Actually, I do like cricket. And being an immigrant I now have a choice of three teams to support: England, South Africa, and any team playing against Australia.
But I don’t like crickets. Plural. And while I am the kind of nature lover who rescues spiders and feels guilty about stepping on ants, there is nothing on earth that will prevent me from stomping on a cricket in my vicinity. Except possibly the cricket itself, which will have spotted my size 6 before I have even raised it into position – and done a runner. Except they don’t run – and that is the first thing I hate about them. They lurch. They lunge. They leap. They are sudden.
The second thing I hate about them is that our guests from Europe think they are cockroaches. If they see one lunging, lurching and leaping (suddenly), they turn pale and rush to their laptops and iPads and cell phones ready to create a scathing review on Trip Advisor. I have often thought about adding comparison pictures of a cockroach and a cricket into our Visitor Information booklets, but refrained on the grounds that non-English speakers will get entirely the wrong idea and check out immediately.
And the third thing I hate about them – they keep me awake.
I don’t have a problem with crickets chirruping away happily in the garden, the night-time chorus of crickets, frogs and owls is a pleasant African backdrop that I much prefer to the omnipresent sounds of traffic in UK. But a cricket in your bedroom. No. Just No. Kiss goodbye to sleep.
They can throw their voices so that you can’t track them down. However quietly you tread, the minute you start searching, they stop squeaking, and only start again when you have got yourself all snuggled up and cosy. Sometimes they will fling themselves onto the pillow beside you, just to give you that extra frisson of terror.
Swellendam apparently suffered a plague of crickets in 2005, which thankfully was the year before we arrived here. We were told horror stories of crickets falling into babies’ mouths as they were being pushed along in prams, piles of crickets being swept out of shops into the streets, the pure white walls of some of the heritage houses appearing to be black, covered with billions of the things. People that lived through this experience were obviously seriously affected by the event, as they related it to us graphically in hushed tones, almost as if they spoke too loudly, the crickets would hear, remember their past triumph — and return in droves.
(Droves did not seem to be quite the right word, so I looked up the collective noun for crickets, and discovered no specific one, though an ‘orchestra of crickets’ had been suggested. This seems far too polite a word, so I invite suggestions as a comment at the bottom of today’s rant. )
Since we have been here, there have been plenty of crickets but nothing on that scale. My younger sister from UK came to stay, and suffered the company of a cricket in her bedroom for one night. Her second night she pulled her mattress in to our bedroom; however her strident snoring meant that my usually tolerant husband forbade a repeat sleepover. So on the third night, (after a couple of bottles of red wine downed liberally at De Vagebond restaurant) after she had poured herself out of the car and landed prone on the road, she declared she was going to spend the night there. On the road. Husband and I took one foot each and hauled her, protesting loudly, from the road into the house and thence into her bedroom. The cricket took one look and took flight. Or took lurch, leap, lunge etc etc)
The ceiling fan in our bedroom recently developed a rhythmical squeak. Suffering the heat of the night or the noise of the fan was a choice that husband and I debated long and hard. Neither of us wanted to get out of bed to switch the fan off, so we settled for noise. But after two nights of torture I could bear it no longer. Off the fan had to go. But wait…..it was still squeaking! How could this be?
Yes, you have guessed it. Little Jiminy Cricket had advanced his techniques of torture to a high level of sophistication. Removing said cricket from fan became a major operation, (we have very high ceilings) involving copious amounts of insecticide, a step ladder and a long handled feather duster) This all being done as silently as possible to avoid waking those guests who rooms were cricket free and thus blissfully asleep.
Despite this military operation, there was no sign of cricket. But the chirruping had stopped, so hoping that the insecticide had worked, we returned to bed, now unable to sleep because of the heavy chemicals surrounding us.
But revenge is sweet. At some time during our first peaceful sleep for ages, Jiminy dropped down off the fan, and landed on the pile of clothes I had laid out ready for the morning. An early breakfast call meant getting dressed while still dark, then rushing to lay tables and prepare the fruit salad etc. After half an hour of increasing discomfort, I realised something was not right with my bra. On inspection discovered one large (and rather squashed, but very much alive) cricket. I wish I could say that I handled the situation with panache and decorum, but shouts of KILL IT, KILL IT NOW! rang out, as I ripped off my bra – (Jiminy leaped, lurched and lunged in delight at his new found freedom, with Husband attempting to obey orders and destroy him) and ran through the breakfast room to get away from the horror, unfortunately encountering several early bird breakfasters, rooted to the ground in shock.
I can’t wait for those Trip Advisor reviews………..
Epilogue: I have found a foolproof way of ridding your home of crickets. Become a blog writer and wait with your camera to take a photo to illustrate your article. You will never see another cricket.