I thought it was all over, but the dead wasps are back.
After a more-or-less wasp-free November, I’d concluded that the cold had finished up all the 2014 crop, but I was wrong. For the last week or so, my bathroom windowsill – and floor! – has once again become a wasps graveyard.
If this is the outcome of an unusually mild autumn, then come next year it’s me for shivering from September 1.
The dead ones aren’t actually the problem. It’s little trouble to go round with a dustpan and brush, collecting them and dumping them in the bin. No, it’s the not-dead ones that are the trouble, the sudden buzz, the angry swooping and retreating towards the heat of the light, and the necessity of yet another wasp execution, as I prowl with the aerosol, ready for the exact moment to zap them on the wing. Then go for the dustpan and brush.
Last night was pretty intensive. I didn’t get home until after 9.30pm, and there were no less than five occasions when I was interrupted in my precious few hours of relaxation to lower the boom on yet another Hymenoptera hipocriota living on beyond its proper time.
The last of these was actually conducted from my bed, where I was finishing off a few pages of Pratchett, and had to do little more than roll over to grab the can and execute the one exploring my bedside lamp.
Yet there’s a curiously positive side to all this faffing around. All my life I’ve been scared of wasps, and bees: it never extended to an actual phobia, but it was in sight of the border controls. As the years have gone by and I have matured (by whatever minimal degree), I have gained a measure of control over my instinctive urge to run like buggery whenever one of the stripey little bastards buzzes around, but this past few months have changed that. The sound of the wasp no longer frightens me. When I hear it, I am irritated, but no longer scared. I just grab the can, await my chance and go back to what I was doing.
I’m never going to greet them with complete equanimity, but get this: a couple of nights ago, I felt a tickle on my left wrist and looked round to discover a full-size wasp woofling around on. There are no holes in my ceiling, where I bounced off, no skidmarks on anything (and you may take that reference any way you choose): I merely flicked it off and went for the aerosol.
Of course, I am not proclaiming myself cured. These are, after all, the cold-crippled wasps, the pensioners who have outlived their natural term, and who are easy to dispose of: it might not be quite the same with a lean, hungry young wasp next July.
But for now I’ll revel in my unexpected calmness in the face of my ancient menace.