Living in Australia was always a thing I wanted to do. I just couldn’t ever bring myself to do it and any time I met an Australian I would quiz them on the likelihood that I’d see a spider. These people were usually men, example, the ad men I made cocktails with at the bar in Harvey Nics who reveled in identifying all the eight legged species living in Oz, not to mention the crocs, snakes, sharks and other assorted nasties; and my colleague at Christie’s who took great pleasure in telling me he rode through a ginormous web one morning cycling through the park and how that’s common in Sydney. Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!
My phobia is not a laughing matter and yet everyone I meet thinks it hilarious to bait me on the topic. Like, my former best friend. When we were about 10, in the days when Encarta was as it good as it got, we were upstairs in her brother’s room and for some reason they thought it might be fun to search for the biggest, most deadliest spider they could find. The American Wolf Spider. I mean, FUCK! Not content with stopping there, my so-called friend, zoomed in, enlarged the bloody thing, printed it out and stuffed it into my coat pocket for me to find later. Needless to say, we’re no longer friends.
I managed to get to the age of 28 before my husband, who was itching to fly away from England and start a new life somewhere else, encouraged me to join him and our daughter in Sydney. In the months leading up to our departure, my standard response to anyone who asked if I was excited was: “The minute I see a spider, I’m on the next plane back to England.” I’m not kidding.
I love my husband more than anything but the guy is too nice for his own good. He won’t just kill a spider once I’ve alerted him to it. No, while I cower twenty feet away (preferably in the nearest cafe), he attempts to dispose of it as humanely as possible. (I totally should’ve married a pest control guy). Anyway, when we were living in Kilburn – urban jungle that it is – I walked into our room one night, I hadn’t even turned on the light and I could see it. It was HUGE. I yell for Mr Peace to All Creatures and watch as he slowly advances on this monster, which sensing his lack of commitment to actually evicting it, seizes the opportunity and runs under the bed. The only creature to be evicted from our bedroom that night, was me. I slept on the sofa, quaking in terror.
So what the F am I going to do if we have that problem here, in the land of deadly creatures? The other problem is he works long hours, so the other night when a house spider actually did start to scale my ceiling I called my neighbour in to do what I was too terrified to do. She’s my new hero!
Currently we’re dealing with another issue. Cockroaches. Or as my Grandpa used to say, to avoid saying the actual word, Cockaleeki Soup! They’re taking over my kitchen. I spent half an hour discussing the various bug-killing products on offer at the local supermarket with this old guy who was looking for an odourless option. There are bombs, surface sprays, outdoor sprays, baits… the choices are endless. Problem is, when you have a toddler running around if you get all spray-happy, you run the risk of inadvertently poisoning your own child.
So what the F am I meant to do?
Okay, so I know I have to suck it up and man up and all that jazz, or option b, I ditch the husband and run off with the guy from ZAP… or I suppose I could just get said ZAP man in to exterminate the cockaleeki curse from my house. Hmmm…. ZAP Man – bug-slaying superhero extraordinaire… please g-d! He’s coming today…