Saturday, 15 May 2010

Long Ears and Furry Feet

You may be aware that I harbour a theory about squirrels.

To recap, squirrels have a political agenda. World domination is on their hive mind. I’m seen them loitering in groups. I’ve heard that they mugged a dog in St Petersburg. There is organisation in their ranks, and there’s probably a great big squirrel wearing an eyepatch and smoking a cigar in a treetop bunker, conducting operations and demanding to be addressed as Herr General (or should that be Hairy General? Apologies…)

But I’m not interested in squirrels right now. It’s a different critter I wish to bring to your attention.


Rabbits are the equivalent of communists in 1950s America. They are infiltrating our culture, poking their fluffy little noses into film and literature, and infecting it with their hoppy little ideas.

If squirrels are the army of the rodent kingdom’s war against humanity, then rabbits are the intelligentsia.

Sometimes they promote their agenda blatantly. Think of Donnie Darko. A great big scary rabbit starts visiting some teenager somewhere. Why? Who knows? Not me, not you, and maybe not even the writer (that sicko bunny sympathiser). But what you’re seeing is rampant rabbit propaganda. Be scared of us! Beware! We can visit your children at night and mess with their heads!

And this is not a lone incident – think of Harvey. A huge invisible rabbit in that one. Think of North. Well, don’t think of it for too long, in case you get depressed about the trajectory of Bruce Willis’s career, but just cast your mind over the rabbity element of that motion picture. Think of Fatal Attraction, Bambi and Who Framed Roger The Proverbial… The proportion of bunny-related films is far greater than one might reasonably expect to find, when you compare it to the coverage the rest of the animal kingdom receives. For instance, insects rule the planet population-wise. There are bazillions of little crawlie thingies. But they aren’t interested in us humans. They aren’t secretly writing screenplays and getting them made under pseudonyms. That’s why there are no films about invisible cockroaches and strange men in praying mantis costumes.

But Hollywood isn’t even the real problem. It’s in the written word that the extent of the infiltration becomes evident. Take John Updike. Let’s Wiki him:

John Hoyer Updike (born March 18, 1932) is an American writer born in Shillington, Pennsylvania.

Sounds innocuous enough, doesn’t it?

Updike entered Harvard University on a full scholarship. He served as president of the Harvard Lampoon before graduating summa cum laude (he wrote a thesis on George Herbert) in 1954 with a degree in English before joining The New Yorker as a regular contributor.

Bully for him.

But it’s his books that give him away as a rodent sympathiser.

Updike's most famous works are his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered).

I rest my case. Not one, but five books about the carrot-munching enemy. See how literature has fallen into their hands? And don’t even get me started on Watership Down.

Yet it’s in the world of fantasy that rabbits have lived up to their reputation and multiplied extensively. JRR Tolkein has a lot to answer for. Let’s examine the evidence we find in Middle Earth:

-Hobbits live in burrows under the ground (like rabbits)
- Hobbits have hairy feet (hair is a bit like fur, found on rabbits)
- Elves have long ears (like rabbits)
- Elves can hear things over long distances (ditto)
- Dwarves are called dwarves (like dwarf rabbits)
- Dwarves live underground (see earlier point)
- wizards can be white, grey, brown or blue (rabbits can be white, grey or brown – and Peter Rabbit lost his blue coat in Mr Mcgregor’s garden. Coincidence? I think not.)

And I’m just getting warmed up here. Methinks JRR must have been made an offer he couldn’t refuse by the Rabbit Promotion League.

I’ve exhausted myself now.

I had a rabbit once, you know. He was called Flopsy, but Woundwort would have been more fitting. He was the mad-eyed monster of our back garden: impossible to control, and terrifying to behold. Whenever we approached him he would rear up on his hind legs and grunt viciously. Eventually we left him to live under the rose bush – the demon in the thorns, one might say – and we all stayed in the house as much as possible. But at least he kept the garden free from other predators. Lord knows how many burglaries he foiled.

One day Flopsy simply disappeared, taken by El-ahrairah, no doubt (look it up). Or maybe he found his niche with the squirrels, and went off to organise their juntas. I wonder if Flopsy shaped my attitude towards rodents, though. Maybe, without his influence, I’d still be thinking of them as cute little hoppers. But, as things stand, I have to say three cheers for Mixie. At least the government tried to stop them from proliferating.

Perhaps, in years to come, we’ll be saying, in best Dune fashion (another rodent-influenced work, for what does Maud-Dib mean? Oh yes…) –

They tried and failed?
They tried and died.

But by then we’ll be under the direct control of the squirrels, anyway. Bury your nuts for winter, my friends. It’s going to be a loooong, cold one.


David Isaak said...

Actually, rabbits aren't really rodents. They're lagomorphs.

Now a capybara--that's a Rodent of Unusual Size.

Aliya Whiteley said...

I love capybaras. Apparently they taste good too.

Boo on the lagomorph thing. Science brings me down.

Not really.

David Isaak said...

"Lagomorph" is a really weird word for describing them, since if my Greek is up to speed (it isn't), their name means "shaped like a rabbit." Which is a bit circular and unhelpful.

(Unless its from Spanish, and means "shaped like a lake...")

On the other hand, the lagomorphs include pikas, which are distressingly cute. No one could dislike a pika, even if they do sound like something to do with a printer's font.

Aliya Whiteley said...

Q: 'What's a pika?'
A: 'I don't know... what's a pika with you?'