A few years ago, in the Hamburg harbour, they were building many expensive, large apartments for the rich right on the waterfront, after kicking out the poor and the homeless who had made this hitherto destitute area theirs. What the executors of this plan did not consider however is that the animals had no concept of a schedule, so that when after a while no humans came to live in the new apartment blocks, because the estate agents were still busy driving the prices skyward, the spiders moved in. Not just a few spiders, but millions of them, legions of spiders, the effect being that when the wealthy clients of the greedy developers came to look at the apartments they could often not even enter because the entire space was taken up by spider webs. The situation made the spiders very happy indeed. They felt giddy at the prospect of having all that weather protected area for themselves and their large families. Among the spiders, coalitions were forming to request reconsideration of their relationship, as a species, with the humans. One very prominent spider politician said: if the humans provide us with this much opportunity free of charge, we must return the favour. Perhaps we must do more than thank them in our hearts (he was speaking figuratively). We could tell them the secret of how to build a bridge between two continents. We could teach them how to sling yourself by a single thread alone all the way to the moon. We could help them establish contact with the colonies of underground spiders who possess the secret of eternal energy. While debate raged among the arachnids, the humans had prepared a major operation to clear the precious waterfront property of spiders. And because social intercourse between us and them was limited to behavioural therapy for unfortunate arachnophobes, nothing happened except that the spiders were turned out, floors were disinfected, the apartments were occupied by the prosperous purchasers, and everything continued as planned only slightly behind schedule.
Non-competing entry to Flash Mob 2013 for which I’m one of the judges. The background story to this tale of two species is true: in 2008, spiders took over luxury houses in the new Hafen-City of Hamburg and it proved very difficult to drive them away. Photo: © All Rights reserved by partydolly via Flickr (with permission).