During all of this sifting and moving of furniture and long forgotten items, I have a niggling fear.  I suspect that when things don’t get moved very often, there is the opportunity for spiders to make their home there.  I am not a fan of spiders.  Actually, wait, that is perhaps understating it.  I am afraid of spiders.  I mean ‘close-my-eyes-stamp-my-feet-wave-my-hands-around -screaming’ afraid of spiders.  Of course, I have had to man up about it, firstly because when you live alone, there is no one to help you.  Secondly because D is even more afraid than I am.  She is ‘throw-yourself-out-of-the-second-floor-window-if-it-is-blocking-your-path-to-the- door’ afraid of spiders.  Also, I work with kids.  Losing your shit in front of an impressionable three or four year old is just not cricket and informs their feelings about spiders for the rest of their lives.  Besides, this way I wait till they’re old enough and then they deal with the spiders for me.    At this point I feel that I should confess that I have no problem killing the creatures.  I know, I know, what has a little spider ever done to you; how would you feel if an enormous creature just stepped on you; there aren’t any dangerous spiders in the UK; if you want to live and thrive… I have heard it all before. I cannot help myself.  My first instinct is to step on, or crush them, and it is completely innate, I am, it turns out, a natural born killer.

Some years back, I arranged to have the carpets cleaned at the old house.  Two big burly blokes showed up, Paul and Dave as I recall.  Paul was in a small room off the front hall when I heard a distinctly girly squeal and he came barreling out that door quick sharp.

“Dave,” he panted, his eyes wide and shocked ” you’ll have to go in, I can’t… I mean it’s h-h-huge.”

Dave rolled his eyes and sighed, adopting a tone one usually reserved for the very young or extremely anxious.  “Alright Paul, take it easy, it’s ok, I’ll go and sort it out.”

I watched this exchange a little unsure of what was going on.  Paul came over me and stood next to me (really close) and said, “Sorry about this, but there is an enormous house spider under the counter and I am a bit nervous around them”

My first reaction was that ‘a little nervous’ would not be how I would characterise his reaction, but as an arachnophobe myself, I was sympathetic to his plight.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “Dave will get rid of it, right?”

In my head I was hoping that Dave would stomp on it and then get a death certificate from the ME so that I could verify the death.  It turns out that Dave, like so many of you out there, doesn’t believe in killing spiders.  They’re lucky or some such thing.  So there is much banging and cursing behind the door and Dave comes out with his hands cupped together. Two hands, cupped together but, you know, far apart, like he need the space to accommodate the monster.

“You’re right”, he says, “It is huge!  Where shall I take it?”

He took a step towards us, and we both stepped backwards in alarm (actually, Paul stepped behind me and put his hands on my shoulders like he was going to use me as some sort of human shield in a gunfight).

“Out of the house please,” I said, trying to sound calm, ” but not the doorstep!  Please go a bit further away”  (Like France, I was thinking)

“You’ll have to open the door for me Paul” says Dave.

Paul, (I kid you not) actually pushed against my shoulders so I had to take two stumbling steps forward.  “You go.” he said.  Paul, my hero, what can I say?  I went around Dave leaving a wide berth, and opened the door.  Dave offered to show me the creature as he walked past but I refused politely (and hysterically) and the spider was released into the wild.  I made Paul a cup of sweet tea, so that they could resume their work after the trauma.

Since that day, any sort of spring cleaning is carried out with the lurking thought that today might be the day that I meet the huge spider I evicted from its previous cushy residence.  The basement in the house is a particularly difficult place for me to be in for several reasons.  Firstly, there are spider carcasses down there every time I go.  I sweep them up and yet, there always seem to be more.  D never goes down there.  If she needs something from the basement, she pesters me until I go down there and then hovers at the top of the stairs and waits for the item nervously.  Also the stairs to the basement are lethal.  I mean they are nothing more than planks of wood sitting in shallow grooves, and every time I make the trip, I am convinced they are finally going to give up the ghost and I am going to plummet down them, break my leg and be unable to get away from the spiders who go down there to die.  How people live in countries where you have to shake your shoes every morning in case there are scorpions or spiders in them, I do not know.

So now that I have articulated this fear, one of two things is going to happen.  Either the ‘now that I have voiced it, it will never happen’ effect will come into play; or the opposite.  Now that I have spoken the words aloud, there will be a spider behind every chair, book and cabinet.

Let’s hope it’s the first.