Tigers roamed the street of the Australian seaside resort where my colleague and I were conducting some research.
‘Isn’t this rather dangerous?’ I asked a local.
‘No’, he replied, ‘It’s very rare that any of the tigers attack anyone’.
We took the local at his word and continued our walk along the lane – until one of the huge stripey beasts made a beeline for my colleague, chased him a few yards, took a chunk out of his foot, then sloped off to sunbathe under a tree. I half-carried the hobbling victim to the seafront where we sought medical attention. When the nurse asked for his name, I told her it was David, then corrected myself and settled on Ross (which was also wrong). Fortunately I knew enough about his medical background to fill in all the forms accurately.
I also needed some medical attention. My teeth were in a terrible state, probably because I had forgotten to pack a soap bag for our trip and hadn’t taken care of my personal hygiene for over a week. I broke into someone’s bathroom to check my teeth in the mirror (and perhaps ‘borrow’ some toothpaste) and was appalled at what I saw. My two front teeth were black and one was about to drop out of my mouth. When the occupants of the house came home from their long bus tour of the island I was more ashamed of my appearance than my status of housebreaker.
The one highlight of the trip (apart from spending time with my lovely colleague) was my discovery of a book-lined study built into the top of a sea stack, rather like Mangersta stone bothy on the Isle of Lewis. It was a pity that David/Ross missed the steps up to it and fell into the sea while attempting an ascent up the perilous sea stack rock face.