I am no David Attenborough when it comes to nature invading my personal space. I turned back the duvet, preparing to take to my bed at the end of a busy day when something small and black met my eye. A spider! A huge spider! Shock! Horror! Help!!! Giving a short, sharp scream (to which no one responded) I flung the duvet back over the beast.
My room is kitted out on all sides with the latest anti-spider gimmicks: The principal weapon against invaders is an electric plug-in winking red light which distributes supersonic sound waves in all directions. Spiders are supposed to run for their lives at the first bleep, scampering into remote corners before escaping out into the wide world. Here, presumably, they reassemble in spider-camps where they discuss at length how to regain control of their territory – up plug holes, under doors, slinking into abandoned wellies, hoping for a lift.
And every ledge and beam in my bedroom is crowded with conkers – supposed to discourage the eight-legged intruders (do they find climbing over them too difficult? Or do the conkers give off an offensive, or even poisonous aroma?)
There is only one solution. Death. Sometimes I am brave enough (in the case of smaller spiders) to capture them under a glass, sliding a postcard under, and carrying the whole thing to the far side of the garden. I also have a long-handled transparent affair with scissor-type handle. You are supposed to trap the offender in a little box on the end by remote control. This works to a certain extent, but tends to leave a few legs outside the box on the floor, and, although a slight improvement on eight, what is the point of setting free a three or four legged spider?
For outsize XXXL spiders it has to be final. I lugged the Cat and Dog Vacuum cleaner through, plugged in and switched on. It roared into action.
Gingerly I began to turn back the duvet. Suddenly I realised that this was no spider: big and furry, but no spider. It was a bat! Little friend of all the world! (supposedly). I switched off and considered the situation. Clearly the creature was seeking a secret place to creep into and snuggle down for the winter. While I had every sympathy, there are times, living in a barn as I do, that nature gets the upper hand, and this was one of them. I was not about to share my bed with it. It must go. But I couldn’t bring myself to condemn it to death by Cat and Dog Vacuum.
I fetched a damp tea-towel from the kitchen, covered the sleeping mite, gathered it up and took it outside. Balanced on an old wooden post, it awoke, shuddered, shook its furry black torso, spread its surprisingly wide umbelliferous leatherette wings, and fluttered off into the night. Didn’t even pause to say Thank You!
A few weeks later a queen wasp crawled in with me in the small hours and stung me on my middle finger, ungrateful bed-fellow, but that is another story. A bat in my bed is enough to be going on with.