I remember as a kid living in the US that every one had a fly swatter and stayed pretty busy most of the summer swatting flies. There was even much boasting about who was the better fly swat marksman. I thought it was all very annoying. Its been decades since I spent a summer in the west. Now I understand why fly swatting was such an important pass time.
Windows in the lovely English village where I have been living the past four months don’t have netting on them and most certainly don’t have security bars! I found it very difficult to sleep the first few nights of summer with the windows wide open. I felt so vulnerable. 35 years of bars and nets on the windows leaves it mark. I felt like an institutionalized ex-convict.
Its the hottest English summer on record since God knows when, not that I can tell, feels less hot than early morning in Abuja. Anyway the windows are open all the time. No one has air conditioning so in order to be comfortable in these temperatures you got to leave the net-less and bar-less windows open. And the noisy flies come buzzing in with your fear.
In Nigeria I would have been ready for them, I would have my insecticide within reach and I would zap them dead without much thought or remorse. Here I have no insecticide and the village shop doesn’t sell it. And since I’m in Great Britain I must consider whether there is a society for the prevention of cruelty to flies or something lying in wait for me to start killing flies.
They got a humane society’s for saving pretty much everything else; dogs, cats, gorillas, foxes, bunny rabbits, donkeys, children, homeless children, orphans, babies, sick babies, sick people, autistic people, mad people, sick old people. All you have to do as a caring, sharing, loving human being is give them £2 a month. They’re on TV every other minute. It all seems a bit sleazy watching it; to think that’s how my BINGO raised money too.
I resent all these feel-sorry-for-me images of animals and children that make me squirm and feel uncomfortable. You’re watching NCIS and boom, free guilt trip. I am not one of the rich elite whose beliefs, values, policies and obscene wealth accumulation create poverty, I never was, why should I feel guilty. Hell, I’m one of the poor now. I’ve been slowly slipping into poverty ever since I lost my job.
Back to the flies. They come swarming through the open windows. I swat at them vigorously with a small towel careful not to knock anything over. When the last one is dead I angrily close the windows. In less than 5 minutes I have to open them and the flies swarm in. Again. And I’m swatting them. Again. Till they flee or die. Again. And I slam close the window. Again. What a way to spend an afternoon when I should be writing.
I find out there is no society for the protection of flies from human cruelty. So I start imaging catching the flies one by one and pulling off their wings. Its easier than you think. I know cause when I was a kid I had a pet lizard in a big glass jar. Maybe there is a niche for a society that protects humans from flies? In Africa we would call it a public health program.
When I have money I will join the Campaign for Real Ale and Phillip Morris’ smokers rights campaign Enough is Enough. At least they are not trying to make me feel spoiled, inconsiderate, insensitive, guilty or too stupid to be entrusted with my own care. Quite the opposite. They pay lip service to my individuality, my autonomy and my sovereignty.
I do say I get this certain feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment each time I actually kill one of those pesky buzzing flies with my improvised swatter. Especially if I had stealthily stalked it from across the room. It may be time to leave this village soon. Its having a most surprising effect. I’m writing about flies. Or am I?