I had a reminder on another site the other day about scorpions.
The upstairs part of the Mushtamal was accessed by an outside stairs at one end, running over the bathroom, a block which had been attached to the ground floor. Upstairs a narrow veranda, with a simple wooden balustrade, ran along the whole length of the house. Each room had its own door.
When we moved in Father had all the rooms connected to each other internally by doors or archways. The bedroom which I shared with my elder brother, Stu, [ he's in the picture of the fountain below ] was at the road end of the house, with two windows looking out into the garden and connected to my parents room by a newly inserted door.
The single-storey ex-servants' quarter was across the way with its own outside stairs onto a flat roof which had a very low wall about a foot tall round it. One year, in the pile of wood next to these stairs, we found a shed snake's skin, which sent the hackles up my spine. I could imagine the snake from the length of its ecdysis.
Sleeping arrangements were simple in summer - two sheets. I can remember, as if it were yesterday, lying on my bed in the cool of the afternoon reading Black Beauty from cover to cover. I would have been about seven.
One morning, oblivious to what was scuttling about under my bed, I got out in bare feet, only to jump straight back onto the bed when I saw a black creature running from under one bed to the other. Mine. Screams were issued, Mum appeared and disappeared, then Dad arrived - I can see his dressing-gown and leather slippers now - took off one of his slippers, whack, the creature was dispatched and put in the empty fireplace.
From then onwards my father had gone up in my estimation. Nowadays this was an act that would be called cool by persons of a certain age. It was indeed. I like to think I stored away his sange-froid for use myself one day, perhaps when I too was a father. He certainly went right up in my estimation: not a bad thing for father-son relationships.
Monday 23 August
Iraq has four species of scorpions which include black-tailed
and yellow scorpions
. The most dangerous of these is the death stalker scorpion
whose sting causes extreme pain, paralysis, convulsions and even death.
Snakes in Iraq
The poisonous snakes found in Iraq include black desert cobras
and sand vipers
, but the saw-scaled vipers
which are found throughout Asia and the Middle East are aggressive, ill-tempered and their venom is the most toxic in the world. The venom from a bite from these vipers can break down the circulatory system and cause bleeding from the eyes, nose and ears causing a slow, painful death.
Before Iraq, we lived in Kararchi, Pakistan. The ex-military cantonement where we lived had no roads. We young IAL kids played out in the sand shoeless. It was quite usual to have little yellow coloured scorpions at out feet. Of course we had no knowledge of scorpions and I can't ever remember discussing them with Mum and Dad. They were just part of the scene.