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Welcoming Aliens

August 28, 2006

I wrote this piece a few years ago for a BBC broadcast, but its seems timely again, not just becasue it’s autumn, but also in the light of conversations about racial profiling etc.

“It’s the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness when we are regaled with the painted glories of autumn leaves according to the poets. It’s around this time that local spiders begin a frantic struggle to attach web lines to the trailing edge of summer, in an effort to make it stay for a while longer. Or maybe they’re trying to hitch a ride with the fading season to some warmer climes. But the fact is most of them round my way re failing miserably. And unable to escape with the sun they are taking up residence in my home.

Some unseen, unheard siren seems to signal to them that my house has vacancies.

During this time of the year my wife’s eyes automatically scan the walls, ceiling and furniture of every room she enters. And often, hanging serenely in a corner, like some eight-legged estate agent, (and how scary is that by the way), a monster the size of a 50p piece surveys the most advantageous site for a winter retreat. I am subsequently assigned to dutifully capture and dispatch any intruder to the outdoors.

This year, convinced that each arachnid has an inbuilt homing device centred on our abode (maybe it’s the wifi!) I am required to carry them outside the range of this supposed signal, across the street where presumably, my wife believes they can invade someone else’s home with impunity. So much for neighbourhood spirit.

I long to offer hospitality to these poor unfortunate seasonal visitors, sure what harm do they do? But ours is a cold house for them, despite the fact that the central heating gives our place the ambience of a waiting room for Hades.

Yes I long to welcome these spiders, despite the fact that experts tell us we swallow on average 3.5 spiders every year during sleep, when with unfortunate precision accuracy they fall from ceilings into an open mouth.

In the meantime I turn a blind eye as lines of refugee insects try to find shelter and a safe haven within the fortified zone of my house.

But until the stranger finds a welcome within our walls then I’m afraid we are destined to continue scanning the environs, worried about what they might be up to in the shadows. More than that we may even have to get rid of them altogether. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, and do not shed innocent blood the scriptures say.

And just in case you think I’m still talking about spiders, then think again.”

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From → Reflection

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