In an ambitious and somewhat over-the-top procedure this week, all of my worldly possessions are now covered in a white powder. No, I haven't been on a massive cocaine binge, but instead I've been trying to rid my little flat of little bastards known to the world as ants.
I tried to trivialise what I was doing as I knew deep down it was inhumane, but if I really thought ants were as friendly as the ones represented in A Bug's Life and the inferior copycat film Antz, then this white powder aka ant killer would never have entered my abode.
Problem is, I wasn't even dealing with' normal' ants. These weren't your usual grassy picnic botherers. No, no. These ants were little bastards, who relentlessly bit me and appeared from cracks and crevices I had no idea existed.
Picture this. It's hard to imagine given the current weather but let's give it a try. It's a beautiful, hot, spring day in London town. You've been out for lunch with your girlfriend and you fancy climbing out of your flat to do a spot of sunbathing on the roof terrace you've inherited thanks to the space below owning a porch.
Pretty standard story. Except that to access said roof terrace, one must attempt a Krypon Factor-style escape through a fold-out window, and obstacle your way past the contents of crap on the windowsill. Not a terribly hard feat, hardly one that the SAS are going to adopt anytime soon - but it was this jolly idea that began a week of hell and my own personal hatred of ants. I actually didn't mind them before.
You see, in order to avoid the obstacle course, we decided to remove all my odd tat from the window ledge (Russian dolls, toy aeroplanes, that sort of thing) to give way to easier access to our sun drenched Tarmac heaven. Except we stumbled across a sticky situation. For some reason, if you visit the Shepherd's Bush Empire music venue and go backstage, there are hundreds of free O2 themed gummy sweets available for you to fill your pockets with.
At the time - an ace idea. Except once I'd deposited them in a tray, on my windowsill, I'd gone off the idea of ever returning to eat them, but my logic sometimes is so backwards that I thought it would be novel to leave them there anyway. Time for a quick science lesson, if only to myself. Windows and sun and jelly sweets do not mix. Instead, they melt, and through the wicker basket they were left in, create the time of desert all ants LOVE.
Yet, for no apparent reason it was only until we had removed said basket that we had also accidentally opened the gates to ant-hell. But at the time, we were more bothered by the sticky gue we'd inherited on our backsides than the potential of a full-size ant invasion. Most normal people would have seen the sticky mess and cleaned it up completely. Oh no. We decided it would be far better just to get some tissue and cover it up. Ah, wonderful idea. It felt like summer, it's cool to be lazy. So instead we left it - there was crucial sunbathing to be done, after all.
Fast forward twenty-four hours and suddenly it didn't seem so cool after all. I'd noticed a little collection of new pets. Uninvited, half a dozen ants were lapping up the sticky stuff - going absolutely banana's for it. I'd decided it only best to bitch about it. Bitching is always far more productive than actual work. Wrong. My bitching may have continued long into the night (a laptop and iPhone both came to their untimely death during this, but that's another story) still the ants kept on coming. Suddenly they'd realised that the warmth of my flat was a far more attractive place to be than the cold outdoors. They'd found their way in, and they weren't going to be kicked out.
Within days, ants were everywhere. I'm talking right-up-your-ass everywhere. In the kitchen. In my living room. On the horrible brown carpet my landlord decided was so necessary to install before I moved in. So it was time to initiate a strike-back. Out came the multi-purpose cleaner. Out came the rubber gloves. I found bleach and all other kinds of cleaning products I had no idea about, except that ants would flurry towards and die immediately upon contact with them. I was about to exact genocide on a family of little critters and I felt nothing but devilishness about it.
Sponge soaked with hot water, I cackled as I sprayed each ant, running for it's dear life, drowning them with bleach, watching them die upon impact. I imagine this is how Hitler felt. I had turned into a dictator of my own palace and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I was the king of the castle. "Die ants, die!" - I actually said that. And as I gave each surface in my flat the best going-over since the last time I got passionate about cleaning, I was killing two birds with one stone. Clean flat, and eradicating the army of ants I'd so foolishly allowed to temporarily inhabit my quarters.
Ants persevere. The next day, returning to my very-clean flat, I'd noticed that the little bastards were back. Yet these weren't the tame ants of before. These were fucking army ants. Red fuckers. Who bit you. Who rescued dying ants and I watched as they hailed the black ants onto their backs, no doubt to return them to the Emergency Room in Ant Land. Bloody hell, I really was under attack, and I'd totally written off just how intelligent these little creatures are.
Me, man. You, ant. A David versus Goliath situation ensued. Even though I'd become totally OCD about keeping the flat as clean as possible, as not to attract ants in any way shape or form, I'd still find them crawling across my Tah Mah-coffee-table (it's a coffee table with the Taj Mahal on) and even though I'd generally whack-em to death upon sight (with slippers, Oyster cards, my own bare palms), there were too many.
I started to feel like they were everywhere. My skin itched, almost out of a paranoia and an anxiety that they were on me. Some were. Some were even biting me, whilst others were just enjoying the hospitality I'd put up. I was going mental, thinking I could see them everywhere. My dreams were overcome with finding ants nests behind photos on the wall, ants in my food, I'd become obsessed with the nightmare of having ants in my pants.
A few doors down is a DIY shop. It's run by the type of people I don't usually get to converse with. Real men, who use white spirit all of the time and know how to use a paintbrush to paint walls with, rather than pretty pictures. Proper lads. I entered the shop, hoping that I could get some expert advice from them. Engaging in a friendly "hello", I already knew my work was cut out when my friendly introduction fell flat on deaf ears.
"I've got a problem with ants - do you have any advice for me?", I asked, making sure to smile. I think they thought I was gay. His reply, gloriously simple; "Ant killer on the top shelf, mate." Mate! Of course! The age old 'mate' scenario. Terrific. If I end all my sentences with 'mate', I'm bound to strike up the type of correspondence that will surely inform me of a wonderful knowledge of how to kill an army of ants.
"What type of ant killer would you suggest, mate?" I pondered towards him. "Top shelf, mate." His lack of vocabulary was only matched by his missing hair follicles. I thought it best not to ask again, so I headed over the top shelf, where I was presented with the option of one white bottle of 'Ant and Insect Killer'. I returned to the till area, to try to get some insider knowledge. "How would one use this to kill ants..." - making sure to add a "...mate" at the end. "Just put it down where they are." But they're EVERYWHERE!
Knowing that conversation was as dead as I hoped soon these ants to be, I paid for the ant and insect killer and headed home, skipping footloose and fancy-free like a mad serial killer. That is what I am. A serial killer... of ants. And as I put down the ant killer all over creation, I took a moment out to remember the good times I'd shared with my roomies. The bites, the nightmares, the paranoia, the itching, the killings - we'd both had a lot of fun. But all good things must come to an end, and something's gotta give.
I laid down the ant killer everywhere. Using up the whole bottle, leaving no hole or sneaky crack untouched. It was the end of the ant's reign, and I'd finally reclaimed my flat. I haven't found a dead ant in the days the ant killer has been there. It must deter them, or that's what I like to think. Realistically, they probably are all dead in a part of my flat I haven't noticed yet. Hopefully not. I can't be reminded of the destruction I was capable of.
Yet, with the ants long gone, yet with the constant reminder of their previous habitation thanks to the white powder I was constantly seeing, I'd become lonely again. And I had realised the moral of the story. It's a simple one, and one I can share with you now:
Don't wait too long to do something, because you'll only end up having to clean up a whole big fucking mess that will cost you time and money and ultimately, result in heartbreak (and potential death) for someone (or a race of ants).