Friday 24 January 2020

Come and have a go, you eight-legged freaks!

Bring it on: Our False Widow spider problem is like something from ‘Eight Legged Freaks’
Bring it on: Our False Widow spider problem is like something from ‘Eight Legged Freaks’
Alex Ferguson's autobiography
Michael Flatley

Bring it on: Our False Widow spider problem is like something from ‘Eight Legged Freaks’

Forget about the budget. Forget the sight of old people collapsing in droves as they protest against the cutbacks. Forget about the Alex Ferguson book (although not for too long, as you will soon see).

No, the big media frenzy of the week is…spiders. False Widow spiders to be precise.

Thanks to the mild weather we’ve been having, they’ve somehow managed to grow to some ridiculous size and, rather terrifyingly, now deliver a bite that has been described by some as being worse than being shot, while others say that the bite is little worse than that of a wasp.

Well, I’ve been stung by wasps and it bloody hurt. I was once stung by a hornet on the cheek and the pain, allergic reaction and resultant swelling were all horrendous. And yes, I’m referring to the cheek on my face, and it’s not something anyone but the most dedicated masochist would ever recommend. But spiders scare me.

Now, you should never trust someone who is competitive in their talk of how bad their fear of spiders is — it’s a bit like a recovering alcoholic who likes to tell you how he would have 27 Martinis for breakfast.

Because how bad the condition is doesn’t really matter.

All that matters is whether it has become a problem in your day to day life. True, they are the single reason I won’t go to Australia, so I suppose cutting an entire continent off your itinerary could be seen as a sign that my fear of spiders might be slightly over the top.

True, I am afraid of our indigenous ones but have also come to an arrangement with them — they have even occupied part of the shed in the back garden and that’s cool; everyone needs a place to live and I’m an easy-going kind of guy. For example, I won’t fumigate the living bejaysus out of them as long as they stay away from my living room floor.

But these False Widows and their toxic bites are a another class of arachnid gurrier altogether.

For example, a secondary school in Gloucestershire has been declared infested with them and has been forced to shut down until they can negotiate with the leaders of the False Widows and persuade them to move somewhere else.

Sorry, did we just wander on to the set of the great Eight Legged Freaks by mistake?

That wouldn’t be too bad if we were at least treated to the undeniably consoling sight of Kari Wuhrer running around in a pair of shorts, as she does so expertly in that film.

But no, we’ve reached the stage where schools are closing; the papers are full of people who have been attacked by these many-legged gougers and people who are freaked out by an ordinary house spider are now booking the next flight out of here.

So, as a self-confessed arachnophobe, am I one of those who is left whimpering with fear at the prospect of being jumped by a gang of them at night?

No. In fact, I say bring it on, ye little feckers.

Because having spent my entire life being told that my fear of spiders was irrational and a sign of my inner wuss, we now have a creature that we should all be wary of.

And that suits me just fine. Because the main emotion spiders bring out in me is my own self disgust.

After all I’d willingly swim in open water with sharks, so I don’t think I’m an inherently cowardly sort — yet these tiny, truly fascinating and hugely valuable creatures have always reduced me to a gibbering wreck. But now that I know that the battle lines have been drawn?

Well, let’s just say that it’s on.

Me and you, spider bitches, and may the best man — or arachnid — win. Granted, that may seem like a rather simplistic, rather male approach to the problem. But at least I know where I stand.

And yet I still can’t really bring myself to properly splat them. Honestly, I disgust myself with my own weakness at times.

But don’t tell the spiders I said that. They can sense fear and I don’t want to come home tonight and have a gang of angry spiders beat me up with a rolled up copy of my own newspaper column.

Although it would make an undeniably ironic death.

Conduct unbecoming of a gentleman

As entertaining as the spat(s) caused by Alex Ferguson’s book probably is, and as worrying from a United fan’s point of view as some of his comments undoubtedly are, the whole vista begins to change once you take a step back from things.

Because once even the most avid football fan has put a bit of intellectual distance between themselves and the fuss, one thing becomes clear — Jesus, they’re all behaving like a bunch of bloody women.

And it was interesting to see Ferguson rake over the negative impact of Victoria Beckham once more.

Because the last time any of us saw so many recriminations and long forgotten scores being settled was when the Spice Girls reunion ended in a fog of hairspray, bitching, fake tans, spite and malice.

Girl Power, indeed.

Yes Michael we get it. You’re straight?

So Michael Flatley has been farting around again, this time telling Piers Morgan about his well worn tale of being stopped by the cops while driving his Ferrari as a girl went down on him.

So, he’s once more boasting about combining a fast car and a bit of female naughtiness.

Jesus, Mick — ever get the impression you might be overcompensating ever so slightly?

Irish Independent

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