What do you call a fly without wings? Answer: a ‘walk’. I know it’s an old one, I hear you groan. Don’t misunderstand me, I love my fellow creatures, but I confess to a loathing for flies and where flies are concerned, the only blowfly I can tolerate is a dead blowfly. As if to torture me, over the past few weeks a swarm of ‘cluster’ flies have taken up residence in my studio….in their millions. I don’t even want to think where they might have come from or where they were getting their sustenance from. Unlike Damien Hurst, I do not encourage them as part of an installation with rotting cow head…..no, they have invaded my sacred work space, and before I can contemplate spending constructive time in my studio, something had to be done.
So every day for the past week, I declared war on this most unwelcome plague. (Please note, my dear Buddhist friends, look away now). Holding my breath, I would run into my studio wildly waving a can whilst spraying lethal vapour into the interior before quickly running out and closing the door behind me, leaving the poor creatures to their inevitable fate, (hoping against hope the spiders have found a place of safety). Every horizontal surface was soon littered with hundreds of prone corpses. Taking the curtains down to give them a much-needed wash, I discovered a layer of them an inch thick along the sills – together with a few curled up wasp bodies or the powdery wings of a moth amongst the carnage.
All evidence of my murderous intentions was either sucked up the nozzle of the hoover or brushed onto the grass outside the door where the dogs quickly hunted them out and did their own hoovering up job before I intervened, not wanting them to succumb to the same fate as the poor critters they were munching. The windows had their first proper clean in 3 years but the curtains didn’t fair so well, having been degraded by the sun, were completely shredded in the machine, even on a 30 degree cycle. No matter, they were soon replaced by some old pillow cases that proved perfect for the job. I even noticed the faded red letters: BATH HMC RUH, stamped on the corner of one of them which dates it to the time Graeme was in hospital, well over 30 years ago.
My studio is now restored to its former light-filled haven of peace and tranquility, free from the deafening drone of thousands of flies. Poor things, their only saving grace is that they are beautiful, even in death, in the same way that the iridescent colours of a peacock feather is beautiful, or a starling’s feather is beautiful when it catches the light and glows. Indeed, a wondrous quirk of nature. Not forgetting, they also do a pretty good clean-up act in the cycle of life and death…..perhaps I should throw a carcass into the field for them to feast on – as well as satisfying my own guilt?