Sydney, September 1 - An era has ended today with the news that sexy adventuress Lara Croft has died. Egyptian news sources claim she was killed while running to escape a boulder, which led her to accidently topple off a cliff into a pool of lava.

"It's a tragedy. Those boulders never, never left Lara alone," said an acquaintance of the tragically dead heroine...

Where we were

My adopted godmother Thusnelda Gelich - Thussy -- was in Malaysia, attending the National Horse Show on behalf of her company Equitrek. She said the Malaysians were so sorry.

Ex-prime minister Gough Whitlam was also in Asia, at least in transit. As he explained in a luncheon talk to the Conference on Call Centres, passengers on long haul flights are denied access to realtime media. So he learned of the events in Paris from a Bangkok newspaper during stopover.

My best friend and fourth year Honours partner in crime, Garfield Reynolds, was hunched over the newswire in his office in St Petersburg as the story broke.

Mark Pesce was winging his way back from Burning Man '97 when he stumbled across the story in a cow town in darkest Nevada.

I tried to find a paper - god, how I tried - but everything, everywhere was totally sold out.

Not even any radio stations for news as we drove through the _uninhabited_ desert quarters of Nevada - a lot like your Outback - and no towns. Finally we crossed into California and stopped in Bishop (pop. 3,450) where I rummaged through the discarded newspapers in front of a Denny's to find - ah! finally - the front section to the L.A. Times. We got into the car and turned on the dome light (it had at last grown dark) and I read aloud, article after article, the story of the crash, the hospital, the body, the boyfriend.

We were all in shock, I can tell you.

Jeremy and I, we had no excuse. We just hadn't been near a radio or a TV all day. We turned up to Thussy's farm in the late afternoon to feed the horses, and Thussy's partner Reg said "I suppose you've heard?"

Later I had to drive home in the rain, and you know how I feel about death cars.

My conclusion? Distance does not divide us. Our media define us. Garfield and Thussy were close, the rest of us were far away.

Spinoff result: sometime after the funeral, my mother complained that she had had no one to talk to about Diana. Infinite as the grains of sand are the ways in which we fail our parents.

Friday, 3 October 1997. The Lara joke is Leroy's. Say: 'Lara'; 'Leroy' - coincidence, or conspiracy?
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