Diary rss feed

Parasitic Wasps

25 September 2019 | Diary

Friend Kristin has read my moth diary and she’s keen to tell me about a “natural” solution involving parasitic wasps.

Apparently you release the wasps at home and then seek out any unhatched moth eggs, feasting on them as the world’s grossest caviar.

Unleashing some wasps is immensely appealing, but I can’t help wonder if the situation wouldn’t get out of control. What, prey tell, will eat the wasps? Before you know it, you’ve entered an “old woman who swallowed a fly” situation and you now have a rather impractical horse infestation and you’re spending your evenings filling out the import forms on various apex predators. Your little West End flat becomes known as the spot where passersby are routinely plucked off the street by tentacles. We’d never get post again.

As it happens, the pheromone trap is doing rather well, our ten-moths-a-day murder count now reduced to one or even fewer. The trap now resembles a luscious moth-wing carpet, which I now plan to use to repair the various holes they’ve made in an act of mortal irony.

You Come Home From Work

24 September 2019 | Diary

You come home from work and you turn the television on. Something’s wrong. Inspector Morse is on every single channel.

You thump the top of the set in a caveman bid to escape John Thaw’s stern face but your hand passes through the set with a sickening tear. The television set is made of paper!

The knobs and dials are paper, the remote control is paper, the set-top aerial is a triangle made from paper.

And that’s how you discover YOU’RE IN THE ARMANDO IANNUCCI SHOW. It’s 2001 again and you’ll have to come home the long way.

You’re On Holiday

23 September 2019 | Diary

You’re on holiday in California, admiring the view at Big Sur, when you approach a local to ask for directions.

The man panics. “It’s no good!” he shrieks, looking around helplessly, “I can’t do it!” and then he leaps into the canyon.

Only the canyon’s not a canyon. The Californian passes through it with a sickening tear and runs on and on into an impossible white distance.

And that’s how you discover YOU’RE IN THE TRUMAN SHOW. It is Season 3 and the ratings are in the toilet.

After the Storm

22 September 2019 | Diary

It’s been an atypically social week, something friendly lined for every single night and three of the days.

So many pint glasses and ticket stubs has meant putting my Street Fighter health bar into the red and storming the treasury in a way not strictly compatible with the lifestyle of a twenty-first-century person of letters.

My idle self feels happy to have blown a week off so decadently, but as I look at the week’s spoils, it’s hard not to feel a pinch of dismay. Was fun had? Yes. Was your heart or mind opened even a crack? Oh yes. How’s your manuscript coming along? Quiet, you.

Vasculum

21 September 2019 | Diary

To the Botanical Gardens to volunteer as a guide for Doors Open Day.

I show thirty lusty octogenarians (and my pal Graeme) around the botanical library, a place I know well having catalogued the entire collection as a side-project. Hypocrite idler, I know.

The visitors are fresh from a tour of the fern house, so there are books about ferns on display as well as a vasculum (collecting box) of the sort used during the Victorian fern Craze.

I show a few other highlights including an encyclopedia of exotics, an 1860 book about agricultural pests in which all of the critters are drawn to scale, and, my favourite, an 1853 volume of pressed seaweeds.

No your hobby is boring.

Towards the end, Graeme picks up a book about mushrooms. Apparently it “just fell open” on a chapter about magic ones.