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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Laterally SpeakingTime of the Moth

Time of the Moth

It may be a beautiful time of year, but these longer hours of daylight herald the arrival of the dreaded annual chore of sorting out old stuff and recycling or rejecting it. This includes going through crates of junk in the garage or unpacking my old nameless sweaters and shirts (all now rather too small) in various drawers. Like many other weekend things I do not wish to do, I try to put it off. I will hurriedly invent other projects around the house that need doing – really essential tasks like designing a solar powered lighting system for the garden, adjusting the carburettor on the lawn mower or building a new radio controlled bird table. These are all fun and positive “Boys’ Jobs” which can often involve considerable research. This means a visit to B&Q (one of the best Boys’ Jobs) and walking down the aisles without actually buying anything and dreaming of other projects that could be started in the future. This will usually take all morning, by which time of course it will be too late to start on sorting out the boring old boxes in the attic.

But no, this year there’s no getting out of it. My wife has even hidden the car keys so I can’t escape to a DIY research centre. I therefore take a deep breath and launch into re-arranging some of my old clothes. It won’t take long. I need only take my 1980s T-shirts and woollies out of the chest of drawers, look at them for a bit, fold them up and then put them back again. As an added bonus, since fashion and style have gone full circle over the last 25 years, some of my chic cool shirts may be all the rage once again (if I can fit into them).

But hold on a moment… what’s all this? There’s a hole in my favourite ‘Take Six’ black and white stripy sweater! And another 2 holes on the back of it… in fact the back seems to be largely missing. And my wonderful Cecil Gee flared blue suit has holes all down the side. Aaaagh! Oh no… surely not my Roxy Music Hammersmith Odeon sweat shirt too? It used to be a priceless antique fashion statement (personally signed in Magic Marker pen by Bryan Ferry) but is now more like a wholly gashed string vest. And my old Gap shirts are aptly named – there are more gaps than substance.

In a rising panic, I open the next drawer and a pale cloud of small feathery insects takes to the air. It’s a dreaded Moth Attack! Not just a limited skirmish but a complete invasion. The carpet, the curtains and even (‘though this may be something of a blessing), my old woolly bobble hat – all breaking apart and riddled with more holes than gruyere cheese. This is now all out War… Death to All Moths!

The problem with moths is a bit like Aunt Sarah’s cats… once you let them into your house, they get everywhere. Moths may be small in size but by Heavens they’re destructive! Never in the field of human storage has so much damage been inflicted on so many items by such small things. Moths are creepy, crawly, silent and secretive – you would never suspect they’re there until it’s much too late.

So at least I now get a chance to visit the hardware store on the weekend. I return with bottles of anti-moth stuff, cans of moth spray, cedar wood balls plus traditional white mothballs and Health and Safety pamphlets on pest control and winged infestation. These booklets tell me to fumigate myself, my wife, the neighbours, the dog, our rooms and probably the whole house for a week (maybe they mean ‘Hole House’?).

We also have to put our clothes in plastic bags and place them in the freezer for 24 hours since moths don’t survive at minus 10 degrees (true). Perhaps this also works with Aunt Sarah’s cats?

After 10 days of trips to friends with large freezers (most embarrassing) plus the entire house smelling like a pharmaceutical factory, I hope we may have cracked it. For three days I am cautiously optimistic as I gingerly open other cupboards and shake out duvet covers looking for the tell-tale signs of moth attack. Are they all now dead? Then, on the fourth day, disaster! There are new outbreaks behind the spare room bed and – horror of horrors – actually inside the airing cupboard.

That’s really it. I must admit the war is now probably lost. My shirts fall off my shoulders as I sit here, and holes are appearing on this very page as I type. We shall have to call in professional pest control and move house, but the moths are probably ahead of us. I gather they may have already reached Charmoth and Weymoth. We’ve heard nothing from Bournemoth for some weeks now. And Beaminster isn’t safe anymore as they’re rumoured to have arrived in Mothterton. Help… We moth leave before it’s too late…

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