Friday, 25 March 2016

Mole Man Metrics

If I may mischievously misquote the first line of one of my favourite novels "The Go-Between" by L.P. Hartley:

"The country is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

then this contains an essential truth, of the difference between town and country that is pertinent to this blog entry. A couple of fields down from Balintore Castle in the Auldallan direction, a macabre spectacle is currently on display - a phalanx of crucified moles. I have never seen this before, but logic tells one this is a mole catcher's way of letting the world know he has done his job well. In my job we have "software metrics"; here we have a head count. I would contest there is no moral difference.

Indeed a year or so earlier, I spotted a be-tweeded figure walking around a field on the other side of the road. His movements were strangely slow and he was clearly communing with a higher power. "What is he doing?" I asked. "He, " replied my friend Andrew who is infinitely more steeped in country lore than myself "is the mole catcher". 

It struck me as odd then, as it does now, that a living can be made this way and the odd yet deliberate movements of the mole catcher indicated that he was tuned into the natural world in ways that I couldn't even imagine.

Making a spectacle of death is overlaid in the human domain with much cultural significance, not just the afore-referenced and timely crucifiction at Easter, and I am put in mind of one of my favourite songs "Strange Fruit" which contain the relevant lines.

In truth, I am not certain I have seen a mole in the flesh  before. They were somewhat larger and more uniform in size than I would have expected. Their claws are eerily reptilian, creating an ambivalence with the lovable moles in children's literature. However, I inwardly salute all wild mammals who can make a living in the wilds of Angus, especially those that can do it underground. :-)

"strange fruit" close to Balintore Castle

1 comment:

  1. I am currently reading Sir Roy Strong's accounts of his home Laskett house and he has a woman mole catcher in to 'get' his moles but she sent them off to someone who used the fur !! I've heard of 'moleskin' but I hadn't considered it as actual mole skin !