In which a small creature creates a medium amount of havoc…

I cannot remember a time of my life when I have not been afraid of spiders. Some of it is learned behaviour (I do after all have a mother who moves the furniture to hoover underneath on a regular basis so nothing with 8 legs can lurk underneath and creep out to surprise her at night), and some of it is an entirely rational (as far as I’m concerned) hang-over fear from humanity’s early days when spiders were as big as houses and angrier than a thwarted toddler.

You have seen the most recent King Kong film, haven’t you? See? Big Spiders. BIG. HUUUUUUGGGGEEEE. I rest my case.

Anyway, mostly these days, I manage to sit on my fears as now I’m the only adult in the house, ergo, the only person to remove said creatures. I ignore the ones in corners, chat to the spindly ones (in the hope that by being friendly, they won’t eat my face whilst I’m asleep) and have gone so far as to usher out into the garden the bigger-than-I-wish-to-cohabit-with ones, rather than reaching for the hoover and holding the nozzle with my very fingertips.

But what I really really draw the line at is finding them crawling into my cleavage. Specifically, crawling into my cleavage when I’m in a rather important meeting with Historic England and an archaeologist. So lo, when it came to pass that last Friday, I was nodding my head sagely and saying “hmm, yes, raft foundations…gable end…etc”, I felt something unusual in that direction.

Looking down, I see a spider about the size of my thumbnail (which I consider to be a considerable size in an arachnid) heading southwards. With great presence of mind, I turn to look in the direction of a particularly fine example of Tudor timber-framing, and swiftly reach in to pluck the fearless creature from my regions, flinging it away, hopefully far away.

However. I am not entirely sure I’ve got the little blighter. I cannot rummage around in there to check. I couldn’t be sure I’d managed to grab it. In fact, I’m not entirely if I didn’t just squash it against myself and now have spider goo on me.

But, professional as I am, I control the rising hysterics and continue with the meeting. All the while my internal monologue sounds like this…

“Yes, yes, I can see the need for a full building condition report…there’s a spider in my dress…a heritage statement is indeed a good thing…there’s a spider in my dress…yes, of course we can go and investigate the attics…there’s a SPIDER in my dress…oh, the cellars too, why not…there’s a SPIDERĀ in my DRESS…that’s been a really useful discussion…FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SACRED, THERE IS A FUCKING SPIDER IN MY DRESS…”

Finally the people left, I indulged in a mini-meltdown in the privacy of my own office and, when I got home, utterly failed to find the creature, which, I’ve no doubt, is now regaling its many-legged friends with tales of the giant fingers ruthlessly plucking it from its new resting spot and flinging it callously to the ground. I hope they buy it many pints of fly beer, or whatever they drink.

So far, my friends have singularly failed to buy me a restorative pint…

PS I tried to find an image of said King Kong spider but the images that came up on a Google search frankly gave me the wiggins, so you’ll have to imagine it. Plus, I hate it when people drop a spider image into a blog or twitter post, so I couldn’t do it. Have a Monty Python one instead. You’re welcome.

An Entirely Unscientific Life Theory in which I Leave the Door Slightly Ajar

For a long time, I’ve held the entirely unscientifically tested theory that every three to four years something comes along and shakes me from my foundations. Some of these things are naturally occurring disasters … and delights. Birth, death, illness, wellness. That sort of thing.

And some of them are self-inflicted, for better or worse. Marriage, divorce, job changes etc. You know, those *simple* things.

Well, not for nothing did my word for the year turn out to be ‘new’. It would seem that I am due another self-inflicted occurrence for I am in the process of a new Big Something.

After 10 years working where I currently do, I’m off to a Big City for a bigger role and a bigger future than I thought possible twelve months ago.

It’s scary and exhilarating. Terrifying and terrific. At the end of May I will wave goodbye to a team I have known for many years. This place has been where I’ve grown, adapted, survived. Even thrived. And we’ve weathered all the life changes above together. They have been the best team; and, as always with the people you love, I shall miss them terribly.

But. I am so ready for this change.

I think I am ready to let this blog go now too. It may reappear in another incarnation several months down the line when things have settled and I’ve made the transition to city life. Maybe by then I’ll have learned to be more comfortable in heels than wellies, to carry a little (or large) handbag balanced in the crook of one arm whilst sipping on an espresso, to resemble a graceful person rather than an over-enthusiastic puppy.

Somehow I doubt it. And somehow I doubt it will matter.

So, following on from my slightly lachrymose post last time, I took a good hard look at everything that had happened in September, and how I’d reacted and decided that unless I relaxed more, let things go a little more, generally went with the flow (man), I’d end up in a corner, rocking back and forth, whimpering about ‘societies’ and ‘building reports’ and ‘career development plans’ and ‘dying-alone-and-being-eaten-by-cats’.*

In response to that realisation, I have unleashed my inner Doris Day. Oh yes. She has been released from her box and is currently waging war with the gremlin on my shoulder. For example:

Gremlin: it’s cold and dark and you don’t feel very well and you’re late for work and this is the third morning this week your child has gone in with money for lunch rather than nutritious sandwiches and why are you even bothering. (at this point he runs out of breath rather than things to berate me for)

Doris: “ah but the birds are singing outside and you remembered to feed your sourdough starter last night and tonight there are crayfish for tea.” Thus she effectively nuts the gremlin with her cast-iron hairsprayed ‘up-do’ of buoyancy, before sandbagging him off my shoulder with her patent-leather purse of happiness. Not even the incessant rain gets in her way, merely bouncing off her

This works to a certain extent, although I fear my head may explode with all the enforced positivity. Possibly Doris’s voice will get higher and shriller and stuck on “but the birds are singing but the birds are singing but the birds are singing,” until it does.

And I have spent the past week tackling a giant monster from the nether regions of hell. Otherwise known as the ‘Back Office At Work’. A phrase most likely to strike terror into my heart is ‘I’m just going into the back office to look for something’. When I say that this place may kill me, it’s being buried beneath one of the teetering piles of boxes that I’m envisaging. Filled with a smorgasbord of pottery shards, fossil bits, flints, papers, photos, ledgers, glass slides, defunct cameras and the occasional skull, these boxes are my Matterhorn**, or they were. Progress has been made, one box defeated at a time, and the chance to just play quietly amongst the archives has been most soothing, not to mention surprising at times. Indentures from 1714, minerals in raw form, Elgar’s signature on a letter. I work in an astonishing place.

One that allows me to get on with the day whilst listening to Dusty Springfield and feverishly, pointedly ignoring the fact I have Odd Socks on. Because I got dressed in the dark.

Yeah, my job kicks ass.

So I’ll be back here in November – enjoy your Halloween, people. Sugar fangs are NOT optional.

*I’m not actually concerned about my eventual corpse being eaten by cats on account of the fact that I won’t know anything about it. And I don’t intend to have cats when I’m old because I’ll want to be off and doing things. But apparently as a Single Person in my late 30s, I am supposed to be worried about it.

**And as near to mountain climbing as you will ever get me. I’m not even that keen on walking slightly up hill, let alone donning crampons and a helmet. And altitude does terrible things to my hair.

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