I AM not what you would call an animal lover. Some people say that those who aren’t keen on animals are probably psychopaths, but they’re usually the sort who post rainbow bridge memes on Facebook when somebody’s goldfish dies, so we can safely ignore them.
I am not saying I hate animals. Only that there is a line that should not be crossed. For example, I don’t want your dog in my face even if he is “just being friendly”. You wouldn’t want me in your face “just being friendly”, and I don’t even eat Pedigree Chum and lick places you can’t mention on CBBC. Nor do I bite, even if provoked.
Now some of you are punching the air and saying, “Yes, Gary! You are absolutely right! It’s about time somebody took on the “he’s just being friendly” lobby.” The rest of you have already started writing angry emails and tweets, but stay with me. Unless you’re an extreme Buddhist or Morrissey, you have a line that should not be crossed too. Mine just happens to be a bit further along than yours.
For instance, if a fly flew into your face, you would not generally welcome it on the grounds that it was “just being friendly”. You would wave your hands around and feel slightly queasy that it had been on your face.
Now there are several reasons why you wouldn’t want a fly on your face – they have disgusting eating practices, you don’t know what they’ve been standing on, they carry diseases, they make rats look attractive. But the main reason we are repelled by them is because they are so stupid.
It is that time of year again. I have to have my windows open in the hope that a mild breeze might find its way through my flat. But the problem with having windows open is that flies think it is perfectly acceptable to enter without an invitation.
And once they are in, the fun just doesn’t stop. I have vertical blinds, so when a fly enters the room, the chance that it will leave again without assistance is about as slim as that of a four-year-old boy with his head between railings.
So I was disappointed when I was tidying my bedroom and a fly buzzed by my face. I waved my hands around in an attempt either a) to knock the insect away; or b) to win the National Speed Semaphore Championships. You decide.
There is only one thing worse than unsuccessfully hitting a fly with your hand and that is succeeding. It skittered across the room towards the window as I recoiled in disgust. Good, I thought. I had made it clear that this was a hostile environment for flies and that it would receive short shrift if it tried to move in with me.
But, as I pointed out, flies are incredibly stupid. It loitered near the blinds, then came back into the room, buzzing around my head. No more Mr Not Especially Nice Guy, I thought. I picked up a piece of paper and closed my bedroom door. At least I could contain the problem.
I waved the piece of paper, like an MP at Prime Minister’s Questions, and somehow the fly ended up on one of the blind slats. I edged closer and knocked it towards the open window. Game over, I thought, as I closed the window.
Game on, said the fly, which had somehow missed the opening, and resumed its annoyingly random buzzing flight pattern.
I pulled back the blinds and opened the window wide. The fly needed a much bigger target and I was happy to help. It flew at speed towards the window, and bounced off the closed pane, glass still being news to the fly community.
It made another few attempts to fly through the glass, bouncing off, but each time closer to the open half of the window. Come on, I thought, no longer an enemy of the fly and now rooting for it, you can do it.
It hit the frame. One more heave…
The trouble with opening a window wide to give a stupid fly a better chance of leaving your bedroom unswatted is that windows are a double-edged sword. The fly flew out of the window and, before I could let out a victory cry, it thought better of it, made a U-turn, and came back indoors…
Accompanied by another fly, this one bigger, heavier, and, if anything, more stupid.