In which our intrepid hero makes a purchase—and an observation.

I was wandering through the streets of Brisbane a couple of days ago, looking to stock up on a few personal items before I returned to Sydney. So I walked into the Woolworths on Queen St, searching for manilla folders, toothpaste and condoms.

So I searched the rows again and again, before coming to the conclusion that—tanned bodies and skimpy clothing aside—Queenslanders don’t shag. Thanks, Sir Joh; you neutered the state.

Eventually, I did find what I was looking for, a shelf-space about four inches wide, half the size of the nearby pregnancy testing kits. Which says a lot about the state of ahem family planning in Queensland. I’m surprised that Queensland doesn’t look like South Africa, with the latter’s rates of HIV and other STD infections.

So, as I went through the express checkout, I got called to the end of the battery of registers. The woman serving me, a nice enough sort, probably in her mid-late forties, suddenly drifted off into some sad sense of nostalgia as the product code for the condoms came up on the register.

For about thirty seconds—long enough to be uncomfortable—she stared into the distance, a glazed look in her eyes. It was sort of sweet. And sort of weird.

Queensland gets stranger, every time I visit.