Flindt on Friday: Things that go zap in the night

We’re very careful about what we “put through the books” these days.

There was a time – long ago – when Granny Flindt could arrive home from the country store with baskets full of Raspberry Ripple, and it was logged as “repairs and maintenance”. Simpler times.

Our accountant is very strict. Only if it’s used for work does it go through the books, and we can get the VAT back. But I’m not sure what he’d make of my latest expenditure: a 240V insect zapper.

See also: Advice on choosing a farm accounts package

About the author

Charlie Flindt
Charlie Flindt is a National Trust tenant in Hampshire, now farming 40ha of recently “de-arabled” land with his wife Hazel – who still runs a livestock enterprise. He also writes books and plays in a local band.
Read more articles by Charlie Flindt

For several months, I’ve been fighting a losing battle with mosquitoes in the bedroom. The sneaky blighters wait until you’ve settled down and are just dozing off, then make a close pass by your ear.

The instinctive attempt to swat it results in a severe self-administered blow to the side of the head.

Totally unscathed, they wait until you’re asleep, then get to work on whatever bit of body is sticking out above the space-rocket duvet: hands, arms or head.

There’s little pain involved – just a series of half-egg sized lumps that start to itch a day or so later, and get larger and redder when you succumb to the urge to scratch them.

Once upon a time in Hinton Ampner

This is very worrying. What happens if – when – a famous film director calls in to discuss turning the book into Manor Farm – The Movie and wants to run through casting options.

On good days, in the half-light and with enough distance, I could be mistaken for Kenneth Branagh, darlings.

On recent mornings, a post-bender Gerard Depardieu can be seen staring back at me from the bathroom mirror: swollen eyes, cauliflower ears and a bulbous, red, crooked nose (although, if I’m honest, that last one’s totally unrelated to mosquitoes).

The answer is my zapper. It was hard to find – most of the world seemed to have sold out, blaming Covid, the B-word, the Suez Canal or the container shortage.

A couple of places did mention demand, which is interesting. I thought modern agriculture has killed off all the insects.

There was one in Aldershot. I paid online, checked the aged atlas, and had a morning away from the farm to drive up and get my hands on it.

Bedroom sizzle 

I was busy unpacking it – cables, tubes, cage, three-pin plug – when Hazel came in and asked what it was for. “It’s my new toy for the bedroom,” I said.

She looked slightly alarmed. Even my insect-related explanation seemed unconvincing to her – the bug kingdom knows better than to disturb her in her East Wing quarters.

Luckily, I told her that Steven Spielberg had just been on the phone, and wanted to know if she was happy with Rene Russo playing her in the forthcoming blockbuster. That calmed her down.

So far, it has worked well. I tried leaving it on for the first night, and as satisfying as it was to hear the occasional sizzle from the high-voltage mesh, the bedroom was bathed in lurid UV light like some seedy 1980s nightclub.

My Gucci jimjams are dramatic enough without becoming weirdly fluorescent.

It now does afternoons and dark evenings, humming and fizzing away on the bookcase.

I’ve tried to keep tally of its victims, but mosquitoes seem to explode when zapped, and I can’t decide if you divide the number of wings scattered in the tray by two or four. I’ll stick with two to boost the numbers.

And I am bite-free in the mornings. Without a swollen face, I can now see my arrow-straight drill marker lines in the stubbles – and that surely is enough to make it work-related.

Where’s the VAT receipt?