At 7.30pm the siren sounded sending the childers into a nervous state of excitement; screeching with delight they all ran into the bathroom which isn’t exactly the safe room but it was where I was, bathing their sister. Daddy came in too and little brother was shouting ‘emergency, emergency’. No. 1 son was busy explaining that it was an exercise and that we all had to make sure we were together and in a safe place, he’d been through it earlier in a more orderly fashion when the alarm had sounded at lunchtime at nursery. Daddy did a roll call, ‘here’ and when it was quiet they all trooped out and carried on as if nothing had happened. Nothing had happened, it was a practice. But it shakes me every time, what if, what if, what if.
Something else had been shaken and awoken in the garden and as night fell, the childers safely tucked up and snoring, I heard rustling in the dry leaves in the garden. The neighbourhood cats often prowl in the garden, they drink from the paddling pool and pop it so I looked out to see if I could see it to shoo it away. No cat. But movement. In the trees, in the fallen leaves. A movement caught my eye, a crazed cockroach, the length of my finger running up and down the tree trunk. Euyuk. The rustling was getting louder and was coming from further down the garden so being the hero I am, I sent husband to investigate. Even he was horrified as he came upon a large group of large cockroaches all running up and down tree trunks, flying (yes, some can fly) between low branches and running through the dead leaves. These cockroaches are like something from Indiana Jones, very fast-moving, giant with enormous antenna. In short, they are revolting and their speed just adds to their repulsiveness.
Husband quickly shut the fly net doors which thank goodness all our windows and doors are fitted with and turned on the outdoor lights so I could behold the spectacle. Vomit. Just vile. Where did they all come from and why were they in that one patch of garden? It was like they were on speed and having one big rave in a patch of my garden. Husband went around the whole house closing every window, blocking the space under the front door and plugging the sinks and baths (just in case) and then we went to bed. One ear cocked for a rustle.
We’ve had a history of cockroaches in this house. When we moved in I was pregnant with the twins and we were advised not to get the exterminator in to spray the house as the chemicals used were dangerous for the babies. The odd night-time visitor was horrible, but better a cockroach than harming the babies. The babies arrived late summer and as they were so tiny we again decided not to spray and risk the babies’ health. One afternoon we went out leaving our bedroom window open, there was a hole in the net. As I climbed into bed one ran across the sheets, and these buggers can really run. Emitting a strange deep-throated yelp I ran from the room while husband chased it with a shoe. Hysterical – I was 4 weeks post birth and the babies were asleep in their cribs in the bedroom – I was eventually persuaded it had been destroyed and it was safe to go back. ‘It could have been worse’ I said, ‘it could have been in one of the babies’ cribs’, famous last words as I spotted a waving antenna from underneath a cuddly sitting on the top of the crib. Horror. After the monster had been flicked to the floor I wheeled the 2 cribs out of the room and listened as husband whacked the floor with a shoe, swore ‘another one’, ‘another one’. We were infested. I sat sobbing on the sofa with my Mum who was over to help, incredulous that the babies and our 2-year-old were still sleeping and vowing to leave the house and Israel and anywhere with warm weather at the first opportunity.
The following year with the net fixed and the kids and I away the exterminator came in and sprayed. Our indoors visitors are now a rarity. He pointed out that the date palms and banana plants in the garden were prime cockroach territory. Put me off bananas that’s for sure.
And so the mystery remains. What awoke the creatures last night? What did they like so much about that part of my garden? Were they taking part in their own air raid exercise? Where are they now and will they return tonight? It may be cold and rainy in the UK but at least the bugs aren’t monster sized. Sweet dreams everyone.