Across the Irish Sea, in Dublin, Ireland, I was brutally attacked by a horsefly. If you're trying to imagine what it looks like by the sound of its name, I'd bet it's a pretty funny picture. It was buzzing around on its merry little way, flying around a giant, leafy tree in the rustic garden of my landlord's house - an equine flying insect on its travels. Calling the garden 'rustic' is just a euphemism for what was in fact an overgrown, unkept wilderness of weeds and dirt. Nonetheless, the sun rarely comes out to play on this corner of the world; so when it does show up, slap me silly if I'm going to hide from it indoors!
There I was, sitting and reading, deeply absorbed in a tasty tome of Oscar Wilde, in the generous shade of the only large tree in the garden, home of the horsefly, and I was clearly intruding. Don't assume that bugs can't suffer from insecurity - if you ignore it, like I did, your average bug will feel hurt, neglected or rejected. Hell hath no fury like an insect scorned, especially if it knows how to sting. Well, Mister horsefly showed me who held the reins and retaliated. The result of the attack was a swelling on my arm so huge, it made Mini Me look like a silly pimple. The gigantic red welt spreading across the width of my lower left arm sported two giant puncture holes that made me wonder if there was any relation between horsefly and the vampire species. Wasn't it an Irishman who wrote the story of 'Dracula'? Anyway, it throbbed away night and day for over a week, before it succumbed to the healing power of the ointment I applied religiously - the exorcism complete, all I was left with was a nasty puss-filled sack of skin. In time it shrivelled up and dried, fell off (or did I pick it off?) and revealed beneath it, a shiny brandnew patch of skin. That's one way to exfoliate, I guess, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Apart from that, Ireland was animal friendly to me. At work one day I did, however, find myself face-to-face with an Irish spider. From force of habit, I was about to whack it when I was instructed by my boss's wife, a lovely woman with the quintessentially Irish red hair and fair, freckled skin, under no circumstances to kill any spiders! It's bad luck, don't ya know. Just imagine my hand itching to swat down on that spider travelling by, to cause that satisfying splat of greenish, bluish, sometimes yellowish, disgusting arachnid goo, but being unable to do so for fear of attracting the worst of Murphy's luck. The best I could hope for was that the cigarette smoke emitted by my chain-smoking colleague would suffocate and paralyse the creature before it got the idea to pounce on me. Sorry, but that spider gets no sympathy from me. Why hang around an office when you can frolick in fresh air, out and about on an outdoor adventure? Eejit.
So I eventually outgrew my rage against the spider, and since Dublin's most dangerous animal is a thing called the 48A bus hurtling from Dundrum into town (yet it always made me late for work), I was able for a change to enjoy the animals I encountered on my travels. A Galway gaggle of geese herding tourists around, docile ducks on ponds posing for the camera with shameless vanity, sheep chewing up the countryside against nature's greenest emerald backdrop, that sort of thing. Why not hop on over there and take a gander for yerself? Just remember to take your umbrella, no matter what the season!