Old Halob, Ant God

It has taken me a while to catch up with this, but recently at The Lumber Room elberry wrote “Being worshipped by ants is nothing to be proud of”. I can see “where he’s coming from”, as the airheads put it, but he is clearly unaware of the curious case of Old Halob, the coach and mentor of fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol.

During a period in his life when he was not yet as old as he was due to become, Old Halob found his prowess as an egger-on of sporty feats under severe strain. This was in the days before he had turned the spindly, albeit fictional, Bobnit Tivol into a champion sprinter, and to date much of his work had been concentrated in the field of ice hockey puck brandishing technique. His record was patchy, but he had taken more than one raggle-taggle team of amateurs through cup competitions, in one case reaching the quarter-finals. It was his attempt to broaden his scope to the training of racing starlings that shattered his confidence. This was Old Halob’s first and only intervention in non-human, or inhuman, sport, and he quickly realised he was out of his depth. He found it well nigh impossible to communicate his vision of sportiness to birds, despite filling his pockets with millet and curtailing his habit of throwing rocks at swans.

Casting around for tips, he fell in one day, upon a sandbank, with an animal behaviourist of great repute. This fellow, who may actually have been a charlatan, advised Old Halob to start by working with ants, work his way up through stoats and weasels, and only when he knew what he was doing to tackle the starlings. This argument was not without merit, for even a sports coach of genius, as Old Halob undoubtedly was, has to have a full understanding of ants and stoats and weasels, their habits and appetites, their anatomies and peccadillos, before hoping to work effectively with either birds or fictional athletes.

Thus the irascible chain-smoking coach took up lodgings at the edge of an ant farm, and spent hours upon hours every day drilling the ants in all sorts of sporty disciplines. So fantastic was his rapport with the tiny insects that they came to worship him as a god, one who wore a Homburg hat and spat out much phlegm. Their weird alien insect brains underwent some kind of Old Haloby modification, and he became their single, simple focus, their one and only, their world.

It was through his work with the ants that Old Halob honed the techniques which would make him a legend, and thus, contrary to elberry’s rash statement, he was always proud to be worshipped by them, as well he might be. Unfortunately, he did not go on to wreak his magic with either stoats of weasels or starlings, for one day he was out walking when he toppled into a ditch and was put in a clinic for a year or two. As the history books tell us, it was in that clinic, from his bed upon the balcony, that Old Halob learned of the existence of fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol. The future was set fair.

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