Given the depths of winter in which we find ourselves, we thought it was safe to finally get round to answering this question, which we were sent back in the heady days of summer. Any wasp-bothering replies will therefore hopefully not result in an angry swarm making a beeline our way. (Sorry, that was terrible, it really was.)
What do wasps aspire to? Do any go to heaven?
(He’s a man spare with words, this Lionel. That is not his real name, by the way, and, unfortunately, he can’t tap dance, particularly not on ceilings. Nonetheless, he does exist under another moniker and Clare felt that a question from him would be worth plying him with alcohol for. The result, perhaps not surprisingly under the booze-induced circumstances, is a little on the strange side.)
Wasps get a pretty tough time of it, really; a lot of bad press. I’m not best pleased with the way they are incrementally destroying my back fence; year on year, you can hear the blighters munching away at the wood and it really is looking in a sorry state. Every summer, my lodger takes great delight in taking a badminton racquet to the tinkers, so many times has he been stung defending our territory. But on the plus side, they do keep our tomatoes aphid free, so you have to weigh up the cost of replacement panels against the cost of some new Money Makers or Tiny Tims. Oh, erm. Anyway, moving swiftly on…
In terms of aspiration, I can deduce that wasps are keen to get on the property ladder and don’t shirk their duties when putting down roots and creating a community. This is very commendable. In fact, wasps think big, and seem collectively to be hardwired with something of an empire-building gene; quite an impressive aspiration. Unfortunately for the individual, once the civilisation has been founded and great care has been employed to maintain it, there seems to be no happy downtime in which to enjoy it, no retirement period for Mr & Mrs Wasp to sit and gaze on the splendour of their hard work and creativity. Weaker, tired-out specimens immediately keel over and shuffle off this mortal coil while the more-brawn-less-brain types carry on a little longer, but concentrate merely on seeking solace in alcohol-induced violence until they too meet their sticky ends some time autumnal.
As such, wasps’ motivations are as reasonable and straightforward as any other species, so why shouldn’t they have a place on the other side? Mum always told me that our pet pooches went to doggy heaven replete with biscuits and bones, so I can only assume that the waspy world has its equivalent. Probably with half-empty cider bottles as far as the eye can see.
The short answers to your questions are: acceptance, and yes, sometimes. The long answers? Well, they are pretty long. Almost too long. And boring too. So I shall give you the middle-sized answers. The answers that Goldilocks would find ‘just right’ and promptly steal.
So what do wasps aspire to? Acceptance. But what sort of acceptance? Acceptance in the world of musical theatre.
Every day, countless wasps queue up outside the offices of theatre agents practising their lines, but they see little return for their efforts. Many is the time a wasp will hear an agent laughing that they ‘certainly have a good buzz about them’ before a door is slammed in their tiny, tearful, wasp face.
Wasp tears are sweet, like honey, and a few unscrupulous souls are now hanging about theatrical agencies hoping to collect them so they can sell the sugary eye-nectar to the rich and powerful.
In fact, to date only seven wasps have ever managed to get their little pads on an Equity card, and only two of them have played on the West End. Most find themselves doing voiceovers on advertisements for cleaning products or in amateur-dramatic versions of Cats.
Do any go to heaven? Yes, sometimes. But which ones? Well, the ones that are good.
The failure to realise the dream of starring on Broadway can leave many a wasp a bitter and spiteful creature. The wasps we see, frightening young children and drunkenly staggering around the litter bins at the Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens are wasps that have faced hardship and adversity their whole lives. They are at the bottom of a slippery slope. Most will stab. Most will go off the rails and stab someone. Most will stab and stab again.
The gates of heaven are forever locked to them. They are forced to spend eternity humming a refrain from Oklahoma while demons push their faces in boiling jam and crease their signed photos of Annie Ross and Ethel Merman. Damned for ever is the wasp that stabs. Damned forever is the wasp that turns to crime.
But can we blame them for stabbing us? It is us, the humans, that are truly to blame. We are the ones who deny them their dreams. We let John Barrowman on the stage, why not them?
It is time to end this prejudice. Before heaven becomes a very quiet place indeed.