Yes, avid reader(s), it's that glorious time of year again. What time is that? You ask. The time when all the little chilblains pack up there new highlighters and don their shiny new shoes and head off for a brand new year at school? Yes, but it's not what I'm thinking of. The time when all the trees take on a beautiful orange hue, and the air starts to turn clear and crisp? Again, close, but no cigar.
It's that time of year, ladies and gentlemen, that is cruel and unusual. It is that time like no other that leaves me in a constant state of paranoia, fear, and slight clamminess due to the involuntary sweating.
It is, of course, the time of year that the spiders of Ye Olde Englande have spent the summer fattening up, growing to unreasonably gargantuan proportions, and then finding that as soon as the weather gets a bit wet and chilly, that they can't possibly cope with living outside anymore, and find convenient lodgings in these nice, warm and dry places we call 'houses'. Places that we have built with our own hands, for our own use, the spiders suddenly think they have every right to squat in our homes. We don't go and gatecrash their webs, do we? Move on in without an invitation, hiding in corners and leaping out to scare them? No, we do not, for we are noble and honest and so very English and polite. It's just not the done thing. But they just waltz in, without so much as a hello, or a 'do you mind?'. I'm sure a lot of people don't mind spiders, but it would be nice if those of use that have a morbid fear of their mandibles and massively long spindly legs could have the choice whether our greatest fear invades our homes.
I was sat in bed, minding my own business, designing rings for the Valentine Show, and making quite good progress, when about two foot away from my head, the biggest, ugliest mandiblest brown house spider saunters out from behind my radiator. Obviously after about ten seconds of stunned horror and whimpering, I decide that I will have to tackle the beast alone and by myself, as it was about half past midnight, and the other occupants of the house were asleep. Probably for the best, they aren't sympathetic to my fear. The thought did occur that if i had fallen asleep, this monstrous atrocity would have carried on regardless, probably crawling onto me, and would still be at large in my room, with me unaware of it's diabolical intentions. So being still awake to witness it was probably a blessing in disguise. Still, it meant that i had to dispose of the little fecker. I grabbed what i had to hand without taking my eyes off it, and that happened to be my stetchbook. Then, in a calculated manoeuvre, i launched the sketchbook at the wall, hoping to slam it onto the spawn of Satan. No such luck. Due to a moment of hesitation and the edge of the sketchbook catching on the radiator, the vile creature dropped down the back of the radiator. Which also meant it was now under my bed. And i have a lot of gubbage under my bed.
So, while the sadistic arachnid was recovering from its tumble, i had whipped the bed away from the wall. On the plus side, i found the hoodie that i lost a couple of weeks ago. On the minus side, this was where the spider was now hiding. I got a ruler and prodded the hoodie. Nothing. Prodded again. Nothing. I was just starting to think the worst, that the spid-face had gotten the jump on me and had already bombed under the bed, when i moved the hoodie slightly and the sneaky bugger dashed out. I grabbed a glass and while i was scrabbling to trap it, it sped under the bed, into the conglomeration of items that reside under there. Bugger.
Now, i had options. I could admit defeat, gather up my duvet that may or may not have other spiders in it and go and sleep downstairs, or i could persevere and slay the beast with scant regard for my own personal safety. Now, the first option sounded tempting, but there were drawbacks. Firstly, we have exposed floorboards at the moment, cuz we are decorating, and the floorboards have gaps. These potentially held yet more evil spiders. Secondly, if i let the spider go, my room would forever be contaminated, with each and every item holding a possible spider attack. If i left now, there was no going back. I would have to go in after it.
You may think this is a tad overkill for a relatively small animal, but considering that in my head, a spider is capable of latching onto you, running up your body and burrowing into your brain to either kill you or to operate you like a giant puppet, it seemed perfectly necessary. I'm not sure exactly what it is that freaks me out so much, but i know that i can look at them when they are still, but as soon as they move, i panic. Sad, but unfortunately true, so i have to work around this fact. Also, due to an experience a couple of years ago around the same time of year, when i captured one, and then another one appeared and escaped behind my bookshelves, I'm convinced there's more than one. So everything is treated with suspicion, including my duvet, pillow and anything that was anywhere near where the spider was when it appeared. I end up spending the night in a state of rigid tenseness and rapt attention, until my mind blocks out the horror and i can function normally again. You see, if i haven't seen a spider, there are none there, even in my shed or the garage, but as soon as I've seen one, in my head they are everywhere. So it would be impossible for me to just leave one. That's madness. Madness on an incarcerational scale.
So, back to the tale of bravery and terror. I crouch down, and shine my bedside lamp under my bed. I start to nudge things, in the hope it will run out into a convenient space where i can trap it under the glass i had. I do this for some time, thinking that the longer that time goes on, the bigger the radius is for possible locations for the spider. It is not a good thought. My toes are exposed, and i was on the floor, where it could attack at will. I stayed in this position for several minutes, locked in a stalemate of not wanting to actually get under the bed, and not wanting to walk away, when the little bastard cracked. I saw him creep out and stand in the most inconvenient place, behind my bed head. This was crucial. One wrong move now, and it could run back under the bed and return to the previous dilemma. I pulled the bed further out, and got into position with my glass. Easy does it. It twitches. I leap back three feet. I strike, and i win! Spider safely under glass. Ha! Though even though it is captured, it still looks imposing and like it could smash through the glass and bite my arm off at any moment. I stop and catch my breath for a moment, before attempting the delicate procedure of sliding a piece of card under the glass. I now have the unfortunate situation of being in possession of a massive live spider, that i have no idea what to do with. I'm not releasing it, it will just come back, and I can't splat it, as its so big i would be mopping up spider innards. I do the only thing i can think of, and take it into the bathroom. At least if i put it in the bath and it escapes the glassy prison, it won't escape the bath. I then squished the fecker with the glass. It may have been my riled nerves or imagination, but i swear the crunch reverberated up my arm. I then washed it's sorry remains down the plug hole.
After such a harrowing experience, i took to my bed, with the light on and staring madly around me, ready for another attack. It took me about half an hour to trust that my duvet wasn't teeming with similar nasty creatures, and then i kept waking up every hour or so in a dazed paranoia that there was another one. Then, this morning, i had to retrieve my sketchbook that was wedged behind the radiator. That was a jumpy time.
I'm now knackered, with jangled nerves and keep jumping at anything spindly, like thread, or tomato stalks, or hair.
Or, to cut a long story short;
Me - 1
Spider - 0