Cradles of jewels, spun in an hour

From New Statesman:

SpiderThe spider and the cleaner work in the same building, not far from each other but solitary in their worlds. The spider spins quietly, tapping and rubbing herself. When the Hoover starts up, she can hear it through her hairs, feeling the sound waves like a wind on her body. She has eight eyes. She may not see in colour but she’s sensitive to tiny movements. There’s something stately about her panic: no noise, no head movement, simply her legs carry her suddenly into hiding. The cleaner on the other hand shouts and steps backwards: “Weird isn’t it, all those legs, very fragile and quite soft. A spider might measure an inch and a half but the mind sees something huge. I must admit, I’m a little bit unnerved by big spiders. Someone told me they bite. I might just pick them up very quickly – you know, grab them with my hand very softly and fling them out the window. I’d never kill one.”

The cleaner has only two eyes. When he’s not cleaning, he paints detailed pictures of invisible worlds. When he cleans, he keeps his eyes tuned to the task. He sees dust, mud, smears, nail clippings, spillages, hairs in plugholes, unpaid bills, kicked-off shoes, all the secret debris of a human. At a certain point he glances at the ceiling and sees cobwebs: “Ah yes, what should you do about webs? Old webs I’ll get rid of, they’re just big balls or twists of dust; and kitchen webs, the more you leave them (and I’m talking years here) the more the whole place becomes a congealment of grease. But fresh webs – I tend to take one and leave another. I make a balancing decision. I try not to get anxious about the ethics of it. There’s the issue of flies, of course. Not hygienic but I have saved flies on occasion. But those webs, when you see them outdoors they’re like cradles of jewels between the gorse – it seems so sad to damage them.”

More here.