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.
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.