CONVERSATION WITH A SPIDER – Part 2

Diarmuid Breatnach

(NB: This may be read on its own or following CONVERSATION WITH A SPIDER PART 1 https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/conversation-with-a-spider/ to which it is related)

You again!

“What do you mean ‘you again’ ?

“I put you out the window the other day.

Short-Bodied Cellar Spider in Bathroom (Flash Photo: D.Breatnach)

Short-Bodied Cellar Spider in Bathroom, flash shadow giving double effect (Photo: D.Breatnach)

“Wasn’t me. Nope. Might’ve been my brother – looks a lot like me. Or my sister.

“It was definitely a male.

“You can tell, can you?

“Yes. I’ve done some reading about spiders.

“Well, I had lots of brothers.

“You’re building one of those crazy, haphazard webs all over my bathroom wall again.

“This is a beautiful web. Made of beautiful fine silk – but also very strong. It is a tribute to our ancestral goddess, Arachne.

“Arachne was an accomplished weaver of beautiful rugs.

“Exactly.

“This, however, is a haphazard mess.

“To your two human eyes. You have to see it through our eyes – all eight of them. You have to feel its vibrations …. the air currents flowing through it like music …. the vibrations of a trapped fly …. like …. like …

“Like a dinner gong.

“Crude …. but, well, yes.

“You remember catching a fly, do you?

“Of course.

“When?

“Recently. Quite recently. You don’t think I’m starving, do you?

“No but I know spiders can live a lonnnnng time without eating.

“And you know this how?

“ Reading. In particular, Compton’s The Life of the Spider.

“ A voyeur.

“ What did you call me?

“Not you – him. And it was John CRompton, not Compton.

“Oh, right. You told me that before.

“Not me – maybe one of my brothers. And it was just The Spider, without The Life of, which was the title of Jean Henri Fabre’s book.

“Ok. But why did you call Crompton a voyeur?

“He watched the mating of spiders …. watched the goings-on for HOURS.

“He was a naturalist – he watched it so he could write about it.

“A voyeur and a pornographer.

“Writing about animals mating isn’t pornography! David Attenborough did a whole series on animal mating.

“He’s another one! And he did it with hidden cameras!

“Pornographic filming or writing is depicting sexual acts with the intention of sexually arousing and titillating the watcher or reader.

“And?

“Humans are not going to get sexually aroused watching or reading about animals mating.

“Are you sure? Really? ‘Her heart beat faster … she could smell the stallion …. he looked so strong, his coat so shiny …. she couldn’t help herself, she was firing off pheromones ….. he moved powerfully, muscles rippling …. he was sniffing her right there! …. she could feel his breath there! …. Oh! right where she was aching …. she felt herself melting …. he was going to mount her … yes! Yes! …

“Ok, ok. You’ve made your point. Cough! But going back to the issue of your web …

“My beautiful, complex web.

“Your haphazard, wandering, dust-collecting web.

“My efficient, fly-catching web.

“You’re not catching any flies.

“Not yet … but I will. If you leave my web alone.

“No. You’re going out the window.

“You’re angry and you’re projecting again.

“What did you say?

“Er … I said ‘You’re projecting’. It means …..

“I know what it means, thanks. You said ‘again’.

“Did I?

“Yes, you did. You said ‘You’re projecting again’. As though we had this conversation before.

“You’re building a whole web from a thread.

“I knew it was you again. You’re going back out the window.

“I’ll bite you!

“Ooooh, I’m scared.

“You should be. Our species has the most potent venom of any spider in these islands and many abroad. That’s why we have a skull design on our back.

“Says who? The Web?

“No need to be sarcastic. It is a well-known fact. You can read about it in newspapers if you don’t trust the Internet.

“I have read about it and it says that your fangs are not long enough to penetrate human skin.

“Do you want to take that chance? DO you? MAKE MY DAY!

“I’ve thrown you and lots of your relations out the window and never been bitten. I think that story about powerful venom is one you and yours have been spreading yourselves. Probably on the Web, ha, ha, ha. Not one record of even a hospital admission for poisonous bite by the Short-Bodied Cellar Spider!

“The venom works so fast they don’t make it to hospital. And the deaths are put down to heart attack and other causes.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m really scared. OUT you go.

“Leave me alone! No! Uuff rmmm fff!

‘Bye now.

I’LL BE Baaaaack….!

