Petty domestic disputes no.8: Tidying

You want me to tidy what? (source: cartoon wallpapers.us)

You want me to tidy what? (source: cartoon wallpapers.us)

“Everytime a child says ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there’s a a little fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”
Peter Pan

My family believe in fairies. My wife and my two sons believe that not only do fairies exist but they live in our house. How do I know this? Every morning, after breakfast, they take their bowls and cups from the dining table and place them on a work surface in the kitchen, next to sink, ready to be cleaned. What is the problem with that, you may ask? Well, nothing, except that we own a dishwasher.

The dishwasher is in our utility room. It is only a few feet from this particular area of work surface to the dishwasher, but every day the cups and bowls are placed by the sink safe in the knowledge that the tidy fairy will put them into the dishwasher. It must be the tidy fairy, because they never put the bowls and cups into the dishwasher and yet the bowls and cups get cleaned. Sometimes they feel charitable and place the cups and bowls on the work surface directly above the dishwasher. The thought may occur to them to place the items into the dishwasher, but for some reason they ignore it. Perhaps they are worried the tidy fairy will be made redundant, yet another casualty of austerity Britain. In their heads they see a little queue of fairies filing into the job centre looking for opportunities under M for magic. Perhaps my boys think the tidy fairy will have words with the tooth fairy so that they only get half the usual amount per tooth, or even worse, talk to Santa and tell him exactly how badly behaved they can sometimes be. Whatever the reason, the tidy fairy has gainful employment in our house.

Now that's how to load a dishwasher (source: nrdc.org)

Now that’s how to load a dishwasher (source: nrdc.org)

Of course, it’s not really the tidy fairy that cleans up after the family (sorry kids), it’s me. And it does my head in. The problem is, when we agreed that I would look after the boys, we also agreed that I would do the lion’s share of the domestic chores. I don’t mind that. What I do have a problem with is doing unnecessary chores. It would only take another 5 seconds for the family to put their things in the dishwasher, yet it all seems too much bother. Not that they would do a very good job of maximising the load. You can tell whenever my wife loads the dishwasher because everything is jumbled up inside. I can get twice the crockery into the dishwasher than her, just by arranging things in a logical order. I even showed her how to do this once. Did she thank me? Did she hell.

Ah, I hear you say, you’re being too sensitive. It’s only just the dishwasher, it’s not like it takes you a long time to sort it out. If only. There’s all the post that gets dumped into my office to file, or the things to shred that not only get left in my office, but often on top of the shredder, as if flicking a switch and pushing a receipt into the ‘hole of lacerations’* was far too much work. Then there are the kitchen peelings that we save in a little container to go to the compost bin. I’m sure my wife believes this container grows legs and empties itself during the night like Twoflower’s Luggage. If only it had all the attributes of that magic box.

empty toilet rollWell I couldn’t let this go on. As is typical in our household I didn’t say anything directly (we tend to hold these things in until we explode irrationally at something inconsequential like a coffee stain or the wrong flavoured crisps). Instead I started a guerrilla action.

There is one thing my wife hates more than anything, and that is empty toilet roll tubes being left in a bathroom. I’m not talking about leaving the toilet roll holder empty (I may be vindictive sometimes but I’m not that mean) but leaving the empty tube on a window sill or a shelf, preferably in a prominent position, will have the desired effect.

I’ve even got my boys in on the act. I was asked by my oldest what to do with the empty tube once. “Just leave it on the side” I said, maniacally laughing inside like Machiavelli‘s slightly less cunning cousin**, and like good children they are happy to oblige. Now I get a small amount of pleasure watching my wife, face like thunder, taking yet another empty toilet tube into the utility room. I stand there, broom or duster in hand, chuckling to myself as I watch her walk through the kitchen to the utility room. And then my laughter stops. Because every time she walks past the dishwasher to and places the empty toilet roll onto an area of the work surface where we place the recyclables.

Ready for the recycle fairy to place them in the recycle bin outside.

* A friend of mine is a product manager responsible for shredders (plus laminators and other stuff) and I’ve been assured that this is the correct technical term.

**His name was Trevor, apparently.

Previous petty domestic dispute blogs in this series:

  1. Bed space
  2. The 6 a.m. watershed
  3. Food
  4. Houseplants
  5. Who changes the nappy
  6. Bed Linen
  7. Toys in the lounge

What is the point?

