This is another of the whacky but insightful blogs written by my brother Blaine. All grievances arising from the mischaraterisation of moles and their evil intent should be addressed to the author himself as he is the one who maligns them mercilessly perhaps in his frustration in his hopeless quest to eradicate the pesky moles from his Plumstead home.
The Cape dune mole-rat, or Bathyergus suillus to give it its proper name, might be cute and cuddly to some with its soft fur, but it is a menace. This blighter grows to over 30cm long and weighs up to 1.5kg. This is a mole on steroids. This is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of moles and is only found in the western and southern areas of South Africa. In particular it is a plague in the soft sandy areas of the Cape Flats, of which Plumstead where I live forms part of. They are like piles: they are extremely irksome, difficult to get rid of and have a habit of coming back. If let loose in your garden, your prize petunias, cleverly arranged clivias and herbaceous borders dotted with the odd dope plant will soon be trashed and unresurrectible. Short of dropping a tactical nuclear bomb on them, the only other remedy is to pave the whole garden over.
Last year I waged a war against one of these terrorists with what I thought was success. Unfortunately, like Arnold who famously said, “I’ll be back!”, he did come back. On the morning of 12 October to be precise. I was dutifully do-doing my distasteful daily doggy poo parade when I turned the corner of my house and there it was – not a molehill, but a mountain.
Main picture: Moley revealed ready to destroy another suburban garden
It was the early hours of a cool and quiet spring morning when, armed to my teeth, I cautiously stuck my head out of the underground tunnel within the security walls of the settlement. My aim was to cause random acts of destruction leaving behind numerous bomb-like craters in the cultivated fields as evidence of my work and the impotence of the Settlers before disappearing underground again. My comrades and I have been conducting a low intensity guerilla war against the illegal Settler occupation for years making use of an extensive underground tunnel system and the cover of darkness to perform our deeds of derring-do. Normally we are undetected, but occasionally we come across a guard dog busy with his derring-do-do. I had kept a low profile during the winter after the tremendous battles of the previous summer which had seen the tunnels routinely flooded, blocked, collapsed, gassed and subjected to biological warfare. Now it was time for the big Spring Offensive.
The Borough is a molluscracy. It is led a by a hard-bitten matriarch, named Mollusc, with a tough hide like a carapace. She has surrounded herself with a particularly obsequious praise singer going by the name of Molasses; a Finance minister, Emolument; her General Secretary, Moleskine, who always walks around with a fancy notebook; and finally her Defence Minister, Molotov, an unstable character who tends to explode after a few too many cocktails – a mole to be avoided. She runs the place with a bureaucratic iron paw. Take the case of the ambitious real estate developer who built this triple storey burrow system without planning permission. Without so much as a by your leave, she summarily called in Demolition to destroy it.
Just the other night, I ruminated on my extended family while I gently burped after scoffing a few juicy roots chased down by a couple of fat succulent bugs. Overall I have a great family. Of sorts. Of course, no family is perfect and the Molville Road branch is no exception. Right at the top is my hero, Molybdenum, an iron-willed, indestructible warrior with unalloyed old-world virtues. Then there is Molten the hot number whose heart melts as she swoons at the sight of scarred warriors returning from battles with the Settlers. She is well put together with her long pointy nose which twitches in most bewitching ways. She has little beady eyes black like beauty spots combined with a petite bosom, streamlined flanks and pert hindquarters. This should be enough to get any self-respecting male to want to sweep her off her dainty little paws and to build her a warren palace complete with tunnels going everywhere and more just for show. Unfortunately they are largely blind to her charms as moles naturally are.
Talking of the female variety, there are the Molls, a bunch of gangster groupies who hang out with Molestation and the Bad Boyz. They are blowsy, and with overdone siren red lips and extra-long painted fingernails. They won’t give you the time of day unless you look dangerous, smoke dried and crushed roots, have a couple of tats and talk funny like starting most sentences with, “Yo!” and use the word “like” a lot.
Then there is the gregarious Moldable, the local squeeze who hangs out at the Molin Rouge. She’s not known for her high kicking but rather for other things involving her legs – enough said.
Mollycoddle is everyone’s favourite nanna. She’s always ready with a treat of a juicy bug from her private stash for the young uns. For the older moles, she has a kindly word and gives them a matronly hug with her comfortable body and short stubby arms when they’re feeling down.
Then there are some strange characters like Molehill. Every time there’s small cave-in, Molehill runs around in a panic shouting the ground’s falling on our heads. He’s always making a big deal of every- thing.
But the most popular guy is Molinex, the gadget man. He seems to have a tool for everything, whether it be to blitz grubs into a delicious smoothie or to chop up and blend various roots into a tasty dip, particularly those that Guacamole likes to make.
The cute little tykes in the nursery don’t get names until we find out what kind of moles they are going to turn out to be. Until then they are just called Molecules. The one little guy that we got hopelessly wrong was Molly. He was the cutest kid in the Borough and we thought the name appropriate. Suddenly one day they came out and said that they wished to be called Miss Molly from then on and took to flouncing around with feather boas and a bit of a bum wiggle down the burrows while petitely sipping a Bud Light. This caused much dissension, especially among the older generation, and it took all the skills of Mollify to calm the situation down. He’s a great guy to have around when guys who are afraid of the light have panic attacks or when other colonies encroach on our Borough. For some, the name, Miss Molly, would stick in the craw like those horrible roots we were forced to eat by our moms for roughage to make us regular. As a compromise we took to just calling them Golly, as in Golly Miss Molly, on a suggestion by Mollify, and all was calm again.
Right at the bottom of the gnawing post are Molt and Moldy. The former constantly looks like a moth-eaten rug particularly after rubbing himself vigorously against the post. The latter has a disagreeable skin condition requiring him to wear mitts to avoid scratching himself to death and a gasmask to stop himself from passing out from his own smell. He’s a useful guy to have around with his gasmask as our Borough is often under a gas attack, although banned by the UN (Underground Nations).
These creature rights abuses are perpetrated, by large strange creatures upstairs who worship the Sun and are afraid of the dark. They hate us because of religious differences as we worship the Moon. When I can pluck up the courage to peek outside in the bright blinding light through a piece of brown beer bottle glass, I often see them lying on the ground in a trancelike state below their Sun god having first rubbed strange glistening lotions onto all parts of their bodies. This ritual also seems to require as few body wrappings as possible. Ugh, the sight of that furless white skin unsettles me for days. I struggle to unsee it. They try to creep up on us but we can hear them coming a mile off, particularly Seismology who can hear a twig drop at 500 (mole) paces or a caterpillar scratch its bum at 20.
Being Moon worshippers, we often catch a quick moontan in between underground shifts but Full Moon is our most sacred time. Our Mollahs call us to prayers using megaphones made by rolling a leaf into a cone. We go outside and adorn ourselves with little buds and things and perform various rituals whilst bathed in the moonbeams. Cosmology doesn’t believe in all that and just lies on his back studying the stars, wondering if there is more to life than just blindly burrowing around. He also has this weird theory that the moon doesn’t fall on us because it’s held up by a piece of string. He is Uncertain about that but calls it his String Theory anyway. No one listens to him except his great friend, Etymology, who knows the meaning of everything except life.
Where the others are content with the safe pastime of destroying pavements in the non-aligned territories, I, Humus, the chosen one, undertake dangerous underground assignments into Settlers’ properties. My particular target and nemesis resides at 96 Molville Road.
The game is apaw as Sherlock H. Moles once famously said.