End

CONVERSATION WITH A SPIDER — Part 1

Diarmuid Breatnach

Eh, what do you think you’re doing?

What does it look like I’m doing?

It looks to me very much like you’re destroying my home and my livelihood.

It looks to me like I’m destroying a dust-collecting web right beside my bathroom mirror. Which is why I’m destroying it. And I might just catch you and throw you out the window too.

“You are in a nasty mood, aren’t you? Anyway, I’d only come right back in again.

Short-Bodied Cellar Spider without web (Photo source: internet)

Short-Bodied Cellar Spider without web (Photo source: internet)

If a bird didn’t gobble you up. Or a bigger spider ….

Oooh, you ARE in a nasty mood!

Not really – just mildly irritated. You had to build it right beside my mirror, didn’t you!

Well, that’s where the light is.

And you need the light …. what for? To read your paper? To thread your needle?

“No need to be sarcastic. I don’t need it for anything except to catch flies – they’re attracted by the light.

Catch flies, is it? I haven’t seen you or any other spider here catch a fly in years.

Well, if you keep destroying our webs …

I’ve left some for months. Just how long does it take to catch a fly?

It’s an art …. you can’t rush it.

Yeah, right! I’ve killed hundreds of them in a month.

Yes, well, with chemical warfare ….

“Not at all! I mean with my hands or a damp cloth. Swipe, bam! One less fruit fly, or house fly, or bluebottle.

“Well, aren’t you the matador!

“What I mean is, I’ve killed hundreds of flies in the same time that you have killed none – and it’s supposed to be your defining characteristic: killing flies!

Who says?

Everyone.

Every human, is it?

Yes.

You’ve never asked the arachnids, have you though?

I try not to get into conversations with them. I’m having this one with you because a) I’m shaving near you and b) you’re bending my ear.

“Bending your ear? I haven’t touched you!

It’s an expression, a turn of phrase, for speaking a lot or complaining to me.

What’s that got to do with your ear?

“That’s what I hear with!

Really? You mean you don’t hear with your legs and body, like we do?

Of course not!

Wow! Peculiar!

You’re trying to change the subject. Spiders are supposed to catch flies – isn’t that the purpose of the web? Or are you going to claim it’s a work of art?

You don’t think my web’s artistic?

“Honestly? No. The orb-weavers’ webs now, they are artistic. But most others, including your species, the Short-Bodied Cellar Spider? No, not at all.”

“Well, we go more for function than artistic appeal.

“What function?

“Catching fli ….. er …

Yes, you see the problem? Your webs are supposedly for catching flies but all yours are catching is dust. Which is why I’m destroying them.

You’re projecting.

What?

Projecting. You have your failures, you feel angry about them so you project them on to me so you can express your anger more safely.

Where did you get hold of that shit?

On the Web.

Oh, very, very funny! Projection or not, it happens to be the truth. Your webs are not catching flies but they are collecting dust, so destroyed they will be.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave ….

“Funny! But that quote from Walter Scott is about deception. Since you are not an ant-mimicking spider, or a crab spider, or any other kind of deceiving spider, what are you talking about?

I’m referring to your self-deception. Anyway, how do you know about those other kinds of spiders?

I read Compton’s The Life of the Spider when I was a boy.

“It was John CRompton, not Compton.

“Oh, right.

“And it was just The Spider, without The Life of, which was the title of Jean Henri Fabre’s book.

“Whatever.  I read other stuff about spiders from time to time .. and watch them.  I’ve had Zebra Spiders jump from one finger to another in my hand.

“Humph! Zebra Spiders!  They don’t even build webs.

No, they don’t …. but here’s the thing ….

What?

They DO catch FLIES! And now, out the window you go.

No! Uuff rmmm fff!

‘Bye now.

I’LL BE Baaaaack….!

End.

DEFENDING DUBLIN FROM JAPANESE INVASION

Manager of Dublin City Council Road Management Department

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Please allow me to extend my heartfelt thanks for your work on the city roads and more than that, the ingenuity displayed by your staff. Dublin and to an extent the whole of Ireland is being kept safe, thanks to the work of your Department, from Japanese Army invasion. Or any other cycle-born troops.

I must admit I was not expecting to find that people working for the local authority had studied the Imperial Japanese Army assault on Singapore in 1942 and who had learned from it. If only there were more like your staff in the rest of Ireland! But no, complacency rules. “Ah, sure it’ll do” is the order of the day.

