Ask the Arachnophile

If you haven't been to Doug Wallace's place before, the big black spider hanging above the front steps will give you, if not a heart attack, a hint of what's inside: 83-year-old Wallace—"I'm a bit of a joker," he says, for the spider's only plastic—and, lurking among the books and papers that swamp what most people call the lounge room and he calls his workshop, more spiders, real but safely dead and under glass.

Wallace has spent most of the past 63 years getting as cosy with spiders as it's advisable to be. In a...

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