Watson, a blue Persian cat (friend of Holmes a blue point Siamese), was found deceased in a driveway of a neighbours home. The poor Minister of the Dark Arts was most distressed; it being her cat and all. Anyway, it was up to yours truly to inter the recently-alive in the back yard. Unfortunately, for all of Sydney's good weather, winter can be pretty yucky. And so it was that I was to be found at night, during a cold winter, in light rain, trying to free up some of the yard for the ex-pet.
Now, I am sure you can picture me negotiating our steep block of un-cleared land while balancing the umbrella in the crook of my neck, holding the torch under one arm, using the shovel with spare hands and tottering on one leg to dig. Watson, dearly departed, was wrapped in a towel on the ground to one side.
It was pretty miserable in anyone's book.
It only got worse with the appearance of Funnel Web spider.
I am a grown-up male armed with a shovel, a torch and an umbrella therefore I should be able to do away with a deadly spider, rudely woken on a wet night, right?
The hurried and frantic slamming of the shovel onto the spider was, at best, inconclusive.
I didn't have closure. He was gone. Not dead. Not alive and cross. Just "gone".
I struck a pretty hard, if panicky, blow but he was nowhere to be seen from whence he sprang legs akimbo in attack mode. The sudden realisation that he might be squished on the shovel struck me with a shock, you see, I had raised the shovel near to my face ready for a second blow. In true Hollywood horror movie style I slowly turned my head toward the danger, half expecting to see the monster on the shovel ready to strike just as I scream. With heart pounding I quickly put the shovel in the light. Uh huh, not there either.
Wild torchlight flashing in bushes, in the rain, at night, in winter. And a grown man going "oh" "ah" "eee" "eww oww".
All the time there's a dead cat who's obviously remaining at peace.
I can't locate the spider! Dead or alive! Panic! I've got to find him or he could crawl over me!
I calmed down, eventually, and with no spider to be seen I carried on digging with occasional quick torch-glances around my feet. The rain worsened. I never got on with Watson. Holmes was my cat, and Watson knew I had favourites. Sort of teachers pet pet. Anyway, I'm thinking this cat, past tense as he is, is having the last laugh.
The deed was done. Dr Watson was safely buried in a nice spot, albeit among a funnel web spider's nest, but a nice spot, if a little hastily done under the circumstances.
It was then, as I gathered one last look around for the spider, that headlines flashed through my mind. With my constitution, I'd probably faint if I were bitten by this brute. I'd collapse right there and then. SWMBO wasn't home yet, so I might be there long enough to slip into a coma. What would they make of the scene? A torch, an umbrella, a shovel, one dead white male, one dead cat. Headlines: "Man killed by dead cat. Scotland Yard baffled"