TO paraphrase Pete Seeger’s mournful 1961 protest song ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’ I would like to ask, with even greater sadness: ‘Where Have All the Spiders Gone?’
There have been hardly any turning up in the bijou residence this summer. I need to know why.
There was one in the kitchen sink last week, a tiny fellow. I allowed him – I always assume spiders are male: please don’t ask me to sex the things – to spend a comfortable night there and in the morning gave him a hand in getting back into the outside world.
It really was a hand. Usually I pick them up on the washing-up flannel before turning them loose in the back yard.
This one jumped off it on to the back of my hand where he sat nicely until freed. I really think we bonded a little.
It may be gathered from all this that I like spiders. I am an arachnophile. I don’t have them grilled on wholemeal toast with just a touch of garlic butter, you understand. I just like to have them around the house. They are a sign of summer which is more than you can say for the sun this year.
I don’t let them lodge permanently. They have sought shelter and all I do is provide it before letting them go back to nature and I have had so many dropping in over the last few years that I believe I have gained a reputation among the Isle of Man’s spider community as a welcoming host.
In fact, when winter comes, I often imagine them somewhere out in the night, chatting among themselves and comparing notes on their summer contacts with humankind.
In my mind I see a grizzled senior spider telling youngsters around the camp fire: ‘The chap I can recommend is the white-haired portly old gent in that little house off Blackberry Lane.
‘You don’t get any of that frantic screaming by hysterical women which can deafen you and he doesn’t come hunting you with a shoe in his hand.
‘Unfortunately he doesn’t provide food. But there is usually something to drink on offer. He’s often hosing down some stuff late at night and he does tend to spill it a bit and you can help yourself. I don’t like the taste of it myself.
‘I think it’s some of the cheaper screwtop stuff he gets in Shoprite.’
All right, don’t tell me. I am being fanciful.
But I have to confess that I also talk to spiders when I come across them and when I see them politely off the premises.
They seem to appreciate my kindly tone, not what they usually get.
Unfortunately I don’t know if spiders read the Examiner. But it’s a much handier size for them these days and if they follow my column I would like to say: ‘You’re very welcome to the bijou residence. I miss having you around.
‘Tell your friends and feel free to nail all the flies you can. That will be thanks enough for me.
‘I would also ask, when you’re on my bedroom ceiling while I’m asleep, that you stay put. There are limits you know.’
• I HAVE been reliably informed that at Laxey harbour there is a sign saying: ‘Swimming prohibited.’
In that case, what do you if you fall in by accident?
• SKY Movies included the following listing a short time ago: ‘Life Without Dick.’ Does that mean it’s on the cutting room floor.