Monday, 3 December 2007

Bathing with Wasps

Some people do yoga, some tai chi. I do baths. Baths are my therapy. If I were in Bagdad, I would be a lifelong member of the Bath Party. I turn on my approved-for-use-in-zone-one-areas reading light at one end, and the perfect dribble of hot and cold water at the other, and subside with an 'Aaah' like a Bisto ad. Close at hand on the bathroom chair is a book, and also a radio because reading is difficult when you're actually washing. On the windowsill is a cup of tea or a glass of gin, depending on the time of day.

So it is a Bad Thing if I get disturbed.

This morning, just as I got settled, a demented wasp woke up and started tearing about the room like a blender on steroids. It wasn't an ordinary wasp either; this one was about the size of a small courgette, and it was not happy with life.

I don't react well to stings at the best of times. Bits swell up and throb. But being starkers brought an unimagined sense of vulnerability. After ducking at two low passes, I spotted it making a 360 degree stall turn round the ceiling light and made a dash for my dressing gown, cascading water all over the carpet. A dressing gown might not offer much protection, but if I was going to be discovered swollen and throbbing on the floor, it seemed a good idea.

I never got there; the bastard came at me from three o'clock out of the sun, and it was only through a desperate, lucky reflex that I caught it a glancing blow with the Autumn/Winter Scotland in Trust magazine, sending it spinning against the model of a Polynesian proa.

It recovered before I could get to it, its engine revving up an octave, and homed in on its large, pink target with single-minded ferocity. The next few moments seem like a blur. I know my magazine arm was flailing like the paddles of a threshing machine, missing but stirring up the air enough to keep it at bay. Then it swung away to the far corner, roll-turned and came for me straight as a die, full throttle.

I had one chance, and I knew it. I held my fire until it was almost on me, and then unleashed an overarm swing that met it head-on. The wasp entered the bath like a bullet, just under the hot tap. I don't think it felt a thing. Unfortunately I took out a bottle of Badedas and the shaving gel on the follow through, and Scotland in Trust flew out of my hand into the water, but I'd pretty much read it anyway.

I'm sure Archimedes never had to put up with this sort of thing. I think I'm going to start bathing with my clothes on.

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