I hate spiders.
They hate me.
It’s a good enough arrangement that has stood both species in good stead for at least four decades, and hardly anyone has got hurt. Just as long as everybody stays on message and the ones with far too many legs remain out of sight, everything is fine and dandy. Daddy Long Legs are excluded from this understanding, and may we swatted, stomped or wound up in web silk at any time.
Every now and then, however, it goes horribly wrong. With disastrous consequences for both human and arachnid.
So, picture if you can, me, lying in bed, scratching me plums. Neither pretty nor attractive is it? Actually, you’d be wrong because I am sex defined and only work, family and writing commitments have stopped me from taking up various offers to become the next Ron Jeremy*.
After a few seconds of scratchy bliss, I noticed an annoying tickly itch on my shin. An itch that simply wouldn’t die. An itch that was moving inexorably upwards, past my knee, towards my thigh…
Whipping back the covers, there was this large, scowling house spider crawling up my leg, making a determined effort to hog-tie me and store my still twitching corpse in its evil web before feeding me to its scuttling, many-legged family.
There was a horrible girlie scream of arachnophobic terror. And when I had quite finished, Mrs Duck screamed as well.
“There’s a spider! On your leg!”
Top marks, then, for observation.
With the kind of swift, manly movement not seen since about 1985, I jumped out of my pit, threw the eight-legged menace to the floor and tried to give Spidey his just desserts - the discipline of the carpet slipper.
For a long, long second we faced each other, planning our next moves. This was life-or-death, and we eyed each other up like Napoleon eyeing his arch-nemesis Wellington across the field of Waterloo. Only Spidey had the eye advantage on my by a factor of four, and double the limbs, obviously. Also, I am unable to shit string.
My attempts to stamp on the hairy little bastard were to no avail. It was too good for me, and in a one-sided battle twixt man and beast, the little fucker ran back up my pyjama leg, making a bee-line for the relative safety of my pods, the forbidden forest where it knew I couldn't thwack him to death with a slipper.
I was forced to strip naked in a blind panic, and shoo the thing away from my manhood with a rolled-up copy of a photographic magazine**, before scooping it up in my bare hands (because that’s how brave and manly I am when the adrenaline starts to flow) and chucking it out of the window. Stitch that you eight-legged freak – I hope you brought a parachute.
All this time, Mrs Duck was standing on a chair like Tom and Jerry's Mammy Two Shoes screaming "Don't let it near me! Don't let it near me!" Which was nice of her, because it was only interested in my manly bloke bits after all.
It was in my moment of glory in this particular episode of human domination over the world of spider that I was now standing naked and framed gloriously in the bedroom window, as a number seventeen bus drew up outside, full of pissants returning from a night on the tiles in town. And for those on the top deck, the floor show had just begun.
Evil spidey bastard – had it planned all along.
* Not to mention the fact that this is also a dreadful lie.
** That’s a proper photographic magazine you filthy-minded devils, none of that art-house, red-hot flanges nonsense, I’ll have you know.