I don’t like snakes. In fact I like them even less than Indiana Jones. I know snakes are not actually moist and slippery, but they give me the impression of being repulsively slimy, slithering evilly towards their virginal Eve and taking credit for the human race’s hankering for sex. Consequently I avoid any contact with them, which usually isn’t too difficult what with me being an unmitigated townee - in the cinema I’m the one hiding under the seat when they appear on the screen!
From Eve’s encounter with Sammy the sneaky snake in the Garden of Eden to Kaa in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, snakes play a sly and devious role in life (if you can believe Genesis) and in its cinematic equivalent. And to prove my point, snake and sneak not only use the same letters, but also enjoy the same etymological origins. That can’t be a coincidence can it?
Last year, when Bulgari launched its Serpenti watch collection, despite the fact that this beautifully crafted watch was in 18 carat pink gold and set with round brilliant-cut diamonds, it was reptilian in appearance and therefore a no-no as far as I was concerned.
To eliminate the thoughts of this reptilian timepiece, as is my wont, I made one of my regular pilgrimages to Menton via Nice. Thumbing through the in-flight magazine on my way down, a sub-title caught my eye: ‘Five strange spa experiences’. There was a Beer Bath in Prague, a Hay Bath in Innsbruck, Vinotherapy in Bordeaux, a Dr Fish in Bodrum, Turkey, where people immerse themselves in pools of water and let little fish nibble away at their dead skin and finally, joy of joys, a Snake Spa in Tel Aviv where lunatics from the genus Homo sapiens actually pay good money to have snakes massage them by slithering over their bodies. Yuk! Who comes up with ideas like that?
I arrived in Menton a trembling wreck so I resorted to an ancient recipe for dismissing unpleasant things from the mind whereby you mix large quantities of scotch with small quantities of water in an effort to forget about the snake massage. The next day, I continued to imbibe despite my normal embargo on letting alcohol pass my lips before five o’clock and by early evening, when some friends arrived I was all smiles. Aware of my usual self-imposed habit of daytime abstention, Big Jake asked, “Why are you drinking so early in the day?”
“To forget!” I told him with a grin as wide as that of a Cheshire cat.
“To forget what?” he asked. “I can’t remember!” I told him in all honesty.
The following morning, I made my way down the stairs and rather unsteadily opened the shutters of the living room, blinked at the harsh sunlight and stepped out onto the terrace. I took a deep breath, looked around and sauntered over to where a piece of rope was lying on the ground – except it wasn’t a piece of rope, it was a bloody snake!
Moving faster than Ben Johnson’s drug-fuelled 100 metres, I’d locked the terrace door and, trembling like a newborn leaf, glared through the glass pane at the monstrous intruder. Showing a hitherto unknown courage, I took a very long twig from the fireplace, opened the door and tentatively poked the snake hoping it had died of fright. Unhappily, it raised its head, flashed its tiny fangs and let out a timorous hiss. Needless to say I was back indoors so quickly I broke the world record for sprinting five metres backwards.
After much conjecture and using my newly discovered Herculean strength, it took three logs of firewood, dropped from a great height, before the snake bit the proverbial dust. Needless to say, I have since been accused of being a murderer and a barbarian, but what would you do confronted by snake you don’t know? Eve I ain’t, and anyway I’d look ridiculous wearing a fig leaf!
Which reminds me of a story about a snake that goes to an optician complaining of poor eyesight. “Try these spectacles,” said the optician, “and come back in a couple of weeks and let me know if they’ve helped.” Ten days later, the snake returned looking rather depressed. “What’s wrong, aren’t the spectacles any good?” asked the optician.
“Yes, they’re fine. It’s just that I discovered I’ve been sleeping with a hosepipe for the last couple of years!”
Well, you’ve got to laugh haven’t you?
Photos: SERPENTI watch collection by Bulgari
Source: Europa Star June - July 2010 Magazine Issue