My wife doesn't do sports, but this summer she's found a new game. It's pretty unusual, mixing as it does tennis with eco-friendly hunter-gathering. The day before Christmas she came home from the local mall with a child-sized tennis racquet, though this one came with a significant extra - a battery-powered electric charge.
Now most mornings I get up to find her practising forehands - though there is no ball; through eyes still hazy with sleep, I see her creeping up to any minute, winged object on our living room windows and surfaces. Very slowly she lines up her target until she's ready. Then she presses a button on the handle of her racquet and I see sparks. The fly she has trapped is literally cooking in front of my eyes.
As a result of all this she's now become a fly spray snob. When I resort to it, she and my daughter - her S.W.A.T. Squad mate - condemn me for polluting the environment. I tell them that the smell of frying moth isn't doing much for it either. Sprays, I suggest, are the equivalent of a shotgun whereas their weaponry is no better than a one shot musket. They look at me sadly and get on with the hunt.
There are benefits I suppose. It's exercise - something they both assiduously avoid. Much better to sit on the couch and practice tossing marshmallows in the air to see how often they can catch one in their mouths.
So this racquet is the gift that keeps on 'giving' to the Kingdom of Flies. Watching her today I recalled I'd seen this stealth before. I realised that the racquet was really just a variant - a hi-tech successor to the flynet she once flailed, catching flies to feed to another daughter's frogs. Unlike this one though, that was a silent crusade.
Now when I hear a staccato zzzz! zzzz! I know something's cooking - and that we're a tiny step closer to saving the planet.