The day I got hypnotherapy at London Zoo
When I was a child I had quite serious arachnophobia. Now, given that we spent almost every weekend at my grandparents’ house in the New Forest, which was basically Babington House for spiders, this was not super easy. In fact, I was so scared and my fear was so upsetting/irritating for my family that when I was 9 years old my grandmother took me for hypnotherapy at London Zoo. Seriously. True story. In fact I remember it very vividly: sitting in one of their huge lecture theatres, just me, my grandmother and a lot of clearly very traumatised adults. I remember one woman who spoke at the beginning of the session (we all had to describe our fear, something about how verbalisation and vocalisation had the power to fight the power of fear. yup.) She told us that everything in her house was white. Everything! So she could see a potential spider lurking around the place. She also said she hoovered the house almost hourly. Again, cause of those little eight legged monsters. So just to reiterate – massively traumatised adults.
My grandmother, as is her way, spent most of the session whispering to me, probably about the aforementioned adults. But something must have worked as the next thing I know I’m standing in the Arachnids room with a giant bird eating spider clumsily splayed across my clammy childhood palms. There is picture evidence of this somewhere but my tenth year wasn’t my finest so I’ll hold back on that one.
Anyway! As as result I am no longer particularly scared of Tarantulas – even in the wild, saw quite a few in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and was totally insouciant about it. I am however, still not terribly keen on the little ones. Success.
So that’s my spider story, and here is another, possibly more interesting one. Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley explaining how they ended up making the largest piece of spider silk cloth in the world.
Made from the silk of more than one million orb-weaver spiders. My 9 year old self is trembling.
Golden Spider Silk is on show at the V&A until June 5.
Photo credit: Suki Dhanda for the Observer