Ding dong the flies are dead. Not all of them but most. Since I have effectively been living in the Australian outback of the 19th century, I am quite happy with a couple of dozen hangers on who do not yet know the party is over. It was bad. I would make a cup of tea and as I poured in the milk, a fly would bob to the surface. Often it would still be swimming. Sometimes it would have an inflatable toy. I pressed my nuclear button, the bait trap of a plastic bag filled with what I am presuming to be powdered cat poo or something equally disgusting. You had to fill it with a litre of warm water and hang it by your front door. I think it was meant for cattle sheds or hen coops. I said to my boys: "Touch this at your peril." I could have said: "Please don't touch mummy's nice new fly trap. It would make mummy sad if you poked a hole in it and covered yourselves in poo and dead flies." As it was, I went for the threatening growl option which I find altogether more effective. Sometimes, I add: "I mean it." Occasionally: "If you do x, y or z, I will take away your a, b or c," or a traditional "you will go straight to bed". Once in a while, I flounder and am left with the altogether more foggy "you will be in so much trouble." I skip straight over the "Intimidation -Don't Try This at Home" advice in the parenting books. I do what I have to in order to make it to another day. Anyway, it was useless; it killed five flies in 24 hours.
I bought geranium oil and burners along with geranium incense sticks. I braved the nettles to get down to the sandpit and ladled sand into a glass mixing bowl and brought it back to the house. I slid in four incense sticks and lit them. My six-year-old came in. He looked delighted. He said: "Mummy, you 've baked a cake." I said: "No, it just looks like a cake. I'm killing flies." He sighed and walked away. At the doorway, he said to the four-year-old: "Don't bother asking. It's not a cake." I liked the incense but the geranium oil got a bit much. It did not kill the flies, instead they retreated to the corners of the room to talk about me or sank to floor level. They swirled around my feet. I think they were doing that commando like crawl you are supposed to do in the event of fire, pulling themselves along by their elbows to avoid the stink of geraniums. They went just before I turned off the Aga. I had decided that the gates of hell through which the flies were coming might well be the double oven doors. Even if the Aga was not plumbed directly into the sulphuric flames, I thought the heat might be encouraging them. Turning off the Aga in the country is like having sex with your husband's tractorman, something you try not to do. At least, something you try not to get caught doing. I thought: "If anyone drops by, I just won't let them in the kitchen."
They surrounded me. My six-year-old even brought home a reading book from school on flies. I said: "What made you think I would want to hear you read this?" He just grinned and turned to the close up photograph of a fly poised with a great round ball of saliva dangling from what passes for its jaws. He started reading: "A fly spits on its food. This turns the food into a kind of soup." He flicked back past the photographs of shiny, hook-mouthed maggots, he carried on: "If the fly lands in a rubbish heap, bits of rubbish and germans stick to the fly's feet. Then, when the fly lands on something else, like your drink bottle, it will bring tiny bits of rubbish and invisible germans with it... One fly can carry nearly two millions germans." I said: "That's a lot of Germans." He grinned and carried on.