I NEVER saw a really big spider until I moved to Hampshire.
Even though I shrieked and was frightened by beasties in Northern Ireland, I really had no idea what was terrorising arachnophobes in other parts of the United Kingdom.
I am petrified of them all year round, but this time of year is particularly stressful because they seem to be everywhere.
I pop out our back door to put something in the bin and I feel myself walking through a bit of web, or I attempt to garden and spot what seems to be dozens of the blighters communing in a raised bed plotting the overthrow of the nervous humans.
My fears have escalated recently because of incidents other people have reported to me. My colleague Helen has been working on a story about a woman who was bitten by a relative of a black widow in Kempshott. Where. We. Live.
All she did was sit on a wall, and she ended up with a horrific wound.
Another friend revealed on Facebook last week that she’d put on a jumper which had been hanging on her wardrobe and instantly felt something on her back.
She joked that she’d been found later, traumatised, rocking backwards and forwards in a brightly lit room, but I can feel her pain exactly.
Round our way, we have been scarred by incidences where spiders have run across our pillows. It happened to my husband as he was about to get into bed last year, and it happened to me many years ago when I lived in a shared house and slept with the windows open on humid evenings.
Another one scuttled up my bedside table as I lay looking in that direction and since then, I refuse to have the windows open at night. I would rather sweat to death than let in a spider – or swallow one, as that horrifying statistic suggests.
All someone has to do is say the word ‘spider’ and my heebiejeebies commence. I start to feel as if little tiny feet are crawling on and around my person, and I can get myself worked up into a right old state.
But I know that I must now get a grip of myself, as I am a parent, and I can’t transfer all of my silly, irrational fears onto my daughter.
As I leapt from the table looking aghast a few days ago when I spotted one leisurely making its way under the dining room table, my husband pointed out how much I was scaring our daughter.
She’d obviously never seen me react in such a manner, and wondered what on earth had turned mummy into a leaping, wide-eyed loon.