Not for the squeamish


This weekend in the garden I unearthed a fairly impressive centipede, all wriggly and full of legs. I have to confess that, in spite of the fact that I am not really bothered by insects, crawling things or bugs (horses, that’s what gives me the heebie jeebies – big ugly dangerous horses!) this one did send a little shiver down my spine.

This stems from an incident a couple of years ago;

We were on holiday in Florida. We love Florida and have visited many times, the first time to do the Disneyland – kids – once in a lifetime – never to be repeated – thing. The following five times because the weather is beautiful, the scenery is stunning, the beaches are fantastic, you can rent pool houses, there are a huge amount of non-Disney things to do and the people are brilliant (broken wheelchair fixed within the hour, by people falling over each other to help us and not wanting to take any money.)

The variety and diversity of the wildlife is huge, we carried on swimming in the sea even after we found out that there are 57 different species of shark in the Gulf of Mexico. We have seen some of the aforementioned sharks, turtles, dolphins, manatees and more fish than you can shake a stick at. The children have fished off piers with wild alligators swimming by (and nearby lamp posts sporting a multitude of ‘missing pet’ posters). Eagles, snakes, vultures, pelicans, racoons, armadillos and the list could go on and on.

This brings me to the reason for my squeamishness the other day. One night, fast asleep with a thin cotton sheet draped over me, laying in the cool of the fan I turned restlessly onto my side. As I did so something moved under my arm and woke me from my slumber, as I turned I felt a sharp pain in my upper arm. My slow waking up movements turned into quickly leaping out of bed, throwing the covers back, swearing very loudly and yelling ‘get up there’s something in the *******  bed, it  *******  well bit me!’

I switched the light on and whisked the covers back to reveal a centipede. It was as big as one of my fingers; shiny, black and all wriggly and full of legs. A book was quickly snatched up from the bedside table and used to whomp the unfortunate creature. Although, on a springy mattress, they don’t so much whomp as bounce up into the air, then they get all agitated. So it was scooped into a glass and deposited outside.

At this point my arm was starting to sting a bit. Not knowing much about centipedes I did wonder if it might be dangerous, like a scorpion sting. So, at 3 in the morning, we sat in the kitchen Googling the question ‘Are centipedes dangerous?’ What I expected to see in the answers was a site that told me they were completely harmless; stop being stupid and go back to bed. What I did see was a site that told me they could be. They are like bee stings and sometimes people react badly to them and they can be very serious indeed. This was not the reassurance I was hoping for. I put some sting relief on it and went back to bed to consider my own mortality and hope I had left my affairs in order.

In the end I had a small red mark on my arm that smarted a bit the next morning then stopped hurting – although I may have milked it for a bit longer than that.


Did I say that out loud?


I have just finished reading Joe Abercrombie’s epic First Law trilogy. This is not merely a statement of fact, but a proud boast as it has only taken me since December – and as my wife would no doubt tell you;

I                      am                                  a                                              slow                                          reader

So slow that I once had to answer a paper on the Mayor of Casterbridge based on what I had gleaned from the first three chapters, the blurb and the last chapter (read in a rush just before the exam in the vague hope of salvaging something from the experience – I didn’t)

Anyway, in the book is a character called Glokta. One of his main characteristics, other than being a ruthless and sadistic torturer, is the fact that every time he is involved in dialogue the author includes what he is thinking in italics afterwards. It is usually quite different from what is being said and amused me greatly.

I am tempted to think that reason it amused me is because, maybe, sometimes, on the odd occasion, I do that too. You know that thing? When you are talking to a colleague you don’t like that much, and saying “What are you doing at the weekend then?” and thinking ‘drowning, drowning, let it be drowning. Or getting hurt. Or both’

It is considerably worse in meetings when I am forced to sit and listen to people. I am sometimes so preoccupied with my inner dialogue of anger ‘shut up, nobody’s interested in what you think. You’re wrong – and stupid’ that I don’t notice when I am being spoken to directly and have to pretend that I was being pensive and considering what was being said.

Reading Glokta’s often unpleasant musings has made me feel less self-conscious about this behaviour, that I might not be such an oddball as I thought I was. So, I mentioned it to my wife in the car the other day……

It was with an enormous sigh of relief that I found that she does the same. Maybe this is the glue that binds us together.



Read the books if you like bloody swordfights and ferocious battles with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure.