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A St Andrew's Cross spider, so named because it puts a white X of thick silk in the middle of its web.

I can't remember what started my arachnophobia but arach-no! explains my reaction to these horrible, bloated-body beasties. As a teenager I have an incident firmly etched in my mind, of coming into my bedroom for something, turning round and seeing a giant specimen above the doorway. I didn't know whether to stay in the room or rush through, risking the horrible thing dropping on me as I passed (can't remember what I did do now). Another incident years later, involved me tidying up the garage where dialysis equipment was stored where I worked. After I finished, I went in to talk to the tech team. One of them said, did I know I had a gigantic spider on my shoulder? Being a young lad into playing jokes on people, I took off my jumper to check and accidentally squashed it to death. The thing is although I don't like them, I wouldn't go out of my way to kill them.

Years later, when we lived outside Kilmarnock, in a small village on the outskirts of the town, the same problem occurred that had in my childhood home. Originally there were just grass filled fields and no problem, then the farmer decided to plant barley. The incidences of these creepy-crawlies invading the house increased. Most were of the Scottish variety of skinny-bodied, long legged creatures but now and again, the fat-bellied, ugly variation I knew from my childhood appeared (it seems climate change has led to them moving further north because of the milder winter weather. One year there were eleven captured in various rooms in the house by me, including one on the dog bed that I thought was just a mud stain as I didn't have my glasses on (wrong as I discovered when I squinted and got closer!).

One recent summer season it was even worse as it was so mild that insects proliferated. Gorging on this sudden harvest, having exoskeletons their legs took the brunt of the increased growth. One of our window cleaners was freaked out by a specimen of this type, trying to hide in a gap in the cement, which normally would have accommodated it. All you could see were long, stick-like legs poking out of this hole in the wall, under an upstairs window. Naturally when it moved out to feed I blocked the hole up. Because it was hot, one of the dogs crashed out on the floor of the garage because the concrete was ice cold. Minutes later it came charging into the house, terrified out of its life. My assumption was that this had happened to me as a helpless baby in a cot and now the dog had had the same thing occur. The long-legged, bloated thing was lying by the kitchen door, where it must have fallen off the animal in its blind panic to get the creature off itself.

The garden also harboured a legion of the things. There was one by the garden shed, under a plant I tried to pull up and a hoard of the so-and-sos, under the defunct wheelbarrow (flat tyre beyond repair) as I found when I tried to move it.

For all of you with no fear of spiders this may seem very funny, but for us arachnophobes it is anything but that I can tell you, though I did find the incident with the dog amusing as it didn't happen to me.

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