aged c.3-16 i did not have that much in common with moors murderer ian brady that i can think of, except this: a morbid terror of daddy-long-legses – and i got over mine, b4 you all rush off to the police… nevertheless, as a child, i could not bear to be in the same room as one: if it wz still, i wd gaze transfixed at it, dreading the moment it set off flying again, trailing its delicate, terrible legs —> and when it did, i wz off. I remember standing (aged 7-ish?) looking at one rested on the shed, trying to bring myself to nudge it w.a broom-handle, to cause it to fly off in the open air – and failing my own dare. Of course everyone constantly informed me that NO INSECT COULD BE MORE HARMLESS – even some butterflies can give you a nasty nip – but i knew this, the nameless thing that terrorised me was not attack. Then and now i can let eg wasps settle on me calm. My dad has the standard Spider Thing quite bad, never mastered: even safe on TV, an arachnoid scuttle will turn him white and nauseous, and; someone else must always remove them from the bath (that someone often me).*

But round abt 16 i realised what it was i was actually afraid of, deep down, and the full fear just crumpled. I wz reading Brighton Rock: and in it there’s a paragraph where pinky picks off the legs of a DLL one by one, then the wings, before tossing the useless little body-cylinder onto the bed. It’s the only scene I remember w.clarity: I haven’t reread it since. The last bit encapsulates the unbearable end I’m transfixed by: the idea of this still-living tiny little thing trapped alive in what remains of it, its now-useless body-cylinder. And the subtext wz this: pinky had done – deliberately, as a casually ghastly little crime – exactly what I wz so frightened wd happen by mistake. If a DLL brushed against me, it would COME APART. Once visualised and expressed, the terror begins to be rationalised, to become copeable with. I can avoid touching them; if I HAVE to (when would I have to?) I can be super-alert and gentle. Insects are generally surprisingly toughly built and robust: thus and therefore, DLLs are built by nature to survive loss of a leg or three (OK a bit of me is still shuddering as I type that). And accidents are highly avoidable, and to reach the pinky-point I’d have to *be* a pinky (and have a lot more in common w.brady): it wd certainly have to be deliberate. I can’t say I’m not still over-sensitive to their presence and a bit spooked at touching them, but I can and have cupped them in my hands and set them free out of a window.