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).

9 thoughts on “arachnophobia

  1. Do they only have figurative hearts? Poor souls. I like this story; reminds me of here, where I sit in a home where the plants grow in through the cracks, and daddy-long-legs spiders chase the false widows. When they built our home, they wove the garden into the bricks.

    • True enough…just reading John Gray’s “The Silence of Animals” which is most unkind to people along similar lines of accusation…we just don’t ever listen because we never shut up. — All true stories are based on true stories, don’t you think? This may be a Zen Koan.

      • And so another book is added to my TBR list. A very long list indeed… Some of us do stop and listen, but so many of us do not. Nor look. Those around me are at times annoyed by my propensity to point out strange cloud formations, newly born tiny spiders that scuttle away from a central clutch when first disturbed, red bugs mating on a bright yellow flower in the garden…this is several true stories.
        Zen koans are everywhere, for those who pay attention.

        • The book by Gray *might* discourage you if you read it looking for answers. I found it — untypical for my general sunny disposition, wouldn’t you say? — rather refreshing to hear an intelligent but not despondent (to me) appreciation of both the bright and the dark side (more of the latter) of humanity. Begins with quoting Joseph Conrad at length…always as good sign. Must review.

          • Would be great to see a review of this book. The balance you describe can only be a good thing. Always interesting to see a book begin with a lengthy quote of someone else’s words and then to see how the author continues with the thread started by the quote. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

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