Asymmetric Warfare – Me and the Mosquitoes

Guess where I went on holidays?
Guess where I went on holidays?

I’m not entirely sure what this sign means. It just seemed like a suitable image for last week when I was on holidays in Madeira (a volcanic island, way out in the Atlantic off North Africa coast).

I spent a fair bit of the week engaged in asymmetric warfare with a bunch of mosquitoes.  The asymmetric warfare definition talks about ‘belligerents’ (that was me after two nights) who’s “power, strategy and tactics differ significantly”.

On my side, several wmd’s (weapons of mosquito destruction):

  • Physical – squashing them if they landed on me;
  • Mechanical – as above but assisted with a rolled up copy of Hello! Magazine (not mine, and about all it’s good for);
  • Fire – candles, cooking stove etc;
  • Toxic Chemicals – some sort of repellent spray supplied by my Mother (probably banned);
  • Really Toxic Chemicals –various things purchased from the local grocery store (definitely banned), that gave me coughing fits; and finally………….
  • More Physical Barriers – hiding under the bed sheets (defeated) until they had gone away.

Mosquito tactics and special weapons:  

  • Numbers – there was definitely more than one of them;
  • Fearless – a sudden violent end meant nothing to them;
  • Persistence – they never gave up; and
  • Sonic Weapons – that buzzing in your ear at about 1am is incredibly disturbing.

There was no easy way out of this. Their tactics and weapons won in the end.  I woke up in the mornings with my bald head covered in bites; I couldn’t keep it under the sheets all night – had to breathe sometime. With the bites and the bleary bloodshot eyes and I bore an uncanny resemblance to that Pinhead bloke from the Hellraiser films (nice!)

It was all too late when I discovered their breeding ground, an abandoned irrigation water tank behind the house. Although I wanted vengeance I was prevented from using the kerosene and matches on them (probably a good idea on reflection).

So did anything useful come out of this?

Well, while I was lying awake under the sheets that phrase often used by visiting
consultants and motivational speakers came to mind…………. “you are never too small and insignificant to make a difference. Just think about the impact a mosquito will have when you are in the same room together”.

This rather irritating phrase is now lodged firmly in my still very itchy head. I’m not
sure I’ll get around to using it anywhere, but it’s got to be worth looking out for an opportunity.

So what’s the PONT?

  1. Small (and annoying) things can have a big impact.
  2. Unconventional tactics are the way to get ahead in asymmetric conflicts.
  3. Expect to get splatted from time to time, so a plan B is worth having.

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here:

2 Responses

  1. Nik Mariam

    The wisest entry so far! I can confirm that getting splatted is a condition of being alive – the great thing is to keep it as metaphorical as possible so that life can continue. Oh, but all the saints preserve us from mosquitos finding it a metaphor; particularly if in the same room with one…

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