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Friday, 27 February 2009

Grey Aggression

A Squirrel Called Rufus by Richard Church (1941) with illustrations by John Skeaping tells the story of a family of red squirrels suffering from grey squirrel aggression. The story deliberately mimics the rise of Hitler's Nazism. The bullying grey squirrel leader, Grey Gleam, uses a minor transgression by Rufus to annex the wood and annihilated the red squirrel opposition. He is helped by opportunists (Russet the fox) and self-serving double crossing quislings, represented by Murry the mouse. War develops, a red squirrel leader is chosen, leading to a final battle, single combat to the death, leading to the defeat of the grey squirrel aggression.
He is Grey Gleam, the killer. He is the cleverst, most treacherous, and most strong of the lot. If the grey squirrels can be said to have a leader, it is he. Only a sqirrel of his powers could keep them together. But once organized, they are an enemy to be reckoned with. And it seems that he is leading them in this attack, which you and your unfortunate friend set in motion by your assault on Grey Gleam's larder. They were waiting for such an excuse, so that the blame could be put on the red squirrels for starting the quarrel. Now they will not rest, day or night, until we are driven out of the woods to south and west. For already the centre and east are theirs. Bit by bit they have penetrated, settling there under the mantle of peace, working secretly and methodically. Ah, my boy, we are much to blame. We have let them drive ahead, and we have rested on the past and its glory...
Speeches won't mend matters, lads. We must be up and doing. Now what next? I'll tell you. We've a job in front of us that needs every ounce of cunning and wood lore you possess. (103-4)

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