IT could have been my wife's cousin Barry gazing out of the newspaper page at us, in front of his home in St Ives, a leafy Sydney suburb.
But it wasn't. It was another Barry, surnamed Tannenbaum, who persuaded wealthy South Africans to invest millions in a dicey scheme that collapsed. Not surprisingly, this other Barry is unwilling to return to South Africa to face the wrath of people who should have known better.
And why should he return? St Ives is a very nice place to be. We stayed there with cousin Barry who, on our very first morning in Sydney, took us bundu-bashing through the nearby deadly snake-infested Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. At least, having just read Bill Bryson's Down Under, we feared it was writhing with lethal serpents.
But Barry, having emigrated to Australia many years ago from England, said he had yet to see a snake, though his young granddaughter joked about funnel web spiders, which were also deadly and apparently lay waiting for you under lavatory seats. It was enough to make the most regular person constipated.
St Ives is full of expat South Africans, though not all are involved in pyramid schemes. Other crimes help them to feel at home, and earlier this year robbers blew up an ATM in St Ives' shopping village, damaging the local bank. There is also a Nando's restaurant.
St Ives lies just off the North Shore line, and we stayed with South Africans up and down the length of it. We moved from Barry's home to the next suburb, Turramurra, where my old friend Donald Rowley has lived for many years. …