What do you mean I can't take it with me? (source: legacy matters.ca)

What do you mean I can’t take it with me? (source: legacy matters.ca)

“If you could be anyone in the world, who would it be?”
Bill Gates.”
“Why?”
“Because he’s the richest man in the world.”*
“And then what?”
“What do you mean?”
“And then what? Once you’re the richest man in the world, then what?”
“I’d make more money.”**

I had my first blogging argument the other day. Well, when I say argument, I mean disagreement and even that is too harsh because being a typical Brit I backed down as soon as I thought I had caused offense.

It started after reading the excellent donotgetsickinthesink blog (she’s very good, you should follow her). Now Karen (she of the aforementioned blog) was commenting on the story of Huguette Clark, a reclusive American heiress who died recently. Ms Clark decided to leave her estate to those who cared for her over the last 20 years instead of her closest relatives. Unsurprisingly, her extended family are currently disputing the will, despite the fact that many hadn’t seen her for years and some had never met her at all. Personally I find the whole thing amazing. I mean, my sister-in-law is famous for visiting relatives to ensure she doesn’t get left out of their wills, and the most she’s likely to get is 14 pairs of white socks and some Lego. Surely they could have visited once or twice in the intervening years?

Now Karen wrote in “if you can’t take it with you then at least make them fight over it” about how different life for the extremely wealthy is compared to the rest of us and that the only interest this family had with Ms Clark was after she had died. And while I agree, it got me thinking of a bigger picture. Sadly, instead of writing something profound about what I was thinking, I wrote a flippant comment about the American Dream which Karen rightly gave short shrift. This is my somewhat more reasoned reply.

The story of Huguetta Clark reminded me of a conversation I had many years ago with some colleagues. These colleagues were big believers in the American Dream. They had been brought up to believe that in the USA, anyone with the right stuff and will to succeed can make it, or as it was better defined by James Truslow Adams in 1931: “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.” I don’t know how anybody could disagree with that.

This man has a lot to answer for (source: Wikipedia)

This man has a lot to answer for (source: Wikipedia)

The problem is, the meaning of the American Dream has changed since Adams wrote that definition, and for my colleagues (and many other Americans) the goal of “life should be better, richer, fuller” changed to just “richer”. This is very similar to how fame, once a byproduct of artistic or political achievement, is now a goal in its own right (I’m looking at you, Mr Cowell).

Now before we go any further, I’m not knocking America or Americans. This viewpoint isn’t unique to the them, in fact I’m sure most Russian Oligarchs, high-ranking Chinese Communist Party members, London Bankers and many, many others agree. I’m also not here to argue whether the American Dream is actually attainable any more, especially when the current President of the USA is the embodiment of that dream (boy that’s got to hurt the tea party) and the current Prime Minister of the UK is a direct descendent of William IV, went to Eton, was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club whilst at Oxford University and has had most things handed to him on a silver platter from birth.

What it made me think of is:

What is the Point?

What is the point of “making it” in this way? I can understand wanting to better yourself, to provide for your family, both now and when you are gone. But if your goal in life is to make it, and the measurement of “making it” is  through money, then Ms Clark was at the very pinnacle of the American Dream when she died. Is that really what people are aiming for? Is the goal of billions around the world to spend their last 20 years in hospital despite not being ill, because you are closer to the people who care for you than your family due to the alienating nature of extreme wealth?

The good news is that not every billionaire views the world this way. Bill Gates, the man my colleagues wanted to be, has placed most of his wealth into a foundation to improve the lives of millions through technology. Only last week Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, announced a new startup company called Calico, whose goal is to combat ageing and eventually deliver eternal life. Now billionaire philanthropists wanting to make the world a better place isn’t a new phenomena (just look at Alfred Novel, for example). What is new, however, is the sheer magnitude of their goals, and the fact that they are not doing this in their dotage, or posthumously, but while they are still relatively young.

Is this really the point? (source: findexamples.com)

Is this really the point? (source: findexamples.com)

Sadly, though, these are the few rather than the many. The majority of billionaires are still engaged in the world’s largest pissing contest. At the same time Bill and Melinda Gates have been looking for a cure for the most virulent African diseases; Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle and the world’s third richest man, has focused his efforts on building the world’s most expensive yacht ahead of Roman Abramovic, whilst the Koch Brothers appear to be secretly trying to become puppet masters of the USA by taking over the Republican party in the hope they can install a brand of unregulated capitalism based on Darwin’s ‘Survival of the fittest’ (and how ironic is it that the main supporters of these two brothers are the more fundamental Christian groups).

