Oh what mortification! Last Friday my murmurs launched themselves into the public realm before they had been fully formed. There they were, a jumble of duplications, odd spellings and other nonsense, garbling their way into the gentle minds of my dear readers. A kind chum alerted me, but just as I was poised, paws above keyboard, readying myself to smooth the words into their intended shapes, my doorbell rang. A friend had arrived for tea and then, at the very moment we were farewelling each other, the telephone rang. Three hours passed. All the while my paws itched to get back to the keyboard, and my mind was in a parallel universe of agitated readers struggling to make sense, asking themselves if I had helped myself to Uncle Ratty’s famous cherry firewater before the yardarm. Worst of all, I imagined them turning away in sorrow, never wishing to read murmurs again.
Slapdash, I heard myself saying, or was it my late Mama. ‘Slapdash’ was one her favoured soubriquets for me; that and ‘Bolshie’. Mama’s words were uttered with exasperation but oh, how I secretly savoured them. Slapdash and Bolshie co-habited with haberdashery, cutting a dash, blunderbuss and balderdash in a little chamber of my mind. They were a jolly, rackety, opinionated, swashbuckling devil-may-care bunch. They favoured bright colours, kept late hours, and played fast and loose with rules and regulations. Bolshie earned even greater cachet with the adolescent Moley when, on a clandestine visit, Great Uncle Mole’s cousin, the elderly Mr X, dropped dark hints about his activities in Archangel in 1918. It was unclear whether he was working for the Bolsheviks or the British Secret Service, but it was definitely bad and dangerous if Mr X was to be believed.
John Dryden has been credited with first coming up with ‘slapdash’. In one of his more obscure plays a character called Brain wakes up with a fully formed tune in his head (which is just as well as it has to be performed that very evening): ‘I rose immediately in my Night Gown and Slippers’, he says. ‘Down I put the Notes slap-dash, made Words to ’em like Lightning’.
Now that is the slapdash I want; the kind that happens because inspiration has run away with me and is spilling out so fast that lettering, spelling and sentences are secondary and what matters is getting those thoughts down, however higgelty-pigglety.
Over the years that chamber of buccaneers has fallen ominously silent and the whispers of slapdash and slipshod have rendered this mole paralysed at the point of exposure. Murmurs of Mole began as a way of drawing me out of my hole, committing myself to show my snout from time to time, and to waving a little something for passers-by to read.
Perhaps the garbled words that flung themselves at you last week are a sign that the chamber has reconvened, that their boisterous unconcern for finer detail and their enthusiasm for making themselves heard will, on occasion, burst through the boundaries. Will I be able to resist the force of them? Do I want to? Or shall I join them from time to time, because allowing the slap-dash its head can lead to the wonderful free-fall of words to paper ‘like Lightning’.