Thursday, 1 November 2012


"London, did ye say? I'll give
thee London!"
What wouldn’t we give to have been a fly on the wall at some of the dramatic (and melodramatic) moments in history. The day, for instance, that Shakespeare announced to his wife Anne that he was quitting the family home and shooting off to London to seek his fame and fortune. Would the Prince of Words have found the phrases necessary to mollify any discontent on the part of his old wench? Or would he have been too busy dodging the items of crockery that said wench was hurling his way?

"Adieu, my brave comrades,
and zee best of luck!"
The fly has a compound eye made up of several thousand lens, so very little would have escaped its beady attention. Consider the dramatic moment outside Moscow in 1812, when Napoleon made the commander's heroic decision to abandon his retreating army and scoot off to the arms of Maria Walewska, his Polish mistress in Warsaw. Did he, perhaps, address his army in the following terms: “My loyal troops and comrades in arms. As you know, zee Russian army iz approaching, and zay are not in a good mood. So I ‘ope you do not mind if I leave you to it while I go to Varsaw for a bit of you know what. So I'll just bugger off, if zat iz all right viz you?” Did he then beat a hasty retreat amid cries of “Vas-tu faire foutre!”, “Saligaud de merde!” and other Gallic expletives? 

"I got the sucker! It's right
there. There it is!"
Of course it's impossible that the humble fly could never become a chronicler of human history. But nor would it ever want to be. All that a fly wants is the same that all of nature wants, and probably most human beings, too, and that's to be left alone. So pity that poor fly that dared that time to wander into a TV studio during an interview with a certain President of the United States of America, and then proceed to put on a free display of aerial acrobatics, including the trick - how does it do it??? - of landing upside down on the ceiling, only to end its days a dead trophy on the studio floor.

Flies, in fact, are our friends. They feed on decaying material thus speeding up the nutrient cycle and creating richer soil for our food to grow in. Without their help we would be up to our necks in excrement. They also provide an essential food supply to many birds, without which their numbers would dwindle and a part of nature with it. So our enjoyment of the world around us would be seriously lessened were it not for flies.

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