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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ants in My Pints

Sir John Lubbock, 30 April 1834 – 28 May 1913

Back any KMSA Knight into a pub corner and get him to empty out his pockets, and odds are you will find, amongst the bottle tops and beer coasters, a few pieces of torn out newspaper
(knights are inveterate readers of newsprint ) where he has spotted an odd fact or news item, and torn it out of the publication, to use to his advantage at a later date.

And so it was that Hooky, over a foaming London Pub brew (actually it was his hotel bedroom, but we'll draw a veil over that) dug around in his pants pocket and handed me a warm scrap of newsprint, that when uncrumpled was titled;

'Weird fact of the Day'

Sir John Lubbock experimented on ants by getting them drunk. The 19th century biologist discovered sober ants would carry their drunken ant comrades back to the nest, if they were from the same colony - but they would throw drunk strangers into the ditch.

This sort of thing is like catnip to a KMSA Knight, dealing as it does with; Drink, Curiosity, Eccentricity, and generally the notion that there is nothing better or more important in life than to just get a bunch of ants drunk in the name of science.

My requested quest then was to find out more of this John Lubbock.

Well for a start it turns out he is an English Aristocrat; the 1st Baron Avebury, no less, and a real Sir as well, which puts our own self titled knighthoods to shame for a kickoff.

He also looks a great deal like a young Sir Bowie.

The rest of his resume, reads pretty much like you'd want your average KMSA knight to be; Banker, Politician, Biologist, Archaeologist and alround thinker and drinker. (okay so I put the last one in ),_1st_Baron_Avebury

And so it was as an amateur biologist of some distinction, writing books on hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, and Wasps. A Record of Observations on the Habits of the Social Hymenoptera. in 1884.), on insect sense organs and development, on the intelligence of animals, and on other natural history topics, that Hooky's scrap of paper was drawn.

But it was to a little footnote to his life that I was drawn, as in its simplicity it summed up one of the main tenets of KMSA life, that of the Library or now-a-days the Internet, when he was cited as having written the quotation, "We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth". This variation appears in his book The Pleasures of Life: "Not only does a library contain "infinite riches in a little room," but we may sit at home and yet be in all quarters of the earth."

Quite So Sir John.

Sir Dayvd (the travelling Cyber-knight) of Old Oxford Town.


  1. Sign me up for the next study of drunken animals...and I'm not talking about the next KMSA Council! LOL!

    Good research, and well done mate! Little did we know when I handed you that piece of paper in London that we would find such an interesting character. And yes, he does bare a remarkable likeness to Sir Bowie.

    Perhaps Sir Bowie experimented with drinking ants in a past life? LOL!

    Dare I say, that with such impressive credentials and outlandish ideas...we must make Sir John an Honorary Knight of Moleskine, Spirit and join the ranks alongside other H-KMSA's like Sir Jack of America!

    Sir Hook Who's Taking His Pants of For Another Pint of Warrick

  2. Yes I guess that Sir John of Avebury is ecletic enough to join our merry band. A real life knight plus all the other off-the-wall questioning of life he did, I'd say he is a Model KMSA man.

    I'm sure he'd be proud.

    I see that with all the links I am getting today, regarding American Morris Dancers that the next stage of the English withdrawl symptoms has now been entered; that of the search for the English Drug on he US side of the Pond.

    Well happy Dancing Hook, when May comes around.

    You can proudly tell them you have actually danced with the Oxford Scholars and Gents Morris dancers and didn't disgrace yourself for one second.

    Sir Dayvd ( who has cleared up after his beer and BBQ on the lawn out front and is trying to resist having a nap ) of the Cotswolds.

  3. Makes me wonder if ant societies have Good Samaritans who see all ants as one?

    Do ants Morris dance when they're drunk?

    Sir Bowie "who looks nothing like Sir John Lubbock" of Greenbriar

  4. ahem! BOWIE!!...i do believe there is a shot of you on the blog somewhere complete with rusty colored hair and big bushy awfully similar LOL...

    Nah Ants push over Rubber Tree plants on the way home drunk from the Ugly Bug Ball LOL...


    Once a lonely caterpillar sat and cried
    To a sympathetic beetle by his side
    I've got nobody to hug
    I'm such an ug-i-ly bug

    Then a spider and a dragonfly replied
    If you're serious and want to win a bride
    Come along with us, to the glorious annual ugly bug ball

    Come on let's crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
    To the ugly bug ball (to the ball to the ball)
    And a happy time we'll have there, one and all and the ugly bug ball

    While the crickets click their cricky melodies
    All the ants were fancy dancing with the fleas
    Then up from under the ground
    The worms came squirming around
    Oh they danced until their legs were nearly lame
    Every little crawling creature you could name
    Everyone was glad
    What a time they hade
    They were so happy they came

    Come on let's crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
    To the ugly bug ball (to the ball to the ball)
    And a happy time we'll have there, one and all and the ugly bug ball

    The our caterpillar saw a pretty queen
    She was beautiful and yellow black and green
    He said would you care to dance
    Their dancing lead to romance
    Then she sat upon his caterpillar knee
    And he gave his caterpillar queen a squeeze
    Soon they'll honeymoon
    Build a big cocoon
    Thanks to the ugly bug ball

    Come on let's crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
    To the ugly bug ball (to the ball to the ball)
    And a happy time we'll have there, one and all and the ugly bug ball

    Sir D of the Cotwold Ant Safari

  5. Quite so, indeed.

    I used to set out little cups of beer to catch roaches when I briefly lived in a particularly nasty apartment in Texas. They climbed in and died. So, go ants, I guess...

  6. Way to Go

    .... Now that, Lady Tammy, reminds me of the brewer who died after falling in a vat of his own beer. Mind you, he had to climb out six times to go to the restroom first.

    Sir D ( who is now off to bed to dream of being a roach in Tammy's Texas apartment ) of Anti Anti- Ant County