27 maart 2012

2. Mouseville, Mousevilliers and Universal Rights

Mouseville issue 2: A brief history of Mouseville and a reassurance for the reader wishing to visit this extraordinary place.  The Universal Rights of Mouseville and All of Those in It, adopted in the year 1864, says in clause 1 (indeed the first clause!) “Thou shall not eat thy neighbour.” Indeed, if you want to do business you should not be eating your customers, and certainly not at first sight!

It is useful and illuminating, dear reader, now that you have met Scary and Flashy Mouse, to get to know the place they live in and the kind of society they have. 
Mouseville was not founded by a mouse, as you might perhaps think. Neither is Mouseville only for mice. The founding father of Mouseville was Moose de Villiers. Moose, sometimes called elks, belong to the deer family and are amongst its largest members, like the reindeer or eland. Moose de Villiers was a traveller, explorer and writer. His most famous book is titled “The Moose Who Came in out of the Cold.” In this classic he describes his daring trek from the North American polar region via the Bering street all the way to Scandinavia and then down south to Faunia and its temperate climate. “I hated the cold,” he says in this book, “and simply was looking for warmer pastures.”

Moose, as far as moose go, was small. His friends teasingly called him Moose the Mouse, or just Mouse, and his estate came to be known as Mouseville. It is the old heart of modern Mouseville. The manor now is the city hall; part of its former moat is The Great Pond; and Animal Park once was the meadow where Moose liked to walk about and do his grazing.

The inhabitants of Mouseville are known as Mousevilliers, or, briefly, Villiers. They do not like it if you pronounce Villiers as villeers. Say something like “viljay”, pronouncing the “j” as in yoyo, and you’ll be good buddies with them.

Mouseville is located at the junction of the Great North Road and the Great East Road. The settlement developed into a bustling trading centre. Its most prominent inhabitants are a dozen old merchant families. The Mousevilliers, because of the trading business, had learned to deal with animals of all sorts. Mouseville had gained a reputation in Greater Faunia for tolerance and inter-animal-peaceful-coexistence. The latter had not come easy. Put a cat next to a mouse and the cat naturally shall say: “Hi, good to see you for breakfast,” and not “Good morning brother mouse, let the day bring many blessings to you, your family and a long life.” Cats tend to shorten the life of a mouse. On the other hand, if you want to do business you should not be eating your customers, and certainly not at first sight. Some animals, despite all the emphasis on animal pluralism – as this thing of living together of all sorts of animal species sometimes is called - are out of bounds in Mouseville and Mouseville county. All the big cats are out. The business of putting a lion next to a sheep did not work in Mouseville, as far as the sheep was concerned. Same with the big sharks. There is no way a shark can say no to the carps that rightly made The Great Pond of Animal Park a major tourist attraction. Same problem with crocodiles. Elephants, rhino’s and hippo’s require special permits – they simply do not fit in the Mouseville scale of things. All these animals, by the Mousevilliers, are considered Wild Life, and should spend their time in appropriate territories.

The adoption of The Universal Rights of  Mouseville and All of Those in It of 1864 is a milestone in the history of Mouseville. It is both declaration and legislation; and made the consumption of one Mouseville citizen by another a crime. The profound preamble of the Universal Rights became world famous. “Animal is born free, and everywhere he lives in fear and fetters. One animal thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.” In the same year Vivere et Vivera, “Live and let Live,” became the motto of Mouseville county.

Animal Park, usually just called The Park, is a favourite place for the Mousevilliers to relax and socialise. In the middle of The Great Pond, usually just called The Pond, is a tiny island and on that island is the famous statue of Moose de Villiers. It had been constructed by the great Rodin who, in this fine piece of marble, presents Moose having a Janus head: one head facing north where his origins lay; the other head facing south where his desires had been.

The Park has two fine restaurant/snack bars. One is Hank’s Fish & Dish, the other Hubert’s Cheese Palace. Needles to say that cats prefer the Fish & Dish, and mice the Cheese Palace. Both eating places are at opposite sides of The Pond, and that made very good sense, just in case cats would forget The Declaration of the Universal Rights of Mouseville and All of Those in It; and especially the clause that says: “Thou shall not eat thy neighbour.”

