I think it’s wasp season. Wasp season sounds like a very low-budget British version of ‘Shark Week’; the centrepiece of which would be a two-hour live show in which Kriss Akabusi races a wasp.
But I think it’s wasp season because I’ve just had a fight with the biggest wasp I’ve ever seen. My wife is Australian, and because of this likes to pretend that the insects are so big over there they used to ride them to school. And although ultimately I won against the venomous beast, I also lost, because as I smacked it against the window I let out a very shrill scream indeed.
I feel this was a scream that took away from my victory somewhat.
I was just worried I was going to misstrike and the wasp was going to come at me, because wasps look vindictive and this one didn’t have anything better to do.
Post-scream, I resolve never to battle again with a rolled-up newspaper. It was the newspaper’s fault. It’s unprofessional equipment and I looked amateurish.
So I go online to order a fly swat, which I’m proud to say just won Britain’s Most Boring Online Purchase 2017. But I am excited when I find one which is more than a simple fly swat.
It’s a swatter… with a built in electric charge!
It’s a swatter-zapper! How come I didn’t know these existed? They seem very useful. I’d happily wear one round town, in case of trouble. They’d be great for fending off my mortal enemies. A couple of swift slaps to a goon or henchman’s cheeks from arm’s length and I’m gone in the blink of an eye, leaving them slapped and zapped, with singed eyebrows and a smoking trilby!
The only risk would be if they mistook that sharp tang of electricity in the air for love.
But with a swatter that can swat and zap, it’s like I’m a video-game character with my own special move.
When it arrives a day or two later, though, I am very surprised that I did not at the time fully take in what it was called.
It makes me feel uncomfortable.
Written all over this fly swatter is the name…
I hold it in my hands, feeling the weight of its power. In that moment I am no longer Danny Wallace. I am Thor with his hammer. That little scream by a window, and the way my feet instinctively danced on the floor in case the wasp tried to sting them both – that was my origins story.
Fair enough, The Executioner is quite a pompous name for what looks like a small orange squash racquet. But now that I have it, I realise it does not play to who I thought I was as a man.
Part of me convinced myself the electric charge element might be to somehow dispatch these winged beasts in a more humane way. But I think actually it is just there to make me feel more powerful.
“Behold!” I could yell, leaping and swishing through the air. “The power of two AA batteries!”
And then I’d knock my flying nemesis out of the air and on to the ground.
“You’re really bugging me out,” I’d laugh, standing above it before raising The Executioner for the final strike, as lightning pulsed all around me. “I sentence you to death!”
It is hard to imagine me doing any of these things. I’ll happily swat a fly with a newspaper, but to buy something called The Executioner seems far too American.
I’m not even sure I want to be a fly executioner any more. I’m more of a fly negotiator. I’m the guy people would call to come over and talk a fly down. Get to know it, using first names and relatable anecdotes to disarm it.
But now I’m faced to admit that, having bought this, I might just be the man I never wanted to be. One drawn to violence. Now I’m the guy who hears a buzzing sound at dinner, shushes his kids, tells his wife to stay where she is, and then runs to the cupboard to bring out The Executioner. I’m going to need a moustache.
“I’ve got The Executioner!” I would yell at the kids, who would grow up to wonder what it was I lacked as a man that meant I bought this and not the far gentler FlyBeGone or WishyWaspy. But I know I’ll do it wrong. I’ll slap my wife with it, or electrocute a cat. I’ll need to keep it unloaded. A wasp will be buzzing closer and closer to me as I nervously try to fit the AA batteries in like a terrified homeowner trying to load a gun quickly.
So I decide not to use The Executioner on wasps. It’s an unfair fight and feels too calculated. I will respond in the way the British have responded to almost everything for years. With surprise and panic. I will remain true to who I am.
Because I am Danny Wallace and I let out shrill screams when dispatching wasps.
I’ll just keep The Executioner for the goons and the henchmen instead.