There's really no need to be Anxious

Disasters always know who to pick. Thus it was, this summer in India, that the morning cry of ‘Mummy, there's a spider in my tent,' always came from Matilda the Arachnophobe.

Every morning I crawled around the canvas in pursuit of tiny beasties attempting nothing more sinister than to find their own way out. It was only ever Matilda, so I formed the view that everyone had spiders; the difference was that Matilda noticed them.

I was wrong. Two weeks into our trip, stranded by Ladakhi floods on a gradually eroding island in the Markha Valley, wondering how long our food would last and when the rescue helicopter would arrive, Matilda’s usual morning shriek went up.

‘Mummy, there’s a giant spider in my tent!’

‘In a minute,’ said I, watching a particularly fragile mountainside start to slip into the river only 100 yards away. I had, I felt, more important things on my mind than microscopic creepy crawlies.

Besides, the last enormous spider specifically to target Matilda was actually an ant. I sighed.

I expect you’ve guessed. It was a tarantula. Large, female, and very nervous.

It was probably the only surviving tarantula in flooded Ladakh, and it was in Matilda’s tent, brandishing its bottom at us. I realised at last that my daughter is a spider God. They follow her wherever she goes; it’s that simple.

We rescued them from each other, but I was reminded of the experience yesterday, whenMrs Anxious came for a check up. She told me she worries that worrying gives you cancer.

Well it doesn’t, I told her, prodding thoroughly, and then I found a lump. Mrs Anxious, despite its benign characteristics, had to be peeled off the ceiling and was not consoled by the tarantula story. She said it simply proved her point.

Dr Selby is a GP in Suffolk. You can write to her at

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