I feel this post should be accompanied by music. So go here, if you’d like to, and have a listen to Monty Python as you read.
So, at some point in the 45-ish years that this flat has been in existence, someone decided to artex the hall ceiling. I have no idea why, but assume that things must have got so excruciatingly dull during long 1970s evenings that people thought having a ceiling that looked like a half-baked meringue was a really good idea. Or, given that artex is officially the least destructible material known to humanity, maybe it’s holding the entire block of flats up.
Anyway, at the time that this inadvisable artexing was occurring, an inquisitive fly obviously thought it would be a great idea to show off by hanging upside down on the ceiling. Possibly it had got bored of treading dog shit into uncovered slices of ham, and was planning to drop morsels of faecal matter directly into the upturned mouths of the eager artexers. Whatever the plan was, it went badly wrong. The fly got stuck in the artex.
It must have been a miserable and lonely time for the poor creature, held fast by the feet, slowly starving and thirsting to death, driven mad by ever-receding images of freedom and flight which whirled ceaselessly in its head as it was drawn closer and closer to its lonely encounter with eternity…
Alternatively, it may have died in a state of hallucinogenic bliss triggered by the artex fumes, surrounded by the friendly buzzing of long-dead ancestral spirit-flies escorting it to the celestial feasting tables of Valhalla…
I leave it to you to decide if the fly had a happy or an unhappy end. It can be like a weird version of that glass-half-full/ glass-half-empty test.
Either way round, the fly was dead, it was stuck in the ceiling, and it’s been there ever since I moved in. When I was new in the place and semi-keen I tried knocking it off the ceiling with the handle of a mop, but it didn’t want to know. This fly may have been a temporary irritant in life, but it was determined to be a permanent fixture in death. I guess I should admire its steadfast fortitude. I almost started to think of it as a pet.
But this afternoon, I happened to look up as I was walking from the living room to the bathroom and – the horror! the horror! – poor little Freddie (or Freda) the Fly had been decapitated. Actually, it had been de-shoulder-ated too. Where there once was a whole fly, there was now a mere portion. A bite-sized morsel. A fragmented segment of fly.
The thing is, I was horrified by this, by the mutilation of its body. When I first heard of swine flu, I was convinced it was animalkind’s revenge for the many cruelties I had inflicted on them, especially the many crawling things I had escorted out of the window, with no thought for how they would survive the long fall to the ground. I was really very worried about what they would do to me for my failure to protect the fly whose corporeal remains I had been entrusted with.
So I turned the light on, and I started searching for the missing half, so that I could…I don’t know. Make it whole again? Do something to make it better, anyway. But then the ridiculousness of what I was doing occurred to me, and I started to laugh at my own stupidity. Even now, I’m half afraid that, when I go to bed tonight, my sleep will be haunted by phantom flies, their single-wings brushing against the insides of my eyelids, and half giggling at the ridiculousness of the idea.
Things are still a little…strange on Planet Aethelread.