A feature of television in my youth was the scheduling of what were known as ‘nature’ programmes at an hour when a respectable Scots family would be attacking a high tea.
You would be contemplating a slice of Lorne sausage when the screen would display an antelope meeting an unfortunate end….hyenas going about their unpleasant business would accompany a helping of salmon….even reaching for a potato scone had its risks…
I am sure that warble flies were featured too – how could the BBC resist? – but I had never in all my puff thought that I would come across the human version, the bot fly.
This delightful character captures a mosquito, lays its eggs on it and messes off. The mozzy then bites a human – or other species – and the bot fly eggs enter the wound thus caused.
The eggs then develop under the skin of the host for eight weeks before emerging to pupate.
Sounds innocent doesn’t it and, what is more, the thing exudes a sort of antibiotic which prevents the wound from becoming infected as an infected wound will kill the larva.
I have had one of these delightful visitors myself…and can assure you that it is far from innocent. The damned thing itches like hell and wriggles about like a underclad cabaret dancer seeking a hefty tip.
The local advice is to place a chunk of meat over the wound, stick it on with plaster and wait for the brute to emerge into the meat, but having apocalyptic visions of said meat rotting in situ given tropical conditions, I went to the local clinic instead.
Ah, you need Nurse Evelyn!
Nurse Evelyn seems to be the specialist in everything…
Electrocardiograms? Nurse Evelyn.
Gangrene? Nurse Evelyn.
Bot fly? Nurse Evelyn.
I was summoned to her office and indicated the affected area which was seized in a grip which would rouse envy in a banker foreclosing on a widow and gave up its larva – an unattractive, bloated sort of thing which met its end in the waters of the loo next door.
Unfortunately I was not the only sufferer.
Poor Bunter acquired a mass of the things in his paw, hind legs and tail which defied all the efforts of Danilo to extract them so we took him to the vet.
No effete European customs like making an appointment here: no, the vet, like other professionals, indicates when he will arrive in his office and you form a queue.
Fine for the lawyer, the accountant and the doctor where those present watch the waiting room television, chat or sing as takes their fancy: not so fine for the vet where wary owners laager up in his car park and keep a close eye on potential queue jumpers.
Leo, forgot this cultural feature when refusing an offer of the morning surgery and plumping for the afternoon instead.
We are in the rainy season. It is fine and sunny until noon at which point the clouds open releasing thunder, lightning and torrential rain: no one in their right mind ventures forth unless compelled by necessity which is why, driving up to town, we gave a lift to Don Jose whose need for illicit liquor – guaro – was imperative, having overslept after his previous night’s lucubrations thus missing the noon deadline.
We were early. The car park was empty. The rain bucketed down.
The Men decided to go in search of materials for the house and I waited in the car with Bunter whose normal genial expression had taken on a wary air as he recognised the area.
Bunter does not like visiting the vet.
Bunter objects strongly to so doing .
Still, The Men would return shortly and we would bundle him in between us…
Except that at that point the vet arrived.
Did I wait for The Men to appear and risk a queue forming or did I take Bunter to his office there and then?
If you think it is easy to remove some forty kilos of recalcitrant dog from a car then I suggest that you go about it yourself.
I felt like a cross between Lacoon wrestling the sea serpents and Alice handling the pig baby as, risking a hernia, I dragged him into my arms and staggered to the office.
Ah, said the vet, I wondered how you would manage him…
A general anaesthetic was decided upon to allow a proper examination and it was only when we had him on the table that The Men appeared.
Where were you? We were looking everywhere! You weren’t in the car so we thought you had gone for a walk…
Luckily the vet prevented murder by suggesting that we let him get rid of the larvae so unpleasantness was avoided and matters took their course.
Larvae removed, wounds treated, antibiotic injection, another to inhibit further bot invasion and we left with a bill of about forty quid.
Danilo carried Bunter to the car…in my view a much cushier number than extracting Bunter from said..but there you are. Such is the gender divide.
We encountered Don Jose on the way back.
He had clearly made a start on the contents of his shopping bag but hoisted himself aboard easily enough, careful not to disturb Bunter and asking how things had gone.
Danilo described the problems of getting Bunter into the vet’s office so accurately that I began to wonder if The Men had been holed up somewhere watching it…
Don Jose spoke.
Next time, give him some guaro.
The answer to everything.