Extract from 'The Stories of George the Hamster'
A HUMAN'S INTRODUCTION
The works and writings of George the Hamster are now legendary amongst the rodents of the civilised world - even amongst the civilised rodents of the not-all-that-civilised parts of the human world (you know who you are).
His works have been translated into eighteen different hamster dialects, three gerbil and twelve grasshopper, too - and there's seldom a day goes by when human political leaders don't hold their head up high and acknowledge their debt to the legacy of George the Hamster.
Therefore, it seems appropriate to give the reader some background to this most famous and celebrated of rodents.
George was purchased from a local pet shop during February 1991. We cannot be sure where or when he was born as the owner of the shop is unsure himself - George's explanations don't throw much light on the subject, either, as he dates his birth to ‘...the fourth eclipse of the planet Mercury that it makes with Venus on its half-circuit around its third moon.'
As you can see, hamster dating techniques are so far removed from our own more advanced methods that his description is virtually non-sensical. However, judging from the size of George when we purchased him, we estimate that he was born approximately during the last full week in January of the same year.
He was a fast developer, lifting up items in his cage and making the appropriate squeaks that represented the object. We learnt quickly that he was trying to communicate with us and after several weeks of intense study, research and practice we grew fairly proficient in the translation and transmission of the hamster-tongue.
We never once realized that he'd turn out to be such an intelligent hamster, or that we would be able to hold intellectual conversations with him, but this is how it worked out.
The Hamster History of the World Volume One
George dictated six short articles for use in the local church's magazine within his first few months with us, but he was working on a greater work that, at that time, we were blissfully unaware of - ‘The Hamster History of the World.'
He dictated the first volume to me during the early part of spring and we distributed copies to our friends at the same time.
The concept behind the publication was that human history had been written with an unfair bias - hamsters being so small, they often went undetected in the momentous events of world history and it was George's aim to correct that imbalance with six pithy short stories (including the first hamster in space, the first hamster to fly and, what proved to be one of my favourites, the story of Furatio Half-Nelson, the hamster that lived in the great Admiral Nelson's empty sleeve).
The popularity of those first six articles proved to be the catalyst that propelled him into gathering together stories from the lives of some of his relatives in the ancient and modern past and to draw spiritual truth from them.
The Hamster History of the World Volume Two
In the coming months we developed Hamscript for him to use - after all, we were getting limited sleep having to be up at all hours of the night whenever George felt the inspiration starting to flow.
Incidentally, the use of the word ‘Hamscript' refers throughout this book either to the characters that a hamster uses in order to write, or else to a scroll of hamster writing as in the human equivalent, a manuscript. The context determines which meaning it should be given.
Hamscript, then, was a way for George to be able to commit to paper stories using a series of full and semi-paw prints with pronunciation marks.
Having formulated an alphabet (based on an old Hamsterglyphic monosyllabic alphabet) and having introduced it to him, there was an added complication of using paper, for hamsters have an irresistible urge to chew anything. This posed us with what we thought would be an insurmountable problem, but at last discovered that white lino was both unchewable and reusable.
Using a black ink pad, George wrote these stories in ‘Hamscript,' which we subsequently translated as accurately as possible.
You will, of course, understand that the style was bound to be different, as before we'd only been able to give the sense - now a word-for-squeak translation was possible.
It was in Hamscript, then, that the second volume of ‘The Hamster History' was written, subsequently translated and distributed in late spring. The thrust was much the same as the first, except that George broadened his storytelling to include events for which there are no human equivalents.
The Hamster History of the World Volume Three
(also, more commonly, known as ‘A Critical and Exegetical Compilation of Selected Ancient Hamscripts with Close Reference to Hermeneutic and Homiletic Principles’.)
Then, during late summer, George drafted volume three, which was a studious and academic work for which he received critical acclaim throughout the rodent world. He used many different ancient Hamscripts (even referring to some of those uncovered within the past decade by archaeologists at Qumran) to put together six texts, which he subsequently translated for the benefit of us humans.
Indeed, as far as we are aware, this is the first of its kind and it therefore needs a little explanation before the reader can fully appreciate the originality of this work.
In the previous two editions of ‘The Hamster History of the World,' the stories had come from tradition handed down from one generation to another by squeak of mouth - hence they're called ‘Oral tradition.' But, in this volume, George had been hard at work comparing ancient Hamsterglyphic manuscripts and their variations that stretched back many centuries.
