Forget any of the erudite arguments put forward against the existence of God by Dawkins or Hitchens. You want to disprove God? Just take one long look at the ocean floor, and behold some of the horrendous and upsetting abominations down there: things with see-through condom heads and eight hundred legs that drag themselves over the pitch-black seabed like luminous tumours; swarms of sentient, electrified cucumbers with neon afros; things that look like eyes perched on dismembered heels.
Allow me to crystalise my thoughts through the medium of song: and a one, and a two… and a one, two, three, four… “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small…” Really? Really God? You made them all? Were you drunk, God? Did you have a fucking mental breakdown? Also, if these creatures are so crucial to your Jesus-related master-plan, then why did you hide them underneath 20,000 feet of crushing blackness?
Anyway, I’m not too concerned about the nightmares of the ocean. I don’t live there. When I visit, I just sort of trust that people are going to skim or fly me over it as quickly as possible. What I’m more concerned about is the land, specifically my little portion of it. I’m talking insects people. Hellish, hideous insects. God, I’m talking to you again: what possible reason, except for a laugh, could you have had for creating a slug, a woodlouse or a tic? Seriously, you’re mentally ill, mate.
Summer is upon us, which means that even as I write this hordes of insects are amassing at the peripheries of our suburban castles, just waiting for the right moment to breach the defences and invade. Spiders, flies, wasps, ants, beetles: the whole bug-ugly battalion of multi-legged motherfuckers; hideous creatures that look like they were brought into existence by the collective imaginations of Clive Barker and HR Geiger after a night of particularly heavy drinking.
Insects disgust and agitate me in ways that no other creature on earth has yet managed, with the possible exception of Katy Hopkins. I hate them because they’re travesties, abominations, and harbingers of filth and disease. I hate them because they make a mockery of my mission to protect the homestead from foreign invaders. I hate them because my primal programming compels me to avoid or destroy them. I hate them because they remind me of my own pointless and arbitrary existence on this planet. I’m a mere sack of meat, a host, a vessel, vulnerable, venal and killable: trapped in the ageless, endless cycle of shagging, spawning, shitting, eating and dying in which every species on earth is ensnared and engaged. And all of that comes into sharp focus whenever I see a spider stringing and spitting its arse-glue around my living room lampshade. I think I think too much. I think I need to get out more. (But in a fully-sealed bio-suit, of course) I wish I was a spider sometimes, if only so I wouldn’t have to worry about spiders all the time. (Note to God: if you do happen to exist, and the Buddhists were right, then please don’t be an asshole and read the previous sentence as a direct and literal appeal to you to reincarnate me as a spider. I was using your name conversationally, and you know it, you big rotter. FYI, I want to come back as myself again, only thinner and richer)
Summer’s influx of insects turns me into Howard Hughes, driving me to bouts of irrationality and insanity. I’ll gladly sit in the house suffocating myself half-to-death in the baking, dog-killing heat – the windows and doors clamped shut, gaffer tape stretched over every gap and crack – if my oxygen-sacrifice will prevent the entry of even one housefly. YOU… SHALL NOT PASS! As a child, I couldn’t eat my breakfast in the kitchen, or enjoy a simple shit in the bathroom, until every fly in the room had been snuffed out. I’d waddle around the bathroom snapping at flies with a hand-towel, always on the cusp of crapping myself, but despite the agony unable to sit, squat or shit until every last one was vanquished. The thought of those verminous swines lowering themselves onto my exposed buttocks mid-shit like some team of anal astronauts (Buzz Aldrin indeed) was too much to bear.
My fly fury wasn’t confined to the bathroom and kitchen. I had venetian blinds in my bedroom, which came in handy for my part-time career as a heroic fly exterminator. Each slat was perpetually splattered with the blood and pus of dead flies. I’d stun them, perch their break-dancing bodies on a slat, and then pull the cord to concertina them to death. My mum had to keep taking the blinds outside to scrub them down, doubtless wondering if her son was manifesting the behaviour of a nascent serial killer.
In our household, we kicked off summer with a war against ant-kind. Now, ants are great if they happen to be animated and voiced by Woody Allen. They’re not so great when they’re festooning your tiles and participating in a cheeky conga-line across your counter-tops. Their invasion was slow, insidious. I’d find a handful of them peppered over the tiles next to the kitchen window every morning. I’d snuff them out, squishing their little bodies like bubble-wrap beneath my fingers. They’d return, they’d die, they’d return, they’d die. Then, nothing. No ants. Not a single one. Days would pass. A week, maybe. I’d cautiously declare the republic of my kitchen an ant-free zone, rejoice in my victory over those mangy, mandibled monstrosities. Alas, the first ants were merely the scouts for a full-out invasion force. The ants returned, they always returned, but each time in greater number, swelling their ranks until my fingers were black with the blood of a hundred tiny soldiers. They made my bin-cupboard into a fortress. One day I opened the metal sugar tin – sealed so tightly that nary a microbe could squeeze between lid and box – to find them swimming through the sweet white sugar like kids larking in a summer lake. Naturally, I killed them all. Over endless weeks I watched them slip and scurry beneath and between tiles and cupboards like something out of the X-Files. I watched as they sent forth their scouts and raised an anty flag above our fridge. I raged, I ranted, I splatted and thumped. Killed, cleaned, shifted and scrubbed. I genuinely debated slicing off their tiny heads and spearing them on Blu-Tac-mounted toothpicks as a warning to the survivors. Nothing worked. Nothing could stop them. With a small, reasonably mobile child in the house, I was reluctant to opt for the nuclear option: chemical sprays and bait traps.
I discussed the problem with a lady at work. She appeared to have the answer. “I will tell you something that is guaranteed to work. Something that will send those ants packing, never to return. It’s simple, costless and effective, and it has always worked for me. What you must do is…”
“…Just ask them to leave.”
I bought chemical bait traps. They fucked off. Yay genocide!
Flies and ants may be bad, but wasps are the worst. They’re psychotic. I once had one in my living room that buzzed and dive-bombed at me with the ferocity of an airborne tiger. I attempted to swat it with a phone book, which I assumed would at least subdue the unruly fucker. It didn’t. The wasp came at me madder, faster and harder. I retreated from the room and slammed the door behind me. I may even have whimpered. One thing was clear: I needed to regroup and formulate a strategy. First item on the agenda: how the hell do I regroup when there’s only one of me?
Let’s examine the enemy’s mindset by putting ourselves in its place for just a second. Imagine yourself hovering a hundred feet in the air with a jet-pack strapped to your back. Now imagine that a giant is swiping at you with a block of flats. What would you do? You’d probably whoosh off to safety, in the process splattering yourself with a good few litres of your own fear-scented shit. What you probably wouldn’t do is whip out a fork from your pocket and zoom towards the giant shouting, ‘LET’S FUCKING DO THIS, YOU BIG NONCE!’ I know that wasps are miniscule-brained, biological automatons, but credit where credit’s due, I know a hard bastard when I see one. Wasps are fucking mental cases.
Thankfully, insects have been less visible and less of a problem over the last few years – wasps especially – owing to our cold summers and even colder winters. This is why, despite how much I may whinge about the scattershot nature of the Scottish weather, I wouldn’t change its dire character for the world. Australia, South Africa, FL USA, everywhere else in the world where it’s hot and humid: enjoy your beautiful sunshine. But also enjoy your endless, nefarious hordes of slimy, creepy, crawly, stingy, bitey little bugs and beasts. I’ll be here watching the rain drum against my windows, snapping the occasional fly and snubbing the odd ant, happy that at least my unwelcome visitors don’t have fangs or venom.