Six Degrees of Jaroslav Flegr and Belle and Sebastian

The interwebs were a-buzzing last week when the viral dream team of cats, parasites, and mind control converged in The Atlantic’s story about Czech biologist Jaroslav Flegr and his research into toxoplasmosis. Margaret and I read the column, were duly appreciative, and noted that we weren’t cat people ourselves (my family, while I was growing up, had one cat, Tina Mina, for a few years) so the odds of our having toxo were somewhat diminished.
This morning, Stuart David’s song ‘The Spider Man’ came up on my iTunes random shuffle; he used to play bass for Belle and Sebastian, and has for a while been recording under the band name Looper. ‘The Spider Man’ was on Looper’s first EP (which you can now download for free!); it caught my attention because the song begins by narrating the singer’s walk home

Straight up University Avenue, then right on Byres Road.
And at the top I turn onto Observatory, then down the lane and home.
I don’t even think about it anymore,
I just start walking and twenty minutes later I’ll find myself there.

which closely parallels our own walk back to our flat at the end of the day (David presumably envisions the subject of the song as either a student or staff member at the University of Glasgow). So that delighted me; if I knew what David looked like, I might give him a ‘Heya’ when our paths cross. (We may have another indirect connection, since I’m busily vying for the title of Mayor of Dowanhill Park with Gavin Dunbar, the bass player of Camera Obscura, one of my favourite Scottish bands — but I don’t know if the two West End bass players are acquainted.)
‘The Spider Man’ then goes on to note that ‘A few nights ago I went into Barrets [a Byres Road stationers, where Margaret and I also shop] to buy the newspaper I always buy’, but he discovers that instead he has bought a science magazine that includes a feature about Polysphincta gutfreundi, the wasp whose larvae inhabit and ‘possess’ the orb spiders in which they gestate — the same wasp-and-spider to which The Atlantic compares T. gondii.
I’m not sure that all means anything particular, but the earworm in my brain instructed me to post about it.

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