Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Collective Noun for Moles

For audio click here
The cafe was quiet, just me, the staff and the girl on the next table. Actually girl is the wrong word, she was a woman, all woman. Surrounded in a fug of smoke, her red hair and green eyes shone through like a landing strip in the fog. Her face said don't mess with me, but there was something in the way she tapped her finger to Aretha that suggested there might be a softer side. She was a pleasure to behold, but I wanted to do more than just behold.
But I’m hopeless at this sort of thing. How on earth do you break the ice with a complete stranger who has don't even think about it written across her forehead? If I get started, I’m not too bad. Once the conversation is flowing I can ride the canoe, but how on earth do you get into the flow in the first place? I longed for her to drop a pen or a coin so I could pick it up for her, say something clever to get it going. But she was not the careless type; maybe she'd learnt from previous experience that carelessness attracts unwanted attention. I racked my brains, desperately trying to think of something to say. Maybe just a compliment would do, I love your hair, your glasses are great, I just love the way your top hugs your breasts - okay maybe not the last one, in fact, maybe not any of them. Were compliments sexist? Did they show that I was just seeing her as a sexual being? (I was, but she needn't know that, nor do you for that matter, so strike that.) Gosh, I really was bad at this.
Then I had a brainwave. It was obvious, why hadn't I thought of it before. I was trying to write a story, but I was stuck on a word. Maybe she would know it. I leaned over and caught her attention.
“Sorry to bother you,” I said, with the most innocent look I could muster, “what's the collective noun for moles?’
She looked at me like I was the village idiot.

“No idea at all,” she spat and, needless to say, the ice remained intact. 


  1. If I were this woman (I am not, so sorry for such disappointment), I would say: "A constellation of moles"

    Would this answer surprise you, satisfy you or sound perfectly natural?

    1. A constellation is a cool answer but not the one my character was looking for :-)

  2. I am sorry that you have ignored my question - this was a real question to which I wanted to know the answer.
    After reading this story twice today I thought how much the interpretation of a given text depends on the reader’s experience and the images and thoughts the reader has in his/her head (especially when there is no visual for the story and the imagination goes wild).
    I do not have any idea what you meant by ‘moles’ but my first thought was ‘moles - brown spots on the skin’ and together with your question of what is collective noun of moles, the image that was created in my mind was this (sorry there is no way here of attaching a photo):
    That is an image I saw some time ago but it somehow got stuck somewhere in my head (in my sub conscience as I never thought about this picture after seeing it). And suddenly when I read your text the image was brought to the surface and I thought about a constellation of moles.
    And I thought to myself: Why is the writer writing about the little brown spots? Does the red haired woman have them on her skin and they have moved his imagination? So I read the text again and this time I thought about the words “collective noun” and only then I thought that it is often used with animals. Haha… and I thought that you probably meant ‘moles the animals’. I had to google it in fact and found out that the collective noun was “a movement of” or “a company of” or “a labour of”.
    But then I thought that in fact I didn’t know what you meant. I only know that if somebody asked me this question I would say “a constellation”. Howgh

    1. Sorry was going to leave the reply till tomorrow when maybe all becomes clearer. Mole has 3 meanings in English. skin, animal and spy (which comes from the animal I think). All will become clearer tomorrow, but that is a great picture.