Few people now seem to recall the complacency with which Lieut. General Arthur Percival faced the Imperial Japanese threat to Singapore in 1942. Almost an island, Singapore had massive artillery pointed out to sea, ready to pound the Japanese invasion fleet. No artillery of any size was pointing towards the mainland. The jungle there was impassable to an army of any size, apparently.

Unfortunately someone neglected to tell the Imperial Japanese Army that. They sent their soldiers on bicycles down jungle trails, moving thousands of troops into position in days. Then they stormed across the Causeway and attacked Singapore.

Lieut. General Arthur Percival surrendered an estimated 85,000 soldiers, most of whom had never fired a shot in Singapore. The Japanese had nothing but contempt for these soldiers and officers who had been surrendered by Percival, not only that, but had done so for the most part without putting up any kind of resistance at all. That was part of the reason they treated the prisoners so badly.

British soldiers surrendering to Japanese Army at the Surrender of Singapore 1942.

British soldiers surrendering to Japanese Army at the Surrender of Singapore 1942. (Sourced on Internet)

Had the British command in the region not been so complacent, they would not only have turned some of Percival’s big guns around to fire on the mainland but would have sent sappers – British and Commonwealth Armies’ engineers — out into the jungle to dig bicycle traps. Like your engineers have installed on Dublin city streets, roads and laneways.

How Lieut. General Arthur Percival could have used your engineers, if only he had realised the danger in time! But your engineers have used ingenuity above and beyond anything that British sappers might have thought up. A simple hole in the road after all is visible, even at night in dim Dublin street lighting — and may be avoided. But your engineers are more skilled than that – they consider: “OK, so the invading cyclist will see this hole and swerve to avoid it. He’ll swerve on the inside, so he doesn’t get hit by a passing vehicle. So we’ll place another hole, a little further on, on the inside.”

bad-road-surface-henry-place-bend

Excellent bicycle trap designed by Dublin City engineers, one of many in a whole defence network

Now, a rather pedestrian (if you’ll forgive the pun) engineer, might very well leave it at that. But no – your engineers ask themselves: “But after a number of disasters, jarring bumps, split tires and crashes, won’t the invading cyclists automatically swerve to the outside when they spot a hole ahead?” And so naturally, just to vary the rule, the engineers put another hole on the outside of the first from time to time.

Your engineers go yet further. “Wouldn’t it be better if they couldn’t see the hole at all?” they ask one another. After all, this is a common feature of traps – almost obligatory, one might think — so no great credit to your engineers in thinking of that. No, their genius is in how they carry out the disguising.

Normally, on a jungle path or trail, a pit (or a land-mine) would be covered over with loose earth and dead leaves to disguise it. But on a tarmacadamed road such is not possible (and even if it were, might claim the lives of innocent pedestrians or even motorists, for example trying to pass other traffic on the inside). This is where the true genius of your engineers is displayed.

Firstly, they place the holes in dark places – e.g where street lamps are not functioning, or under shade of trees. Sometimes instead of a hole, they construct a sharp dip in the tar macadam. And aware that cyclists often look ahead, see darker patches in the shade and swerve to avoid them, thinking “Aha! The sappers have placed a hole in the shade!” (sorry, I don’t know how to say that in Japanese) – yes, imagining that, your sappers darken a small area of road a little before a real dip! The cyclist sees the darker spot, thinks “Aha!” etc, swerves to avoid and, a moment later, hits the real dip. Masterly!

Of course, holes and dips are not the only useful anti-cycling device – ridges function quite well at times and can take unawares a cyclist who has been on the lookout for holes. Another clever ruse is the one of making the ridge small, therefore not too destructive to ride over, but placing a number of ridges beyond it, so that the cyclist experiences a shuddering sensation going over one ridge after another. He might even be induced to swerve here, when a passing vehicle may obligingly side-swipe him.

Then there is the principle of distraction. I don’t know what Percival’s engineers might have done, perhaps placed pictures of disrobing geishas near a pit but your engineers are more prosaic. Besides, exposure to many pictures of disrobing geishas might dull the effect over a period, or even become unfortunately forever associated in the minds of Japanese soldiers with pits and horrible crashes. No, your engineers think to themselves: “At what locations are the eyes of all cyclists likely to be diverted from the road surface straight ahead?” And they hit upon the answer, of course (perhaps they even had some cyclist double-agents working for them?).

