Tales of Bees and Blood

Bee on a string
Image from https://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/bee-on-a-string

Mateo doesn’t talk much, but occasionally he just won’t stop. Today was one of those days and I got to hear some great stories of life in the Basque country.


…one of my favourites was about how when he was young, Mateo would get some extra thin fishing wire, tie it around a bumble bee, and the bee would fly along beside him on the end of the wire like a balloon or an upside down dog. Occasionally the bee would get tired and sit on his shoulder, but after a while he would flick it and it would fly up on the end of the wire again.


He also told us a story about his dad playing as a kid.

‘When my dad was eight, he and his friend didn’t have any toys. So his friend would swing around this thing.’ Mateo mimed something swinging round. ‘And my dad would jump over it.’

‘You mean a skipping rope?’ I suggested.

‘A stick? A pole?’ said Dan.

‘No you use it to cut corn,’ said Mateo. ‘And Death has one.’

‘A scythe? They’d jump over a scythe?’ asked Dan, slightly high-pitched, as we start to realise where this might be going.

‘Yes,’ said Mateo. ‘But then it went wrong and he didn’t jump at the right time. So the scythe went into his leg. And it was deep, you know. Like muscles and tendons cut, and blood everywhere. I saw the scar and it went half way round his leg. But this was during the Spanish civil war and there were no doctors around, so my dad went back to his dad. His dad got a load of vinegar and a load of salt and filled the hole in his leg and then sewed it up with a needle and thread.’

Me and Dan were wincing quite a lot by this point.

‘It was weird too, eh?’ went on Mateo. ‘Because if you get a cut that deep, and cut the tendons, it shouldn’t ever recover. Your leg is never ok again. But he was fine, all he had was the scar .’

27 thoughts on “Tales of Bees and Blood

  1. So, slightly unconnected, but true. I once cut off the end of my thumb at the first knuckle. I was rushed into hospital and they sewed it back on. Everything worked perfectly well, but it was completely numb until one day, I would say probably thirty years later, when it suddenly became very very hot indeed. So hot that I was beginning to panic. And then it stopped and the feeling had returned. I have always presumed the sudden heat was the result of the last fibre of nerve fusing back together after all those years. The body is amazing at doing amazing stuff – but when it is half-full of salt & vinegar… Wow! PS. Can an upside dog fly on a wire?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woah! Amazing thumb recovery skills! You’d think after thirty years it would settle into being numb. I find that very reassuring.
      PS. It depends how strong the wire is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amazing how useful sensation is in a thumb – especially when pushing in drawing-pins in a dark room… I rather think that my body was just being bloody-minded in holding it back for so long.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh god, no. I never text and walk. Mostly I have to sit down. If I am upright, I generally have to lean against something. The part of me that gets the greatest exercise whilst texting is my mouth…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ha ha! I have only just understood the PS (thicko!) A really rigid wire and an inert dog would work ok with a chihuahua or one of those other skinny rat-like canines, but how would you hold a St Bernard? It would probably involve one of those ‘invisible’ supports, like the ones used by those geezers who spray paint themselves silver and scare schoolkids to death for money. It would certainly have impact – especially if you walked into it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. What if you were jumping a scythe on a moving train? I bet Trump could do it! Can we double dare him?
      Your firefly balloon idea creates a beautiful image πŸ˜€


      1. Double Dutch! I remember that song! I now have it stuck in my head! Luckily it was a good song. Just tell Trump that Biden already did it, but he only used a blunt scythe.

        FFB. It could be a thing where YOU are, Darnell!


  2. Eeeuw. Wish I wasn’t having my cereals while reading this.

    When I lived in Hong Kong in the 50s it was possible to buy flying insects on strings just as Mario describes, and I think they may even have been gaudily painted or had fake jewellery attached to them: I have a notion they were cicadas, though I wouldn’t swear to it. As a pre-teen I even then thought it cruel but was nevertheless fascinated.


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