At the end of the classic scifi film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Kevin McCarthy's character stands in the middle of a highway among traffic ranting and screaming as passing motorists ignore his plaintive cries. "They're here already!" he yells, at no one, at everyone, at the viewer. "They" - the other, the unknown menace, the secret enemy who moves among us. Could be pod-person doppelgangers from space, could be communists. It just depends on how you choose to interpret it.
So let me be quite plain that there is a menace which is slowly taking hold in society that you need to be aware of. It's not the hipsters. It's not the Beliebers or even the people who wear those frickin' ugly as sin Pandora bracelets. It's the meerkats. Yes, you read that correctly, meerkats.
My awareness of the meerkat menace began in England, when Fringa and I spotted a display of plush meerkat toys in a shop window in Brighton. For some incongruous reason they were wearing Hugh Hefner-esque robes and a bemused expression. We were so confused by these things that we took photos. I mean, why on earth would someone want to buy a stuffed meerkat wearing a robe? Fringa-twin later informed us of the sad truth. That the UK was in the grip of a meerkat craze started by an advertising campaign featuring a well-to-do meerkat called Alexandre. Naturally.
What an odd sort of craze, we thought. How funny the English are. But then this is the nation that gave us Monty Python and a dessert called Spotted Dick so, you know, a bit of oddity is par for the course really. Some time later in London, Betsy and I spied a neighbourhood watch sign featuring meerkats too. Blimey, they were everywhere.
Then in Scotland Fringa and I spotted meerkat garden ornaments in a shop in St Andrews. Hm, well it seemed the Scottish might be susceptible as well.
Ah, but then I returned home to good old, down to earth, no-nonsense Enzed. We Kiwis aren't taken in by small mammals; on the contrary, we swerve to hit such creatures on country roads. Nope, no meerkat madness here.
But then...in the pre-Christmas mailer glut during which Ezibuy, I kid you not, were sending me at least three catalogues a week, I saw something that made my blood run cold. Polyresin meerkat garden ornaments.
Oh no. Oh, dear me, no. But it was okay because it was just a one-off. An aberration. No need to worry unnecessarily. Which I wasn't until I saw a meerkat T-shirt of unparalleled ugliness in the men's department at Farmers. And then, the final straw, here, ladies and sirs, on this very website, a front page feature of meerkats enjoying Christmas treats. Before long cutesy meerkat YouTube clips started appearing in my Facebook stream too. Gah!
Even my good friend and former "meerkat resistance fighter" Fringa has turned. She bought me the polyresin meerkats for my birthday. They silently mock me from my unkempt lawn every time I leave the house. I'd ask Silver Fox to run them over in his 4WD but they were a gift and my elaborate and highly idiosyncratic moral code won't allow me to destroy a gift.
So they were slowly working their way in. Ezibuy? Farmers? Stuff? Facebook? That's retail, news and social media covered. But they'd have to infiltrate the finance industry before they could really have the country in a be-clawed chokehold. All was not lost yet. But alas, my hopes for freedom from the meerkat scourge were dashed as I wandered past ANZ at the weekend and noticed the pro-meerkat propaganda emblazoned poster hanging in their window. I knew then that it was already too late. They're already here!
But now that you know, now that you see the truth of the situation, perhaps there is a chance that we can stem the tide. Mark my words, once you see one meerkat, you'll notice them everywhere. Only through continued vigilance can we prevail. If you see any meerkats where they shouldn't be (i.e. anywhere other than a zoo) then please let your fellow meerkatophobes know by uploading a picture to this special rogues' gallery. Will you join the fight? Where do you stand? Pro meerkat or anti?
I actually do realise that it's ridiculous to get so het up about something so innocuous but if people can hate Comic Sans or Papyrus (which is the new Comic Sans, apparently) then I reserve the right to be repelled by the scrawny wee creatures. So there.
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