It is a small world after all.
Oooh it's been the battle of the earwigs this week in Tweddley Manor. These creepy crawly wee douchebags are determined to destroy my seedlings, and I am just as determined they will not win. And they’re everywhere. Seems like they’re bloody Universal, able to transcend time and space in the most frickin’ irritating manner.
Years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and I was maybe in my first or second year at school in Scotland, I’d gone to my Nana’s for lunch. My Nana was a capable woman with standards - one of which was that she absolutely did not under any circumstances approve of bad language. Yet, I remember her coming across an earwig hiding in a box of eggs and she let out a sequence of vowels and consonants that sounded remarkably sweary.
And just this week in Tweddley Manor, I heard the most manly of boys I live with let out a very unmanly squeal having opened the mailbox and found 4 big fat ones sitting in there. I have as yet never met anyone who likes earwigs. I’m not even sure earwigs like earwigs.
So, I sat down to write a blog about our ongoing battle with them, and then something kept repeating in my mind. I was sure I must have written about them before.
I looked up my notes, and low and behold this time three years ago, they were very much on my mind - and on my seedlings.
It was May 2020, and life was very different for all of us. But reading through what I’d written, it seemed what mattered to me most was exactly the same.
I was pottering about the backyard this morning, drinking tea, and surveying who was winning the battle of Tweddle versus earwigs.
Hubster, Mr Tweddle has planted a variety of vegetables for our delectation, but the earwigs have been voraciously delecting them instead. I won't lie. It's been tense. Mr Tweddle, armed with earwig traps, a sprayer filled with washing liquid, and a determined expression, heads out to the backyard every night around sunset.
Because earwigs, like all of the bleakest challenges, are much more powerful in the dark.
I'm halfway through a six-week course of radiotherapy and have found myself unreasonably tired. (I say unreasonably because - even though they told me at the beginning of this to expect fatigue, I’d decided they meant other people and not me.)
I told the doctor last week how tired I was, and he smiled. Then I informed him that I was having to sleep an actual full 8 hours at night and then would even have a nap in the afternoon just to get by. He grinned and said I should be proud of how well I was doing.
That was the worst. Actual fucking grinning. And the pride bit? I'm from Cumbernauld. We don't do pride at the best of times, let alone when we're vulnerable.
Over at the vegetable patch, the earwigs seemed to have gained ground on the kale and cauliflower, but Tweddles have regained eggplants and peppers. Mr Tweddle would be pleased.
I sipped some tea and stopped beside the random pomegranate tree that we didn't plant but grew anyway.
When we’d moved to this house, there was a large dead pomegranate tree. There was so much risk of it falling on someone, that sadly, it had to be chopped down. Yet a year later the tree just reappeared, because the root system was strong enough, it completely regrew.
The doctor had told me how much he loved British people and he was reading a book about Winston Churchill and the 2nd World War. I’d laughed and said I was glad he was reading something lightweight. I’d thought about telling him about the earwigs but, for some reason, a story about my Mum had come out of my mouth instead.
When she was about 8, the air raid sirens had gone off when she was at school, and the whole class had to run across the playground to get to the shelter. They were all terrified that a bomb was going to get them when they were running, but they managed to get to the shelter safe and sound. After the raid, they re-emerged from the shelter and a whole side of the street was nothing but rubble. Everything she knew had changed.
The doctor had cleared his throat and there was a bit of a pause. Then we’d shaken our heads and muttered stuff about living through difficult times. Then a little tearfully I’d blurted out that I couldn't stop feeling a bit lost.
And he’d nodded and quietly said, "We all do."
The May morning sun was beautiful today. The pomegranate tree that came back from the dead looked spectacular - all shiny green leaves, and defiant bright red flowers. It cared nothing for the hardship of the past, was unyielding to the vagaries of earwig war, and focussed solely on the business of growing its spectacular new life.
I know I have to be careful. I do. Not so much with my body, but with my head.
I don't want to be going to a medical facility every day. I don't want to be having radiotherapy. In my head, I was done with this shit a long time ago. But it has to be dealt with. There’s no other way. And I can handle it. Totally. But I must stay in my own story.
It’s so tricky though because there are earwigs.
When I hear those crazy conspiracies about 5G, or lizards, or black ops, or see individuals I thought I knew, loudly losing their shit on social media because they’ve been asked to wear a piece of cloth over half their face when buying groceries, I lose myself. I enter into a different story. Their story. The one where they’re talking about thinning out the weak in the herd. And I realize that the weak they’re talking about is me.
All around the backyard this morning, plants were showing off their blooms. The flowers on the pomegranate tree that we didn't plant but got anyway, were defiantly bright.
The earwigs have gained ground on the kale and cauliflower, but Tweddles have regained eggplants and peppers. Though the battle sometimes feels relentless, the Tweddles have resilience, determination, and access to bug control, and thus will ultimately come through this victorious.
I slept a full 10 hours last night, and this morning I got up already accepting I'll nap this afternoon. And it’s OK. In fact, it’s fine. Because I know to my core, that in the future there’ll be some big fucking defiant flowers.
I looked out the window after reading that and noticed the pomegranate tree. Three years later and it is tall and strong and blooming with flowers. Ridiculously so.
Like earwigs, challenge is cyclical. It’s nothing personal. It goes around and around, and sometimes it’s your turn.
It is inevitable, and at points, almost completely overwhelming. But it does eventually move on. So, wherever you are, whatever part of the cycle you’re in, congratulate yourself on your strength. You’ve come far.
We are all in some stage of blooming most defiantly.
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I actually did discover the mystery of this
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