Mice have loomed large for us recently. There were bizarre, not to say farcical, scenes on our holiday in Brittany when Child One, Child Two and I ran about screaming for almost half an hour when we spotted a tiny little mouse zipping across their basement bedroom. On my own, I can cope perfectly well with a mouse*. But like sneezing, screaming seems to be catching and we were exhausted by the time we had realised all we had to do was close the door and contain the problem. We got the lettings agent to come round and sort it out. He did this in a very huffy Gallic way, stomping around and throwing duvets hither and thither, not finding the mouse and accusing me darkly of all kinds of delusions. When I finally persuaded the girls to go back into the room, of course we found the mouse curled up innocently in Child One’s best handbag and all the screaming started again.
When I got back last week from a couple of nights in Paris, there was a mouse laid out thoughtfully on the doormat by the cats, to mark my return. I didn’t scream at all, in fact I was quite glad to see it was a whole mouse and not the mysterious halves that sometimes appear and leave obvious and troubling question marks behind them.
Then last week, Child Two and I were watching a particularly afterbirthy bit of Call the Midwife through our jumpers, as is our wont, when the junior cat bounced in with a proud and jaunty step. I looked over at him, quite glad to break away from supervising what had proved to be a difficult labour, only to see that he had a mouse firmly clamped in his jaws. It was arranged with its head dangling down on one side, tail down the other, and looked a bit like a hipster moustache. Needless to say, the screaming began again.
I was reminded about our rodent sightings when Child Two asked for a water bottle the other day and I directed her to a little-used cupboard. ‘Yeuch, it smells really bad in here,’ she protested, backing away and reusing an old Evian bottle instead. With a heavy heart, I inspected the cupboard when she was safely at school. There was, indeed, a pungent smell. I started taking out bits of old, scarcely used kitchen equipment – waffle makers, weird coffee bean grinding accoutrements, fiddly plastic ice lolly makers, I’m sure you’ve got a cupboard-full yourself – when I moved a water bottle and realised it wasn’t empty. Inside, all curled up small, was a tiny and very whiffy dead mouse. I hurled the water bottle across the room and did a good bit of screaming.
Was it the hipster moustache mouse, or yet another one? And why, when we have two cats, do we have such a plentiful supply of mousey surprises? I’m not sure I’ll ever get the answers, but if you have any thoughts, please let me know.
* not always true