It’s true…your life flashes before your eyes….

Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 16:56

takenbyaliens (Life Member)

I am just back from the Solomon Islands and finally something my wife has always been concerned about has happened. You know I get into all sorts of places in Africa where it is very dangerous and for years she has been concerned that I will end up getting killed in a township in Jo’burg or on the Cape flats in Capetown…real gangster territory!

Lovely place the Solomons…well sort of. The British left in the 70s and no one has done anything to a road since. The only driveable road is from the Airport to Honiara. The rest??..well you can hardly get out of first gear! Up and down and bellying out…quicker to walk. It is like so many other places I go to, so desperately poor. The busiest shops are the clothing shops that ship in bales of second hand clothes from Australia ( or somewhere anyway ). Solomon fashion is well…eclectic!

I visit the various national sporting organisations and have a meeting with the top brass of the police/army as they run a lot of the sporting clubs around the place. I get out and about to where the Yanks fought against the Japanese. It is so damn hot and humid…how did these guys do it…it must have been, and was, murder. Wednesday night is spent at the Yacht Club ( actually can’t see any yachts but it’s a hangover from British days ). Thursday night is up at the tuna factory on the hill for the absolutely best sashimi. Friday afternoon is drinks day at the Australian High Commission so I meet up again with blokes I had gone to see earlier in the week.
So Saturday is my last day and I head out to do some shopping…pick up something iconically Solomon. Pick up a wall hanging and a couple of shirts and head back up the main street towards my hotel. It’s about 2 in the afternoon and there are quite a few out shopping at the central market on the other side of the road….pawpaws, coconuts, taro etc.

This big guy starts running at me screaming his head off…well actually I thought it wasn’t at ME but someone else…then he thumps me on the shoulder and starts to abuse me. Everyone tells him to leave me alone..”I don’t know you. I haven’t done anything to you” is met by another whack! I turn away and get kicked in the kidneys. I turn back…very stupid mistake…the next kick is a tad lower!!! However I know not to double over as the next one will be a knee to my face. I tell him to leave me alone. I turn away again. Another hit to the kidneys. I turn back…how dumb can you be huh?? I whack my hands down and the kick collects my wrist…the watch is broken.

Then I see the gun……smith and Wesson…british army issue. It’s in his hand by his side. I realise this is VERY serious. Then it is pointed at my head. It’s true…your life flashes through your head…my wife, my kids, my parents, things I have done, places I’ve been…and it must have been only a second!!! I am going to die on a bloody street in the Solomons…not in a township, you got it wrong honey!

I realise I have three options. Fight…but he is a big Islander guy, fit and strong and with a gun…no chance. Next option…run. But then I will be the rabbit and he will think this is good sport…sure to get shot. Only other option is to turn away and walk….I have to hope he does not have the bottle to actually pull the trigger. I am now gambling with my life! The sidewalk is now absolutely deserted…everyone has found a bolt hole.

All of this in about 3 seconds. I turn and walk away from him down the footpath waiting for…well they say you never hear the one that kills you. I get about 15 metres away and look back. The gun is still pointed at me. I walk on. Waiting to die…about to cry at the hopelessness of it all. I am absolutely terrified.

An Indian man and his wife and three kids come out of a shop in front of me. A quick three steps and I put them between me and the guy with the gun. I get a hundred metres up the street and my legs go to jelly and I manage to get back to the hotel. I am seriously not in a good state. I ring my wife in tears.

So I call the High Commission and the Police. You know the ones I had met. “If you go down town and catch the man we will arrest him” they say. “Hello??? That’s your job…you go downtown and you arrest him!”

Of course by the time I get on the flight on the Sunday they have not found him. DFAT calls me. Interview and written statement. “Never happened before” they say, ‘nothing we can do”.

Mental note to self….cross the Solomons off my visit list!!

POSTSCIPT: 6 weeks later the Solomons blow up!
According to modern astronomers, space is finite..a very comforting thought particularly for people who can never remember where they left things
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