Capsule of horror – Shane’s prison, yesterday.
Shane Bladders had barely left the outskirts of his home town of Kidderminster when a wasp flew in through the open window of his Renault Scenic. Shane describes the next three and a half hours as the worst in his entire life.
“I had finally given in to my wife’s nagging and agreed to drive her and the kids to her mother’s in Aberystwyth on Bank Holiday Monday,” Shane shudders. “My wife was adamant that we get there on time because her mother would make my life a bloody misery if we didn’t. There were to be no stops, not even if the kids were sick in the back. No time, even, for the mighty Little Chef Olympic Breakfast – as much a symbol of Great Britain as Beefeaters, bowler hats, brown sauce and alcoholic liver disease.
“Vera – the wife’s mother – wanted us at her house for eleven in the morning, so we set off at seven, giving me an hour’s worth of wriggle room if we got stuck in traffic. I’d just reached the outskirts of Kidderminster when the wasp got in.”
Shane, who is terrified of wasps, began to slow the car with the intention of stopping and letting the irritating insect out, but was questioned by his wife.
“She asked me what I thought I was doing and I said I needed to get the wasp out of the car because I hate wasps,” he mutters. “But she was having none of it because she’s as much a stickler for time-keeping as her mother. I could see the bugger flying around in the back and I knew it was only a matter of time before the kids started plaguing it and getting its back up, but Sandra told them to ignore it and it would probably settle down. It didn’t settle down.”
As he made his way down the A44 towards Aberystwyth, the wasp continued to buzz around the car, at one stage settling on Shane’s hand as he went to engage fifth gear.
“I nearly crashed,” he says, taking a swig of brandy to steady his nerves. “I tried insisting that having a small, easily-annoyed insect running riot in a vehicle going at speed was a recipe for disaster, but Sandra told me not to be such a big baby because the wasp was more scared of me than I was of it. I didn’t believe that because I’ve encountered wasps at picnics and they don’t appear to be scared of anything; they’re just pissed off by everything.
“I suggested Sandra open a can of pop to entice the wasp to drown to death, or at least let me smoke in the car because I don’t think they like smoke. She said no to the smoking but reluctantly agreed to open a can of Fanta. That’s when the shit really hit the fan.”
Shane’s wife duly opened the can, but then changed her mind about holding it when the wasp began to bother her.
“So guess who gets to hold the Fanta?” thunders Shane. “That’s right – muggins here. And I was driving the fucking car! So I’m sat there, one hand on the wheel and the other holding a can of bloody pop as the wasp flew around me, with Sandra changing gears and the kids moaning in the back that they needed the toilet. At one stage I slewed the Scenic into the path of a lorry when the wasp – now pissed up on sugar – landed on my face and made an exploratory examination of my right nostril. I genuinely thought I was going to have a heart attack. Luckily, I just pissed myself and started to have a nervous breakdown instead. It was only the fear of being late for Vera’s that made me hang on to the last vestiges of my sanity.”
Not even a tailback just outside Ludlow alleviated Shane’s predicament.
“We were stuck in a jam for forty minutes, barely moving an inch,” he groans. “I didn’t dare throw the can out of the window because I was worried this would anger the wasp and it would take its revenge out on me by stinging my eyes. I clung on to the hope that it would lose interest and fly out of the window, but this never happened. After the traffic congestion eased and I was able to carry on at sixty miles an hour, there the bastard still was, buzzing about my peripheral vision. It would occasionally settle on my trembling hand before hopping on to the lip of the can to take another sip from the Fanta that constantly slopped out of the hole thanks to my petrified convulsions. It was like tap-dancing on a knife-edge.”
With the wasp seconds away from flying into a sugar-induced rage and with Shane barely able to control the speeding people carrier, he somehow managed to get to his mother-in-law’s house with ten minutes to spare.
“I don’t know how I did it,” he says, polishing off his drink and reaching for the bottle. “I usually feel a deep wave of depression wash over me when I see Vera’s bungalow, but not that day. I’ve never been so relieved to see anything in my whole life.”
Shane stumbled screaming from the car, threw the Fanta into the road, collapsed to his knees and vomited copiously all over his mother-in-law’s flowerbeds.
“Of course, that put me in the fucking dog house with the interfering old bitch anyway,” he grumbles. “I should have just stopped and let the wasp out.”