Dr Bongo on...

Dr Bongo on...Ants

from the desk of Dr Bongo


Some time ago a young man forcibly entered my surgery, screaming and shrieking and wailing that he was infested with ants. After completing three circuits of my consulting room, scratching and tearing at his blistered and raw flesh as he did so, this entertaining lunatic finally proclaimed that he could take no more and hurled himself head first through my open window, plummeting into the car park and through the sunroof of my receptionist's cheap family hatchback, concluding his time in the realm of the living buried up to his neck in its leather upholstery. And this was a Tuesday.

Good evening. My name is Doctor Adolphous Bongo and I understand that some of my peers have been putting it about that I have no sense of humour. I refute this suggestion. I am a fun-loving and comical person, a diagnosis which is founded on an indisputable medical opinion - my own, of which there is none better. I will, however, concede that I rarely get the opportunity to demonstrate my innately jovial nature - it would be inappropriate to display any measure of frivolity whilst carrying out my professional duties and I simply don't have time for any of that nonsense in my private life.

A rash course of action

Having said that, I did have a damn good giggle when this fellow threw himself out of my window. You're probably wondering what possessed him to take such a rash course of action. Was he, you might wonder, really infested with ants? I did make a cursory inspection of his remains, for the sake of appearances. I found three snails, a handful of lice, a couple of beetles and a dead rat, but there was no guarantee that these weren't already present in my receptionist's car before this ridiculous man planted himself so firmly in the driver's seat. My receptionist is a filthy cow who will frequently sit at her station peeling scabs from her knuckles and shaking dirt from her hair, so the fact that her car provides a haven for such a rich diversity of vermin, parasites and other assorted nasties is not merely unsurprising, it's actually to be expected.

No ants, though. They, wisely, had scarpered after doing this fellow in, expertly removing all evidence of their presence before they went. You can't help admiring them for that, can you?

A complete imbecile

Actually, this reminds me of a joke. It's about a getaway driver. Or was it a bus driver? Well, whoever he was, he behaved like a complete imbecile and it was all very funny... Well there you go. Jokes are overrated in my opinion.

So back to the ants, and that perennial scientific debate: are ants a virus or a bacterium? Surprisingly, the answer is neither. They're actually something else, can't remember what, but then I'm a people-doctor not an ant-doctor, so I can hardly be expected to know, can I? Perhaps they're a fungus? Or perhaps I'm confusing them with my own patients? What I do know is that not all ants are killers. Some just haven't got the stomach for it, or whatever organ passes for a stomach in the ant kingdom. These 'pacifist ants', as I have just this minute decided to call them, are hounded from the nest and fall easy prey to predators.

None of these things will protect you from getting attacked by ants

How then, the more sensible amongst you will be asking, are you to protect yourself from these murderous predators? Obviously, as a doctor I would advise you to moderate your alcohol intake, exercise regularly and make sure you use mouthwash after every meal. None of these things will protect you from getting attacked by ants but I understand this sort of stuff is generally good for you and at least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that in your dying moments your breath will be minty fresh.

General health advice aside, the only way I know of to avoid ant attack is to keep your wits about you. This is clearly bad news for the fumbling, bumbling sacks of assorted offal that wobble into my surgery week after week. Most of them are regularly outsmarted by their own underwear, so something with the brain power and raw undiluted savagery of the average ant will inevitably prove a devastating adversary.

A delicate part of an ant's anatomy

And if you need proof of my assertion, let me tell you that I have rarely, if ever, had occasion to extricate a delicate part of an ant's anatomy from a snuggly fitting domestic appliance, and yet this seems to happen with a quite alarming degree of regularity amongst my 'human' clients. So much so, in fact, that I wonder whether the major portion of the vacuum cleaner industry doesn't entirely depend on the painful and embarrassing misadventures of the nation's sexual deviants. Neither, for that matter, have I received too many panicked calls from ants after they have inadvertently drunk bleach, partially throttled themselves with an item of neckwear or accidentally bitten off their own thumb partway through an unsuccessful attempt to eat a sandwich, and I don't think the fact that most ants don't have access to telephones can be the only reason for this.

Ants simply don't do that kind of thing. Human beings, on the other hand, aspire to new heights every day in their several missions to damage themselves, and it is only the certitude of an early demise that prevents most people from gradually whittling themselves down to nothing. There are days when I wish I was an ant doctor, and that's exactly what I would be if there was any money in it. There isn't. I've checked.

Outwitting a crafty ant assassin

Seeing that there is very little likelihood of most people getting real smart, real quick, we can rule out the option of outwitting a crafty ant assassin. My colleague, the eminent proctologist Sir Cardew 'Fatty' Robinson, has suggested that the everyday moron can still reduce the risk of an attack by taking the following advice:

  • On spotting a lone ant, hit it with a stick before it can scamper off and tell its friends. Beware, however - if it is a particularly burly ant and/or you are a particularly scrawny individual, the ant could take the stick off you and start laying into you with it instead.
  • On being cornered by a group of ants, make for open water. Ants cannot swim as they have no way of holding their noses. If there is no open water nearby, immediately drop to the ground and roll in the dirt with your legs in the air. This will not deter the ants in any way but your agonising death will at least provide some small measure of amusement for any onlookers.
  • On being taken back to the ants' secret underground nest, challenge the emperor ant to hand-to-hand combat. I don't know if ants have an emperor or, if so, whether ant etiquette permits them to accept challenges, but it's probably worth a go.
  • On finding yourself smothered by a wriggling, writhing shroud of millions upon millions of enraged ants, tearing at your skin with their pincers, peeling the sinews from your bones and gradually devouring your mortal flesh, try applying a small amount of antiseptic cream or calamine lotion to the affected area.

I should point out that Fatty Robinson's particular area of expertise in no way enables him to speak with any authority on the subject of ants and that he was phenomenally drunk when he offered up these morsels of advice, so you act upon them at your peril.

However, what I would advise you to do upon falling victim to ant attack is to seek medical advice immediately. Not from me, obviously. While I won't argue that it's fun to watch a person's agonised flailing as they career wildly around the room before eventually succumbing to the soothing mercy of oblivion, it all starts to get a bit samey when you see it every day.


Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

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