Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mouseville here we come!

Mog had been gently suggesting that it might be time for me to turn out my food cupboard. My cupboard, like the room, have been occupied by three different people in the last twelve months, and although I've finally moved into the bedroom, I'd only really been occupying the first three inches of the cupboard. The remainder was occupied by uncharted depths of herbs, spices and teas, reflecting the different tastes and superior cookery skills of Mog's past two flatmates. Mog had mentioned it several times during the week, so on Friday I finally got round to it.

I was discovering things I never knew I owned; Dhal and whole black peppers jostled with chai teas for space, and as I reflected on this and picked up a packet of peanuts of highly questionable vintage, I was a little surprised to find a little mouse at the back. He'd evidently been living there for quite a long time, as suggested by the droppings under his makeshift house of loose spaghetti, or I'd just really scared him.

Being the man of the house, I felt the adrenaline rising in me, and promptly slammed the cupboard door and went outside for a cigarette. Mog was explaining why I really had to kill it; I was explaining kharma, suffering, and the fact that the little fellow was probably a guy who'd said that in a past life. And I certainly wasn't up for spending my next life in a North London kitchen.

"I'll do it", she offered, wearing her Inner City Teacher look. I backed away, and said I'd deal with it in my own way. Some moments later I was in the kitchen, wearing heavy shoes and gloves, shovelling the now-inedible contents of the cupboard into a binbag and backing the mouse further into a corner. I felt I was making progress in persuading it to run out the back door to freedom, when it scampered to the other side of the cupboard and hid behind some dinner plates. I really should have moved those first.

Mog came in to see how I was handling the situation, and was less than impressed. "I'm trying to persuade him to jump out the cupboard and go out into the garden."

"This isn't an amazing mouse, and I don't think he's getting the idea."

"Maybe he is, and this is how we're going to make our fortunes. Like in that film."

"Do you have any common sense at all?" Mog had noticed that I was staring into the middle distance with a smile.

"Shu shu shu" she said, rubbing her fingers together as if she was counting money. "This always works, look. Shu shu shu". Stuart, as I'll call him, had poked his nose out from behind a soup bowl, and was starting to edge towards Mog.

"Shu shu shu" she continued, silently picking up a wooden spatula with her free hand. "Come to me, shu shu shu."

"Don't listen to her. She's bad news."

"Shu shu shu. That's right. Over here. She shu shu."

"Look, who's more likely to kill you? Tough teacher, or nice social work assistant?"

"Yeah, cos social workers never killed anyone. Shu shu shu."

"We'd probably just forget about you and leave you to starve. She's holding a wooden spoon. Run. Run."

"Shhh. Shu shu shu."

A loud noise from outside sent Stuart scampering under the dinner plates. Mog made a cup of tea, and left me to it. She came in a bit later.

"Is it dead yet?"

"I'm having a coffee. He has to think about what he's done."

I enjoyed a very nice Latte, which kept me awake all the way to Luton that same night. I returned a while later, explaining the situation to a more sympathetic, less lethally minded Meg. As I arranged some humane mousetraps and a book in the cupboard in a way that was strategically brilliant, the mouse suddenly leapt from the cupboard, flying four feet horizontally and leaping at least five feet downwards. It hit the floor, rolled, and vanished into the uncharted depths behind the kitchen cupboard. We looked stunned for several minutes, before I set about hoovering the shelves and removing all traces of all its previous occupants.

But it really is an acrobat. And assuming it wasn't fatally wounded in the escape, this mouse could be how we're going to make our fortunes. I can see it all now.

Mog had a lethal look about her that evening. I'm going to hide all the wooden spoons.


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