The Piranha Plant

The object growing in Holst-Dulverton's back garden

So, one of my friends and I–Chris Flynn–created a couple of caricatures one day. The caricatures are two utterly mad English aristocrats completely caught up in their station in life and, by all accounts, living in the 19th century–they just happen to find themselves in the 21st. This is the first letter I’ve written in character, and am waiting for the response to jot down the second. I’ve recorded it (it’s 13 minutes), and will, if I remember, put a link to it alongside this.

Frederick Smythe-Tensington Rexley, B.A., Ph.D, M.D., J.D.
The Hedgerow

4 August, 2010

Dear Mr Rexley, B.A., Ph.D, M.D., J.D.,

In answer to your query posed the First of July: No, I am reticent to admit that I have not followed the current cricket contest between England (God save the Queen) and Pakistan. I find sport abhorrent in its very nature and something to be enjoyed by only the common folk in our country. As you are well aware, in my youth, I would make my way down Oxford Street upon my horse, Mercury, and trod upon those who I deemed common—so it is, of course, unlikely that I would have anything to do with those vagabonds. (Before you waste precious ink distilled from the fat of whales—as I know this is the only sort of ink you use—allow me to state two things: Firstly, I was never charged with a crime, for, as you know, I am related to every MP of note in the Southeast, Southwest, Midlands, and Greater London area. Secondly, no, I do not judge you for enjoying sport, I simply state my only preference.

In regards to your question about whether or not the recent election was favourable to those of us in, shall I say, higher positions, I need only turn your attention to the recent decrees put forward by the Prime Minister. I say, “eat shit,” as our American brethren would say, you dirty council house-dwelling proletariat. And I do not feel I must make a point upon the imminent dissolution of the Film Board—that amoral institution responsible for besmirching the name of Film. There are, of course, those rogues, the Liberal-Democrats working in supposed co-operation with the Conservatives, but I sincerely doubt they are making their presence known beyond flailing around Parliament, shouting and crying like some puppy squashed in the road. Rather amusing, I must say. Of course, we here in Fizzleshire are an admittedly removed lot—those whose income totals less than £300,000 per annum are removed to Kent. (I had briefly considered embarking upon a diatribe on the subject on that miserable excuse of a county, that stain upon England [God save the Queen!] but I am quite certain even you are beyond the point of hearing anything new I have to say on the subject.)

I am frightfully sorry to hear the news that the only opening your progeny, Fitz-William Froderick Tinsing Rexley, B.A., could find in the Forces was in the Royal Welsh Guard. Now, yes, I am well aware of their spotless record and the history of the aristocracy in the regiment, but surely you are not letting that blind you to the fact that your son will be associating with sheep-buggering Welshmen. Of course, I more than trust that you have instructed him upon the proper manner of dealing with a Welshman: a stiff, back-handed slap to the face followed promptly by a truly prodigious amount of spittle to the face. Nevertheless, you may, of course, count upon Martha and I to send him a few of our excess servants in order to assist in the back-handed slapping, as I imagine there shall be quite a lot of it to go around.

So pleased to hear that you’ve acquired another one hundred hectares of land. I was even more pleased to read that you acquired it by raiding and setting flame to the adjacent council estate. Jolly good thing that you bought up the local constabulary a decade ago, isn’t it? I wonder, what is it that you are going to do with all of that new land? Will you be building a new estate? Or, as you did fifteen years ago, grow a crop of life-sustaining wheat, only to infect it with smallpox and have it sent over to the Ethiopians? Jolly good practical joke that was; such a shame you “caught flak” in the press about it. No matter, as it was fifteen years ago and all those involved—at least among the Africans—are dead. You simply must clue me in on the proper methods of raising, training, and maintaining a militia, as, you see, the local underbelly of Kentish society has taken to racing their motor-vehicles quite near my grounds. I wish to deal with the matter in a fashion that will quite obviously state my displeasure. (Spitting their corpses and sending them back to their mothers—who, no doubt, have twelve more children roaming around all willy-nilly—is not out of the question.)

And now, my dear Rexley, B.A., Ph.D, M.D., J.D., I have something of a pickle for you to consider. You see, at the last market in Fizzle-upon-Fizzle’s Market Square, I came across a rather curious item: What is known, in some obscure botanist circles as carnivori piranti—in layman’s terms: a piranha plant. If you are not familiar with this species, do not feel ashamed: it is, as I said, quite rare in these Northern latitudes. It appears thusly: Like most plants, it has a long, green stem, off of which there grow leaves which, in the summer time of every even-numbered year, sprout seed pods—prickly little buggers which attach themselves to birds, quadrupeds, any number of things, really. The bulb of the plant is a red-and-white speckled thing. Quite lovely in its own right, it is marked with a white line spreading around the circumference of the bulb. This is where the plant becomes simply astounding. Upon sensing nearby prey, the bulb opens up along this white line and displays two rows of incredibly sharp teeth—rather like that shark’s jaw you showed to me last year when I visited your hunting trophy room.

As you are aware from my last missal, I had decided that I would rather enjoy a spot of gardening here and there. Endeavouring to embark upon this venture in the most proper way possible, I promised myself that only the rarest plants would make their way into my back garden—which, as you know, is larger than that mass of twisted metal and distraction known as Thorpe Park. And so, coming upon this piranha plant in the Market Square, I realised that I had, put quite simply, found the perfect specimen. And so, I gladly paid the £15,600 the Gypsy (for, sadly, we cannot have this Market without their presence) behind the counter—the proceeds of Martha’s last auction of goods stolen from the border towns of Kent more than covering it—and took the plant back home.

