We were greeted this morning by the mangled body of a mouse laid out, Silent Witness style, on the stairs down to the kitchen. The cat looked very smug. It reminded me that, on a loo run in the middle of the night, she had burst in on me and tried to get me to follow her downstairs. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m fairly sure a decapitated mouse looks even worse at 3am than it does at 7am. And I’m sure it would feel even worse than that. There’s a high likelihood that I would have stepped on it in the dark. A simple ‘yeesh’ will suffice to sum up my feelings on this prospect. Poor little mouse.
It all left me musing the nature of presents. Mme Bovary, the cat, clearly felt there was no finer way for her to express her love for the family than to offer us a headless rodent. And it’s often the way that, when you buy someone a present, you just get them something you’d like yourself. I’ve had to start a little present book, where I note down the recipient and the gift, after trying to give one of my best friends a mango stoner twice in a row. Well, I just think they’re fantastic things and every home should have one. But possibly not two, I do see that.
It did occur to me that the cat probably found the taste of the small mouse very disappointing. She’s been brought up on a strict diet of Purina Chicken and Rice, after we ran out of the Hills Science Plan the vet recommended and she refused to go back to it. The taste of actual raw mammal must be very odd after carefully processed, triangular, dry chickenish, ricey, cardboard-looking nuggets. So maybe leaving the carcass for us wasn’t so much of a gift as a, ‘no, you eat it, I really couldn’t possibly’ moment.
It all reminded me of a birthday I had when the girls were very small. I was exhausted, and they had been particularly fractious, toddlers being no real respecters of birthdays, apart from their own. Eventually, it was nearly bedtime, and I was watching the minutes, when Child One turned to me. ‘As it’s your birthday, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s invite all my friends round for a party!’
Like the dead mouse, it was a kind thought. But really, Mme Bovary, you shouldn’t have.