Saturday, November 25, 2006

When Insects Attack, Lurk Or Get In The Biscuits

Excerpts from The Ladybird Book of French Creepy-Crawlies and Their Behavioural Characteristics:

Wasp (la guêpe). Refuses to die when winter comes. Instead, lurks under duvets and stings the naked arses of unsuspecting humans that try to get in the bed with it. Buzzes a lot while the injured human leaps about in pain and bats at it with a copy of Susan Cooper's peerless children's fantasy novel The Dark Is Rising, before shoving it unceremoniously out of the window. Lurks under the windowsill waiting to be let back in so it can have another go.

Spider (l'araignée). Gets in laundry baskets and reveals itself menacingly whenever lumbering humans attempt to bury it under socks, pants etc.

Moth (le papillon de nuit). Breeds prolifically in cupboards. Somehow gets into the fancy biscuits, despite the fact that the fancy biscuits are in an airtight tin. Somehow gets into the fancy coffee, despite the fact that the fancy coffee is in an airtight jar inside the fridge. Will not stop getting in the fancy foodstuffs no matter how many times it is told. Eventually pays for its disobedience by being mercilessly sucked up by the hoover.

NB I know a spider is not an insect.

PS It is Smat's birthday today! Happy birthday Smat!


Valerie said...

I read the second half of "When Insects Attack, Lurk Or Get In The Biscuits" as being in the imperative, and figured you were instructing me that next time I got a mosquito bite, I should climb inside a tin of shortbread; or perhaps just hang about outside someone's house, making them nervous.

patroclus said...

Ooh Valerie, that made me laugh. Sadly no, it is a title I shamelessly ripped off former British TV comedy gods Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, who had a sketch called 'When Things Get Knocked Over, Spill, Or Fall Out Of Cupboards'.

Hannah said...

Bleurgh on all three counts. This is why I like to keep an alpha-male type round the place. Good for removing spiders, chatting to the plumber and opening jars.

Gross generalisation? No. That really is pretty much what we got him for.

Mangonel said...

Dear Valerie,
If only your comment had happened before last week and my (totally unseasonal, not to say unsporting) wasp bite! I would have laughed through the tears and no mistake. As it was, I just laughed. Fit to bust, actually.

Patroclus, did you know hoovers work equally well on spiders and wasps?

Re The Dark is Rising, I still remember being outraged that early on in the very first book, the Merlin character tell the children, go on this adventure if you like - I promise no harm will come to you. Well what was the point of reading the rest of it when all the tension had been leached out by page three. Blimey, I'm still cross!

Tim Footman said...

Since coffee snobs will pay vast sums for kopi luwak, the beans of which have been through a civet's arsehole, I don't see why you can't achieve a similar marketing stunt with a moth-enhanced brew. You could even sell it in Starbucks. Flapuccino?

BiB said...

Tim, can you confirm, seeing as it's vaguely you're neck of the woods, if Kopi Campuran has also been passed through some-animal-or-other's digestive tract? It was given to me by a Malaysian pal and only gets used in case of emergency. There is a squirrel-like illustration on the packaging.

Annie said...

'le papillon de nuit' - how poetic are the French? And why must there be wasps?

patroclus said...

Hee hee, what brilliant comments!

Hannah: I was very proud of the fact that I had survived a year on my own in my London flat, successfully removing spiders from the bath, fixing various central heating malfunctions, etc. Then the boy James turned up and kept asking why the freezer door was frozen shut, why none of the lights in the kitchen worked, and why the door of the Mysterious Edwardian Oak Hallrobe wouldn't open.

Mangonel: In a strange way I'm glad to know I'm not the only one to have been stung by a wasp recently. How did yours occur? And I love all of god's beautiful creatures, so will only resort to the hoover in self-defence when they threaten to overpower me or my special coffee. Re. The Dark is Rising, I'm no big fan of excitement, plot, etc., so am perfectly happy with anything that presents a bit of mystery and retellings of Arthurian myths.

Tim: Flapuccino. Hahahaaa!

BiB: I am at a loss to imagine the kind of emergency that forces one to resort to something that has passed through an exotic squirrel's digestive tract. Can you give an example?

Annie: French is indeed a lovely language, and the moths in my kitchen were entirely undeserving of such a poetic appellation. But I highly recommend a track called 'Papillon de Nuit' by Le Volume Courbe, which is a lovely dreamy tune and no mistake.

BiB said...

Very mundane as emergencies go, I'm afraid: just running out of the regular stuff. Actually, worse than it perhaps having passed through a squirrel's entrails is that, as all the instructions are in Malay and Chinese, I couldn't work out if it was instant or real. I tried instanting it, and got a layer of thick scum. Then tried putting it through the drip-drip thingy, and the machine wheezed and steamed its protest. I gave up at that point, but have, at last, understood that it's to be made in that press thing, then not drunk and thrown down the sink/loo. (I'd even thought of blogging about it. But commenting will do just as well.)

betty said...

