In cool and calm England, the Daddy Long Legs and house spiders are generally small in size and lacking in hair. In Lebanon, however, it's been another experience altogether.
Cockroaches were the first and only bug to raid my Beirut apartment from time to time: there was the scurrying through my underwear drawer, causing high pitched screams for all the neighbourhood to hear at 7am; the flying around the sitting room in the early evening, causing yet more screeching and waving of magazines; and then the discovery of lifeless bodies under the bed or sofa.
At least twice a year a man with a backpack and long metal hose arrives at the front door to 'spray'. We knew not from where he came or who sent him but we always let him in to do his business. That was until about a month ago when he turned up and my flat mate and I were resolved not to let him spray - we didn't need him - there were no bugs. How wrong we were.
I had heard many a tale of giant spiders inviting themselves into people's apartments and scaring the bejesus out of them. Being the Doubting Thomas that I am when it comes to such things I failed to show any interest in how big these things actually were. That was until I walked out of the shower the other morning and something dark and fast scuttled in front of me.
To call it merely a spider would be inaccurate, for this was no spindly-legged English creepy crawly, it was what is locally known as an ankaboot, a 'big spider'. It was basically a tarantula. (And just so you know a kurtaily is a 'little spider'). While I didn't want to go anywhere near the beast I was obviously reluctant to let it just roam free. The first thing to do was obviously take lots of photos. This being the age of social media, I had to get some shots to post on Facebook. I would be lying if I said there wasn't constant screaming, and for good reason, as I was all alone, and no one was going to rescue me.
During an assault of about five minutes duration he nearly got into my room twice but thanks to my handy paper bag, I prevented it, and it is at this point that I should come clean about what happened next. I told everyone later that I had run off to get another weapon but upon my return, the spider was gone. This was a lie. What actually happened was that I stood there as the spider, giving up on entering my room, decided to go into my flatmate's room. I took the executive decision to not alert her to the fact, partly because she wasn't in the country at the time but also because, what the eyes don't see... and all that.
Needless to say, while I thought she could remain none the wiser, she returned a few days later to find it chilling out next to her bed in the early hours of the morning. There were no screams though, she leant from her bed and put a glass over it. Sadly, it didn't make it to morning.
About a week later I came across what we assume was its mate, wandering in the exact same spot. I instantly had guilty images of a female running around the apartment looking for her lost love who still hadn't returned after 'just popping out for some flies'. Oh the guilt. This time I had my friend with me so the capture was more organised. We quickly took yet more photos, obviously, then caught it (amid screams) and to our eternal shame threw it from our fourth floor window. Part of me hopes that it caught a lucky thermal and is yet experiencing the ride of its life. The landlord was then called and the bug spray man was despatched forthwith.