The thing is, with a couple of simple words we may be able to turn this minority into a majority. I may be being naive, possibly idealistic, and it will take time, but if we can change the American Dream from aiming to be “richer” to “richer to deliver good”, maybe the USA, and therefore the world, would become a  better place. And possibly, just possibly, the descendants of the next Huguetta Clark wouldn’t be fighting over their inheritance, but how best to use her endowment for the better.

*This was correct at the time of the discussion. Then the richest man in the world is Carlos Slim Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecoms magnet and philanthropist. Now, apparently, Bill has hit the top spot once again.

**My answer, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web who could have been fabulously wealthy but decided that his invention should be free for the benefit of mankind.***

*** OK, the answer at the time was Steve Jobs. Satisfied?

Sins of the father

This will come back to haunt you (source: cheeseburger.com)

This will come back to haunt you (source: cheeseburger.com)

I’m sitting here feeling sick after this morning’s run. My legs ache, my lungs are burning and I can’t stop coughing. It’s my running partner’s fault. I ran my fastest ever 5K time on Friday and she said “Ooh, that’s only 8 seconds slower than my best ever.” How did she expect me to react? It was a shame she wasn’t there today. Still, at least she passed on her congratulations after a few sweary texts. When I told my wife she just sighed. I’ve no idea why.

***

When my wife and I first got married, she decided that we should have a shared interest. Her choice was badminton, as she played to a good standard when she was younger. We started to play once a week. It was fun. At first she beat me easily but I gradually improved until our games became evenly balanced. Then she damaged her knee ligaments playing basket ball. We continued to play badminton but the atmosphere wasn’t the same. She didn’t like my tactics, hitting the shuttlecock to the corners of the court, forcing her to run around. I didn’t understand. It was her weakness, why not exploit it? The last time we played I won seven games to nil. That was eight years ago.

***

The nice way to play squash (Source www.surbiton.org)

The nice way to play squash (Source http://www.surbiton.org)

In my late teens Dad asked if I’d like to play squash. He’d played on and off for twenty years whereas I had only played a handful of times, but I thought it might be fun; I hadn’t played Dad at sport for a long time. The game started fairly evenly – his skill being balanced by my energy – but as I started to tire the game became more and more one-sided. Every time I missed a shot my Dad would say “unlucky”, or “so close”. Most people would see this as encouragement, but it wasn’t. Dad was looking to get under my skin and it worked. Finally, during one game, Dad hit the ball to the back of the court. It bounced high and was begging to be hit. I looked to see where to place my shot when there he was in front of me, hogging the centre of the court as he had all game. I swear to this day it was an accident. I apologised profusely as he limped off the court, the bruise from that hard rubber ball colouring up nicely on his lower back. We never played squash again.

***

One of my earliest memories is of playing cards with my Dad. I had just progressed from Snap and Go Fish to playing Blackjack. It was a proper game, a grown-up’s game, and I loved it. I’d got some money for my birthday so Dad asked if I wanted to bet on the next game. I bet 10p. This was in the early 1970’s when bread cost 14p per loaf and milk was 5p a pint. 10p was a lot of money. We played the hand and I won. “Double or quits?” Dad asked. I nodded. I won the next hand. Then the next. Then the next. By the time we had stopped playing, my Dad owed me £3.20. He never paid up.

***

The other day I was playing cricket with my boys in the back garden. My oldest boy was bowling, I was batting and the youngest was fielding. We’d been playing for over an hour and everybody was a little tired. After hitting a ball to the fence, my oldest child started crying. He complained that it wasn’t fair, that it was too hard to get me out. “It’s not meant to be easy,” I said. “That’s why players celebrate so much when they get a wicket. If everything was easy, life would be boring.” My eldest wiped his eyes, went back to his mark and bowled. As the ball came towards me I thought about letting it hit my wicket. It would boost his confidence and increase his love of the game. Then, at the last second, I changed my mind and tried to hit the ball over his head.

His smile as the ball clattered into my stumps lit up my heart. He had bowled me. I was out. He’d beaten me on his own terms and his joy knew no bounds. I watched my son career around the garden, screaming with delight and thought back to the lessons I’d learnt whilst young, those magic moments in getting the better of my Dad. I smiled.

