Going to the cupboard recently I made a discovery. Or at least, it was when I picked up a packet of porridge to make breakfast and ended up with little sprinklings of porridge everywhere that I realised. We have a mouse in our cupboard again.
Living in the countryside means that this is not an unknown thing. My first encounter with the rodent problem was many years ago, when I actually had three cats living with me. I think one of them must have brought it in as a little playfellow. The mouse naturally did not appreciate its role in this, and promptly set up housekeeping in the cupboard under my stairs, where I had stored the excess Christmas puddings I had made. As everyone knows, Christmas puddings improve over time, and I intended to eat one the next year. Picking it up from the back of the cupboard, I did think it was suspiciously light. When I turned it round in the light of day, I found a neat little hole eaten through the outer wrapping of aluminium foil, then through the inner wrapping of greaseproof paper, and then into the centre of the pudding itself. Apparently the mouse had actually been living for a while in the middle of my Christmas pudding, before crawling away, no doubt rotund and with clogged arteries from the sugar and suet it had consumed. The second pudding, I can record, was excellent, proof of the good taste of the mouse.
The house in France also is in a country situation, with the added problem that the drain behind the old basin and shower was an open gully. We have on occasion been struck by the feeling of being watched and looked up to see a large grey rat sitting in the doorway watching us with its beady little black eyes. After the first such occasion the old man filled the gap up which it must have come with chicken wire and concrete, but we did occasionally have a visit from it or its brethren until the new plumbing was installed recently. These though are gourmet French rats and have never deigned to touch any of the food in the house.
But in Wales the story is different. Oh, the same feeling of being watched, looking up and spotting a mouse sitting in the doorway looking at us; but these are pragmatic Welsh mice, and they seem to have a great liking for cream crackers, as well as the porridge. They open the packet neatly around the end and then abscond with whole crackers, leaving not even crumbs. They also like walnuts, and no wonder with the health benefits being touted. I was though particularly annoyed when they attacked the Christmas Cake Kit, and then decided they didn’t like their dried fruit soaked in brandy, thank you. The porridge they sampled. Three times. At different corners of the packet, so whichever way you turned it, you were showered with the oats. And I have a suspicion that the failure of the last two dishwashers might have something to do with attacks on the wiring, a well-known rodent delicacy.
The trouble is that we are both rather soft-hearted, and furthermore are all out of cats. How can you foully murder a creature with those little hands and whiskers? What we usually do is borrow a humane mousetrap from the daughter’s in-laws and remove the problem a couple of miles up the road, near the vet’s surgery. It seems kinder.
But now we have gone and got our own trap, a neat affair in smoked plastic, very humane, very hygienic. Watch out, mousey, you little ****, pack your bags. You are in for a change of residence.
I’ll even give you a cream cracker to eat on the journey.
Doreen lives in the empty bit in the middle of Wales, where since her retirement she has taken up writing. She says it's better than working any day.
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