Spiders. I love them. When I say ‘I love them’, I don’t necessarily want them running amok all over me and certainly don’t want one suddenly just turning up on my shoulder without me noticing until it’s making its way to onto my face, but generally I Love Them. Mainly because they eat flies of course (which I HATE, LOATHE and DETEST. Even dead flies make me angry). I also Love Them because they are misunderstood. I’ve had moments in life (quite alot actually) of being Misunderstood so I relate to that. They might look a bit weird but they are useful and lovely. Much like myself.

Anyway, I was undertaking the last phase of redecorating our kitchen at the weekend, and had reached the area by our cooker.For some months, we have had a spider visitor lodger, who has been suspended from the ceiling on a network of webs which make their way down to a framed picture. She (I think of her as a female but have no real clue about spider anatomy to provide an accurate gender verdict) has been quite happy to pop her little head over the top of the frame and wave a leg or two. I’ve chatted away to her while I’ve been cooking, and it’s been a harmonious arrangement.

So when it came to moving her so I could paint the walls and ceiling, I (cough) mentioned to John that the picture needed moving and ‘Oh by the way, watch out for the spider, we don’t want to hurt her’. He boldly stepped forward and carefully lifted the picture from the wall, and slowly turned it over where spider was nestling on the back. No scurrying of tiny legs, no attempt to dash for the edge and throw herself off and abseil to safety. No, placidly she sat, looking completely relaxed.

false widow

‘Pretty markings’ commented John, as we peered at her bulbous black body with strange mottled pattern. ‘Let’s Google her’.

He moved her and the picture to the sideboard. I carried on painting.

‘Fucking hell’ were his next words, said not in a tone of anger or annoyance, but in an excitable, scandalous tone. It’s the kind of tone I can imagine him using when he learns that the Queen has died.

‘It’s a false widow!’.

There ensued some mild panic. I say that, because at this point the spider was still ‘relaxing’ on the picture frame, I had no idea what kind of damage it could do and we have two cats who will try and eat anything that moves. Particularly if it’s small, black and has lots of legs.

The mottled pattern is likened to a skull. My friend Julie later commented that it might have been a clue. But while the false widow has been reported to have a pretty nasty bite (which has been known to hospitalise people), the species themselves are native to Britain and are quite common. They are also known as the rabbit hutch spider. What has happened in recent months, is that the tabloids have picked up on this little creature and outed it as the Most Dangerous Thing in the British Countryside which of course is rubbish. We all know that’s the local Hunt.

So our little widow friend was put into a plastic pot and carried some distance from our property to be liberated amid some undergrowth. There was a temptation to let her escape through a neighbour’s window who is particularly annoying but John said it would be cruel (to the spider).

Let’s hope she’s happy in her new home somewhere. Maybe she’s moved in with you.