No ball,” I said.

This flash fiction is based on fact. I’ll leave it for you to decide which bits are real, and which are not.

Saturday 7th September: Kevin Pearce, Cara Winter, Terence Blacker – Live at the Cottage

Kevin Pearce: Simply magical

Kevin Pearce: Simply magical (image source: last.fm)

There’s a bit of the rogue in Terence Blacker. You don’t open your set with a song promoting one night stands in a room packed with middle-aged villagers without looking to provoke, and judging by the nervous laughter around me, Blacker got his wish. The secret love child of Richard Digence and Victoria Wood, Blacker seems happiest when puncturing pomposity and self-delusion, his clear-eyed observations matched by a playful use of language that betrays his day job as an author, and columnist to a national newspaper.

The highlights of his set were “Sad old bastards with guitars”, a song that had me laughing out loud as I recognised many of the images portrayed, and “My Village”, a song betraying his affection for village life whilst still giving him the chance to tweak a nipple or two. All Blacker’s songs come with a veneer of gentle humour but don’t be fooled. There is real bite to his wit, and while his choice of targets  in “I’d rather be French” and the “Anti folk, folk song” were spot on, some of his quips dripped with disdain. For the most part, though, Blacker had the room in stitches and I would heartily recommend you see him play, provided of course that you aren’t a third generation village dwelling ex-pat rocker cum folk singer.

In complete contrast, Cara Winters writes songs of a much more personal and introverted nature. Her combination of rolling piano and delicately sweeping melodies places her very much in the school of singer songwriters that includes Kate Bush and Tori Amos, though without the melodrama of the latter. From the opening chords of “Butterfly” Winter created a sonic soundscape that was fragile but with a strong emotional pull.

Highlights from her set were “Rebecca”, influenced by the Daphne Du Maurier novel of the same name, and “Do you have a heart”, introduced as the mousey song. Winter has a very distinctive style and a wonderful voice that combine well on each song. If I was to have one criticism it would be that in their acoustic form her songs sounded very similar. Each on its own was excellent but as a set there was a lack of tonal or dynamic difference. Thinking back on the gig a couple of days later it is hard for me to separate one song from the other, yet her album provides a very different experience as she enhances each song  through clever arrangements. I would recommend seeing Winter with her full band, or even better full orchestration, which sets off her music beautifully.

The only previous time I had seen Kevin Pearce play was with Kal Lavelle in support of Bastille at the Apex, Bury St Edmunds. Playing solo, his subtle sound was lost in such a large auditorium but he had shown enough promise that I couldn’t wait to see him in a more intimate venue. He didn’t disappoint.

From the very outset, Pearce took us on a musical journey, his alternate guitar tunings giving “The Tale of Stardust” and “Tides” an otherworldly feel, as if Pearce had come down from space to spread tales of old Albion. He has been compared in the past to Cat Stevens and Nick Drake, which whilst understandable, does him an injustice. While he may plough the ancient past for inspiration, what Pearce delivers is very new.

Compositionally, Pearce enjoys playing with repetitive themes, using subtle variations in his playing to drive the songs forward whilst his soaring vocal lines act as counterpoint. This was nowhere more evident than with “Freezing” , where his lightness of touch drew you further and further into the song until, as he sang his final falsetto note, he brought you blinking back to reality. A virtuoso performance and a truly stand out moment.

Then, just as  you were becoming used to this mystic journey, Pearce reverted to standard tuning and a more familiar soundscape. Whether singing “We’ve been loving”, a song capturing that end of summer feeling, or the pared down “Winter Atmosphere Head”, Pearce slowly steered us back to the here and now. Eventually the journey had to end and with the wonderful song “The Wormhole”, we arrived home. The crowd gave Pearce a rousing round of applause and the called for encore was duly delivered, “Peaceful Skies” providing the perfect ending to a great night’s entertainment.

What Not to Say – 5 Ways to Talk to Your Writer

This is quite wonderful. Dear friends and family, please take note….

Word Savant

Snoopy-typing

As I read “Don’t Ask Me What I’m Writing” in the Sunday New York Times, I thought, “That is the worst question anyone can ask a writer.”

The question was, How is your novel going?

