I don’t hate spiders. I just fear them… with every quaking fibre of my cowardly being.
So imagine my immense surprise (read: abject horror), at discovering the size- and aggression- of some of the local English arachnids.
Here’s a sample picture of the spiders that currently reside in our gardening cupboard outside our house in Banbury:
What are you even thinking, England?
Those are the ‘relatively harmless’ ones. There are also fat, striped, crab-like spiders that live in the bushes and that have put me off pruning until I can save up for a flame-thrower. Alecia and I actually watched one eat a whole snail like it was nothing more than an entree at a French restaurant.
Let me just be clear- it’s not like I hadn’t expected there to be any bugs in Europe, I just didn’t expect them to be so goddamned terrifying. I’ve grown up with rain spiders, trapdoor spiders, black widows and dreaded button spiders lurking in long drops- but nothing prepared me for the nightly swarm of slugs the size of tree snakes, or the sheer bad attitude of the spiders that live in our outside cupboard.
Think I’m just a wuss? Fair enough. But here’s another anecdote to give you cold sweats:
I recently went to Amsterdam with David and Alecia, where we stayed with our friends (and fellow expats) Rob and Louise. On one of the first nights in this new city, we did what any good group of well-travelled and open-minded South Africans does when faced with a plethora of foreign flavours and unfamiliar weather patterns.
We made a braai.
I can’t recall exactly what we’d had as accompaniments to the meat coming off the fire. Probably salads. Maybe some bread? We were pretty out of it from all the… um… coffee we’d indulged in over the course of the day- but I can tell you that there were definitely ribs.
I remember that there were ribs because, at the end of our candlelit, roof-top dinner, I started stacking plates and scraping up leftovers. Because I’m an awesome house guest.
At some point, and despite the dim lighting, I realised that one of the charred rib bones was- I fucking kid you not- moving.
I handled the sudden realisation with all of the reflexive grace you’d expect. Which is to say, I lost full control of all of my limbs and made a low, wailing noise like a cow being given an anal probe.
The rib bones were covered in fat, black slugs.
Laugh at me if you like, but think on this- the slugs slithering all over those bones were eating pork. They were nomming on an animal several thousand times their size, whose tissues resemble human flesh closely enough to totally make xenotransplation a thing.
Those slugs were eating flesh that could, basically, have been human flesh.
I’m not saying I’m not grateful for the new home I’ve got on this rainy little island, and to be fair, we have also spotted a lot of Wind-In-The-Willows type of fauna in our bucolic surroundings. I’ve seen foxes, squirrels, badgers (mostly dead), and sweet little dog-faced fruit bats.
But no one warned me about the fucking flesh-eating slugs.