I wrote about spiders' webs, and commented that spiders must have a lot of fun terrifying humans simply by being there. Generally, apart from photographing their webs in sunlight or hoarfrost, my policy with spiders is to leave them alone as much as possible, in the hope that they will do the same to me. And usually it works; or at least, it did, until last night, when I encountered a particularly insouciant specimen.
I was sitting up in bed, relaxed and doing The Guardian sudoku, when I became aware of a slight movement near my left eye. To my horror, I discovered the movement came from a HUGE spider, with at least twelve extremely long legs, calmly abseiling down from the shelf above my bed, and slowly unfurling various limbs, presumably with a view to landing on my shoulder.
I flicked at it with my paper, whereupon it landed on my pillow and just sat there. At this point squeamishness won against terror: yes, I could have squashed it, but then I would end up with dead spider splattered all over my pillow case. At the same time, though, I needed to do something, in order to reclaim my bed. I prepared to flick again, this time onto the floor, which I'm less squeamish about, at which point the spider gave a little shrug and nonchalantly strolled off the pillow and dropped down the side of my bed, never to be seen again.
I have seen spiders scuttle; I have seen then crawl menacingly; but never before have I seen one stroll with such nonchalance, seemingly oblivious to its close encounter with death. It may have given me a fright, but I salute it for its boldness and cool, detached demeanour - it deserved to live and spin another web, though hopefully nowhere near me...