When someone asks me that question, I have the panicky feeling I used to get when I took a test and realized I didn’t study hard enough for it.

Slouka was writing specifically of what happens when a friend asks their writer this question within the first few months.

The novel is a new-born babe, a primitive and undeveloped idea in the writer’s mind. A well-intentioned friend might ask them, “How is the novel going?”

As Slouka points out this question is a double-edged sword that cuts both writer and well-meaning friend.

But no matter what the progress of the book, you can’t win with that kind of question.  I’ve been asked that question many…

View original post 589 more words

Parental fear and why I should win the Nobel prize for physics

A physicist who is trying too hard.

Quantum mechanics the hard way (source: http://www.gizmag.com)

I love science. I love that there are millions of people working to understand the world around us. I love that as part of their work that they will make observations, build hypothesis, define test methods as to whether their hypothesis are valid or not and then test them. But most of all I love that scientists then publish the results in the hope that somebody will either verify or trash their conclusions. Yes, they are happy to have their conclusions trashed because it increases our overall scientific knowledge. There are very few professions that are as open-minded to new evidence, or as willing to change their minds, as scientists.*

The multiverse theory in action (source: runluaurun.com)

The multiverse theory in action (source: runluaurun.com)

Now, within quantum mechanics (bear with me) there is massive disagreement over the structure of the universe. To keep it simple (because it needs to be for me to understand it) there are scientists who believe that there is one Universe, and others that believe there are an infinite number of universes, where anything that could have happened in our past, but did not, happens in one of these other universes. Think Sliding Doors but with less winsome smiling and more death and violence.

The problem with this many-worlds theory, other than people saying “that’s not science, you’re just making that up”, is that it’s impossible to prove.

Until now.

I am about to introduce new information and test method that should prove the many-worlds concept, and you get to read it here first.

Let me start at the beginning. Before becoming a parent, everybody gives you advice. They tell you about how tired you’ll be, or how you will be amazed at your child’s first smile. They will tell you that it all goes so quick, to cherish every moment because before you know it they will be having children of their own. But there is one thing that nobody tells you about, one thing that you have to discover all by yourself.

The fear.

Parents live in fear of what may happen to their children. We see danger everywhere. Most of us parents learn to deal with this fear, sending our children out into the world with a permafixed smile on our faces and a strong Gin and Tonic in the house.

The thing is, why do parents fear so much. When I walk down the road I feel totally secure, so why is it that when my six-year old walks down the road I see him tripping over the kerb, falling into the road and being squished by a passing car? When I see my two-year old climb the slide in out garden, why do I always envisage him tripping over the top step to land face first on the ground below. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much ‘You’ve been framed‘, but I believe it’s due to something else.

Simulation of  Large Children Collider results (source: wikipedia)

Simulation of Large Children Collider results (source: wikipedia)

This is where my theory comes in. From many years of observation I believe I’ve discovered that people, on becoming parents, develop a special parental sense that allows them to detect what is happening in the other multiple universes around us.** Forearmed with this knowledge they are able to keep their children safe***. Us parents prevent our sons from putting their hand in the mincer, from allowing our daughters to bleach their own hair with toilet duck, because it only takes a glance to know that the child is up to something. We can see clearly what is about to happen and intervene before disaster strikes. Take that bats with your sonar, or homing pigeons with your in-built sat nav, us parents can pierce time and space with just a thought (though the price we pay is high blood pressure, a weak heart, premature greying and bags under our eyes.)

Anyway, in classic physics style, to test this theory I propose that we put millions of children into situations that raise the fear levels of their parents. We then ask the parents what they foresee happening and compare the results. If the parental answers are the same, given the huge sample size it should validate my theory. The cost of such testing would be enormous, but I have designed a device to do this – called the Large Children Collider – which could be built underground in Switzerland.

So there you have it, a clear, simple to follow test for the multiverse concept without the need of complex mathematics or any scientific knowledge. Now laugh at me, my science friends. I look forward to your apologies when I receive my Nobel prize.

* I appreciate that I’m ignoring hundreds of years of scientific scandal, rivalry and down right intransigence.

**This is not to be confused with the eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head sense that is also observed in teachers

***Yes, I know that the many-worlds theory talk about events that have happened in the past, rather than the future, but it spoils the gag so just leave it.

