Flies converged on the tiles; they covered the table and the dishes on it; they landed on plates, whilst forks took food to mouths. They hovered and swarmed, before entangling themselves in our hair. It was a typical Sunday lunchtime outside on the terrace.
“Even in the sheep barn there aren’t this many” grumbled my husband, as he lifted the fly swat for the fiftieth time, before bringing it down on a group of flies that had convened for dinner on a breadcrumb. I surveyed the table and realized that we were not only losing the battle, but also the war, as we did every time we decided to barbecue. The smell and heat of the food produced the same effects on flies, as free tickets to a concert would have on adoring fans: they came out in throngs, packed themselves into a confined space, and tried to get as close to the action as possible without being squashed.
Sticky fly paper dangled from the beams above the table, the latest effort in our insect bashing crusade. I noticed that it was already peppered black and painfully inadequate; although even if it had been the length of a toilet roll, I still doubt that it would have been sufficient. We were, outnumbered by thousands to one and no sprays, electric fly killers or sticky paper was going to change that.
My son, who had already finished eating, was racing along the patio on his roller-skates, swat in hand, taking pot shots at anything that flew. In front of him, clouds of flies rose from the warm terracotta floor tiles before settling back down on the table. I sighed. The never-ending ‘fly problem’ it seemed, was here to stay.