I killed a fly. It was getting on my nerves. You butter the bread; put it on the table; the fly’s on the bread. It keeps fizzing at you like a mosquito. Flies spread germs. Don’t they? So I killed it, got it over by the window with my niece’s A level copy of Huis Clos and flattened it. Don’t worry, Natasha, I cleaned the Huis Clos off. After I killed it, Olde dad – Olde dad who once threw his daughter’s present to him into the bin in front of her eight year old eyes; olde dad who had the least empathy of anyone I ever knew – that Olde dad got all bleeding heart on me. Big man, he said and then Man with a gun. He delivered these two judgements with expert deadpan sarcasm. I couldn’t believe it. Where did he get this empathy for a fly? Since when was he William Blake? Where did he get this wit? Since when was I George Orwell? So now I, as I make him his prunes and custard, as I chaperone him across the main road, as I adminster his pills, as I jovially repeat the same conversation about the weather, his food or the time of day for the umpteenth time, I am the villain of the piece because I killed a fly.
It reminds me of once when a man I knew, a banker, bought an artwork, and I asked him how much he had paid for it and he said to me that some people knew the price of everything and the value of nothing and I said just a minute you’re the banker. By refusing to mention figures you sanctify money.
Whatever. What am I supposed to do? Usher the fly out the backdoor? I’m happy to do that for a spider but with a fly yo’re on a hiding to nothing. A fly would lead me as merry a dance as Olde dad has been doing all this week. No, Olde dad, I draw the line at flies.