And the moral is...
My hallway contains a small alcove, the top corners of which are about 4' apart. In each of these corners for the past few weeks there has been living a small spider. Although I have more than a mild aversion to spiders I decided to leave them alone, they weren't going to bother me, I wouldn't bother them. Perhaps things had come to a head between them. Maybe they hadn't been getting on and the final straw had been loaded onto the camel's back. I do know the feeling; my own neighbour has some annoying habits, not least the one she has for filling my dustbin with her unsorted rubbish and filthy take-away cartons, the lazy cow. And for driving a huge 4 x 4 at warp speed to the end of the road 50 yards away. I'm not sure I'm up to making the same response though.
The smaller spider (when I say 'smaller' it's actually a matter of a few millimetres - the bigger one has a span about the size of a penny, we're not talking Bolivian red-legged cow-eating spider sized animals here) had gone to complain and was now only about 2 inches away from the larger one. It was at this point I considered an alternative scenario: as they bore a resemblance to each other I wondered whether I was going to witness something else and would the legend prove true - do male spiders only get to do it once and would it be worth it? The larger one stood its ground, the other moved slowly forward. Half an inch apart now and the small one puts up what could be either an act of defiant braggadocio or a sign of panic - it waves its two long front legs around in the air rapidly. It doesn't look to be a come-on. The larger one does the same but you sense an air of menace in its movements. They close rapidly, the larger's legs fully embracing the smaller whose legs stop their protestations as the coup de grace is delivered. It is over and I leave for the pub.
Traditionally this is the point at which some well-meaning homily is delivered by a smooth voiced Irish cleric (and indeed, I had just switched off Brian D'Arcy and Sunday Half Hour); "You know, in a way, I often think Jesus was like that at the crucifixion...". And yes, I was quite moved by the smaller spider's stoic acceptance of its inevitable fate regardless of whether it was bravado or lust that drove it on and yes, there are certainly lessons to be learned. Buggered if I'm going to tell you though.