Craig and Brenton Gurney share the unique bond you often hear about with identical twins.
They look similar, in 38 years they’ve never fallen out, they both love soccer, pick out the onions from their meals and would choose a chocolate bar over an apple any day.
They both married women called Nicole. “There are differences,” says Craig. “He’s more conservative. I’m more a spendthrift.”
Craig is the older by ten minutes and all their lives he has been the leader: the first to kiss a girl; the first to try alcohol; the first to get married.
He’s the one who likes to take control.
For as long as they remember, Craig has felt physical symptoms when Brenton – the more accident-prone of the two – injures himself.
It first happened when they were babies: one day Brenton fell out of his high chair, yet it was Craig who clutched his head and cried.
As schoolboys, Brenton was knocked unconscious during a soccer game and Craig – who’d had his back to the incident – found himself suddenly and temporarily paralysed.
One day in their late teens, the phone rang at home. Before their father could pick it up, Craig called out: “That’s Brenton, he’s been in a car accident but he’s OK.” Sure enough, it was Brenton on the phone: he’d rolled the car but had walked away with nothing more serious than a cut on his finger.
Then last year, Brenton called his brother from Cairns to say he was developing an angry rash on his back, inner arms and inner legs.
The next day it seemed to have cleared and he went on a trip to the Daintree. But that evening, at home in Mt Colah, north of Sydney, Craig started having breathing problems and noticed an itchy rash on exactly the same parts of his body.
The next day, when Craig and Nicole were out shopping, she pulled him aside to tell him the rash on his back was much worse.
Thousands of kilometres to the north, Brenton had reacted to an insecticide in his room, gone into anaphylactic shock and been rushed to hospital.
Had they been exposed to the same virus or chemical?
Unlikely, as they hadn’t seen each other for over a week.
It was more evidence to the Gurney twins that Craig and Brenton have a connection that defies current scientific explanation.
“We’ve always thought it was pretty normal, that it was a twin thing,” says Craig. “Though it’s always given us something to talk and joke about.”