Animals on Travels

Travel is one way to add colour to your life, whether you're a man or a mouse, woman or wombat. I'd like to share with you a few of my encounters - of animals on travels.

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1. From a traveller's eye

Once upon a time, I read in a scientific journal (don't ask me why or where I got it from - was probably sitting in a dentist's waiting room surrounded by backdated copies of golfing magazines and National Geographic) that a spider runs across your face at least 12 times during the night as you sleep. Sorry! Did you think this was going to be all about an African elephant in full flight? Your mistake - never judge a book by its cover.

Back to the spider sprint. I don't remember the article specifying the size and hairiness of the spiders treading tiny trails all over our faces; I just remember thinking how horrible it sounds, and then resolved to horrify everyone else I could by this freaky fact. An arachnid on its travels! Teasing other people about how this was a scientifically proven fact and that they really should refrain from scratching their noses or any other body parts while they sleep, just in case the spider travelling across the landscape of their faces or bodies feels threatened and decides to retaliate, now that was a lot of fun for me! Women seem to react the same way: they pull their faces, raise up their forearms as if to protect their chests, do a funny shivering movement, and say 'yugh'.

So you think I'm pretty sadistic, huh? Not to worry - every dog has its day. It was round about the time that the first Austin Powers movie was released (circa 1999) and friends of mine and I saw it at a cinema in London, England, where I was living at the time. And it was shortly after seeing this movie that the inevitable happened: a spider bit me. Right in the corner of my left eye socket, beside my nose. How's that for poetic justice? In no time at all, the tiny bite grew into a giant, white-headed dome, that not only hurt like hell, but it also throbbed alarmingly. Of course it didn't help that I'd heard stories and seen disturbing pictures of all manner of creepy crawlies making nests on people's scalps, laying eggs and that kind of real-life horror stories. I had images of little baby spiders bursting free from the sore expanding across my left eye, scuttling all over me as they started on their own life's travels.

Meanwhile, I couldn't go anywhere without somebody pointing at me and asking me about the thing growing out of my face. As I had no proof of having been attacked by a spider (nobody believed my claim about nocturnal spider meandering), I didn't know what to call the thing on my face; but my friends quickly fixed that. With reference to the midget character in the Austin Powers movie, they named the thing 'Mini Me'. Well, Mini Me had grown so big that I was finally compelled to go to the Eye Hospital in London. I was worried about my sight, but you see, I was reluctant to go to one of the local GPs - my experience of them hadn't been very encouraging. You sit in a waiting room (and read aged and obviously dangerous literature), tell the doctor any number of different symptoms, and somehow the diagnosis is always the same: "You just have a bad cold." Hell, once I was told that I wash myself too much...

Well, never mind the diagnosis, the cure was always the same: a prescription for antibiotics - magic wand of modern medicine. But I had no choice. Before Mini Me grew arms and legs, or worse, a mouth, I had to get rid of it. I could barely see with my left eye and the Mini Me jokes were wearing thin on me. The moral of the story is not entirely clear because the truth is, I do believe what I read in that journal - feel free to offer your opinion. However, I will admit that trying to scare people was a silly thing to do and it came back to bite me in the, um, eye.

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