I know it's not September yet (and oh how I'm looking forward to some rain) but, September brings on the spiders.
Forget religious fanatics: the greatest threat we face today has eight legs and is hiding behind my telly.
Forget rainy April or snowblown February - early September is the very worst time of year, for one simple reason: it's spider season. Every year, right about now, thousands of the godless eight-legged bastards emerge from the bowels of hell (or the garden, whichever's nearest) with the sole intention of tormenting humankind. To a committed arachnophobe like me, spider season is like a live-action version of the videogame Doom. My house is briefly transformed into a sort of white-knuckle ghost house in which dropping your guard, even for a moment, can have terrible consequences.
What's the point of spiders anyway? They're just mobile nightmare units put on the Earth to eat flies and frighten people by scuttling out from under the TV stand and lolloping crazily toward you. Non-arachnophobes just don't get it. Fear of spiders isn't a choice, but a residual evolutionary trait that some people have and some don't, just as some people can fold their tongues and others can't.
When I see a spider, I'm across the room before I know what's happened, like an animal running from an explosion. It's not learned behaviour. It's automatic code, hardwired into the brain. Some brains...... My brain.
Once, when I was a student, I was preparing a meal in a hall of residence kitchen when some japester ran in carrying a huge spider he'd found outside. Having made a couple of girls scream, he decided to lunge in my direction. Without even thinking, I swiped at his tummy with a kitchen knife in a desperate bid to stave him off. The blade narrowly missed him, which was a shame, because it meant I had to spend the next half-hour listening to him self-righteously bleating about how I must be crazy and he was only having a laugh.
I just shrugged. Don't startle someone with a knife in their hand unless you're prepared to face the consequences. Next time I'll go for the eyes.
But like I say, non-arachnophobes don't understand. Too lacking in imagination and/or basic human empathy to comprehend the instinctive primal reaction spiders provoke in genuine sufferers, they blather idiotic platitudes like "It's more scared of you than you are of it", which is absurd since:
a) spiders aren't gripped with hypnotic dread at the sight of people and
b) the spider's primitive brain doesn't have any concept of fear, in much the same way it doesn't have any concept of what the Police Academy movies are.
Spiders are so resolutely horrible, they don't even have to exist to be scary. A few weeks into a bumper spider season, I find I'm often as frightened of spiders that aren't there as ones that are. Terrified to pick up a shoe in case there's a spider in it, for example.
This is because spiders have precisely the same modus operandi as terrorists: they target innocent civilians at random, strike unexpectedly, and cause widespread disproportionate fear. Oh, and they often die as a result of their actions, or at least they do if I've got a rolled-up newspaper to hand. Spiders don't videotape their own suicide notes before embarking on their death campaigns, but that's only because they're too thick to operate the controls.
All of which prompts the question of why the military doesn't get involved. Think about it: if the army fought the War on Spiders instead of the War on Terror, it would be a) winnable, b) cheaper, c) popular, and d) justifiable in the eyes of God. I'd certainly slumber more soundly in my bed if I knew Our Lads were available on 24-hour call-out. A dedicated anti-arachnid task force that would turn up at your home in the dead of night and splatter that absolute whopper that ran under the cupboard an hour ago and has left you unable to sleep ever since.
Oh, and please note I'm suggesting the use of lethal force as a default. None of this fannying around with pint glasses and sheets of paper and "putting him outside". He'll just crawl in again. If a murderer climbed through your window you wouldn't just "put him in the garden". You wouldn't rest until you saw his brains sloshed up the wall. It's the same with spiders. If it's not been reduced to a gritty, twitching smear, it's not been dealt with at all.