Living Between the Lines

Birthdays, babies, bugs and the Silent Assassin

Summer slips away and Autumn ambles in. We barely notice the change in the weather until we realise another layer is required and it is no longer wise to leave one’s coat at home.
The late summer holiday we spent in Suffolk, has become a treasured, if distant, memory with its brightly coloured beach huts and softly lit fields. Beach huts in Southwold
Softly lit fieldsAll the while, we were wondering if grandchild number five would arrive while we were away. We need not have worried, Florence Bluebell chose to be born on 16th September and what a wonderous thing it is to have a granddaughter.
Her arrival, on the very day we had gathered to say goodbye to a dear, older, friend, was all the more miraculous; the old making way for the new, indeed.

Florence Bluebell

On the 1st September, my mother celebrated her 90th birthday. She had stayed with us for three weeks and fully expected to be able to greet little Florence. Florence had other ideas. Still, at least Zoe managed to join us for a celebratory dinner. We were not in a library. I assure you, those books are part of the wallpaper in the country pub we were visiting.


Looking wonderful
Looking wonderful

It has been quite an emotional month, all in all, so far. That may explain why I am at present, feeling like the Silent Assassin.
It began when I mentioned to one of my daughters that the creepy crawlies in the barn were freaking one of our regular overnight guests out when she stays. Elizabeth pointed me in the direction of a bug bomb.
“They really work!” she enthused.
I duly ordered some.
Today, I shut all the windows and doors in the barn and removed all utensils and items of food. I set the can in the middle of the floor and followed the instructions. (This was not easy as the print was so small that I had had to use a magnifying glass to read it earlier and had resorted to Googling the instructions.) I went back into the house and watched the YouTube video again which clearly showed me what to do. There really is a YouTube for everything, I find.
“Remove the cap and press down firmly then rotate the top in a clockwise direction,”
Back in the barn, I unscrewed the cap and pressed down hard on the top. I didn’t get a chance to rotate; the thing went off like a firework, hissing noxious fumes into the atmosphere. I remembered the next instruction – “vacate the room”.
Having left the bomb for the required two hours, I armed myself with a hand held Dyson and returned.
All was almost eerily quiet. The bomb sat there, benign, exhausted. I looked around, dreading what I might see. At first, I didn’t see much. Then I noticed some tiny bodies on the carpet. I vacuumed them up. I began looking further afield…
Curled up spiders of varying sizes appeared to have dropped from the eaves. I pointed the nozzle at them and blinked back a tear…I kid you not, I felt terrible. As those poor little bodies were sucked into the nozzle, I had to remind myself that this was a kindness to Abigail.
As I reached behind the dressing table, the bottom of the Dyson fell open and the drum emptied onto the floor. This was almost too much for my sensibilities. Trying not to look, I closed the drum and pointed the nozzle bravely at the carnage on the carpet.
Emptying the bomb and its victims into the dustbin, I felt incredibly sad. Yet collecting an enormous spider from the bath, in a glass and throwing it down the lavatory the other day, had given me no such qualms.
I have two more bombs left. Whether I use them or not is open to debate. Maybe I am just not tough enough…
I am not cut out to be a silent assassin it seems.

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Andrea Carlisle

    Oh Deborah, what a soft-hearted soul you are. No wonder I like you so much. I’ve tried these things and they scare the hell out of me. Who says two hours, for example, is enough time to get rid of noxious fumes? How noxious? Where do they go if the doors and windows aren’t open? Your mother looks wonderful. I love the way she dresses to match nearby flowers. 90 sounds so young to me these days. Enjoy every moment you can. And congratulations on little Florence Bluebell. She looks perfect.

  • Debbie

    Thank you Andrea, I shall indeed enjoy every moment. As for the fumes, I assume that after two hours they have lost their potency. I flung open all the windows and doors anyway and left them that way for the afternoon. Florence is gorgeous of course and well worth the wait 🙂

  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie – what a wonderful post – full of delightful information with wonderful names … Florence Bluebell … and Zoe, and Elizabeth … and your mother looks the picture of health – brilliant to ‘meet’ her. Congratulations on 90.

    I didn’t think you could get that sort of thing over here – I used some ‘bomb pellets’ years ago in South Africa … for fleas brought back from the bush. Interesting to know it’s available – yes the silent assassin – glad it worked, and hope it has eliminated all the bad creepies.

    So happy you had lovely few weeks here and there … cheers and enjoy the little soul (which you will – silly mention really!) – Hilary

    • Deborah Barker

      Thank you Hilary, my mother enjoyed her stay and is coming back for a few weeks around Christmas. Meanwhile, the barn seems bug free and I didn’t realise these bombs were available either. Florence is changing every day and little Arthur must be her greatest fan 🙂

  • Teresa

    Congratulations on the birth of beautiful Florence Bluebell – what a gorgeous name. And congratulations to your lovely mum on her 90th birthday.
    I so understand your feelings about the bomb and all the bodies. I can’t kill anything – my houseplants are all infested by those tiny black flies and all I do is sprinkle citronella round and hope they’ll move elsewhere xx

    • Deborah Barker

      We are soft aren’t we Teresa? I’d much rather put a spider outside than kill it. As for Florence Bluebell, yes, a gorgeous name for a gorgeous little girl (and I am not biased of course). I hope your houseplants survive 🙂

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