Thursday, 1 December 2011


I know an old lady who swallowed a fly.” Do you? I might reply. “ I don't know why she swallowed the fly.” No, seems a bit strange, I say. “Perhaps she'll die.” A fair comment I think, but make no reply. What a bizarre conversation! You' d be right, but this classic nursery song has been my constant companion all week. Bugging my every thought, bursting out in random hum wherever I buzz. Home or work. An irritant that drones on forever. Its pitch only audible to me. I hold my breath, count to ten, but still it continues. It can't possibly bee all in my head I think. Oops, even my speech refers to insects. There must be a reason for this. An angle. A point to explain. Gulp! Am I about to experience life as a fly?

I dash to the mirror to check. No wing growth, furry hands or feet. A little bug-eyed perhaps. Phew, what a relief! I address the reflection staring back, “Just what would it be like to be a insect? Is it possible to perceive life from a bug's perspective?” I scrunch up my eyes in an attempt to imagine it. A tiny speck happily going about my business, then SMACK! Immobilised by a large hand, foot, or spray. Giant predators always in my way. What's it to be - instant death or dinner? Imagine being trapped in a house. The frantic beating of wings and loud zzzzzz to get out. An invisible web made of glass, where large creatures shriek and dance. Faced with daily threats. A life of escape or death.

Is that a buzzing I hear? Pause, I listen... Why is it emitting from me!? I scrabble around, patting down my person. Oh, it's my phone. I laugh. Daydream rudely interrupted, I mull over the facts: a bug's life is to be eaten, squashed, or swatted. Hmmm, that doesn't seem fair. To be considered the lowest of the low, even though they have other important jobs to do. Jobs to support our eco-system. The foundation level of the structure. What is it about them that's so monstrous? That causes fear amongst us? For me, it's their unpredictable movements. The flapping around my head, or crawling towards me as if to attack. They have too many legs. Where are their mouth and eyes? Brightness encourages moths so I sit in the dark. The TV, the only light in the room. Moths can stay where they belong: on the outside.

Despite my resistance, I'm left with this question: should veggies care about insects? It has to be a yes doesn't it? There is a place for them in the world. They have incredible skills. A spider weaves its intricate web, a bee pollinates our plants, the hungry caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Eating bugs for charity is a challenge I'd refused. An accidental gulp, well we've all done that, but this is for entertainment. A cruel sport for audience enjoyment. Listen closely and you'll hear tiny voices screaming: “Get me out of here!”