Imagine for a moment that you are a small rodent. Say, three inches long. Plus tail. You are being pursued by what you assume is a merciless killer – to wit, Yikes, our most experienced cat. You need the perfect hiding place.
Well done, mousey, you’ve find it. Welcome to our dining room.
Right now (redecorating, honestly) there are piles of books all over the floor. Against the walls, everywhere. Hiding places abound. And there’s no shortage of grub cascading from the table…
“It’s behind those books, Dad. I can hear it.”
“So can I, Ben, but if I move them it’ll just go somewhere else.”
“Well what are you going to do, Dad? Wait for it to die of old age?”
“No,” I sigh, “I’ll move the books. Go and ask your Mother to help me.”
“She’s watching Silent Witness.” That’s that then. Last week’s asteroid could have scored a direct hit on the next street: Jane would still be glued to the TV.
My youngest son unveils a hitherto unnoticed sadistic streak. “Can’t we gas it or something? Spray it with WD40?”
I suspect he’s in a hurry to get back to the computer. His mates are waiting for him online. ‘Where’s Ben?’ ‘Oh, he’s chasing a mouse round his dining room’ probably doesn’t score many man-points in Year 9.
“No, we’re not spraying it. Open the patio doors. Let’s give it an escape route.”
“I know that. Go and put your dressing gown on.”
I move a pile of books. Yes! The mouse makes a break for it. But instead of heading for freedom it scoots across the carpet and climbs the bookshelf. It’s now hiding out in The Desperate Shelf.
“Alright,” I concede ten minutes later. “Fetch Yikes.” And I start moving 20 year old bottles of Spanish liqueur to give the hired assassin a clear run.
And good old Yikes does the job in no time at all. Farm bred, a trained killer. What a cat! Mouse in his mouth he trots proudly into the corner of the room – and promptly lets it go. The mouse needs no second invitation and disappears under the computer desk.
I give the cat a stern pep talk. “Now do your job,” I command. He doesn’t. He downs tools. If ever an animal thought ‘sod it’ that was Yikes. He lost interest and went back to bed.
“Too many biscuits,” Ben said, giving a fair impression of my wife. “You’ve made him lazy.”
“Looks like it,” I conceded. “Either that or we’re the only family in the country with a cat that’s a Buddhist.”
But no sign of a Buddhist 14 year old. “For God’s sake find a way to kill it, Dad. It’s probably pregnant and tomorrow morning there’ll be 200 mice running round the dining room.”
That’s the trouble with teenagers.Hollywoodhas trained them to believe every animal that enters your house/lagoon/theme park is a) pregnant and b) will give birth to a pack/shoal/swarm of lethal killers. “It’s not breeding season for mice,” I say with all the confidence I can muster.
My son has one final look under the desk. “Dad…”
“The mouse has crapped on the carpet.” Only people who are reading this blog for the first time will wonder who cleaned it up. (Memo to self: add new skill to LinkedIn profile…)
And that’s where you currently find me: sitting at the dining room table with the doors wide open and the February wind whistling round my ankles. My family have deserted me; Yikes is snoring peacefully and the mouse is – presumably – deciding which book to eat for dinner…