Is my memory playing up or were there James Bond films with snakes between the sheets? Not nice! TV Producers have played on this, of course, with the various ‘Survival competitions’ held somewhere in Australia where contestants have had to crawl through boxes of heaving insects or stick their hands in a box of snakes. Whatever it has been, there has been that feeling of revulsion. Awhile back there was one of those Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones films in which you can guarantee to have cringe or revulsion moments. This one had swarming ants at one point enveloping the body of one of the baddies, again a serious revulsion moment.
Now I bet you don’t have those feelings when you see a rhinoceros or giraffe. I’ve stood a couple of feet away from a rhinoceros in a steel post stockade and revulsion was not the emotion. Awe maybe, but not revulsion! No, for many of us, it is small and slimy and tickly in a nasty way that gives us the shivers. Now here’s something to encourage you (!!!) in old age. You may lose a sense of hearing or sight or taste but I bet you don’t lose your sense of revulsion at the creepy horrible.
The funny thing about this (sorry, ‘odd’, not funny ha ha) is that quite often this revulsion feeling is just that, revulsion at the appearance or feel of a creature; it’s little to do with the danger of the creature. Yes, coming across a giant python is scary because it could crush you to death, but coming across an innocent long legged spider in the bedclothes has got none of that. I know a slow worm from the garden is harmless but I wouldn’t be excited to find one sitting on my cereal box in the cupboard, and for those of you who have just turned green at the thought – why? It’s harmless!
A while ago we went on an activities holiday and one afternoon in the centre there came a man with snakes and other very strange creatures. Now I suppose people who really struggle in this area kept well and truly away from that room that afternoon, but in a room full of about thirty people, including a good number of children, no one responded with revulsion when he invited you to hold a stick insect on your palm or even have a four feet long snake wrapped around your neck, shoulders or arms - it was surprisingly actually very dry and not at all slippery as I expected! I have wondered how many of us went out of that room and in a private space, punched the air and declared, “Yes!” as a female TV presenter on an out-takes programme did after going off camera in a children’s programme where she had handled small creatures!
I think modern TV has done a lot to desensitise us with series like CSI, with realistic post mortem scenes, so for many of us at least, this seems ordinary. I’m not sure how we would cope with the real thing, but the yuck-factor of a body being cut into isn’t how many of us like to spend the time – which is probably why TV programme schedulers don’t put such shows on about Sunday tea-time!
The (now) old fashioned James Herriot vet series were possibly the forerunners of modern yuck-factor TV with the said Vet sticking his arm up the rectum of a cow. I don’t think they ever really captured the yuck-factor of that, thank goodness. So it’s not just little creatures, it’s also gungy animal or dead-human scenes that that create the “Oh, no!” response.
Immediately I say that, I see the image of the Canadian Mountie, Benton Fraser (from the now distant past TV series, Due South), lick something he’s picked up from the pavement, to check the source of the evidence, to the appalled cry of his partner, Ray Vecchio, “Oh no!” That was the most expressive “Oh no!” I can recall. (Do you remember the series?)
I had an amazing uncle-in-law (my wife’s uncle) who in his seventies, looked after his ailing wife who became bed ridden, incontinent and who, because of her failing mind, eventually failed to recognise him. But he carried on looking after her for ten years at home, refusing to put her into a home, until she finally passed away. But I have a feeling that if we had been a fly on the wall during those ten years, we would have had a Ray Vecchio “Oh no!” response more than a few times.
Now here’s the amazing thing about the human race: we can feel squeamish about little creatures and yucky circumstances, but when it comes to love, we can patiently, gently and lovingly do the necessary cleaning up without the “Oh no!” response. So I dedicate this page to all those carers and nurses who look after those of us in this silver-surfer generation who, through no fault of our own, could be the cause of an “Oh no!” response in the rest of us, but instead they lovingly and gently care. Thank you!
Quote: “Love is not a feeling. Love is an action, an activity... Genuine love implies commitment .... true love is an act of will that often transcends ephemeral feelings of love”
(Souce: Scott Peck)
11. All Creatures Great and Horrible
I recently saw someone almost climb up a wall in their desperation to get away from a spider. I was put in mind of a TV programme I saw some while ago, the Magicians, on Saturday night TV, and the reason it came back to mind was that one of them was working with Rolf Harris doing some street magic and in it he had a number of girls, (I think it was all women), who held their palm upright and at the end of what he was doing he told them to turn their hand over and they had a spider sticking to the back of their hand. The results were very predictable. Every one, in some measure or other, screamed. No one peered with interest and said calmly, “Oh, look, a spider, how interesting and how clever.” No, instant revulsion!