There are very few things in this life that can render me incandescent with rage. My ex-boyfriend had his moments; as does the Daily Mail. Pompous newsreaders can make me shout at the TV; as does that stupid advert which promises to make your clothes smell of "white diamonds" – but I can still retain a sense of humour and perspective about all of these. However, there are some very small creatures that can bring me from total calm to abject fury, in under 30 seconds, every time.
Wasps are just... just... (Sorry, bear with me a moment - I have to take a few deep breaths and try to swallow the savagery that is already bubbling up inside me.) Right... I mean, what is the POINT of wasps?
My Dad and I felt we needed a bit of ‘cultcha’ the other day. So we decided to visit a nearby National Trust property. But you know how these places are: apart from the woods, the lake, the deer, the swans, the gardens, the Manor and the 15th Century Brewery (still functioning!) there really wasn’t much see – so after a while we thought we’d go for a Cream Tea. The Old Orangery was your typical National Trust Tea Shop: staffed by several old ladies called Edith and Hilda, all wearing Kevlar knitwear and serving cakes and pastries that would put your average 5-Star Chef to shame.
The Cream Tea (my first, and last, this summer I promise) was superb: delicious scones* with succulent sultanas, lovely strawberry jam and REAL clotted cream. Throw in a nice pot of Earl Grey and what more could you want? My Dad and I walked away, with our over laden trays, feeling very content. We rolled our eyes dismissively at the folks hunched over too-small tables, squashed inside the steamy shop – we are made of hardier stuff! We remembered to bring our anoraks and after all, it is bloody summer – we were going to sit OUTSIDE!
The first wasp appeared within moments, but he was alone for a while. We idly swatted him away and made jokes about ‘those people’ who make a fuss about wasps. Within two minutes there was a dozen of them. Remember the scene in "1984" when the rats are trying to get at Richard Burtons face? It was a bit like that, only without the handy cage. In desperation Dad ate half a scone in one mouthful. I was forced to eat mine standing-up, whilst circling the table and battling the wasp battalion with a windmill-type arm motion. Dad came up with the brilliant plan of abandoning our tea and sitting on the table next to it. I pointed out that we couldn’t really enjoy our tea from the neighbouring table. Dad retorted that we weren’t really enjoying our tea now and furthermore, I was frightening the small children who had gathered to watch.
We decided to go inside the warm, cosy and wasp-free Tea Shop. It was full. However we seemed to have lost most of them when we beat our retreat... all but one, who had got his legs stuck in my strawberry jam. Bastard. We finished sulkily and left. Wasps eh? As the late, great E. L. Wisty said: "Wasps were a mistake."
*How do you say it? Are you a Scon or a Scoane person? Isn’t it funny that everyone always thinks the other pronunciation is posher than their own! Or is it just a North-South thing?
Leonardo Da Poggibonsi
2 days ago