Over the years Phil has grown used to my gasps and screams. He normally sits silently through them reading the paper not bothering to ask what’s the matter. When I say, “Don’t you even want to know what’s wrong?” he’ll reply, “I already know what’s wrong.” “What???” “Nothing.” (Nothing much, anyway.)

However, when he heard me scream the other night, he came charging out of the house barefoot. Not the best choice given what was wrong. Very wrong. Our puppy had bailed up a metre-long snake. Phil insisted it was a red-bellied black snake, but when I later presented him with a photo lineup, he pointed confidently to an eastern brown snake and announced, “That’s the one!” Anyway, it doesn’t really matter which species because in Australia nearly all snakes are venomous (some more so than others).