Guinea pigs and chaos

There are so many more ways things can go wrong than ways they can go right. Really, it’s a miracle when anything goes to plan at all. A holiday with friends, a trip to the supermarket, a job interview, a marriage. There’s always a fox coming after your guinea pigs.  And the fox wins. 

Behind the scenes entropy is always trying to break things down and bring order back to chaos. Sandcastles never stand up for long. You must go to great lengths to keep a bedroom ordered, clean and tidy. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, it won’t be a nice garden if the slugs and the weeds have got anything to say about it.

Chaos is nature’s preferred state of affairs. It’s the way it started and the way it’ll all end.

When we address one area of our lives, correcting one thing, it often seems like another immediately falls out of place. There’s too many things to focus on in daily life, and we’re not doing machines. Our unfathomably complex minds get in the way.

Bearing this in mind, why do we act as if when things do go wrong, that we have been struck by a lightning bolt of bad fortune? Like it was an anomaly. We’re all familiar with the classics-

Your phone runs out of battery when you’re about to meet a friend

Your train home gets cancelled and it’s the last one

You can’t find your passport and your flight is in an hour

You’re merrily jogging through the village and a pregnant moth flies into your mouth

You’re cycling to work early in the morning and a wayward blue-tit darts into your eye ball

You’re running through a farmer’s field, arms full of stolen carrots and the farmer shoots you in the leg and you fall in a ditch

I’ve been thinking of a metaphor for the onslaught of such things. An analogy came to me while dreaming, which I have expanded on for you below.


You have a number of guinea pigs outside in a run. The run is on a bumpy lawn so there are gaps underneath. A guinea pig escapes. You run down the garden and catch the guinea pig. If you’ve ever tried to catch a guinea pig against its will, it can be quite unpleasant, you can hear those little guinea pig oinks get faster and faster as it desperately tries to move its body as far away from you as possible, feeble little guinea pig heart goes into overdrive. You grab the animal by the behind, back legs cycling, and put it back into the run.

You go back to the house for a cup of tea. That was nice. You realise it’s time to feed your rodent friends, so you go back and you find another guinea pig has crawled out. You search the garden, and eventually manage to corner the beast and return it. You sigh to yourself, and seek a piece of lawn that’s flat to place the run on.

You go back into the house. It’s evening now, you feel like a beer, so you go inside, get a nice cold one to take out onto the patio. It’s time to relax.

Oh but hold on a second. What’s that at the bottom of the garden munching on your geraniums? Trampling on your pansies. Is it one or is it two? You see that there is now (unaccountably) a hole in the mesh of the run, and before you can reach it, desperately jogging towards it, another of the little rodents has crawled out and is galloping down the lawn like its got NOS. You get a cardboard box and cover up the hole, lest any of the other ones escape, then head to the garden to retrieve the latest furry absconders. The fat geranium muncher is easily caught, it’s Adama that’s the tricky one. He runs you all over the garden, clambering over the rockery, leaping over the pond, slaloming through the bamboo tree, crawling down the side of the shed until you’re cobweb-faced. You finally corner the little bastard next to the compost heap. You come back, the cardboard box has blown away. You replace it with a nice robust wooden plank. No getting out of there.

You’ve had enough of this whole debacle. You fancy going a bit wild, no soft options will do anymore. It’s time for action. It’s time to hit the whisky. Nice big glass of Famous Grouse, no ice in the freezer. You can have it room temperature. Listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

You question why you even keep guinea pigs, you’re a grown man after all. Surely releasing them into the wild isn’t a bad idea? They’ll be fine. Maybe they will thrive out there. They’ve done it before, by jingo, they’ll do it again!

Or, on second thoughts, no, the RSPCA might have something to say about that. If my miserable old neighbours were to report me I’d have to face a lot of ramifications, like life doesn’t come with enough ramifications already. 

Amon Hen, the battle in which Boromir is slain by the fighting Uruk Hai. You think about the uruks; horrible orcs, deformed creatures, not able to make a family or a career for themselves, dirty, unloved, unvalued and ugly. It’s not their fault though is it? they’re just unlucky. As you finish the last of the washing up, you reflect that your life is pretty okay in comparison.

It’s getting chilly outside, and the moon is exposing itself so it’s that time of the night again when you must move the guinea pigs from the run into their nice cosy hutch, so they can snuggle up in the hay until morn.

Best get the trowel out, one of them is dead. It was quite a young one, in the Spring of its time on Earth. You ponder the cause, perhaps some appalling disease. Maybe they’ll all be dead by morning. You can only hope they won’t be. You remove the possibly contaminated pig, and wrap it up in a Tesco carrier bag, place it on top of the hutch. You can get digging tomorrow morning, first thing, after you’ve not done the other tedious jobs you don’t want to do but you have to.

You look at the rest of the guinea pigs, whiskers twitching, staring at some giant version of you, probably assuming you’re a predator in need of a snack. One of them is nibbling on a cabbage leaf, another staring up at you, baring its teeth. another trying and failing to rest in the next compartment, cuddling up to its friend, blinking it’s eyes every few seconds or so. They’re so gorgeous and stupid. You remember the dead one, all the happy times you’ve shared together, you are slightly embarrassed to shed a tear that those times are finished now. You give each one a stroke and reflect how much you love them. You tell them good night. It’s nice to end the evening on a such a compassionate note.

That’s enough of the whiskey, revolting poisonous, throat burning liquid that it is. You go into the kitchen and put the bottle on the side. As you go to wash up the glass you see something waiting at the bottom of the garden, two golden eyes glowing in the dark.

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