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Death watch in the toilet


Not many mornings I wake to find myself in my underpants, balanced on one foot, cupping my ear to the wall.

No, seriously. Not that many mornings at all.

This morning, Weasel awoke to the cheerful clatter of death watch beetles eating Badger House. Xestobium rufovillosum is a beetle native to Britain that eats gouges into ancient wooden beams and taps out clickity lovesongs in Spring.

Usually, they come in to the house on fresh oak planks when they are still moist, and spend a few hundred years chewing neat holes and lazy channels in the structural members. Pretty much all ancient houses and churches have some woodworm damage.

Badger House has plenty. It’s just, we were hoping it was all old. Fresh woodworm is bad mojo. They are damn near impossible to kill, and subject to more costly quack cures than arthritis and erectile dysfunction, put together. (Which sounds really awful, you have to admit).

This particular woodworm is called ‘death watch’ on account of the clicking, which you are most likely to hear on still, quiet Summer nights. While you’re all sitting around waiting for Grammy to kick it. And so, by extension, the sound came to be regarded as an omen of death. But, really, omens of eating the fucking house down around my ears is depressing enough.

We have to get someone in to look at this or we’ll go howling psychotic.

April 6, 2009 — 7:02 pm
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