Who is Hunting Whom, and Why?

It is as well, when living on a boat, to be ware, very ware, at all times and about all things. Stepping on and off the well-deck for example. I know that the Aussies will guffaw and mock, but is this beastie – with its web entirely across the opening of the cratch cover – guarding me from some towpath menace, or hunting me for the meat?

There is not some little dedication and determination involved, for this is the second time in two days that I have thrown this spider off the boat (and into the hedgerow). On the first occasion his web was canal-side, so either he’s confused or his motives have changed from ‘huntin’ juicy houseflies’ to ‘vengeance for being lobbed unceremoniously into the hawthorne’.

The consequences of a wit and care-free step onto or off the boat do not near thinking about.

I wonder if I could train him to spin his web across the towpath, to hunt joggers and cyclists? Heck, he could probably stop and eat his way through a Fountains contractor and the motor-mower.

The it of the weather has changed from as cold as a politician’s heart to as warm and humid as a feverish camel’s crotch, just in a matter of twenty-four hours. Other people seem to be loving this weather, as far as I am concerned it is ugh and set to be even more so for the next couple of days. Can’t walk anywhere, can’t do any work, too warm to sleep in the evenings and damned if I’m going to sleep through the early mornings, the only civilised portion of the days! Moan moan moan, it’s all that I ever do.

Heat, spiders, life – don’t talk to me about life, all of the diodes down my left-hand side have this sort of dull ache…


Meanwhile – photo a couple of days old – strange signs and symbols are appearing down at the junction. Either the local wildlife has come along in leaps and bounds and will soon be inventing the wheel, or someone’s remembered how to play the old-fashioned way… or someone is leaving secret signs about the place.

My money’s on the wildlife having evolved.

Roger, we’re not hibernating in a muddy hole this winter, I’ll build the frame, you find the buffalo skins. We’ll be snug in this with these grass cuttings for bedding, and then in Springtime we’ll open a tax-free casino… if the Pintocrashtest Tribe can do it then I’m damned sure that the Farquar-Smythes can too. Even if we are mice.

Egads, tortuous much.

None of which guarantees that I’ll live to see tomorrow unless I remember to keep checking for blood-thirsty arachnids before stepping on and off the boat. Not that I’m doing much of that in this weather. Does heat drive spiders wild? Perhaps that’s why this one has gone rogue.

We used to be able to shoot tigers and elephants that went rogue.


No dear – I said rogue, not vogue.

Don’t get many tigers or elephants doing the vogue.

God, I miss voguing. Vogueing? Doing the vogue. I could dance in those days.

Everyone could dance in those days. Probably be shot now if you unleashed a half-decent vogue onto modern society without a trigger warning or some such.


Where’s the brain on a spider, and do you think that Mother’s old sawn-off twelve-bore would do the job? Might not get a chance to re-load…

Incidentally, talking of Mother’s twelve-bore, not many people know this but in the early nineteen-seventies my ol’ Ma was damned near involved in one of those classic ‘The Sweeney’ style bank robberies. Er – as a passer-by only, of course.

We lived briefly then in a “village” called Hartford, on the outskirts of Huntingdon, a London “over-flow” commuter town, and the area about us was turning into one of those “designed” “new towns”, with concrete walkways and tunnels and little shopping centres and the kind of housing that you could only persuade human-rat hybrids to live in. The nearest shopping centre to us was in this concrete hell, and also housed a bank…

Mother was wandering along there one day to pick up a few Vesta boil-in-the-bag curries and a bottle of chilled Blue Nun for my tea when a Mk.II Jaguar screamed into view, banged up the kerb, drove across the pedestrian zone and screeched to a halt outside the bank. Several burly gentlemen with – I kid you not – balaclavas and stockings on their heads to hide their identities then entered the bank to make an uncheduled withdrawal of funds not necessarily their own.

Not the actual car for obvious reasons, but this was the type. This is an S-Type, but the shape is similar enough.

Shots were fired, by which time Mother – having been trained in Hong Kong (if trouble breaks out, find a Gurkha and stay behind him) – had taken cover behind a concrete trough of forget-me-nots, quickly forgetting every detail of what she’d seen (not remembering being the better part of living longer, police protection being what it was). There weren’t many Gurkhas in Huntingdon.

I’ve searched high and low on the interwebnettings, but the local newspaper doesn’t seem to have been nice enough to have transferred its archives into electronic form, damn it.

The ladies of my family have a long history of being involved in serious crime. The Sis was once held hostage at the airport in Sicily by, you guessed it, a load of disgruntled Sicilyonians. Sicilyonions? Italians. Locals. Rather unimpressed with the hostage-takers she demanded “tea, and bathroom rights” for all, and led convoys of hostages to and fro.

Leading the convoys of course meant that she got to use the loos first.

The government records say otherwise, but we’re really none of us as green as we are cabbage-looking.

It does make a chap wonder.

