The Moles of Endwood

In a hole in Endwood, pacing near the end of a grand banquet table, was the bulging, brooding brow and private school posture of Lord Kent VII: the current leader of the Mole Council. With a snout practically probing Kent’s right arm pit, the sniffling secretary Lord Sussex followed close-by. Across from them, at the other end of the room was the appointed host Lord Mercia trying desperately to avoid getting cornered by an overbearing Lord ‘Wessie’ Wessex. The table was crawling with worms, and there were baked beetles, braised baby mice and of course, the often untouched side salads. The banquet was set for ten, with Kent at the head.

“Brothers! If we could all be seated it would be most preferable.” Began Kent, observing the lack of moles in the room. Each of the present members found their place around table: Sussex sat close to Kent’s right, Wessex occupied the western front and Mercia sat opposite Kent. Each mole was spilling out of their three piece suits, in their own personalised fashion.

“Normally, of course, I would ask Lord Sussex to go through the register as is tradition. However, as notably few of our members have decided to turn up to this most important of meetings, I assume we are in little need of it.”

“Oh, that’s most wise of you, Lord Kent.” Replied Sussex.

“Well, I’m here if that helps!” Burped Wessex, stirring beetles into a bowl of worms.

“Noted.” Sussex gave the distinct impression that he was taking minutes, but to any good eye it would be no more than a few misplaced squiggles.

Kent began the proceedings.

“Now, you should all be well aware of why you’ve been called here today.  Oh and thank you, Lord Mercia for agreeing to host. Us moles have been suffering for many a century under the scrutiny, nay, the oppression of humankind.” Kent took the largest braised baby mouse and held it tight in his paw. “We are gathered today to answer one question: will we wage war on humankind?” With this final word he twitched his nose and scoffed the baby mouse whole, slurping up the tail.

“I-I’d like to begin, if you don’t mind” said the perforated outline of a voice.

“Certainly… Lord Mercia, do go on.” Kent said, preoccupied fighting Sussex over a handful of beetles, which of course, he won.

“Well let me start by saying that um, yes, I agree that err, something needs to happen. We certainly are in need of some kind of errm social reform. Something that will work for every mole. But umm, well I’m just not sure that something is war.” He watched the worms make a desperate attempt for freedom before shovelling some more to his mouth. “We umm…. We need a system whereby us and the humans can err, co-exist, so to speak. Not… not war, no. War will put too many of our moles at risk. Why don’t we just send out a few good moles – perhaps even ourselves – to go down to Whitehall and strike some kind of agreement with the humans?”

“Bah, nonsense! Come on Mercy, wake up! Co-exist? Bah! They’re vermin! There’s no reasoning with ‘em! We have to stop ‘em now! Can’t you see?” Said the slovenly Wessex.

“I happen to be very sensitive about my eyesight… oh b-b-but we don’t even know how many humans there are. I’d say I’ve counted 30 or 40 of them just in Derbyshire!”

“I’ll have to check the records” Said Sussex, nosing his papers.

“Bah! This is precisely the problem! There are too many of them, they all look the bleedin’ same! They come down here and they undermine our workforce and what have we done to stop it? Nothing! Nothing spare the few brave attempts by some well-bred moles to disrupt their farming and spoil their perfect suburban gardens.”

“Yes well I’m sure every one of us understands the power behind the suburban garden.” Said Kent, and with mouths full, they all nodded in agreement.

“I say they’ve been here long enough now to understand what our customs are. But what efforts have they made to integrate? None! They dig up our homes! They catch us in traps and leave us to suffer and die! I know moles that are too scared to leave their tunnels, and they every right to be! There’s a storm coming. If we don’t stop them now moles will be slaughtered in their thousands. We will be forced under the whip of humankind to dig for their oh-so precious oil!” He gnawed on one of the tougher beetles. “The upturned soil will cover our slain only to wash away under the human reign. If we don’t act now, I will one day smell millions of fallen moles in rivers flowing with mud!”