Cyclists take their eyes off the surface of the road ahead when approaching traffic lights, or intersections, or crossing intersections or just having crossed one. They want to be sure that they obey the traffic lights and even more than that, that they don’t get hit by a vehicle coming from another direction, or side-swiped by one as they swerve out to avoid a parked vehicle just after having safely got across another intersection. So holes, dips and wheel seizing cracks are placed in shortly before traffic lights, in the middle of intersections or just on the other side!

There is also an economic benefit to all this necessary work of cyclist-trapping, and it is in the saving of the Motor Tax allocated to the local authority. The money saved by not filling in these holes goes to pay the Water Charge – a worthy recipient and appropriate diversion of revenue, if ever there was one!

There is even, dare I say it, a greening side-benefit, for inside those holes, little plants, grasses and even shrubs can take hold, bringing more green to our sometimes too grey city.

In days to come I hope that the work of your engineers, ably led and directed by yourselves, of course, may become properly recognised. Some recognition is surely due to men (and women?) who toil in anonymity to save us from a bicycle-mounted troop invasion. Besides which we don’t want to have to learn Japanese, being already fluent in another conqueror’s language – we have enough difficulty ordering food by numbers in Chinese restaurants. And if were taught Japanese in school, we wouldn’t want to have to actually speak it (as can be seen from the case of our National Language).

For appropriate recognition of the work of your Department, a public monument could be considered – perhaps one constructed from crushed bicycles. And plaques – perhaps set into roads at appropriate places or on signs as one approaches traffic lights and junctions. One can only hope. Keep up the good work!

Yours etc.

VARIATIONS ON A NAME

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Gaelic football team Sheares Brothers has been doing very well for a change. A reporter from the Irish Times is about to conclude his interview of the club’s Bainisteoir).

gaa-empty-field-changing-rooms

(Photo sourced: Internet)

Your club’s local nickname is “the Pats”, I’m told.

Yes, I’ve heard that too.

Is it true – what I’ve been told – that all your players, in your entire team, are called Patrick?

Well, now, many are named Patrick, right enough, but they are not all called Patrick.

[Reporter jots down in his notebook: ‘named not called – wtf???’]    Does that not cause problems, though, on the field? I mean, it must be difficult at times for your players to know to which of them the Captain is referring when he shouts out: “Patrick”.

[The interviewer smiles. He has shown the ridiculousness of this situation].   (Fucking unbelievable that this team got as far as its current position in the League! he thinks)

No, not all. Sure if the Captain called out “Patrick”, he’d be referring to himself! That would be a strange thing to do, for sure, to be talking to himself! Well, when with the team, anyway.

(This man is an idiot. An idiot managing a ridiculous team. Still, get the interview done, file the story. Then the pub ….)   Ok …. what if he wants to say, to indicate to a player, to pass the ball to the left midfielder? Would he just call the position – as in “Pass the ball to Left Midfield”?

Well, he might …. but he’d more likely say “Give Paudie the ball”. That’s Paudie’s usual position, you see.

Oh, right.

No, left.

(What a thicko!)     I meant “ok”. Your left Midfielder’s nickname is “Paudie”?

Well, it’s the name he goes by anyhow. Paudie Whelan.

So are all your players called a variation on Patrick?

Pretty much, yes.

Fifteen variations on Patrick?  And no repetitions?  That’s not possible, is it?

It seems to be.

OK, all right …. what about say, your Centre Forward?

Pa. Pa Walsh.

Hmm. Left Forward?

Packy Ó Braonáin.

Right Forward?

Emm …

(Got you now!)

Sorry, he’s just back from an injury. Patchy …. Patchy Stokes.

Left Half-Forward?

Patchik Mulhearn.

Centre Half-Forward?

Paddy plays that position – Paddy McGuinness.

Right Half-Forward?

Patch Hennessy.

(Has to run out of them soon).    Left Mid-Field?

You had his name already – Paudie Whelan.

(Smartass!)    Yes, of course. Right Mid-Field?

That’d be Pád Óg Trainor.

That’s P, a, u, d ……

No. P, á, d; Ó, g.

Right.

Right Half-Back?

No, I meant just “Right” , as in “OK’.

Right.

