Spiders turn me into a homicidal maniac – Steve Canavan

Steve has an irrational fear of spiders.
Steve has an irrational fear of spiders.
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Society is split into two distinct types. There are those who, on spying a spider, gently put a cup over them, slide a piece of paper around the top, and then carefully drop the animal out of the window so it can resume its happy life spinning webs.

The other half of the population deals with them like I do. They pick up a shoe and smack it hard, then go to the bathroom and grab toilet tissue to wipe away the mess on the wall.

I then – in case the spider has survived and plans to climb up and out of the toilet (an unrealistic scenario given it no longer has legs and is headless) – flush the loo seven times to make sure all traces have disappeared.

I then return to the wall and wipe away every trace of squashed spider as I have an irrational fear that other spiders in the vicinity might smell/sense the squashed spider juices and flock to the area seeking revenge, like a scene from an arachnid horror movie.

It’s important to say, I know what I do is wrong. I’m ashamed of being a spider assassin and I sense you shaking your head and tutting. I don’t blame you. After all we should treat all the animal kingdom with compassion, though I challenge you to maintain that view if you’re stuck in a confined space with a crocodile. But I can’t help it. Spiders fill me with fear.

It’s because they look so creepy, all those legs and the way they stare you out – just stood there, stock still, halfway up a wall, as if saying, ‘I know I’m freaking you out but you’d better get used to it, pal, I’m going nowhere’.

I can’t rest until it is gone (why should I share my house with a spider? It’s not as if he’s contributing to the mortgage or helping with the bathroom grouting) and as I’m not brave enough to catch them humanely, I take direct action and bash their brains out.

When I told my mother I was writing about my homicidal crimes, she begged me not to. She is convinced a group of animal rights protesters will come to my house waving placards and chanting ‘Justice for Spiders’. But, as I pointed out, the reason I do what I do is because of her.

When she spots a spider, say, on the kitchen wall, she will stalk it for 25 minutes before pouncing in brutal fashion – usually wielding one of her ankle boots, her favoured choice of weapon.

Having observed her doing this for years as I was growing up, I treat spiders the same way. Unlike my dad.

I remember two huge spiders appearing on his bedroom wall, right above the bed head. Instead of getting rid of them he christened them Pinky and Perky and left them for a week before my traumatised mother could take no more and got out her trusty boot.

I write all this because yesterday, in the early hours, I went to the toilet and, as I shut the door, came face to face with a huge spider – and I mean huge; it was the size of the palm of my hand and had teeth so big it could have taken down a small dog.

I picked a toiletry item with a solid and flat surface and with care took aim (the worst thing you can do is miss the spider for it will then fall to the floor and run off at that breakneck speed only spiders possess). My aim was good. I splattered it, began the clean-up and returned to bed.

In the morning I mentioned what had happened to Mrs C. ‘That makes sense, she casually remarked. ‘I saw a couple of big spiders on the doorstep yesterday.’

‘What?’ I gasped, astonished she could be so blasé. She may as well have put up a flashing neon sign saying 'all spiders welcome here'. ‘Why didn’t you tell me,’ I added, ‘so I could sort it out?’

‘Well,’ she replied, ‘I assumed they were going out’.

I was stunned. ‘Assume?’ I exploded. ‘Are you insane? Never assume with spiders.’

It will take me a long time to forgive and forget.