New look

If you’ve visited this blog before, it will come as no surprise that I’ve changed this blog’s look and feel. I hope you appreciate the clean lines and larger font. At the top of the page you will find a new section about myself and the blog, as well as links to all the posts on my three most popular subjects: Petty Domestic Disputes, Village Life and being a Stay at home Dad. I’ve even added a new sub-heading as I was feeling creative.

If I don’t hear anything to the contrary, I’ll take it that you like it. This is a trick that I learnt from my wife.

Thanks once again for dropping by and I hope to see you again soon.

Dylan

PS I’m not sure of the background colour, so it may change. Or it may have already changed (I’ll leave it up to your imagination to wonder what it was before).

And they say that humans are the most intelligent animals

I am your master (source: permatreat.com)

I am your master (source: permatreat.com)

Our village has been under attack. A swarm of houseflies has descended upon our little hamlet, leaving a trail of destruction as tea cups, picture frames and Royal Doulton figurines became collateral damage in the battle between fly and swat. The only people happy with the invasion are the owners of our local hardware store, who have been doing a roaring trade in fly swats, fly paper and – for the landed gentry – the ultra-violet electric bug zapper.

In our household the preferred weapon of choice was a rolled up newspaper (and they said print news is dead). It’s cheap, practical and you can tear off a page if the squished dead fly residue leaves splat marks on your walls. Plus there is something about wielding a rolled up newspaper that takes most men back to their childhood. In our heads we stop being a middle-aged man with a newspaper and become a knight on a quest, a pirate fighting for treasure or, most likely, Luke Skywalker on the Millennium Falcon, blindfolded, using the force to defend himself from lasers. Or maybe that’s just me.

You have learnt well, apprentice (source: sodahead.com)

You have learnt well, apprentice (source: sodahead.com)

Anyway, soon I became the scourge of the house fly. With my Mr Myagi trained ninja reflexes (if you don’t believe me, ask my two boys) I set to work defending my home from the invaders. As always, the slow, stupid and plain were the first casualties. I became the grim reaper of flies, exterminating with a well placed flick of the wrist. I learnt that the best place to aim was just behind the fly, because when flies jump they jump backwards. Nothing could escape sting, as I had named my trusty swat.

Before long our house had been cleansed. We were safe to prepare food, drink a drink or read a book without being pestered. Well, nearly safe, because despite my best efforts, one fly remained. My nemesis.

This Lord of the Flies was clever, refusing to land on white surfaces like so many of its brethren. It was sneaky, waiting until I had settled in my chair, cup of tea in hand, knowing I was helpless before buzzing maliciously beside my ear. We could go for hours without hearing anything and suddenly there it was, walking all over Leonardo Di Caprio‘s face as it sought to disrupt our evening film. It taunted me, showing me up in front of my children with its superiority of speed and movement.

Even the nights were not safe, the fly waiting until I had taken my glasses off and turned out the light before gleefully buzzing around our bedroom, within earshot but out of reach. Every few minutes the buzzing would stop and I’d slowly drift onto the cusp of sleep before away it went again, the sound of its flight reverberating like a chainsaw through my head. I would turn the light on but the fly would disappear, only to start buzzing as soon as the light went off again. It got to the point that I didn’t trust my own senses, believing the buzzing sound was in my head and that the fly never really existed. It was winning the psychological battle. If I didn’t act soon, the fly would drive me insane.

The next day I set to work. I went through the house, ensuring each room was clear before shutting the doors, sealing them off. I herded the fly to the kitchen, where I had set fly traps, tasty tidbits of food out in the open, giving me a perfect line of sight. I then stood still as a statue and waited. Before long I heard the familiar buzzing sound from the other side of the room. I slowly rose my trusty newspaper, ready to strike. A flash of movement caught the corner of my eye and the fly flew past, scouting the area. I waited, knowing that any premature move would scare it away. The fly circled the room twice before swooping down towards my trap. Come on, come on, I thought, waiting for it to land, waiting for it to meet its fate. Then, just as it approached my trap, it veered away.

And landed on my rolled up newspaper.

I stood there, eye to eyes with my tormentor, unsure of what to do. It remained motionless, mouthparts grinning, knowing it had the better of me. With a sigh, I very slowly moved the swat out of the open window, then shook it. The fly flew into the garden and away, off to torment some other poor soul. I stood for a moment before saluting the worthy enemy in the Zulu tradition before shutting the window.  It was then I heard the buzzing.