Sunday, 18 October 2015

Little Miss Muffet (sat in her car and screamed)


I’m not a fan of spiders, nor are my family.  Last summer the media was full of terrible tales about False Widows.  They’d apparently infiltrated the UK and embarked on a frenzied breeding program.  Newspapers trumpeted stories about horrendous spider bites that put victims in hospital. Photographs of the wounded with swollen limbs were splashed across the pages.  Everyone was terrified!  In fact at the time of writing this there are four False Widows sitting in webs outside my lounge window.  The fact that they remain shows general hysteria has calmed down.  That said, hysterics of the unfunny kind will break out if any one of those Widows dare to enter this house.
            Spider encounters are enough to make the bravest jump.  Earlier this week my mother spotted a huge hairy monster on her bedroom carpet.  She creaked off to get her spider-catcher (she never kills them, unlike her murdering daughter and grand-daughter).  By the time she’d creaked back, the spider had gone.  She found it again at bed time – when she got under the covers.  All together now…ARGH!
            Last weekend my daughter jumped in her car.  Humming absent-mindedly, she set off.  Just as she was gaining speed, in her peripheral vision something moved.  Daring to take her eyes off the road, she saw a spider had parachuted off the door and was dangling across the driver’s window.  Inside, not out.  Eleanor was instantly on red-alert.  A scream rose up but died in her throat.  She didn’t want to do anything to send the spider dropping on her or, even worse, scuttling off into the depths of the car only to re-emerge when on a motorway.
            Leaning away from the driver’s door, my daughter continued to drive with stretched cartoon arms whilst searching for a place to pull over.  To add to her anxiety, the sound of a siren filled the air.  Was it a fire engine?  An ambulance?  Spotting a gap ahead, Eleanor edged towards it.  The siren was gaining momentum.  Every pulse of its screaming wail matched her galloping heartrate.  The spider had started to spin its way over to Eleanor’s shoulder.  Squeaking in terror, she kerbed the car, mounted the pavement and promptly stalled the engine.  The siren was almost upon her.  Ratcheting up the handbrake, she spotted a toilet roll on the open glove shelf.  Yes, this family carry toilet rolls in their vehicles.  I always mean to provide boxes of tissues, but always fail.  Anyway, I digress.  The spider was almost upon Eleanor.  Whimpering, she grabbed the toilet roll and smashed it hard against the spider.  Without losing a beat, she flung the driver’s door wide and tossed the toilet roll just as a police car – siren still blaring – roared past.  The toilet roll sailed through the air, bounced off the police car’s windscreen and, like a party popper, streamed across the road.  Eleanor was horrified.  Visions of a police car screeching to a halt with an angry officer arresting her for assault by toilet roll danced through her brain.  Unable to take any more, Eleanor collapsed weakly over the steering wheel.  The horn promptly beeped making her rocket upright again in shock.  Fortunately the police car had more pressing business than a highly strung teenager chucking toilet rolls about.  Exhaling shakily, Eleanor started the car and drove back home.
            ‘Mum!’ she cried, crashing into the hallway.  ‘Help!’
            ‘What’s happened?’ I asked in alarm.
            Eleanor leant against the wall for support.  ‘Spider,’ she gasped.  ‘I need you to check the car over for me.  I’m scared.’
            Well so was I in all honesty.  But like all Mother Hens, when our chicks need assistance, we get on with it.  ‘I’ll be right with you.’  I squared my shoulders.  This called for my long-handled feather duster.  Thus armed, I marched out to Eleanor’s car.  My daughter trotted after me.
            ‘Eeeeeek,’ she squealed.  ‘There’s one on the boot.  Look!’
            Sure enough, a fat garden spider was dossing about on a web strung between the aerial and the rear wiper blade.  I didn’t hesitate.  The feather duster whipped through the air and hit its target.  I then went over every inch of the car whacking the paintwork like a woman possessed.  Which I was.  Fear drove me.  I was aware of net curtains twitching.  Heaven only knows what the neighbours thought watching a frenzied blonde thrash the living daylights out of a car with a pink feather duster.  The same exercise was carried out internally.  Thankfully no spider was found but I didn’t take any chances and thwack-thwacked a dropped chocolate Minstrel, a chewing gum wrapper and even a lost penny.
            ‘This car,’ I panted as I clambered out of the confined area, ‘is now a spider-free zone.’
            Which reminds me.  What do you call 108 spiders on a car tyre?  A spinning wheel…

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