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(Written a decade or more ago when I fancied myself as a writer)

Centipedes

So, where was I? Ah yes, the flat in Walthamstow. I lived in the flat for a year and a half in the end, fairly happily, though I did sleep with a large kitchen knife down the side of the bed, so unused to the sound of fighting and shouting in my hallway at 5am.

This, though, isn't as bad as the flat we lived in, in Hornsey many years later. Remind me to mention that sometime – the murder, the robbery, the fighting etc.

So a pretty mushroom started to grow in the corner of my shower. It was frilly and yellow and I quite liked it. As there were no women trooping through my apartment on a regular basis, I was allowed to keep it.

It looked something like this (I do actually have a genuine picture of it, but can't find it):

Well, it grew and grew and grew until it was about fifteen centimetres tall (six inches, ye Imperial people) and then started to show signs of wear and tear. It's once proud ruffles started to look tatty, its orange ridges began to sag and display holes.

So, I was showering one day and observing my mushroom, thinking that I would put it out of its misery and throw it away, when a disturbing event happened – a sudden burst of water was the proverbial spore that broke the mushroom's back, and it exploded into a thousand bits and washed all over my feet.

Along with the centipedes.

I screamed (in a manly way) and briefly did a shower dance only ever seen performed by people in slippery showers trying to avoid angry orange centipedes, before managing to throw myself out of the cubicle.

I turned off the water and surveyed the situation. The centipedes weren't moving any more. There was one very large one, and two very small ones. I prodded them with the end of an old toothbrush, but they continued to play dead.

I say play dead, and that's what I mean. Insects are like monsters in horror movies – if you turn your back to them then they're liable to come back to life and vanish whilst you look for a dustpan and brush to dispose of them.

I didn't even know that we had centipedes in England at the time. I was quite shocked. As I've mentioned before, we don't actually have anything dangerous in the country, so wasps and biting multi-peds score strongly on our fright scales.

In the end I dry them off with toilet paper and carry them outside into the back yard, where I place them in a dry spot, in the sun. Sure enough, when I return five minutes later, they've gone. Only later in life did I consider the possibility that perhaps a bird took them...