This famous clause, which sets Mouseville apart from life in the wild, and indeed is the foundation of its civilisation, did have a curious effect on the social geography of the town. Cats, for example, do not live next to mice. Cats, and in particular its mean members (of which Ugly Black Cat or UBC is the meanest), would wink at each other and whisper: “Mice are not my neighbours!” Ignoring, of course, clause 2 of the same very Universal Rights which says: “Al creatures of Mouseville are thy neighbours and thou shall respect them.”
*  *  *

 In the next episode you’ll see a horrifying example that shows how thin the artificial skin of civilisation can be. Fortunately, dear reader, the same story also shows that, in the end, Good prevails over Bad; or should I say Uglyness?

© Zamfactor Ltd. 2013. All rights reserved.

17 maart 2012

1. Spinning in The Swim

Mouseville. Issue no 1: Flashy and Scary Mouse go for a dive.

It was a Saturday afternoon. Flashy mouse and her boyfriend Scary Mouse were hanging out at snack bar “The Cheese Palace.” It was their favourite spot for hanging out; beautifully located right in the centre of Animal Park, bordering on its famous pond.
      “I am not really enjoying this,” sighed Flashy, taking a slow bite of her Gouda, “the heat is killing me.”
      “Need to cool off, eh,” came back Scary. “Where would you like to go to?”
      “Why not to The Swim,” suggested Flashy. “It’s a fine day for a dive, and they’ve got a lovely palm beach and tropical restaurant.”
      The Swim was the popular name for “The High Caribbean Swimming Pool and Resort Centre” and was a fine place indeed. It was known for its diving tower and exquisite drinks.
      “Hmm,” answered Scary pensively. He was better at sipping than swimming. “It is better for a mouse,” he used to say, “to put the drink into his body, than the body into the drink.”
      “Be a sport, Scary,” urged Flashy, “Let’s be off.....”
And that happened. In most cases Flashy got what Flashy wanted. They went to The Swim, bought tickets, put on their swimming outfits and, as Scary insisted, did a sip before the swim. A Caribbean High Ball made him feel better, he declared, and now he was ready to join Flashy up the diving tower. Scary, dear reader, was named Scary NOT because he was easily scared, but because he easily scared others. He was a daredevil of sorts, but with exceptions. Diving from a diving tower was one of these.
      With Flashy things were different, when it came to diving from the diving tower at The Swim. She enjoyed the admiring looks of her fellow swimmers, and for good reason. Flashy, well, was kind of fleshy, and of a nice kind. You know, she was not voluptuous, she did not look like a meat ball, and attractive she was for sure. She went up the stairs first. Scary followed, increasingly reluctant as she went higher and higher. She skipped platform number 1, the lowest; she skipped platform number 2, the medium one; and came to a halt at platform number 3. That’s as high as the tower was. Slowly she tripped to the end of the diving plank, did a little jump to get the board into motion and on the rebound elegantly sailed through the air to land noiselessly into the water. Scary had been watching all this with speechless admiration. “What a girl,” he thought, “now what about me?” He was in great trepidation.
      “That was a good jump, was it not?” Scary heard a husky voice say behind him. The voice belonged to David Frog, who was keen to show the world, or at least that part of the world that had gathered at The Swim, that when it came to diving and jumping frogs simply outdo any other creature. “Move brother,” spoke David in an encouraging tone to Scary who now was in the grip of a trembling fear. “Let me help you,” said David kindly, and gave Scary a firm kick in the butt that sent our hero tumbling through the sky towards the water. He rolled over and over until he hit the water that now stopped the rotational forces that had kept him spinning in his diving mission. Weary he climbed out of the pool where he was warmly received by an admiring Flashy.
      “Scary,” she cried, “I did not know you could do this. All those spins! It was great. And your landing! What a splash! Wow!”
      Scary smiled modestly, still dazzled by the turn of events. “Well,” he said honestly, “diving really is not quite my thing, but once you get into it, it really turns you on.” Perhaps he was thinking of the Caribbean High Ball that he now fancied to sip at. On the way to the bar they passed David Frog.
      “Need another kick in the butt, mate?” winked David as he walked away from the happy couple.

© Zamfactor Ltd. 2013. All rights reserved.