Jumpers for goalposts. Juice and bits. Hide and seek. Hundreds and thousands.
The tender cacophony of the ice cream van as it beckons cheery children from their stately homes, distributing dairy products, heart attacks and nostalgia in equal measure.
The sweet smell of freshly cut grass as it lays strips up and down the fields, and invades the nostrils of your friends as they curse their Hay Fever affliction.
The glorious splendour of the setting sun as it scatters celestial orange light above and beyond what little cloud remains in the sky.
The British summer is a wonderful thing.
But as darkness comes and the sun cowers behind the horizon, the night lurches toward us. With it come all the horrors of the heat.
A British summer summons beasts even a long winter in Westeros could not muster. Beasts without mercy, without understanding and without regard for their own safety. They pillage the sanctuary of our homes. They plunder our personal space. Then they rape our rights as people.
It begins innocuously enough. After going upstairs I pick up my toothbrush and casually make my way to the bathroom. I push open the door, turn on the light, and immediately depart. I shut the door tight behind me and swiftly make my way to the solitude of my chambers. For what was revealed to me froze me to my very core.
You would be forgiven for thinking I entered the bathroom only to be welcomed by blood-spattered walls and the dissected remains of my immediate family strewn around the floor, their heads swinging from their spinal chords, wrapped around the shower curtain rail, as Predator sat laughing on the toilet seat.
No, what was revealed to me was far, far worse than this – a great, big, fat, fuck-off moth.
I am mottephobic. I fear and loathe these creatures. The aggressive fluttering of their ragged wings as they arbitrarily circle any artificial light in the vicinity. The way their dark silhouettes cast sinister shadows on everything beneath as they hug the ceilings like the bastard children of Dracula and Regan MacNeil. The way they incinerate into little more than dust as they are met by whatever I have scrounged to throw at them. I hate everything about these pre-apocalyptic plagues.
The smaller moths are little more than an annoyance. Simple henchmen that we encounter throughout the many levels of life. Goombas that simply have to be jumped upon in order to progress. But just like a 16-bit videogame, as the colour palette of the moth alters, so too does their difficulty to defeat.
They become bigger, more agile, more aggressive. It is this that I fear. The larger moths are the end-of-level bosses we must constantly battle. They are Bowser. They are Ganondorf. They are Metal Gear Rex.
These moths cannot simply be attacked. To do so would be foolish. These battles require the configuration of tactics and strategy, and then the summoning of courage to carry out such a procedure.
After finding the valour within my soul to do battle with this nocturnal nightmare, I make my move toward the bathroom. I push open the door, only for the kamikaze creature to begin violently circling the light. It taunts me, daring me to enter. I recognise this moth. It is the same moth that I had epically battled several days prior. It’s back for more, and this time it’s personal.
It soars like a drunken eagle on a calamitous flight path, colliding with everything in sight. I edge my way in, clutching my electronic toothbrush in one hand, like Andúril, the sword of Aragorn, and an assortment of underwear and socks in the other.
I see the demon on the opposite wall, twitching like an epileptic rabbit. My feet dance beneath me as I steady myself for the approaching attack. The monster leaps from the wall, and with my feet set, I launch the underwear in its direction, slamming it against the tiled wall.
As the fabric fell the creature was nowhere to be seen. It had disappeared. Fallen twitchlessly into non-existence. I waited some time until it seemed clear before making the risky decision to urinate. I knew this left me vulnerable. For if it were to attack now I’d have no choice but to abort my plan and begin recklessly waving my pork-sword in a vain attempt to slay the beast.
I did everything from the far corner of the room. The furthest I could be form the demon’s last known location, only occasionally leaning into the sink to collect water. Luckily it did not attack and I was able to complete my hygienic rituals unharmed. It was over. For now. But had I not subdued this foul spawn of Satan, rest assured I would have happily bygone any hygienic activity for weeks until the winged bastard had ceased.
Moths exploit a climatological loophole within British summer. Due to the sticky sweatstorm that befouls the country for a few weeks a year, Britons are forced to leave every door, window and orifice of the house wide open. Granting every Dustox, Mothim, Venomoth and Volcarona an invitation to invade our privacy and land on our laptop screens. We might as well hang out neon signs encouraging their admittance.
The moth menace forces us into a horrendous dilemma. We either sweat every drop of moisture from our calcified cadavers or we have to endure the harakiri horrorpalooza of an aerial assault. For most this isn’t a problem. For me this is genuinely frightening.
The origin of my mottephobia remains a mystery to me. There are many examples of Lepidopteran invasions within our culture. They appear both on and in our screens, and each may have contributed to my fears. Be it the Bug Catchers’ moths of Johto repeatedly inflicting status problems on my Pokémon, the Floatstinger of Silent Hill, the Death’s-head Hawkmoth of The Silence of the Lambs or the Mothman Prophecies of Point Pleasant. They’re all out there, and they taint the summer with a terror I cannot overcome.
Summer days drifting away, to those summer nights.
Those fright nights.
Those moth nights.