JUST BEYOND the Billabong’s back door, down the stairs and past the barbecue, there is a spot that would be perfect for a lemon tree, as that is where, when alcohol has been consumed, the Professor sometimes gives the ants reason to believe their little world is ending beneath a body-temperature deluge high in uric acid. It is a cultural thing and to be cherished, a testament to the Judeo-Christian heritage. A good Buddhist shrinks from inflicting such suffering, the Confucian sees it as disrespecting the garden's ancestral planters and an animist is unlikely to unzip at all, apt to be gripped by reverence and reverie at the sight of all that secret ant business being enacted down below. As for your Musselman, the Prophet’s prohibition on alcohol means that, upon sober reflection, indoor plumbing is to be used and celebrated as another example of Allah’s beneficence in guiding the faithful to our infidel wonderland of flushable creature comforts.
Still, there is inspiration for those culturally attuned to absorb it, as few things more closely resemble the current political situation than the spectacle of agitated and baffled bullants dashing about in their sodden circles. Somewhere deep below the nest’s mounded entrance sits the queen, dry for the moment and relatively safe. Picture her, if you will, with a longish nose and hair of the Bozo hue. She is isolated and dependent for her cues and information on messengers bringing word of the saturating disaster above. Here you might imagine a six-legged Bruce Hawker (especially by the second or third bottle) relaying the grim tidings to his leader. Not to worry, he will advise at last, your soldier ants are on the attack, little nippers at the ready.
And so they are, fierce in their bafflement as the flood grows ever worse. If ants carried notebooks and took unquestioning stenography, the most determined to protect and serve would bear names like Michelle and Peter. Such ardent defenders see the current panic as evidence only of the attacker’s “negativity”, not of the nest’s many vulnerabilities. It is a scent trail to be laid at every opportunity, augmented as the flood grows worse with comforting counsel that the mission is not flawed, only the way its goals are being sold.
But still the panic spreads, so much so that even Bob, the genial old drone, is getting agitated. He never bit nor was seen to be riled, but now he is irritable and fighting mad, snapping his green pincers at all sundry, especially that big cockroach Rupert. Bob has had an easy life, required to do little more than seed his peculiar notions and bask in the acclaim as the queen brings them into being. Now that he is being blamed and quizzed and called upon for explanations, well, he does not like it one bit.
It is an inspiration to see the ants in such a state. Until an election is called and the queen is flooded out for good, it will have to do. Now, where’s that corkscrew? Another bottle beckons.