A Sting in the Tale…

I wonder if restless ten-year olds amuse themselves these days as me and my friends would in our dim and distant?  The World, and the things in the World didn’t seem such a challenge then – marvellous, of course, exciting and explorable…though not worrisome.

I hate wasps.  I love bumble bees – great big, fat, buzzy bumblers that seem to float, sedately, and don’t often bother themselves to pester us humans.  Wasps, on the other hand?  Well, I know that they’re essential from an ecological point but, do they really have to be so annoying and threatening?  I’ve been stung a few times over the years, the worst time as an adult while conducting a funeral in Darlington, just before leading a family into the crematorium chapel.  I wear specs and on that occasion a wasp flew between the specs and my eye, then promptly stung me on the eyelid.  Of course, being the consummate professional that I am (stop sniggering, thank you), I carried on leading the funeral – albeit with a lot of rubbing, wiping of a watery eye and gritting of teeth.  By the time I came in to the chapel to lead the family out after the service, my eye was swollen and closed.

This came to mind recently after I had occasion to wave away a little fly, who thought it might be interesting to pester me, buzzing  about my face.  Actually, that might be a little bit of a paradox because I’m not entirely sure that insects think?  Don’t they just function on instinct?  Anyone care to enlighten me?  I’m the first to admit that my entomological knowledge is a tad limited…  Pesky little nuisance!  Still, watching it buzz off was far more satisfying than seeing it squashed on the palm of my hand.  No, it’s true, I really wouldn’t hurt a fly…  Mind you, admittedly that wasn’t always the case – as a child, with a stick in hand, it wasn’t uncommon to take a swipe at the many wasps busying themselves in a hedgerow; and sometimes with a well-aimed whip, now and then I’d get one!

Anyway, way back when…

For a short time me and my friends would play little dare games.  There were no prizes, save for the tiniest amount of adulation from friends for the winner, depending on the number of injuries you could sustain and tolerate before finally giving in – we often played games like that with stones and pebbles!

As we meandered about as kids do, through fields, woodlands, avenues and parks, we’d seek out hedging wherever we could.  Hedging in the summer seemed to attract multitudes of insects, including wasps – lots of wasps.  The aim of our game was to irritate as many of them as possible by hurling ourselves into the hedging – time and time again…  The more we did that, the more irritated our quarry became!  You know it did actually work  and although the object of the game was to collect a sting or three, the instinctive need and involuntary mode of self-preservation would still have us flapping around like demented chickens!  Actually I love the word chickens, in fact I like chickens.  They have a kind of insane numptiness  about them – a cute quality I think.  My eldest brother’s father-in-law, Stan, used to keep chickens on his allotment and when I was small, he’d let me throw their seed around and clean up after them, as well as collecting any eggs – but that’s another story; and one that involves chickens and near enough six-inch nails…

Anyway, back to our game…

After throwing ourselves into hedging, time after time, not one of us was stung – at first anyway.  How boring could this be?  Very quickly our attention spans were spent and we moved on to other childish pursuits; I’ve no mind to remember what just now…  It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later we were all jumping a ditch – holding out our hands and twisting our wrists, making whining noises, pretending we were riding Motor-cross, taking a run and leaping across a burn!  A dry burn.  No twisted ankles, sprained wrists or twisted backs, however, I was stung!  And it hurt!  I sobbed and fled off home, where mum quickly soothed me and shot off to the shop to find a dolly blue!  Apparently they could ease the pain of a wasp sting – not sure about that and I’m not at all certain of the benefit of starching an appendage either!


About Robert

A fifty-something, retired Celestial Travel Agent. Walked many paths; some good, lots bad. Meandering through the past, plodding in the present, crawling toward the future.
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