As hamsters moved west and east from the Ark, both the hamster-tongue and script varied, often changing entire words and giving phrases totally new meanings. George had to study carefully each culture's native tongue, interpret accordingly and piece together, with incredible accuracy, the underlying tale to which these Hamscripts testified.
It's quite amazing that the hamscripts survived when one considers how prolific hamsters are at chewing. But, for one reason or another, there are enough extant Hamscripts available to perform a higher criticism of the text.
To present to the reader an easy-to-understand format, George disregarded technical notes wherever possible. However, on a number of occasions he had to resort to a footnote to explain a textual problem that can be pursued by anyone wishing to delve in to the waters of higher Hamscript criticism for themselves.
Although longer in writing than the other two volumes, it was well worth the wait. To mark the milestone of this achievement, both the Royal Mail and the US Postal Service issued a series of special postage stamps to coincide with the release.
For this first edition of George’s works, I’ve taken the liberty of combining all three volumes into a single section and harmonised George’s original introductions into one.
An English Hamster in Paris
Having achieved more than most hamsters do in an entire lifetime, we thought that George's statement to us that he was going to ‘hang up his blotting pad for a rest' meant a permanent break from the literary world but, far from it - ‘An English Hamster in Paris' was released during October '92 and distributed to a wider audience than were any of his other works.
I'd known that George was up to something when, way back during the early weeks of May, I'd found several half-chewed Hamscripts at the back of the kitchen cupboards that he'd disappeared behind one Saturday morning when I was cleaning out his cage.
I'd tried to decipher them but to no avail as they had certain characters that I wasn't familiar with. Upon questioning, George revealed nothing - in fact, he categorically denied ever having seen them and put their existence down to the ‘unauthorised entry of a bunch of field mice' that he said he'd heard late one night after Kath and I were sound asleep in bed.
The meticulous planning that went into George's escape was what I had unwittingly stumbled upon - as he later revealed to me - but, having realised the impossibility of progressing any further in my investigations, I pushed all thought of the Hamscripts aside and got on with daily living.
It was at about the same time that I noticed a floppy disc to our word processor go missing. I didn't question George about this as I couldn't conceive of a hamster having any use for it, but it's evident now that he was storing it up for the day when, unbeknown to me, he would return from his summer vacation in Paris and begin to record his exploits.
Using a specially developed Brother 10/12 pitch daisy wheel in modern Hamscript, George was able to work on his own with arduous toil and fevered brow once we'd gone to bed - correcting, improving, expanding and printing (we thought that the tiny pat-pat-pat below us in the living room was George running like a mad lemming around his compound - but it turned out that it was the word processor printing out one after another of George's recorded experiences).
The text in this specific work was the result of many hours of toil that I had little to do with - by swapping the Hamscript wheel for one in standard English, a direct word-for-word translation was possible (all I can be credited with is changing the daisy wheel).
This, then, was truly George's first totally original work and must be ranked, we believe, as one of the truly great works that has ever come from the paw of a golden hamster.
An English Hamster in Scotland
Then, almost a year later, George produced another epic (well, we thought so, anyway), the record of his eventful trip to Scotland that took place early in the year.
George kept a diary while he was there and, having returned, expanded his brief notes into a fuller account of that ‘fantastic voyage' in which he experienced Scottish hamster hospitality at first hand.
This was written and compiled in the same way as ‘An English Hamster in Paris' and was again circulated to a wider audience than the previous four works.
What happened ‘next' must be reserved for a future book but, for now, these opening five works will give the reader some basic grounding in rodent literature and the reason why, twenty years or so from now, there may be one who takes his seat in the White House.
I have reluctantly had to make the decision not to retain the original introductions and prefaces of the works as they were released in small locally produced booklets and they now simply clutter up the text. I have left, however, George's own introductions, which give the reader a quick overview of each of the five works at the appropriate points.
I've compiled the sections omitted into this article, for they show the progression of thought and give snippets of information not available to the college student who's generally only ever given the text of the stories themselves for critical analysis.
I have also used an edited compilation of George's own acknowledgements that appear in the original works and brought them together with the addition of my own thanks to people who are, today, just as deserving a mention - as George would have wanted me to..)(.
The translators can be contacted here