“Now, let’s not exaggerate too much Lord Wessex.” Kent hastily interjected. “Give our moles some credit – I’m sure we won’t be so easily defeated regardless of our decision here today. However I do feel I agree somewhat with your sentiment. Brothers, we must think of our future and of the future of our children. We must think of our glorious nation and the might of our moles! We cannot let the humans continue their tyranny! We must fight them!”

“Hear, hear! Excellently put Lord Kent” Added Sussex.

“Lord Mercia,” Kent continued “do you really want to have to look your children in the eye and try to explain to them that their friends are dying because you decided not to stand up to this threat?”

“Terrifying prospect Lord Kent, most definitely” One of the side salads fell victim to the over-eager Sussex’s jerking arm and landed leaf down in the mud. “And what chances do we have of winning an all-out war with the humans?”  He said, gesturing towards the document he had already revealed..

“Ah, I’m glad you’ve asked! I’ve had the lower moles do some calculations and…” Sussex handed the document to Kent, who read it out, paraphrasing “within a week we can have 10,000 moles ready for battle. I have already taken the liberty of putting them on standby. The moment we all sign the document our forces will mobilise. We will have the element of surprise. We’ll bury them before they know we’ve attacked!”

Mercia poked at a braised mouse, testing the texture of the delicacy. He had long since become lost for words, and finding them was no longer a concern; it appeared the decision had already been made.

“Lord Sussex, would you kindly procure the declaration?” Asked Kent, holding out his hand.

Sussex extracted the wafer thin form and reaching into the jumble sale of his coat pocket, he pulled out his enormous, all-encompassing spectacles in order to dictate the document.

“Okay… ermm… hmm, it says here that umm… the… hmmm…”

“Oh come on!” Barked Wessex.

He could read neither the fine nor the large print.

“It’s about time these documents were updated to scratch and sniff!” Said Mercia, rediscovering both his language and his appetite. He took a helping of worms and was the first to opt-in to the salad.

“Oh bother!” Spat Sussex. “You’ll have to forgive me, brothers.”

“No matter Lord Sussex,” Kent hastened the procedure. “I’m sure we all understand what this document declares. Now can we get on? Is everybody willing to sign this? Lord Mercia?”

“Err I… um, well, yes. I suppose so. If it’s completely necessary.”

“I assure you, it is.” Kent exchanged offset looks ofencouragementwith the group.

Mercia took one last hollow attempt at standing up for his beliefs. “What of the other council members? Do we not need their approval also?”

“Well if you don’t turn up to vote, you’ve blown your chances, haven’t you?” Wessex licked the beetle juice from his fingers.

“Brothers, the fact of the matter is that we here are the leading members of this council. We have the most influence and we are undoubtedly the most popular. The only other person ever worth considering was Lord Pictland, and I don’t suppose he’ll want to be a part of this anyway after his independence fiasco.”

“Oh, Lord Kent, I’ve been meaning to inform you!”

“Yes, Lord Sussex?”

“It has come to my attention that Cornwall is considering independence now, too.”

“You see, my brothers, we are the only true and honest moles in the council. It stands to reason that we should go ahead and make the decision without them. Now, shall we sign?”

Each of the four moles signed the document, leaving the occasional, accidental smear of beetle juice among their names.

“This is a glorious day, brothers, I promise you.” Said Kent. “Each and every one of us will go down in history as the saviours of Moledom. You will not regret your decision. Gentlemoles, we are going to war!”

A Green and Red Christmas

Red faces drooling over the table,

and nearby, basting, shoulders hanging loose,

the turkey time displaces, unable

to save itself, and my neck is a noose.

My morals cling to umbilical cords,

unstable. Bells ring that I should stick to

green veg playing chicken on chopping boards,

fumbling round fat and wild slaughterhouse goo.

It’s Christmas, and mouths stuffed silently bleed

thick gravy over worn out serving spoons,

make spaces for empty wastes that they need

to later dance, dolled up in poultry wounds,

and vulture the corpse they’ve misunderstood

– the anxious artifice sweats soya blood.