Shamim with Ethan before she gave him away for spider-related crimes

Shamim with Ethan before she gave him away for spider-related crimes

So many of you have sent lovely comments about our son Ethan’s birthday video, congratulating him and also us, on our wonderful parenting. Ethan may sometimes beg to differ but, as I often tell him (as part of my caring parenting skills) ‘Don’t make your problem my problem.’

I digress. I am not feeling quite so adoring of Ethan right now due to an incident that happened a few nights ago. It was late and I retired upstairs to do some work from bed. I got under the duvet, got comfortable – and discovered that I was not alone.

A spider the size of Texas sauntered across the top of the duvet. It was so big, I swear it grinned at me as it scampered past. I leapt out of bed and thundered into the hallway. The spider eyed me from the bed, one hairy eyebrow raised in disdain.

You see, subconciously, this is why I wrote stories like Despite the Falling Snow, set in cold places (with no spiders). The Cold War is most interesting to me, not for ideology, but for the Cold part.

Luca was sleeping but Hanan and Ethan were downstairs, on their laptops. I knew if I called out the word ‘spider’ they would file it mentally as a low priority, so I screamed loudly enough for them to assume an axe murderer had come through the window.


‘Did anyone hear me?’ I bawled. ‘I need help!’

‘Is it a spider?’ asked my wife. ‘Give me a few minutes.’

I dialled it up a notch. Clearly fearful the neighbours would come round, Ethan came bounding up the stairs. I like to think that even he balked at the lumpiness of the spider, but he was soon chasing it around the room, while I ran downstairs weeping.

He caught it – and followed me downstairs, laughing, the spider trapped between paper and upturned glass. The boy can give Usain Bolt a run for his money so I knew trying to out-sprint him was futile. I turned, looking for something strong and barrier-like to protect me. Hanan was there, still typing. I cowered behind her as Ethan advanced, holding out the spider in one hand and even worse, an iPhone in the other so he could film my ignominious screaming.

I may have yelled to Hanan that I would divorce her if she didn’t stop him, but I don’t think she heard me as she was laughing too hard.

The way I see it, I have two options. Get over my fear of eight legged things. Or sign Ethan up for military camp this summer….hmmm let me see. One of those things takes just a click of a button…