(Is he taking the piss?)    Well ….. where was I?

Midfield.

Yes …. thanks …. Right Half-Back?

I thought you said ….? Never mind …Paudeen Sullivan.

Centre Half-Back?

Pád …. Pád Carney.

P, a, u ….

No, P, á, d; C, a, r ….

I know how to spell Carney, thanks.

Oh, ok.

Left Half-Back?

That’s Patrick … our Captain. Patrick Burke.

Left Corner-Back?

Ah ….

(Have I got him?)

Ah, sorry ….

(Aha! At last!)

Pat Sheehan. His name slipped me mind there for a minute, sorry.

Oh …. Ah. Good. Full Back?

Páraic Ó Flaithearta. Will I spell it for you?

(Fucking smart-ass! I’ll get it from their website. Just let me run him out of Patrick variants first.)    No, it’s ok, I know my koopla fokol, gurra mah hugut.

Muise, tá fáilte romhat. Bail ó Dhia ort.

Well …. let’s carry on. Right Corner-Back?

Pádraig. Pádraig Lehane.

(Got you now!)  Pádraig. The same as the man next to him, the Full Back.

No, that’s Páraic. P, á, r, a, i, c.

Oh!  Ok, yes, I see. My mistake. Goalie?

Patsy O’Farrell.

Yes. Well, thanks. Yes …. I don’t suppose your substitutes are called Patrick?

No, neither is.

Oh, good.

Sorry?

Good … good story, thanks. I must be going ….

Don’t you want to know their names?

The subs?

Yes.

OK, yes I suppose. Yes, please.

PJ Hanley and Packer Dunne.

I …. see …. ‘PJ’ as in ….. Patrick Joseph?

Dead on!

Um … Well …. Thanks for your time. All the best for your next game in the League. I don’t suppose, heh, heh, your Junior team are all variants of Patrick too?

Ah, not at all! Of course not. Sure, that would be awful confusing. No, there’s Michael Fitzgerald, Mick Smith, Mickey Doyle, Mícheál Connors, Micilín Seoighe, Mikhail ….

End.

 

Appendix:

 

The Sheares Brothers GAA team.

Packy Ó Braonáin, Pa Walsh, Patchy Stokes.

Patchik Mulhearn, Paddy McGuinness, Patch Hennessy.

Paudie Whelan,                         Pád Óg Trainor.

Patrick Burke, Pád Carney, Paudeen Sullivan.

Pat Sheehan, Páraic Ó Flaithearta, Pádraig Lehane.

                       Patsy O’Farrell.

Subs: PJ Hanley, Packer Dunne

The Ministry of Heritage is taking care of Moore Street

 

 

The irish state's Ministry of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs is facilitating speculators' plans to demolish the Moore Street 1916 Historical Quarte (with the exception of four houses) in order that they may build a giant shopping centre (mall). (Non-revenue copying welcome but acknowledgement expected)

The Irish state’s Ministry of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs is facilitating speculators’ plans to demolish the Moore Street 1916 Historical Quarte (with the exception of four houses) in order that they may build a giant shopping centre (mall).
(Non-revenue copying and distribution welcome but acknowledgement of source expected)

MINISTERIAL MEDICINE

(Created by Bart Hoppenbrouers & Diarmuid Breatnach)

Finian McGrath was an independent Teachta Dála (member of the Irish parliament) but recently joined in coalition with Fine Gael to allow them to form a minority government (with the other major party, Fianna Fáil, abstaining if they did not agree with a FG proposal, thereby ensuring the minority government could not be outvoted.  Recently Finian McGrath was also awarded a Minister’s post.DMcGrath's Medicine bottle

Previously Finian McGrath declared that he was opposed to the water charge — against which there is a huge popular movement — and would not be paying it.  However, when he was told that, as a Minister, he would be expected to give an example and pay it, he decided he would do so.

DMG Medicine label

A Marvelous Medicine Used for Years in the Curing of Rebelliousness of the Spirit, troubling Visions of Utopia and Declarations of Constancy.

As an Unguent

  • Helps dispel painful Resistance and Stiffness of Spine

  • Lubricates Joints, facilitating Climbing, Bowing, Kneeling and Bending over

As a Tonic

  • Eases painful Swallowing of Principles

  • Gives Relief from painful Twinges of Conscience

  • Facilitates Production of necessary Excuses