Ouch! What the hell are – ouch! – wasps for, anyway? Ouch! Okay.
So when God in His Infinite Wisdom put His plague- on-all-picnics on this Earth (sorry, Richard Dawkins, I’m still a Sunday school simpleton in my sixties) He must have felt it was the right thing to do at the time.
But come the Flood couldn’t He have whispered in Noah’s shell-like that we wouldn’t miss the little buzzers if he happened to call ‘Last Boarders’ early, then battened down the hatches before the last mating pair of plum-suckers was aboard?
He’d have done us all a favour if he had, starting with Mr and Mrs Noah and the kids when they beached their Ark atop Mount Ararat and laid out the picnic plates only for the jam and scones to be invaded by the stinking wee stingers.
More to the point, I’d have been spared a 6am wake-up nightmare when a single wasp floated in through our necessarily open bedroom window on a hot summer morning this week and inflicted not one, not two but THREE stings in the crook of my arm as I threshed about in a panic!
“Wasps’ nests are an example of nature’s majesty,” I was once told by a neighbour as ’Er Outdoors went to work with a deadly spray on an angry swarm while I, cloaked in colander, net curtains and motor cyclists’ gauntlets, hid at the other end of the garden.
Nature’s majesty wasn’t exactly the first descriptor that came to mind as I charged around the bedroom waving an elbow as big as a beach ball and pleading for antihistamine ointment and the last rites.
Extreme unction being denied, I had to make do with Mrs Banks’s laying-on of handfuls of ice and soothing lotion as I recalled from my childhood a more poetic condemnation of the striped stinger penned by Dylan Thomas in A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
His sardonic list of ‘useful’ presents included “a little crocheted nosebag from an aunt, alas, no longer with us and ... books that told me everything about the wasp. Except why!”
I know how he felt.
A polite sort of chap is John Smith-Plummer. Friendly and popular with all, he was invited to play at The Hirsel Golf Club in Coldstream and very much enjoyed his round.
Afterwards, polite as ever, he introduced himself to members in the bar.
“Hello, I’m John Smith-Plummer,” he would say, extending a hand. Or “Nice to meet you, I’m John Smith-Plummer ...”
All went well until he greeted a new arrival at the 19th, fresh from a disastrous round of golf and desperate for a stiff drink.
“Hello, I’m John Smith-Plummer,” he said, to which the agitated newcomer, brushing past him to get to the bar, replied: “Pleased to meet you, Mr Smith. I’m Freddie Broon, electrician!”
Gerald the Joker has been in the doghouse since he arrived home from his Friday night ‘Good Old Boys’ meeting at The Besom in Coldstream hauling behind him an unwilling black Labrador straining at the leash.
“Gerald!” roared his long-suffering spouse as he dragged the hound through the front door and headed for the Winalot. “That’s NOT our dog!”
Back to The Besom he trudged, where his own identical black Lab was looking baleful, last orders were looming and bets were being laid thick and fast as to whether Gerald – highly-respected pillar of the community – would even notice he’d taken home the wrong animal.
It proved a costly error: gales of laughter as he appeared sheepishly at the taproom door and drinks all round in order to persuade the company to keep his embarrassing secret.
Sorry, Gerald, the payola was wasted ... some rotten hound spilled the beans!