ever spent.
“THE COBRA STARTED OUT OF THE BASKET, DANCING TO THE MUSIC ...