He was large and fearsome in appearance - and he was sitting bang in the middle of the shower tray when I went to have my morning shower.
Now I love spiders. In principle. I have loved them ever since reading Charlotte’s Web at the age of six - I cried my eyes out over that book and my older brother, Phil, who had borrowed it for me from the local library (you had to be seven
years old to join the library in those days) received a right telling-off from my mother for upsetting me so. It remains one of my all-time favourite children’s books.
When My Foursome were but littl’uns and any visitor had the temerity to point out the cobwebs lurking, dustily, in corners of our living room, I would tell them, airily, that they were the children’s “nature project.” Not everyone
thought I was joking.
In the days when Mr B was in charge of such matters, any spider stupid enough to turn up in our house soon learnt the error of his (or her)
ways. In vain would I protest that spiders are One of God’s Creatures and so entitled to be treated with respect, Mr B took great pleasure (or so it seemed to me, still mourning Charlotte after all these years) in despatching them to the Great Cobweb
in the Sky.
Fast forward to today and the removal of spiders features on the long list of domestic duties which once fell to Mr B and now rest firmly on my shoulders.
Mostly I still take my usual Live and Let Live approach to spiders - but every so often this simply won’t work. As in, when an extremely large, leggy, spider lounges, lankily in the shower tray, almost daring me to scream. Before last year and two operations
to remove cataracts, I might not even have seen the Eight-Legged-One until (horrible thought!) I stepped on him, but thanks to a surgeon’s skill, I can see clearly now. There he is - in my shower. There is no point in screaming as it will only scare
the life out of Mr B happily watching Breakfast TV downstairs. It is up to me to deal with my Spider Problem.
Last year my friend Margaret gave me a plastic spider
catcher, an ingenious gadget which I have never actually used in earnest. I did have a few practice sessions, then put it away in a kitchen cupboard. But which kitchen cupboard? I ask myself as I trail downstairs with a towel wrapped around me, to find it.
I eventually locate it behind all Mr B’s packets of cereal on the top shelf of the larder. No, I can’t imagine why I put it there, either, but I presume I had a good reason.
Upstairs to the bathroom I trot, waving the spider catcher before me in a gesture of determined intent, hoping that maybe my unwelcome visitor might have done the decent thing and disappeared down the plug hole. But no, there he is,
looking even larger and leggier than before.
The idea behind the spider catcher is that you trap the spider under a plastic container, usefully fastened onto the
end of a long handle, then carefully slide a kind of door across the opening, thus trapping the intruder inside. You can then carry the receptacle carefully outside and release the spider safely into the Brave New World Which He Never Knew Existed Outside
the Shower Cubicle. It’s not so very different, to be honest, from the time honoured method of using a glass and piece of cardboard.
In fact, I think the
glass and cardboard might have been easier. It takes me seven - yes, seven! - attempts to ensnare the spider, so afraid I am of catching one of his eight legs in the trap door. There is no way I can be responsible for amputating one (or more) of the poor thing’s
legs. As it is I fear the whole experience is far more traumatic than it would have been had I simply washed him down the plug hole using the shower head on full stream. He might even have preferred death than this Trial by Ineptitude.
Finally, success! I proudly carry the trapped spider downstairs to show Mr B. I am expecting some kind of recognition for my bravery / resourcefulness. Mr B scoffs at the size of
my spider which he declares, dismissively, “isn’t that big, really.” What do you mean, I protest, he is absolutely HUGE! I take another look at him, trapped inside his plastic cage. He is crunched up, presumably with fear, and he doesn’t
look nearly as, well, large and fearsome as he really, truly is. I am talking about the spider here, not Mr B. Please don’t start...
I take the spider outside
and release him into the back garden - he scuttles away without so much as a grateful backward glance. He goes so fast I can’t even check that he still has all eight legs.
“That one’s for you, Charlotte,” I say. Fanciful as ever...