Children raised on a regime of country air and riding tend to grow up quite tough. They are unfased by mud, muck and hard labour. They are well acquainted with disappointment, after years of tipping the final pole in the jump-off/being beaten into second place by the very last pony to go/looking forward for weeks on end to a camp or competition only to have their pony trot-up lame the day before. They carry with pride and little fuss the bruises from falls and trodden-on toes. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off and hop straight back into the saddle however much of a little wotsit their pony is being that day.
They are made of stern stuff, have stiff upper lips and they are philosophical in the face of danger or defeat.
So how come all of my fearless equestrian warriors are reduced to quivering jellies at the sight of a spider? It is astonishing to me that they can stride boldly into the bathroom without a care in the world, only to run out a few seconds later screaming: “OMG there’s the most ENORMOUS spider I have EVER seen! It’s in the bath! You have to help me!”
And when I go in to investigate I see that they are right. It IS enormous. FOR A SPIDER! Which means that at most, it measures between one and two inches across, and cannot possibly represent any kind of a threat to anybody, except a fly.
So it’s me that has to clear the area, which I do with the inverted glass and piece of paper method least likely to upset the poor spider, which let’s face it, has already been traumatised enough by the excessive screaming of a giant some 2000 times its size.
We once set off for camp in the lorry, and noticed a spider had made a web across the outside of the windscreen, to which it was clinging as we rattled along. Since it was separated from my daughter by a solid screen (it’s not called safety glass for nothing) she felt she could befriend him without anxiety. We nicknamed him Spidey and kept an eye on his progress. He stayed in place for three outward and return journeys. We were like old friends by then, Spidey and us. So it came as a bit of a shock when, on day four, a sharp gust of wind lifted him up and swept him off to spider heaven. We were glum for days.
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So you see it is possible to make friends with a spider, and I would encourage everyone who suffers from this highly irrational phobia to take advantage of this year’s spider season to overcome your fears. When you find a spider, put down that rolled up newspaper, and make it clear you come in peace. Spiders are a good thing! Not only are their webs works of intricate and beautiful engineering, but they also eat all the flies! In return all they get is bad press, and I think it’s a shame.