It was, at this time, no larger than six inches tall, and the Gypsy had assured me that it would not grow further than eight inches in height. (I know, I know, I should never trust one of their kind, but the excitement of finding such a thing was forefront in my mind, more so than it should have been.) I decided that I would tend to this plant personally. It had been quite a long time since I had engaged in any sort of manual labour, and my latest doctor (after sacking three in a row after they had told me that I should cease my habit of smoking thirty Cuban cigars a day), learning from his predecessors, told me that, instead of quitting smoking, I should spend ten minutes a week gardening. Such advice is well worth the money I pay him to avoid talking about my supposed ill health.

I went in the back of the garden, dug a medium-sized hole, and transferred the plant—roots and all—into the hole, to hopefully take root and make itself prosperous. Oh, it certainly did.

Within a week, it had grown to a foot and a half tall and had taken to eating other plants. Damned peculiar behaviour for a specimen of plant, cannibalism. At any rate, the blasted plant kept growing and eating other plants in the area of the garden until, quite suddenly, it stopped. I had been observing the plant with a curiosity normally reserved for scientists working diligently upon a cure for cancer, and, thus, I noted that it had begun consuming various specimens of wildlife in lieu of other plants. Once again, damned peculiar behaviour, I believe—and yes, I am well aware of the carnivorous appetites of plants such as the Venus fly trap, however, to my knowledge, that species does not snap out its stem to capture foxes.

That’s right, old boy, the damn thing took to consuming foxes whole. I must say, the beasts’ screams at night is a truly unnerving sound. Makes sleeping quite difficult. After a few weeks of the piranha plant continuously eating foxes that wandered into my back garden (as you may remember, ever since the November of 2008, my garden has some property that attracts foxes), it grew to double its size and began consuming my dogs. As I’ve told you before, I rather enjoy the company of the hounds—Irish Wolf Hounds, all of them purebred—and do hate to see them get picked off by a giant, red-and-white plant. Currently, the beastly piranha plant occasionally consumes a hound, though it has, by and large, taken to its new prey rather nicely.

As you are aware, Kent is overrun with an illegal immigrant population consisting of the Turks and the Poles. Well, one day, after the plant had eaten its tenth canine (luckily, I own over one hundred), I decided that, blast it, enough was enough, and ordered my driver Geoffrey (you know, the one with the stutter that we find oh so amusing) to drive me out to Kent to procure services from some of them. We went out to some Godforsaken little town infested with the working class known as Chatham and picked up a couple of Poles.

I intended to pay them the barest minimum I could: £0.10 for the day’s work. They protested, but when I made them aware that I had very powerful connections with the Home Office, and they gladly took the offer. And so, I dispatched them to my back garden, pointed them in the general direction of where the plant could be found, gave them a couple of shovels, and said Godspeed.

Well, the day progressed and, after enough time had passed so that I was sure that, by then, they had trekked the seven miles to the back border of my garden, I decided to walk to the top of my house—where I have the observatory—and see if I could spy what was going on. No sooner did I look through the telescope instaled up there that I viewed the bulb of the plant snapping up in the air with two pairs of human legs dangling madly from the mouth of the carnivori piranti. It had, you see, eaten the Poles. What’s more, it had grown to over the fifteen feet mark and thus surpassed the height of my garden’s wall.

I was in quite the pickle. You know as well as I that Poles don’t count for a penny in the world, but it was a bit of an issue, considering their corpses allowed the plant to grow another ten feet. Drastic measures had to be taken. Thus, I contacted my cousin, Lord Henry John-Smythe Smythington Wilkinson, who owns the arms manufacturing plant in Manchester, and placed an order for ten flamethrowers, to arrive at my grounds the following morning. Never let it be said that, when one owns the worldwide parcel delivery service, that anything is impossible. The flamethrowers were delivered to my door not that morning, but the very night I ordered them!

The next day, Geoffrey and I picked up a group of ten Turks, drove them to my estate, and outfitted them with the flamethrowers. As before, I instructed them as to how they would receive their £.10 per person, pointed them to the back garden, and made my way to the observatory.

What I saw would put any Hollywood war film to shame. Such a battle of plant versus man could never be imaginable. Flames shot up the sides of the plant—damned hard not to refer to it as a “beast”—the carnivori piranti literally screamed in such a manner that the pheasants I keep in another section of my garden broke free of their confines and flew through the air. (No matter, I shall simply order more.) However, at the end of the day, the plant triumphed over the Turks. and, one by one, consumed them whole. I’d hoped that the inherent inferiority of the Turk would kill the plant, but, alas, it was not to be, and the plant grew to a height that I was unable to measure.

It has now begun to snatch helicopters from the air and consume them whole. I fear that, if this behavior continues, it shall grow through the very stratosphere and find a way to breathe in space, consuming satellites and thus destroying my ability to communicate with my innumerable accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, estate agents, biographers, and tailors around the world. And, as I’m sure you are aware, such an event would, no doubt, impede your own ability to do the very same.

And it is so, my dear Rexley, B.A., Ph.D, M.D., J.D., that I turn to you in my hour of need. Have you any idea, any inkling of a notion, of how I can deal with this pest? I would be in your debt.

Give my love to Louise, and do ensure that your progeny knows how to properly back-hand a Welshman.

Very sincerely yours,

Reginald St Smythe-Smythington Holst-Dulverton, B.A., Ph. D, M.D., J.D.

The Black Gate




(Image from <; accessed 8.21.10)

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