THE MOBILE PHONE rings at 9.30pm. It is the time of the night when I sit in front of the television screen and ponder whether I should stay or go. A quick check and I see the midweek movie stars Tom Cruise.
I liked watching Tom once upon a time. He entertained me in The Colour of Money, A Few Good Men and The Firm - the last time I enjoyed him was in Jerry Maguire. Bed wins.
The good woman is on the phone. She is calling from the upstairs bedroom. 'We have a situation,' she says in a low controlled voice. I tell her I will be right there.
As I trudge my way up the steps I think there are two things that could possibly be wrong. One is that the young lad or younger lad has woken and is holding her hostage with a pair of hair straighteners in our room. The other is that she has seen a spider. I find her standing on the bed. Frozen. Over her head, sticking its legs defiantly into the curtain is a spider. He is slightly bigger than two matchboxes in length, and about the diameter of an egg in width. It is the largest spider I have ever seen. In fact, it is so big I am impressed. I have heard stories about the thousands of new types of arachnoids that have infiltrated their way into our country in recent years - now the proof has made its way into our bedroom. I don't want to kill him. Surprisingly, the good woman doesn't ask me to. She just wants me to get rid of it. I fetch a Tupperware box and lid from downstairs. I empty out the remnants of last night's spaghetti bolognaise, and shake the spider into it. The young lad is still awake, lying in his bed. I take the intruder in to show him.
'He has hairy legs like you,' he tells me. The good woman agrees. Then I take our guest outside and release him into the darkness. I do not know in which direction he has scuttled. Re-entering the house I turn off the outside light, lock the door and retire for the night. The good woman lies with her head on the pillow, staring at the ceiling. 'I hope the rest of his family aren't living in here somewhere,' she says. Then she falls asleep while I think about the neighbours. I will check their necks for fang marks in the morning.