My daughter aged 14 (known from herein simply as 'Blonde') will run screaming from a room if so much as a crane fly leg is seen poking cheekily out from behind a curtain. She refuses to go back into a room with one in it until Rentokil (Mum Department) has cleared the room and produced the dead body as evidence.
Take yesterday, for example. The hour was late-ish and the house was peacefully winding down for the night when a scream which damaged the hearing of everything within a two mile radius pierced the air, followed swiftly by the sounds of banging furniture, stamping feet and a demand for maternal help. The culprit, I was informed, had sneaked in just two minutes after the light was turned on. In fact, it had been waiting outside for this very moment. It had hovered meaningfully and purposefully on suspended starting blocks to beat said teenager across the room before she could cover the space between light switch and open window. It was a close call but the insect had won and now here it was. On her wall. Slavering over its fangs and cackling triumphant noises as it flexed its hairy legs.
Tutting, I slipped on the NBC suit I keep handy for these sort of emergencies and walked forward with the latest technology known to mankind: the fly swatter. I apologised to said insect and the universe in general and went in for the kill.
The cranefly eyed my approach warily, quivered a leg at me in warning and, sensing the plot, took off at speed and flew up to the highest and most inaccessible part of the room where it proceeded to wash itself at leisure.
Being of short statue myself, I loudly congratulated it on its choice of location with a few choice words of my own and tried to calm Blonde who was afraid I would now leave it there to eat her hair in the night. When attempts to wheedle it down with promises of fresh meat and a high tea failed to have an effect on its stance, I went to fetch a chair.
Upon my return I shut the door firmly behind me and moved towards the corner of the room. Unfortunately I noted the crane fly had seized upon my absence as an indication I was outside the door counting down to a jolly game of hide and seek and had vanished. Heaving another sigh, and ignoring Blonde's ever plaintive cries for information from behind the door, I searched high and low. Everywhere. I moved pictures, curtains, clothes and decorative objects aplenty but no. It had gone. Now, knowing my daughter and the lateness of the hour I felt a wave of maternal panic as I knew without the evidence of a fresh kill I was doomed and so was the whole household.
I searched frantically, the cries for information getting more insistent...and then I spotted it. Well, not exactly 'it' but a different member of the same species, on the floor. Dead as a dodo. Slightly decayed but no obvious odour. Of course, the body wasn't still warm but Blonde was unlikely to touch it so it may work. I struggled hard with my parental duty of truth and honesty, checked the ever advancing clock on a school night, asked myself what lesson this was teaching me and battled with my sense of fair play.
Colin the crane fly went down the toilet after his nemesis duly checked him over for signs of life. Charlene the crane fly is, however, still missing in action.