Spidergate, the sequel. And some fleas.
Things I don’t believe in. Superstitions. Old wives’ tales. Destiny. Fate. Water divination. Astrology. (Oh, and that nonsense about how ‘they’ve’ apparently been forced to add an extra sign to the Zodiac, on account of the celestial bodies all having moved so much, and had to move the rest up the charts as a consequence, including me – ME!! – from Leo to Cancer. On. Your. Bike. I am NOT having that.)
But sometimes life does throw up curiousnesses. In this case, very pleasingly (and for you too, if you like your columns less ‘ranty old bag’ and more ‘lighter slice of life’) because, having got down off my high horse the week before last, I found myself first bitten by an arachnid (more of which later), then home, only to be overrun with cat fleas. Brilliant synchronicity building here, don’t you think?
It’s brilliant, period. Because cat fleas absolutely do not like me. Don’t even go near me, let alone scramble in droves up my leg.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Back to Spidergate. And what a political imbroglio it turned out to be, when only hours after the Brown Recluse spider became number one suspect (scientifically arrived at, I hasten to add, on grounds of distribution, habitat, and modus operandi, not to mention a lengthy analysis of the horrors on badspiderbites.com, which website I promise truly exists) when my cousin Shelagh pops up on facebook to tell me that it probably IS a mosquito bite, and that other family members have been known to react similarly.
Hmm. On the one hand, I’m pretty solid on the sciency-researchy-search stuff. And a quick spin round positivelymonstrousmosquitobites.com confirms it. That’s a lie, actually. There is no such website. Don’t be silly. But neither can I find pictures anywhere of mozzie bites that look anything like mine do.
Still, Shelagh helpfully posts her own impressively grisly image, of two impressive red weals up her leg. Which I study at length, because I don’t wish to appear to be milking a common or garden mozzie nip, just for the instagram kudos. (hashtag ‘I’m hard me’, hashtag ‘trump this, suckers!’, hashtag ‘that’ll beat your photo of a cupcake’.)
But two things strike me. One being that her weals are much more weal-ish. Oozy, even. Wet-looking. Which mine’s definitely not. No, mine’s still definitely in the spider-venom ball-park – the neat circle, the subcutaneous bleeding action, the total absence of weal, weep or pus.
So I stick to my guns, and get busy spooking myself (badspiderbites.com again) about the venom tracking inexorably to my heart. Till more research reveals that the Brown Recluse, bad-ass eight-legger that it is, won’t actually kill me. And as flucloxocillin is a drug of great wonder, cellulitis won’t see my lower leg off either.
So on goes the holiday, and though I keep a weather eye on it, my bite all too soon stops doing two things a bite should – 1, hurting. And 2, garnering sympathy.
So that’s that. And by the time we get home in the wee hours, all things small and bitey are forgotten. Till Georgie’s boyfriend Llyr makes a deep but anxious noise from the family bathroom, that is.
I initially decide this must be a heartfelt Welsh profanity, but it turns out to be a strangulated ‘arrrrrgh!’. And this on account of a new family having moved into the family bathroom – one of seven and a half million cat fleas.
They were contained at least. We keep almost all the internal doors shut when absent, mostly to spare us other cat-related horrors, such as wall to wall mud, drying slugs and bits of rodent. But it seems our space-related stinginess has saved us even greater horrors. Because, despite the cats being de-loused just a scant four weeks previously, that ‘up to four week’s protection’ on the flea liquid packet is clearly not one to play fast and loose with.
For they have sat on the bath mat, having clearly been riddled. And with the heat and humidity of our shut-up upstairs, the fleas have been having a field day. There was certainly a field of them up Llyr’s legs. A field big enough to man several flea Olympics.(I hear they’ve run away from the circus.)
And the upshot, of course, is that we’ve a mammoth task ahead. Four days in and the little sods are still pinging everywhere, despite a full four bottles of spray being deployed.
So once again, it’s a case of watch this space. Only this time, in trousers, from a distance.
First published in the Western Mail Weekend magazine Sept 24th 2016