The earwig and I

So I’m sitting on the toilet, concentrating. Pain killers can clog a person’s system if you’re not careful. The knickers and trousers are on the floor. (There’s a logistical reason for that but you really don’t want to know the details.) Then, I see it. A rather large earwig is striding resolutely towards my clothing. Of course I immediately talk to it, quite firmly. “Hey! Hey! Turn around.” Needless to say it completely ignored me and marched ever onwards. Oh hell. I haul up the clothing with one hand and try to deflect the insect with my foot. It avoids my toes and runs forward! I scream, drop the pants and then realise it’s now reached the other side; between my clothing and the toilet bowl. Nooooooo! I take a few deep breaths (not a good idea considering my purpose for being there) and decide there’s nothing to worry about if it keeps moving forward. It’ll work its way around the bowl and tuck itself up in a corner for a nap. No worries, right? That’s when the flipping insect decides to turn around and march back again. I grab at the clothing in a vain attempt to lift it up before the earwig reaches the outer borders. I don’t get a decent grasp and the pants fall down again just as the insect is half way across the great divide. Arrrrrghgghghggg! There’s only one thing I can do. I kick the whole lot off and push it away from me. When I have finished my business. I pick the clothing up to take it to the laundry. Time for a change of clothes. There’s no way I’m going to run the risk of an earwig crawling about my unmentionables. As I make my way back to the bathroom to wash my hands I see the darn earwig scurrying away into a dark corner. I find myself wondering whether the flipping thing did all that on purpose. I could swear I heard it laughing. Evil little critter! What’s the point of earwigs, anyway? I know that everything has its place in the great scheme of things. Even flies do some good in the world. (They help pollinate plants. Also, if they didn’t birth their larvae in rotting carcasses we’d be knee deep in bodies by now.) But there are three insects that don’t seem to fulfil any useful purpose except, perhaps, as food for fish and spiders: mosquitoes, earwigs and (shudder) cockroaches. So, why didn’t I just kill the earwig? 1) I’d have had to squish it with my bare feet. Ewww. 2) I try to order my life by the policy of live and let live. Every living creature has the right to exist, make a living and care for its family. Except cockroaches; they’re like brussel sprouts – pure evil. 3) It’s the Christmas season and it just didn’t seem right to celebrate the incarnation of the creator by killing one of his creatures. However, I am totally bemused by the good Lord’s invention of these insects. Perhaps he made them simply to have a good laugh watching me squirm while seated on the throne. There’s probably some deep spiritual meaning to all this that has so far escaped me. Happy New Year everyone. (Not you,...

Read More

One of my favourite things.

A couple of years ago, around this time of the year, the Old Boy and I took our friends from down the street, to a little town in the Adelaide Hills. Every year 90% of the houses and businesses in this town decorate their premises with Christmas lights. The whole valley is aglow. Although in recent years it’s become swamped with tourist coaches it has still managed to maintain its country town charm. The Lutheran church puts on a nativity scene with live animals. There are coffee, donuts, ice cream, hot chips and hot dog vendors; market stalls selling craft work and cherries grown in the area, and the main street is abuzz with people taking in the sights. It has been a favourite Christmas season destination for the Old Boy and I for decades and we wanted to share it with our friends. As it happened, on the day we had planned to go I had to have a bone biopsy taken from my rib. It was a particularly nasty procedure and if I ever have to have it done again I’m going to demand I get knocked out. I was told to do nothing for 24 hours and to “take it easy”. What about the lights? I decided that as it’s so hard to find a free night that suits everyone at this time of the year, we should still go. I would just be sitting in the car for about 30 – 40 minutes and then I needn’t go to the market or wander about. I could even stay in the car and we could just drive around to see the light display. Easy. We got there early before the crowds built up and parked in the main street. We found a bench near a coffee vendor, just across the road from a beautifully decorated gift shop. We sat, bought some coffee and relaxed. I couldn’t have walked any further and our friends were quite content to sit there with me. Gradually the sun went down and the lights came on. The footpaths became filled with people – individuals, lovey-dovey couples, groups of teenagers and lots of family groups – and they wandered up and down the street. Some of the kids were wearing their PJs. Several of them passed by us a number of times and we chatted to them as though they were old friends. We waved at the kids. We patted the dogs. We didn’t move from that spot until the crowds had begun to thin out and it was time to leave. We did a circuit around the town to admire the decorations and then made our way back through the hills to home. I managed to make it all the way inside the house before being violently sick.  And, yes, it was worth it. We’ve gone back every Christmas since and we do the same thing (except for the vomitting). It’s such a happy, relaxing, heart-warming thing to do. (Not the vomitting!) If I hadn’t been forced to “take it easy” we might have been caught up in the rush from one market stall to another and the hustle and bustle of working our way through the crowds. It wouldn’t have been the same sort of experience and, most probably, would not have become our favourite Christmas thing. We’re going in two sleeps time and I can’t wait. And you know what? Apart from the coffee (and maybe something to eat) it doesn’t cost a thing. I hope you and yours find something equally peaceful, relaxed, happy and commercial-free to do this Christmas season. (Or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or family feast and gift-giving time.)  ...

Read More

Mandela

The whole world seems to be busy posting photos and messages about Nelson Mandela on the internet and other forms of media, so I think that my little effort may well be superfluous. BUT – no show without Punch, so I’ll just add my two cents worth. I find it interesting that the thing that makes Mandela stand out as a luminous figure on the world stage, was his ability to endure suffering for a righteous cause, and then to spend the rest of his life living out forgiveness, acceptance and restoration. No one would have been surprised if he didn’t leave prison, vowing revenge on the racist regime that put him there. Instead, within a very short time he was campaigning for a united South Africa. He said he fought strongly against white domination and he fought strongly against black domination. Instead he fought for a new South Africa, in which all races could live together equally. It is that attitude that made him great. The only other figures that came near him in influence in my lifetime was Mother Theresa: a woman who poured out her life in service to the homeless, the rejected, the abandoned and the dying. And, of course, Martin Luther King, with his dream that one day every man and woman will be judged by the strength of their character, not the colour of their skin. Can anyone – other than their immediate family and their handlers – name a suicide bomber? Can anyone remember the names of the guys who flew the planes into the Twin Towers? What about the names of the men who shot up the shopping mall in Kenya? Compare the world’s response to the death of Bin Laden and the death of Mandela. Says it all, really. When will we learn? The greatest changes made in the world are always done through personal sacrifice, love, forgiveness and the sheer determination to treat others with respect and kindness, even when it is undeserved. May Mandela’s mantle fall, not just on one individual, but on a whole generation....

Read More