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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Go Bananas!

Many years ago my son worked, for short time, in a banana factory in Kent. The company were major importers of bananas from all over the word. He was involved with a labelling program and with bar codes. It was a wonderful place to work - the people were so pleasant and so helpful.

As the bananas came onto the conveyor belt one person had the unenviable task of looking out for `things’. Occasionally a tarantula would be hiding in a bunch of bananas. Identification was necessary - as was disposing of the creature.

This brings to mind the strange sickness that stuck the southern Italian port of Taranto. It was said to be caused by the bite of the tarantula spider, and the only cure was to dance wildly and sweat out the spider’s poison. (It has to be held in mind that this was before the days of `step’ and `running machines’ in gyms. Otherwise the spider may have been called a Reebok or a Puma. Who knows?)

The special dance was called the tarantella - and composers developed special music to celebrate the death defying nature of the dance.

It is sad to think that in the pre Christian era that Taranto was a cult centre for the rites of the Greek God Dionysus and the Roman Bacchus. It is possible, therefore, that the rites included drunken and frenzied dancing.

On receiving the results please do not let your 11+ child know these last facts about the dance. We would much prefer the modest eleven year old to think that the celebratory dance around the kitchen table was due more to defying death by a spider than to mum’s extra glass of wine.

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