Monday, 20 October 2008

taking the Mickey

Not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallowed house.
I am sent with broom before
To sweep the dust behind the door

Much Ado About Nothing, 5,2. The titleof the play is apt, as you shall see.

We’ve been blessed with an outbreak of mice again, after an absence of some time. Or, to be more accurate, an ourbreak of mouse – as far as I can tell there’s just the one. We’ve not so far clapped eyes on our unwelcome guest, but every so often we hear the patter of tiny murine feet running about in the space between the first floor boards and the ground floor ceiling.

Not exactly one of the Twelve Plagues of Egypt, you might think. The taps aren’t running with blood. Not a locust in sight noshing the rose bushes. The local cattle, or at least the bits of them on show at Tesco’s meat counter, look healthy enough, if a bit dead. A frog-free zone, except for the charming little Kermits that always live in our garden. No more thunder and lightning than is usual for England in late summer, even allowing for the Climate Change Chimera. Any firstborn that happen to be around can slumber safely in their cots.

But to hear Susie, you wouldn’t think so. A Mouse! Shock! Horror!. Armageddon Hits Coventry!

Before the first pitterpatter had died away Susie (The Verminator) James sprang into action, ripping up floorboards all over the house, poking around with a torch for hours playing spot the shit, and shoving enough Warfarin into the underfloor cavities to send every rodent between here and Moscow to his maker. Traps? She set ‘em wholesale. Cleaned and vacuumed and swept the whole house, from top to bottom. Three times. Scoured in places I didn’t even know we had places. Major upheaval time. Furniture and floorboards all over the place. “Dropping Crumbs On The Carpet Is Absolutely Forbidden On Pain Of Death!!!“ “Turn The Bloody Television Down - I Can’t Hear The Mouse!!!”

That sorta thing. On the nuisance value scale, give me the mice, any day.

Last time we had a visitation, it cost me about a hundred smackeroonies in B&Q. Poisonous substances by the hundredweight, a clattering of traps, enough torch batteries to run the Blackpool Illuminations, some kind of foam sealant which turns into impermeable orange candyfloss when you squirt it into any available point of entry (consenting adults only!) and little electronic doohickeys that you plug into the mains in each room. Apparently they order Mickey In fluent Mouse to piss off, or give him a shocking headache, or something. At twenty-five quid a pop they didn’t make me feel all that good, either.

However, up to now at least, this marriage of toxins, torture and technology had worked. Albeit it would have been cheaper to give each little nibbling nasty his own plane ticket to the Bahamas and enough holiday money to keep the little bugger in gorgonzola for the rest of his natural.

Not content with our stockpile of Weapons of Mouse Destruction left over from the Last Show, Suse felt compelled to look up ‘mice’ on the internet to see if there were any other poisons, potions, instruments of torture, spells, amulets, ultimate deterrents, or anything else she could buy (read “I could buy”) to halt the advance of Genghis Mouse and his ravening hordes. Bloody Google! Whatever happened to Blissful Ignorance?

It would appear, quoth (and quoted) she, that Mr Mouse doesn’t come as single spies, but in battalions. In every group (according to those nice people from Google, may they each and every one spend eternity trying to work on a Commodore Pet with dial-up) there’s a Dominant Male, a non-dominant male, and several females. Presumably the function of the non dominant male is to take the DM out for a beer in between rudies, or when he’s just plain fed up with the girls not squeaking to him.

Amidst all this domestic chaos, in walks Melinda, my Elder Stepdaughter. Another one, like her mother, with strong and forcefully expressed opinions, not always backed up with impeccable logic.

“Oh, ” she says. “ What you need is to borrow a cat.”

Let us leave aside for the moment the fact that Gemma, the younger and more excitable of our two Rough Collies, would immediately think “aha – Lunch.” (the elder, Amie, is far too much of a lady and far too laid back to let a mere cat disturb the even tenor of her ways. )

Let us leave aside for the moment that Melinda has five cats, and still has mice.

“Yeah. Right. “ I said. “You mean I should go through Yellow Pages until I find somebody that hires out cats”?

A chap could find himself in trouble, that way.

“Hello – is that Rent-a-Pussy?”

“Yes, duckie, that’s us. At your service. ”

Good-oh. I need to borrow a cat. Urgently. ”

“Oooh – I don’t know, dear. I’ve heard it called all sortsa things in my time, but never ‘borrowing a cat’. I can do you French, I can do you Greek, I can do S & M, or I can do you straight. It’s a hundred and fifty quid and I can be round in half an hour.”

“A ton and a half call-out? Even my Polish plumber doesn’t charge that kind of money!…….”

………..but I think I’ll leave it there. You get the drift. Back to the mice. Or rather, mouse.

The house, always spotless, is now gleaming, top to bottom, from bedroom ceilings (“they might climb the curtains”) to under the kitchen sink. Any food, including tins and bottles (“just to be on the safe side”) is in a tupperware box, inside another tupperware box, in the fridge. The vacuum cleaners (all six of ‘em – Suse feels about Hoovers like Imelda Marcos felt about shoes ) are lying around in corners with flaccid hoses and gasping for breath. The office, normally in the state of organised clutter I find comfortable, is so clean and tidy it’ll take me weeks to find anything.

And as for………….hang on – what’s that noise?


Oh! Soddit!

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