Wasps do the work of him they call Beelzebub. Not only do they sting when unprovoked (it's happened to me four times in recent years) but they refuse to be persuaded that it's better to be outside than indoors, despite doors and windows being opened especially for this purpose.

The worst thing is, at least in the past you were guaranteed a few months' respite from them during winter. Now, rather like league football, they seem to be a presence all year round.

Anonymous said...

I know wasps can sting you and all but my special insect hatred are the moths. The way they sort of fly around in a haphazard manner. Also when I worked in A&E a bloke came in complaining of a buzzing in his ear. I got out my oroscope and had a look only to be faced with the waggling probosci of a large moth. I screamed and jumped about 6 feet backwards which wasn't very reassuring for the patient. It took us ages to get it out, eventually we poured olive oil into his ear to drown it and float it out.
Better in your coffee than your ear, I say.
Since then I sleep with the duvet clamped over my head.

entropy said...

In the words of Bill Bailey: Spiders are not insects, but in a war they would side with the insects.

PEANUT said...

the SPIDURE is not an inseck
it is an araknid


the BANANURE is not a froop
it is an erb


the PEANUT is not a nup it is a leggume

patroclus said...

I knew that you dolt.

Spinsterella said...

We keep getting these really, really dense mini-moths stuck in our bath-tub.

They're in there for hours, trying to climb up the sides and slipping back down again like spiders.

Then, when you given them a gentle poke with the corner of a towel, THEN they remember that they can fly, and off the go!

Mangonel said...

Have you read Bernard Cornwell's Warlord trilogy? FANTASTIC - the best take on Arthur I have ever ever read - and I've read a good fair few.

Wasp nestled - NESTLED, I tell you - in my pair of Jaeger candyfloss-pink jeans folded for putting away. That's the last time I tidy up.

And I love all of god's beautiful creatures too, but as wasps neatly evade that definition, Hoo-ooo-o-oo-ver!!!

corin said...

Thus far I've never been stung by bee or wasp. Though by actually putting that statement on the interweb I'm probably encouraging the wasp population to swarm directly to Shepherd's Bush and seek me out.

My personal bug-bear (sorry) are flies that get trapped in light-shades and then annoyingly buz FOREVER. I'd let them out, but I'd spend half my life stood on a chair in the middle of the kitchen.

cello said...

Wasps are the Kevins of the insect world; refusing to go out into the fresh air, making irritating droning noises while nodding their heads, returning to sticky carby foods for one last nibble and lashing out viciously without provocation.

Perhaps if we all clubbed together and bought them driving lessons they would finally grow up.

Billy said...

You should see the spiders here. That's all I'm saying.

DavetheF said...

Mosquito: When light switched on, hide behind headboard. When light off, wait for breathing to become slow and regular, then stage stealth attack. Repeat as required.

belladona said...

I reintroduced a friend to The Dark is Rising via her vague description of a book she'd loved as a child 'with some kids and they have a grandfather and its all mystical'. I clearly rule.

We still have stick insects at work and they escape all the time, despite the fact that most of the staff are scared of them so certainly aren't opening up their cage and feeding them. I like it when they land in the shop and someone thinks they are a toy, only for them to fly off. The screams amuse me.

DavetheF said...

And you're lucky you don't have Christmas beetles -- tis the season to be buzzing blindly about whacking everything and trying to get into the lightbulb. Or someone's EAR. That really happened to my granddaughter, and it had to be removed by a doctorm as she screamed in agony. I hunt and kill them without mercy.

I also have geckos, which I encourage since they keep the house free of flies. Spiders help with that job too.

llewtrah said...

I read it as an instruction on how to defend myself from insect attack. We still have wasps at work. I can't find a biscuit tin to hide myself in.

I like spiders. I rescue them from baths. I was very upset when I failed to rescue one quickly enough. I resuscitated it by blowing on it, but the soap must have got into its respiratory system as I found it dead 2 days later :(

I saw small packs of civet coffee at a zoo gift shop (those beans really have been through a civet's digestive tract, it digests the fleshy covering and leaves behind the seed i.e. bean). It was too expensive for those of us who buy Tesco Value range groceries.

patroclus said...

Bella: Good work on TDIR - I certainly wouldn't have identified it from that description. I'm confused about your work, though - don't you work in a castle museum thing? What are the stick insects doing there? I had some once, in my less squeamish days. They were forever getting out and dying behind the bookshelves. Brrr.

DavetheF: Ohhh, urrggh, insects that get in your ear. What if it was a spider? It might try to make a web in your brain! I have to check my whole bed rigorously for insects now after the wasp/arse interface incident, but what if they hide under it or near it and get on me in the night? I think I'm going to have to get a gecko.

Llewtrah: Perhaps just try lurking at first, then only seek out a biscuit tin as a last resort if that doesn't work. In theory I like spiders, and will always rescue one if it's in distress, but this doesn't mean their spindly legs and sinister lurking habits don't fill me with revulsion and horror.