Monday, 25 January 2010

You know that thing where you think "Oh, I haven't seen so and so in a while" and then you see them?

Since being out here, I've started little routines that I wouldn't normally do at home. Like tapping and shaking out clothes and shoes before putting them on. Checking under (most) toilet seats before sitting down. Not walking through longish grass without trainers and heavy footfalls. It's not paranoia, and I'm not particularly squeamish or scared of what I might find - it's just common sense. Australia's got it's fair share of big, small and dangerous wildlife; I just hadn't encountered any yet.

Well, a word of advice.

Avoid having such "Hmm, funny, I haven't seen..." thoughts about spiders when you're living on a farm in New South Wales. It's called tempting fate.

I'd just finished cleaning a relatively trouble free feed shed (i.e., nothing that scuttled out was larger than my big toe) down on the yard. Job done, I walked back to my room and switched on the light.

"HOLY F*****CKING MOTHER OF GOD, YOU'RE BIG." I said, staring at the wall where something had not so much caught, but forcibly dragged my eye. I felt the colour drain from my face. "Sh*t the bed. Oh god. Jesus, you are massive."

Not knowing what to do apart from stare, wide eyed and open mouthed - it was beyond squashing size and its thick legs looked more than capable of a lengthy jump - I sat down at the end of my bed. This thing, I reasoned, feeling slightly sick, didn't just creep in while I was out. Nothing that big could fit under the crack beneath the door. It's been in my room the whole time, biding it's time, waiting to reveal itself to the young British girl who dared not to be scared of Aussie spiders.

After a few more minutes of trying and failing to ignore the Wall Monster, I switched the light off and walked into the main house. The Dad was sitting in the living room.
"Bob..." I said, appearing in the doorway, "Are you any good at err, moving spiders? There's a massive one..." I made a box shape with my hands... "in my room"
He looked up.
"Ah, it's just a Huntsman. He eats the flies. He's alright, won't hurt ya. Just sits in the corner." before turning his attention back to the TV.
"Err...right." I said, thinking I'd rather have the flies hanging around than Satan's eight legged incarnate, "And umm, well does it, will it...bite?"
"Nah. Not usually."
"Not usually. Good. Ok."

Next, I tried the Polo Player.

"Polo Player?" I said hopefully, changing tact. "There's a spider the size of a small goat in my room. Bob said it eats flies, but I'm pretty sure we're talking about different things because this one looks like it's recently eaten one of your foals."
"That's a huntsman. Big eh? He'll be alright. More scared of you than you are of him."
"Look, it's not so much that it's going to hurt me, and as long as I can keep my eye on it, I don't mind. It's just...if I switch off the light tonight and manage to sleep, and I wake up and it's gone...or worst still sitting on my bed..."

Realising I was largely being ignored - nay, laughed at - by the male members of the household, I took my case elsewhere: The Mum. "Oh yes, completely harmless but scary looking, aren't they? I used to have to move them from the kids' rooms in case they got frightened. I won't kill it. I'll get it out with a broom."

And so ten minutes later, slightly embarrassed that my fear was on par with an Australian six year old, my room was rid of it's resident fly catcher.

I'm sorry, Australia. I'll never doubt you and your capacity for huge, great big and gargantuan killing beasts again.


Miss Milk said...

Aaaaahahahahahaha. Poor dear. I've been inclined to remove them ever since my boss told me a story about how he'd once had one in the house and thought "Ah, it's not hurting anyone, I'll leave it alone," only to have it give birth to thousands of huntsman spawn a few days later. Best to remove it when there's only one.

BlackLOG said...

It sure beats my spider story. When I was living in Leytonstone (just like Australia but without the weather and the criminals were born there not imported). Out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadow in the hall. It was huge and attached to it was the biggest spider (UK that is, probably would not even register as a money spider in Australia) that I had ever seen. I'm not that worried by most spiders but the size was a shock (so I feel your distress). I put a heavy plastic jug on top of the wee beastie and went to get a paper to slip underneath and remove him, (or her for that matter, I'm not that familiar with working out the sex of our arachnid friends but "He" did not appear to have hundreds of little breasts and I'm sure he had what looked like a ninth leg!!!!). As I came back the damn thing was moving the jug....I Went back for thicker paper and wish I had a cattle prod in case it turned nasty. It's probably still in Leytonstone eating cats, dogs and medium sized children.....They keep these stories out of the press you know, 5o years time and the truth will come out....

P said...

Argh!!! That is terrifying! I absolutely HATE spiders (especially after the time I saw that film "Eight Legged Freaks" so I would be right there with you!

Oh and if the dudes didn't think it was that scary, why wouldn't they deal with it for you??? Hmmmm... I think they protest too much!

Steph said...

Don't you love the old "It's more scared of YOU" line.
Bollocks to that! I'd have squished it with a house brick.

Anonymous said...

I'd need to be in full riot gear to even consider entering that room again.

Oh and I'd also need a big massive slipper...

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

miss milk - exactly! I was thinking there's no way that things just on its own...its got spawn...

blacklog - haha great story. love the way it managed to move the glass!? that would freak me out.

P - I'm so with you on that, the blokes were blatently scared of it too. Especially the polo player, he wouldn't even cometo look at it.

steph - But it would have made such an awful mess :(

cynical - this thing was beyond slippering. It needed broom / bulldozer action for removal, fact. true story.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that people swallow a certain number of spiders a year in their sleep without realising it.

I suspect with that one you'd probably realise quite soon what you'd done. Possibly as it crawled back out of your nose.

not twitter said...

Sat up all night in a shack bordering the jungle in Ko Tao many years ago watching a spider the size of my hand. When it did make a proper move it took out a cockroach and we all know how quick they can move.

After that I chose to sleep with the mosquito net tucked in all round the mattress.

Ellie said...

Love this story. Am right there with you. I would not have slept with that thing hanging over, Little Miss Moffet.

Semaphore said...

Eurgh, those things are VILE. I'm getting shivers just thinking about them. One tour guide I spoke to said, "Yeah, the huntsman, they're totally harmless - they just make you vomit a bit." WELL THANKS.

Luckily, I only saw three Australian-grade spiders in my entire time there (2 and a half months), but I did share a shower with a Black Widow (!!!!)


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