More peculiar still is how I sashayed from giant spiders barricading the well-deck, through Huntingdon and on to Sicily.

I can’t decide whether my medications are kicking in or are wearing off.

Best take some more, and that’ll sort matters out one way or another.

Twelve-bore, I think. The spider hasn’t been hatched that can take a twelve-bore barrel up the schnoz and live to see another day. Except perhaps for those “bird-eating” ones in tropical climes; you’d probably have to use one (or two) of Mother’s old hand-grenades for those. Or perhaps take off and nuke the whole site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.


No need to wear the stocking or balaclava though. Too damned hot and humid for that sort of thing anyway.



  1. Thank All Things Bright And Bootiful that the spider season is almost over. I’ve had the wee buggers abseiling down in front of my eyes as I take my morning tea. I vowed to assassinate their offspring if they kept it up. That seems to have worked, so far. 🙂

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    1. We’ve got flies here that must have been interbred with labrador dogs – they are convinced that we’re going to be best friends forever. Each evening before bed I take time out to assassinnate the last one or two, the ones that haven’t heeded my warnings and haven’t taken any of the opportunities for escape that I provide. I am highly proficient in the noble martial art of The Tea-Towel Flick… (a tea-towel not in general use for other purposes, natch).

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      1. I give ours one warning, then at the next violation they get a five-second window to vacate the premises, after that I bring down the wrath of the Gods and Goddesses upon their sorry arses! (and mostly just relocate them outside, but I don’t tell them that, so as to retain my street cred as a Do-er of Terrible Deeds)

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  2. You have my sympathies – vis a vis the spider. I used to live in a house with a large front porch and bushes either side of the front steps. Come the warmer weather a giant web = and I do mean GIANT = would appear and I would have to demolish it every morning as I left! I begged the elderly owners to cut back the bushes but to no avail! The thought of walking into face first into that web still makes me crinch!

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    1. It does make you wonder what they’re trying to catch, doesn’t it? If human “civilisation” wasn’t around what would a web between two large bushes catch? Buffalo? Moose? They’re getting more intelligent though too – had a large one inside the boat and when I approached with the capturing jar it promptly ran to the angled corner of a cabinet and avoided flat surfaces! Scary stuff…


  3. I pulled my mug out of the cupboard one morning to discover a spider in the bottom of it, so large that its legs were hanging over the rim. And I have a large mug. I need a lot of coffee to wake up in the morning…apart from that morning, of course.

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    1. I haven’t slept well since watching some wildlife documentary decades ago – and seeing film of spiders on some damnable sea-bed somewhere, a metre across…

      As Ripley advised, take off and nuke that damned sea from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.

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  4. I shall neither guffaw nor mock for though that is a wee beastie, it is a Generous Web to have one’s face enshrouded in when you pop out of your hatch. Revolting. An obliging bird is missing a golden snack opportunity with Madame squatting dead-centre like that.

    Your family’s brushes with High Drama makes for dramatic reading. Have you chosen the Quiet Life Aquatic so as not to tempt the proverbial hat trick?

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    1. Regrettably I attract my (very) fair share of such situations. I was once accused of being a “hit and run” driver by a neighbour – full police investigation job, albeit brief – I was supposed to have mounted the pavement with my car, chased them and run them down… Fortunately, my car was so absolutely filthy that it was immediately evident to the police that I’d hit nothing except every muddy puddle on the M6.

      I also was once done the honour of being shot at while sitting at traffic lights in Norwich, Norfolk… they hit the door about an inch below the glass (and mmy head). I dropped a rather large wheelie through a red traffic light – the noise inside a car is phenomenal when it’s shot. Never did find out who or why, but there have been no subsequent assassination attempts (that I have been aware of). 😉

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  5. We were stalked by the Black Douglas, a huge spider of a variety known as horse killer here….until a family of small birds moved into the house. They started on the smaller spiders – so no more cobwebs in the rafters – and the Black Douglas seemed to take the hint as he has made himself scarce. I still check my shoes every morning, all the same. I remember the Douglas Larder…

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    1. I wonder if perhaps a decoy duck on the well-deck would help here then? It’s worth trying. The smaller spiders aboard generally build their webs outside in a corner of a window – I am often treated to battles and skirmishes between spider and trapped prey… as you intimate, it’s all gruesome. I wonder if spiders scream at the sheer ugliness of form when they see a human being? Actually, scratch that thought – I know the answer, often screaming involuntarily myself at some passer-by. 😉

      How are power supply, neighbours and television? Any progress?

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      1. I would pass on the idea of a decoy duck on the roof just in case someone thought you were Fizzgog off Rosie & Jim!
        On the other hand they might not as he has been dead for about years now😆😂😂

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        1. Good point. I often look as though I might have been dead for years. People have remarked upon it, and it’s all done without theatrical make-up. My apologies for making you spill your tea this morning, I couldn’t find tick-over… 😉


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