Those who know me will tell you that I’m not one of life’s spider fans. Actually if I’m honest, that’s a bit generous: I bloody hate the bloody horrid things. I don’t like the way they look; I don’t like the way they move; I don’t like how they’re quite clearly out to get me. Yes, I’ve read Charlotte’s Web. Yes, it was quite sad. No, it did nothing to quash my total abhorrence of the crawly, scuttling monstrosities.
I’ve felt this way about spiders for almost as long as I can remember. Nothing will elicit screams faster than seeing something scurry across the carpet, legs shuttling unnaturally quickly underneath a piece of furniture.
The reaction they provoke in me is really quite pronounced: whilst I might be able to ignore a money spider if it’s somewhere up in the crevices of our high ceilings, anything bigger tends to turn me into a wibbling idiot. My first reaction is to scream. I’ll then panic, and either freeze from fear, or run shaking out of a room, unable to go back into it until I know the bastard has been Dealt With by someone other than me.
Very occasionally, if I come across a spider in the bath, I’ll be able to muster up the courage (generally whilst sweating gently and retching) to reach for the shower head and run the water as hot as possible until my arachnid nemesis has met a boily end. Yes, I know it’s horrid. It’s also the only thing I can do to get rid of them that doesn’t involve my throwing up all over my feet.
Counterintuitively, spiders were less of a problem when I was living alone. Admittedly, I was in a brand new house which let in far fewer spiders than our beautiful Victorian, yet slightly more perforated, London flat. But when spiders did dare cross the threshold, they were faced with my preferred anti-creepy crawly weapon of choice: a Colin. One scream from me, and he learnt pretty quickly to come running before executing a well-placed jump onto the offending article before wolfing it down, generally whole, but occasionally with a loud crunch for good measure.
Now, however, I live with The Writer who, whilst highly adept at spotting and removing spiders without fuss or faff when he’s at home, well, isn’t always at home. Which causes a problem when I’m alone, cooking, or with a desperate need to pee, and am suddenly barred from a room, held hostage by an evil arachnid until TW returns.
And so, deciding it was time Something Was Done and disinclined to spend an awful lot of money on hypnosis or CBT or other expensive ways of convincing myself to man the hell up, I do what all rational offspring of scientist parents do, and went straight to folklore.
Which is why, a few weeks ago, when back at Parental Home Blonde, probably much to the chagrin of the local primary school pupils, I made a beeline for the horse chestnut tree at the end of the lane, and scooped as many shiny conkers as I could into the pockets of my mac.
These are now scattered liberally around the flat – next to the large gap in the bathroom floorboards; along the windowsills in the bedroom; next to the plants in the kitchen – in the hope that they’ll deter any spidery interlopers planning on spending the winter.