Wednesday, 17 October 2012
Sam Taylor wages war on some unwanted visitors
Written by Sam Taylor'Don't take it personally,' Ian the mouse man said. 'Everyone has them.' Mice, he was at pains to assure me, were very democratic and he should know; he had spent his adult life studying their little foibles. For instance, it is a common
misconception that they like cheese. They prefer chocolate. Or peanut butter. They usually live outside, but then as the interior of my (our) house looked like an outside shed, it was understandable that they might have become a bit confused. They don't really like humans (or anything with fur) although some of them can become rather domesticated. The Hastings River Mouse, for instance, is really quite friendly, he explained. But then, bizarrely, despite their local-sounding moniker, they are never found outside of Australia. 'Although there's always a fi rst,' he said. 'How exciting would that be?'
For some reason I was having trouble sharing his enthusiasm.
'They're very sociable,' he continued, as he laid down little boxes of poison for their supper.
'I like to think of them having parties when we're not looking,' he laughed. Like most serial killers, Ian the mouse man had a very disconnected view of his prey. He had lost count of the amount he had 'dispatched'. On a good day, he figured the numbers were in the hundreds. There wasn't exactly a Guinness Book Of Records tally but his friend Tony in Wales was very competitive. 'He'll work nights,' he said.
Tony also worked with ferrets for those homeowners unfortunate enough to have rats. 'Great method. Very ecologically sound and no mess,' Ian the mouse man assured me. Apparently Tony evacuates the residents then sets his girls to work – they can clear a small terrace in a couple of hours apparently.
'It's a real art,' he said, smiling. 'And at least it gives the rats a run for their money.'
Seeing the look of horror creeping across my face, Ian the mouse man told me not to worry. My little problem would be all over pretty soon, but I had to be vigilant. He usually gave his clients a list of dos and don'ts for kitchen waste but he could see that wasn't an issue. In fact, he was surprised they'd bothered with me at all. 'It's not like it's very inviting in here, is it?' he said, looking around at the rubble-strewn scullery. 'Don't you like cooking?' he asked, as he started to pack up his bag of tricks. It was a long story, I said. I didn't want to bore him, but it wasn't going to look like this forever. One day there would be a beautiful kitchen. And even a nice dining table. 'Perhaps you could come back and see it when I've finished?' He said I could rely on it. 'Mice are great for repeat business,' he smiled.
Next week: How did Whistler's mother cope?
Daily tip from the lady archive
“HEAVEN forbid that we should go back to the days when beauty was under suspicion and plain girls were assumed to have angelic natures.”The Lady. With Prejudice. 28th April 1938