A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Hooptedoodle #58 – The Adventures of Max Spinnejäger

Had an exciting episode last night. What follows contains reference to extreme violence, and even some cruelty - so if you choose to read on, having been warned, please make sure that no children or unusually timid adults are looking over your shoulder. If you choose to read on, you are certifying that you are over 18 years of age and are accepting all Terms & Conditions, published or still to be made up, etc etc. Yawn.

I woke up about 3:30am, and there was a spider on the bedroom ceiling - approx 3 inches across overall (75mm) , which may not be big by your local standards but is close to a Scottish national record, I would think. Our spiders aren't poisonous, but I don't like them at all - especially on the bedroom ceiling, where they tend to drop on the bed. My wife is absolutely terrified of them, so we always get rid of them as soon as possible. I would maintain that I am not actually frightened, but this one was above some threshold size which causes unreasoning panic - something about being able to see their kneecaps. Even Robert the Bruce would have kept well away from this one.

First embedded footnote I'd like to make here is that there is something about spiders - they have a psychic presence. If there is a big spider in the room, somehow you can sense it when you go in (or wake up, as in this case). They may be sitting there, thinking, "right - now wake up and scream". Power of personality. Awesome. Or it might just be that they have a stronger personality than me.

Anyway, I went to find something to catch it with. The battery in the humane catcher was so flat that the spider would have taken the thing off me and broken it over one of its many knees. I considered the vacuum cleaner for a moment, but it would have woken the entire household, and there is also a fair chance that in my haste I might have fallen down the stairs with it, which could have been marginally worse. So I found one of the trusty old fly-swats, and by the time I got back to the bedroom, of course, the bloody spider had disappeared. This is not a good scenario for going back to sleep, so the bed was stripped, I shifted the chests of drawers and the bookcase etc, and found the spider after about 20 minutes (maybe I heard it laughing) - behind my bedside cabinet, so I whopped it and disposed of it, and the bed was re-made and things calmed down again. Adrenaline still pumping. After a few minutes, I started to wonder if that had been the same spider...

Let's assume it was. To those of you who live in countries with poisonous beasties, I offer my deepest respects. I don't think I could handle that.

Second embedded footnote: like a lot of other areas in Northern Europe, we have been having a great deal of rain recently, and yesterday I spent a couple of muddy hours, swinging from ladders like a silly old fool, cleaning out the roof gutters - or what in Scotland are called "rones". This invariably chases a few big friends out of the eaves, to take shelter in the relative calm of the bedrooms. So it's probably my fault anyway, which you may think makes it doubly unfair that the visitor should have been so harshly treated.

I confess I do feel a bit uneasy about killing living things (apart from dandelions), but it was him or me, guv. Look at it this way - if I invade a spider's home I expect him to deal with me as he thinks fit - seems fair all round. If you really are upset by this tale of dreadful arachnicide, let me say that I am probably killing off only the slower specimens, or the ones that are dumb enough to walk across my ceiling, so I am strengthening the species.

As some light relief from all this bloodshed, here's a pithy (and probably fake) piece of Scottish wisdom on the subject of rones to end with:

“Nae wonder yer walls are damp, yer rones are fu' o tatties [potatoes].”


  1. Perhaps he was visiting his bigger brother? You know him, big, mean, yellow eyes and bears a grudge? Sleep with one eye open for a while!

    1. Who's jumpy...? What d'you mean? Sleep...?

      "Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
      Bold Matt does murder sleep'"

  2. I really don't like them at all myself but luckily Mrs S is able to catch and remove them. As a man of course I find this humiliating but hey, at least I'm safe. By the way, spiders always lurk in threes...

    "Wee, slekit, cow'rin tim'rous beastie" - not!

    1. Hi Ian - I realise (hope?) that your lurking-in-threes theory is just an attempt to scare me, but we do tend to get sequences of similar-sized specimens in a few days. Presumably they are brothers from the same batch. Also, because they are extensively cannibals, they tend to be distributed between the various rooms and parts of the house.

      The good news about the cannibalism is that it is very rare to have more than one in a room. The bad news is the ones we do see are the biggest and strongest.

      Cheers - Tony

  3. LOL! I'm not keen on the 8 legged buggers either, I'm ok with the small tiddler ones, I put on a brave face pick it up with a cup and paper, while the kids are cowering in the corner, but when it comes to them big hairy kneed ones I call the Mrs!

  4. It's all very irrational - I can comfortably handle worms, slugs, snails, even maggots, but nothing with legs, thank you. I have visited the superb butterfly house at Dobbie's, outside Edinburgh, and for me it was a wretched experience - I see straight past the incredibly beautiful wings and focus on the oversized, grotesque landing gear. They also had live tarantulas and (aargh!) scorpions on display. Anything which can make your skin crawl worse than a live scorpion has yet to be invented.

    Why this problem with leggy invertebrates? Alien life form? Intuitive recognition that they are stronger and better designed (and will last longer) than us? Something we learned as infants from our shrieking mothers? My garage and woodshed are appalling places - every couple of years I go in there with big overalls and an industrial hoover - the massacres must be famous in spider folklore - and still they come back, and still I know that one day they will win.

    We need some kind of a truce - within reason, they can get free run of the garage, but please leave us the house...


  5. Here in the antipodes, the biggest, hairiest ones are actually benign and do a lot in the way of keeping other beasties at bay. It's the red-backs and white-tails that you have to be wary of.

    That being said, when you see a great big hairy Huntsman out of the corner of your eye, it can give even the hardiest soul a little shiver of primal fear. When you're an arachnophobe like my wife, they gives you the screaming heebies and will not rest until someone more brave deals with them with extreme violence.

    1. Screaming heebies - quite so. I shall have to lie down with the lights on to recover from your description. I rest my case!