SCORPION AND ORPINGTON
I know it’s foolish, but when you get to my age (sixty next year and just wait: it’ll get you too) you develop these absurd idiosyncracies. One of these is that the doggs (which, along with blogg, I write with two ‘g’s) are always known as ‘the dogmas’… and of course by extension frogs become frogmas. I know it’s not terribly funny, but it keeps me amused.
The dogmas are Bumble, the big one, and Bao, who was abandoned in the freezing rain at a petrol station in Granada, rescued by a home for abandoned doggs, and ended up here. Bao is called Bao because we got another dogg the same day, whom we caled Bil. Thus Bil and Bao: Bilbao a big industrial city in the north. People who surround themselves with animals often think it amusing to give their animals the names of towns. Back in England we had a sheep called Orpington.
Thus I introduce the protagonist of this blogg, the dogg Bao. Bao was rolling about on his back on the living room carpet this morning, trying, I suppose, to rid himself of the attentions of a flea. Looking down I noticed there was a scorpion on his belly. I flicked it off with my babouche… whereupon it vanished. I crawled about the room, peering here and peering there, but all to no avail.
I soon forgot about it though, and we breakfasted with a scorpion scuttling about under the table amongst our feet. We’re used to this sort of thing; there’s always a scorpion about somewhere. In summer they lurk beneath stones, enjoying the heat and drought, which is what they like best, but in the autumn they like to come into the house, along with all the other arachnids in the valley.
In the summer Ana, the Wife, was stung on the elbow by a scorpion… in the bed. Under the breakfast table is one thing; in the connubial bed is quite another. Me, I lit out of there like a scalded cat when she told me, and stood by the bed quaking in my babouches. I wasn’t going to take a chance on the bugger moving over to my side and having a crack at me… o lord no!
Perhaps I ought to point out here that the sting of our scorpions is not lethal; they’re not the big black african variety that kills you, Pandinus africanus (see “Almond Blossom
Appreciation Society” p.119), but the altogether much more manageable Buthus occitanus. Its sting is far from pleasant, though; Ana said it was like a couple of wasp stings or a bit worse, and it lasted about twelve hours. She is stoical about things like that, and acted as if nothing had happened, apart from removing the scorpion from the bed and giving it to the chickens. (See “Driving Over Lemons” for an account of the curious relationship between the scorpion and the humble hen.)
Oddly enough we both have a half witted conviction that you can mitigate against this sort of eventuality by keeping your karma in good shape. To this end Ana saves wasps from drowning in the doggbowl, and I saved an abejorro, a beautiful big blue carpenter bee, from a lingering death in the swimming pool… whereupon it stung me. I still have a witless belief in invincibility, though, and pad about the house barefoot in the dark, in the certain knowledge that there are scorpions waiting for me. It lends a delicious frisson of uncertainty to my nocturnal perambulations.