It’s spring at last (just don’t look out of the window, it may not feel like it yet). The reason I know it’s spring is because the spiders that so enthusiastically took up shelter in the house over the winter, are now vacating the premises in search of warmer climes.
Frankly I’m surprised they ever came in. Like most people this winter, thanks to the extortionate costs, our indoor heating has largely been a case of us wearing 903 layers, and taking it in turns to invite the dog up onto our lap.
But come in, they did. Full disclosure here – I have a deep rooted phobia of spiders. I’m not saying anyone loves them, I get that most people would prefer they didn’t run up their trouser leg or dangle precariously over their head at night. And I know how important they are to the environment, and how harmless they are in this country, and so on and so forth.
All of this means precisely nothing to me, because when an evil bent-legged creature sent straight from the depths of hell, scuttles across the carpet towards me, I don’t give a toss how many flies it’s managed to save the world from that day, or whether it’s going to bite me or not. I just don’t want it on ME. And actually if it’s so bloody scared of me, why does it insist on joining me on so many of my life experiences?
So how do I cope? Well, when you’re frightened, your body is pumped full of adrenaline so that you have the energy to either flee the scene or stand your ground and fight. My brain chose its preferred method way back in childhood, and it plumped for ‘run the hell away as fast and as far as you can’. Ideally, my escape will be accompanied by a screaming noise achieving a decibel level hitherto unknown to mankind.
This will of course be closely followed by getting hold of the nearest person, whether I know them or not, and insisting that they immediately remove the satanic creature from my presence.
I say nearest. My Dad still remembers the time when, in my mid-twenties, when I was single, I begged him to drive 30 miles to come and get a particularly enormous and vicious looking spider from my room. He wasn’t able to find it despite moving every piece of furniture in the room. So I slept back at my parents house for a week. I’m sure he thinks of it with a deep fondness.
There is another unfortunate aspect to this, which is that if the spider is in any way successful enough in its murderous intent, to manage to set even just one of its eight feet onto my body, everything dials up a notch. Primal fear sets in fully at this stage, and I immediately start shedding clothes. And it doesn’t matter where I am.
Once I was brushing my teeth at the sink wearing nothing but a towel, and I looked down to see an enormous eight-legged blur of dark matter sitting peacefully on my tummy. The towel hit the floor and I ran naked not just out of the bathroom, but out of the house and onto the street. And I’m one of those people who doesn’t really like getting changed even in front of other women in a changing room. But throw a spider in there and I’m dancing a naked conga right out into the shop and I don’t care who’s watching.
There was another time when my husband and I were in a cab with friends. The cab drew up outside the Indian restaurant we were going to, and I sensed that familiar wriggling, crawling sensation. I know what you’re thinking but no, my husband had already got out to pay the driver. Anyway I looked more closely and saw the offending spider running over my top. So I did what anybody would do. I jumped out of the cab, stripped off my top and bra and stood outside the restaurant with my head upside down, frantically brushing out the probably long-gone creature from my hair.
Obviously afterwards I’m completely embarrassed and humiliated. But also relieved that I’m completely free of the many-legged beast.
When I had children, I didn’t want to pass on my fear, so I made gargantuan efforts to change. I tried to pretend but picking up on my fear wasn’t exactly difficult, and it became obvious when my daughter asked ‘Mummy why is your face the same colour as the radiator?’ that I was fooling nobody.
I had to do something about it. I booked in for a Psy Tap session. It’s too hippy and new age to explain and I can already see the rolling eyes out there. I had them myself. All I can say is that it helped. I can now be in the same room as a spider if it’s far enough away. And I can actually rescue a spider under a glass and put it outside. Even the big ones.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re one of those weirdos that goes to a zoo and holds a tarantula, then I’m sorry but you’re clinically insane in my book (my daughter being one of you). But I’m definitely in a better place.
However I’m promising nothing when it comes to one actually being on me. I suggest that if sudden and seemingly inexplicable and definitely inappropriate nudity isn’t your thing, stay away from me during spider season.
Or at least have a drink first.
Bring on Bedtime!