Beware tonight’s SUPERMOON!

A supermoon changed my life.

I have a vivid memory of when I was little, probably around seven years old, watching The Great Escape on TV on a Sunday teatime when my mother vomited in her lap. She retched and retched, wet eyes bulging, the remains of the pork dinner consumed earlier resting in her pinny.

She threw the butty she’d been eating to the floor and hurried away, clutching her dripping pinny and spitting and gagging as she went. My two brothers and I were truly terrified, as Dad ran after her.


It turned out my older sister was to blame.

The butty was egg and cress, made by Isabel’s loving hands, a butty meant for me but she got the plates mixed up. Isabel enjoyed the fact that nothing made her squeamish, and so did her three not-so-brave brothers when it came to spiders in the bathtub, Isabel always on-hand with a scrunched up wad of loo roll. She liked the big harvesters best because `they make a pop when you squidge them`.

`This cress is a bit crunchy,` Mum had said on the first bite.

`And it tastes a bit off . . . acidy,` she said as she chewed the second.

When something got stuck between her teeth, and she picked out a hairy spider’s leg with the nail of her pinky – that’s about when the puking started.

`It was meant for Johnny,` Isabel wailed half an hour later as Dad stood before her with the remains of the butty opened to reveal at least ten dead harvester spiders squashed among the egg and cress.

That was when I too was sick – on the living room carpet – one big whoosh and splatter. My brothers followed suit and poor Mum was off somewhere scrubbing her mouth out with Fairy Liquid.

Mum later learned that the moon that day had been a supermoon and that’s where the blame was placed for Isabel’s antics. Though she did get three whacks of the belt across her backside and was never allowed to make tea again.

That was fifty years ago.

Since then I have developed a certain routine when it comes to spiders. I check everything. I check under my pillow and inside the sheets before getting into bed. I look down the tubes of loo rolls and kitchen rolls just in case. I lift the toilet seat before sitting. I tap out my shoes before putting them on. And, of course, I always study the contents of a sandwich before eating it.

For fifty years.

The total time I’ve spent checking for arachnids probably adds up to at least a whole week, and it was time well spent. I once found a spider under my pillow. It was only 3mm in diameter, but still, the smaller the easier to fit in my ear.

I also found a termite in a loo roll once, about thirty years ago, so all in all the week of my life dedicated to checking for spiders has been well worth it. At least until this morning.

Why did I never ever, in all this time, think to check my toothbrush? When something stuck in my teeth I knew it would be a bristle. Right? Wrong. I tried to spit it away and it came loose on the third spit. One solitary spider leg lay among my spittle in the sink. I could see the fine hairs. I gagged, looked at the toothbrush and saw another two legs poking from the frothed-up bristles. I carefully rinsed the froth away and saw the rest of the spider tucked in among the bristles. I could even see some of its eyes. Then a leg moved. I dropped the brush into the basin and immediately hurled on top of it.

Images of my mother scrubbing her mouth out with Fairy Liquid came flooding back as I retched and retched. It has taken me three hours to stop shaking enough to be able to write this down. I know I will not brush my teeth again for at least a fortnight, and my NEW brush will be in a sealed bag and will be examined carefully before each use.

Of course, none of this is true (well, maybe some of it but I’m not saying which bits), it was in fact an exercise in moon control.

A few weeks ago I blogged about the pull of the full moon, about how it effects our ocean’s tides and perhaps, with us being made up of at least 75% water, even our inner tides could be at risk of being pulled out of sync.

But pulled enough to be changed into a wolf? Or to commit some act of lunacy?

Or for the creative muse to gain exciting new spidery legs?

Today, not only is our moon full, but it is a SUPERMOON.

A supermoon occurs when our moon is closest to us as it makes its orbit. It appears bigger in the sky by around 16% and it shines some 30% brighter.

Some procrastinators blame supermoons for natural disasters.

Riotous behaviour, unrest, and psychopathic tendencies also manifest as a result of the supermoon’s glaring effect.

Sheer lunacy?

There is no proof either way, but you can have fun with writerly experiments.

Today, drink three pints of water extra to your usual intake, a tidal gift to the moon, a teasing bait to come and fiddle with your inner tides. Once the day grows dark and the supermoon is all bright and shiny, remove all your clothes in a rough and snarly fashion and walk on all fours around the garden, noting any unusual wolfy feelings, and ask the moon to spark your writerly muse.

Let me know how you get on.

Also let me know if you check for spiders, or if you’ve ever put something in your mouth that should never have been put there.

Happy howling!


Leave a comment


  1. Not spiders, but cockroaches. While living in a dodgy flat in Portugal, I found one in my jacket pocket while waiting at the bus stop. Two weeks later, there was one in my trouser leg after I’d put them on in the morning. You should have seen that frenzied dance. The final straw was the one on my toothbrush. That was when I moved out.

    • Bluergh! I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting a cockroach face to face, but if I should I will surely burn the house down, and if it’s in my pants I’ll burn those too.

  2. hsnorup

     /  January 30, 2014

    This blog post gave me the chills, Johnny. I always check for spiders! Especially when I’m staying at my Dad’s. The monsters from my childhood are still there—the kind where you can see the hairs on their eight legs.
    I once found a tiny spider in a salad (and got a free meal) at a restaurant in Copenhagen. And apparently I ate a centipede when I was one. It was still alive in the nappy…

    • Good to hear you got a free meal out of the wee spiddy, Helle. But not good that you scoffed a centipede. And from your nappy? What the heck were you doing eating out of your nappy? It’s quite possible, of course, that with all those legs, the centipede is still clinging to your insides and making the most of his cosy home. It’s probably about sixteen foot long by now and comes at night when you’re sleeping to nibble at the crusty bits around your eyelids.

      • hsnorup

         /  January 30, 2014

        Clarification: the centipede exited my digestive system in the nappy. And don’t think the thought of it having left friends, relatives, or a few mutating legs hasn’t entered my mind a hundred times since I was first told the story. The upside is that I never have crusty bits around my eyes in the morning:-)

  3. Ah, now I get why it was in the nappy. Good job with the crusty bits though. I have a new campaign idea: `Every one should host a centipede.` – do you think it’s got legs?

  4. louisewise

     /  January 30, 2014

    Oh dear god! I’d never eat again if someone did that to me! Ugh!

  5. louisewise

     /  January 30, 2014

    Just had a thought. Is your sister Kimi, by any chance? lol

  6. Enjoyed reading this, even though it made me feel a bit sick and squicky, I don’t think I’ve ever had the misfortune of eating anything that horrible, luckily. Lord only knows how the people on those horrible reality TV shows chow down all manner of bugs and gruesome delicacies. Grim.

    • Oh, I bet you have, you just don’t know it. Don’t they say we eat eight spiders a year when sleeping? There are also food industry standards which allow for so many insect parts per gallon of food stuff. Even downing a tin of soup witll therefore bring the extra nutritional goodness of a wing or two.


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