Monday, February 8, 2010

Worried about leeches - pass the chocolate

Hot, wet and humid in Sydney – I characterize this weather as the kind of day where everyone you speak to, no matter how polished and groomed, has a face, that unless they have been holed up in an air conditioned sanctuary, gleams with an attractive slick of perspiration.

The rain has cascaded down in torrential downpours and the whole garden has become so wet that I found a leech making its way down the driveway. Whilst leeches are a bit of feature of wet parts of the Australian bush they are not normally a hazard in your regular Mosman garden. To my alarm when I went back to check on the leech it had disappeared which of course has made me completely paranoid about where it may be now – there is nothing like lying in bed wondering whether you can really feel something slithering towards you - husband aside.

Leeches are the most extraordinary creatures when they scent or feel vibrations of possible prey they extend their head like a type of telescopic search engine and put on an unprecedented turn of speed. The Drama Queens are in fact still completely traumatized by a camping trip that involved us all walking into a campsite in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney and camping overnight. It was a very wet trail and we were comparatively new to the country and the possibility of leeches had not occurred to the intrepid child trio – note, if the possibility had in fact entered their minds we would have been unlikely to have managed to prise them out of the car. Suffice to say I have never ever heard the like of the hideous, bloodcurdling screams that DQ no 3 emitted when she looked down at her legs and realized she had a number of black slug like creatures attached to her, swelling vigorously and visibly as they sucked on her blood. We discovered pretty swiftly that to stand still, for example to remove a leech was to invite a tide of the creatures to set off towards any bare flesh, as a result by the second day the DQs yomped back up the mountain at high speed, refusing to stop for anything for fear of a bloodthirsty sucker attaching itself. We got rid of the leeches by using salt but I have subsequently been told removing leeches with salt or cigarettes (hard to find a smoker these days) merely ensures the leech regurgitates the contents of its stomach into the bite and what one should do is insert a finger nail under its sucker and break the suction –YUCK. Come back Edward Cullen and Twilight – I’ll take a vampire over a leech any day.

One of my friend’s daughters is doing her HSC (New South Wales version of A levels this year (can you believe that Australian States all have different school leaving exams, although a National Curriculum is promised). As part of her economics course the daughter asked if I would partake in a small survey regarding my chocolate habits. I sailed through the early questions which dealt with age and sex, pondered a bit the ones dealing with how often I ate chocolate and then completely fell down on the question dealing with how much I would pay for a normal block of chocolate – where I had to admit I had absolutely no idea how much a normal bar of chocolate costs – I regard it in the same essentials category as milk and bread. In an effort to be helpful I did manage to relate the question to Freddos which are my usual secret chocolate indulgence when life is getting too much and say that if I had to pay twice the normal price I would be aggrieved but I that sadly I would still buy it – in that by the time I get to the checkout, Freddo clutched in my sticky paw, desperation has set in and price is irrelevant. The next set of questions dealt with the hideous situation where chocolate was unavailable and asked what would I buy instead. I had to face up to the complete inconsistencies of my purchasing patterns and admit that I would buy a bottle of Diet Coke instead – says something about my internal treat mentality!

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