Christmas beetle cricket war
Everybody was happy and excited when we moved into our holiday cottage a week before Christmas. That is of course excluding my darling sister who flatly refused to use the bucket system toilet situated at the back of the house. “There is no way in hell you are going to get me into that stinking antiquated excuse of a toilet” she said as she stamped her foot and stormed off into the surrounding bush crying and performing like the spoiled brat that she was, until my Dad called out to be careful of ticks and snakes, whereupon she made an abrupt about turn and rushed to her room, throwing herself onto the bed in a pile. Mom tried to placate her, while Dad just smiled in resignation. Nothing much phased Dad.
That night as the sun set the crickets (cockroaches that made noise in Mom’s opinion) started their strident screeching which got progressively louder as the time passed. They were joined by every other insect that could make a noise as they formed their own philharmonic noise machine. This of course attracted all the frogs from up to a thousand miles away who started their own orchestra of croaks in between gulps as they swallowed some luckless insect.
Dad’s nerves were becoming a bit frayed as he fielded glares from sister and questions about the duration of the noise from mother while I stoked the fires with some irritating giggles and inappropriate laughter. Then sis, who had been squirming for about an hour started to get really agitated and started to perform about going to the toilet, Dad exploded and said she better go now before it got too dark. He stomped around the house in anger while he trimmed wicks and prepared the lamps for lighting while sis, who had insisted that I accompany her for protection, crept into the loo with a peg on her nose after emptying a can of bug spray into and around the little structure. I promised to protect her while she was there and as soon as she had closed the door I sneaked around the back to see that the bucket hatch door was open.
I grabbed the first stick I could find and quietly stretched my arm out, and tickled her bare bum. She stopped mid stream and screamed as she shot upright, and with her pants around her ankles and her skirt covering her face she took the door clean off its hinges. The dog in the meantime, had been innocently lying in front of the door as extra protection, yelped in pain and barked in surprise as first the door then a hysterical girl attacked him so unexpectedly. Stupidly, I had not expected this panicky reaction but I was at the front quick enough to be crowned by the flying door and avoid any suspicion. Dad and Mom burst out of the house to render assistance where necessary, because between the crickets, frogs, dog, sis and I, there was one heck of a din.
Dad had had enough of all the questions, glares, stares and growls from the dog and the rest of us so he stormed off to complete lighting the lamps, and when he had finished he sat in a chair glowering at all and sundry while he steadied his nerves with a few stiff tots of whisky.
Everyone was exhausted after all the excitement so we went to bed early but nobody could get any sleep. The crickets and frogs were just too loud. Mom had by this stage hauled out the medical bag and given us all a wad of cotton wool to use as earplugs but Dad refused for some reason and he grabbed a lantern, a can of bug spray and my hockey stick and I still say he took the balance of the whisky with him but he denies this emphatically. For the next few hours he prowled around like an angry lion while he mumbled in uncontrollable rage. His mumbling and cursing was interspersed by the odd pssssssssssst of bug spray and the whack as the hockey stick thudded onto insect or frog. He crouched like some ghoul as he attempted to massacre the offending fauna but had actually been singularly unsuccessful. After a while, he was overtaken by exhaustion and I still maintain that the whisky had more of an influence than he was prepared to admit. He sat with his back resting against the toilet wall as he fell asleep and stayed there until Mom went to fetch him.