Thirty Thousand Streets

Monday, July 10, 2006


It's summer but.. something's missing.. hmm. sun – check, beer – check, barbecues – check, Tim Henman losing at Wimbledon.. yeah, wait a minute that's it, WASPS! I don't know about you but I've seen hardly any this year!

And where are all the wasps anyhow? Have they been priced out of London too then? Not that I'm bothered, they were hardly key-workers in the accepted sense. In Manchester the advent of summer always brought with it the shadow of the wasp, who would be there before you at the beer garden (like Germans at the sun loungers, yeah), and almost certainly there after, hovering drunkenly round the last quarter inch or so of your pint of Stella. Wasps get pissed too, in all senses, especially in late summer when they're just looking for trouble, and should you get lary with them, they release a pheronome, so all their mates show up minutes later for a piece of the action. Truly, they were the bane of the sugary drink drinker's sunny afternoon, and universally disliked.

Seriously I reckon even Noah probably planned to ditch the wasps prior to the flood and it was only after he awoke the morning after setting sail to hear two rattling away behind his blind that he realised his scheme had been thwarted. Wasps posess the apex of that blind insect instinct to find their way into your room, through any hole – no matter how small, without being able to do it in reverse, even were you to demolish the wall of your house and attempt to usher them out with a jet turbine. I assume they navigate by the moon/sun like moths as they also have a tendency to fly directly into any lightbulb with a sound like someone training a dentist's drill on it. Eww that sound. I also remember wasps flying into my bedroom, perching on the lampshade and audibly crunching away on the paper (of course, this was before I got into listening to techno at artillery volume, so a wasp would probably have to be inside my ear now before I could hear such a thing). Terrible thought.

One thing about wasps is that pretty much everyone is united in their hatred of them. This blog here is like some kind of wasp genocide bulletin board:

"It’s us against them people. We can’t let the enemy take over our homes! I’ll let you know how it goes. Great stories!"

froths one contributor excitedly. Uh, ok, they are kind of annoying I guess.. Ever read Watchmen? One thing's for sure, if it turned out wasps were poised to take over the world, Osama Bin Laden, George Bush and Kim Jon Il would be united in their struggle agaainst the striped menace quicker than you could say "Yeehaw let's nuke those fucken yellerjackets!".

Anyway, here's my favourite wasp anecdote (you might want to save this for halloween, mind) Are you sitting un-comfortably? Well I'll begin:

I was back at my mum and dad's one summer whilst studying at uni. My brothers were in the two rooms next to mine. I awoke at about three in the moarning hearing an all but subliminal "WHHHUFF" sound from my brother Harry's room, punctuated by short panicky gasps of "shit!" coming from the lad himself.

Seconds later 'middle-bro' Dan awoke, and stomped into my brother's room..

"What THE FUCK is going on"

He roared.

What, it transpired, had happened was that a load of wasps had chosen to nest in the roof just outside his bedroom window. Now my brother liked to keep his bedroom window in summer (and bedroom light on), and perhaps unwisely, the presence of several thousand stinging insects just outside was not sufficient to deter him. You can perhaps guess the rest.. while he slept and under cover of darkness, the wasps let themselves in and my brother had an extremely rude awakening when a wasp crawling over his face decided to sting him on the cheek. The first sight to greet his no-doubt horrified eyes when he opened them was a roiling vortex of wasps circling beneath his room's naked lightbulb. Not to be deterred he rolled out of bed, grabbed a can of lynx and a lighter (cricket, clipper, who knows) and got medieval on those wasp's tapering asses.

Yes, that "WHHHUFF" sound was none other than a deodorant based flame-thrower my brother had hastily fashioned. A quick glance around his bedroom door the next morning revealed a war zone, with drifts of scorched wasps lying everywhere. It was like The Wasp Factory in there, or Aliens redux where the marines win. Those wasps fucked with the wrong guy alright. They sure got to know the true power of the Lynx effect.

Nowadays, I'd like to think I'm not too bothered about wasps. Live and let live, god's creatures etc.. and wierdly beautiful too, amongst other things* One swooped quite near me in Highbury fields the other week, and I barely noticed, honest!

But still, maybe it's the NIMBY in me, but I'm not sure I'd like some sort of government funded wasp farm in my back yard (even though it technically belongs to the landlord, Mr Spyrou, so he could do with it as he wanted I suppose).

Maybe I should actually try and sort my life out rather than posting blog entries about wasps at half eleven on a monday night. Who knows.

*critically important in natural biocontrol or course, thanks Wikipedia.

Photo copyright Alain Labat 2006


gridrunner said...

"Photo copyright Alain Labat 2006"

– And there was me thinking you’d finally put a roll of film in that old Nikon of yours.

gridrunner said...

P.S. Lovin' the Lynx story.

Zeno Cosini said...

Roll on the hour of the Insecticator*, eh.

*The Insecticator is a fiberglass robot the size of a large moth armed with minute lasers and surgical steel mandibles. Come 2020 when we finally get around to inventing them and the technology becomes cheap enough for widespread commercial distribution, a suburban household just won't be a suburban household without an insecticator patrolling the windows sills or hovering over the picnic table in the garden, despatching acquisitive wasps with a muffled crack or a sub-audible snip.

Anne said...

That is the freakiest picture ever.

The Eyechild said...

Yeah I don't know what's up with those freaky little 'mini-eyes' in the centre of it's head.

It's got me 'buggin' out!" geddit!!

Lord Bunty Chunk said...

Lord Bunty Chunk here, second piece of B Joicey's bisected personality!
I thought I'd drop a line to give you all enlightenment (come see me ashram love). The truth bout wasps is that they are a failed proof of god that he made to prove that he doesn't exist. He got it right in the end with: Jellyfish (endearingly known as Medusa in Italy), Ricci which are those spiky things you tread on underwater, and Mossies. cos i was starting to believe the great one set all 3 on me in sicily. Cunt.

Justin said...

Eyechild, can you drop me a quick email at, please. Something I'd like to ask...