I got such a fright last night. We'd just watched Eastenders and was going over to the sink to wash up our coffee cups when a movement over by the spaghetti jars caught my eye. A little brown mouse shot behind the jars and hop-skipped-and-jumped along the work surface until it got to the microwave. Trying to fight the urge to scream like a big girls blouse, I shifted the microwave two inches to the left and shot backwards in case it, erm, leapt out at me. It didn't. And I lay awake all night wondering how the hell the little bugger had got in.
Although, I do have the back door open all the time (three dogs with unsychronised bladders mean that if I'm not letting one out, I'm letting one in so it's easier to keep the door open - even in the height of winter). And I've always got windows open and it's a well known fact that mice, gulp, climb. So it's an open invitation I guess.
I daren't tell David - he hates mice. And rats. And he refused to go into Matthew's room when he was younger because of Bungle the hamster. Besides, if I did tell David then the house would be closed up 24/7 in case another one of the little buggers turned up to visit his friend and I need fresh air. He snored his way through the night, blissfully unaware that we were hosting meeting place for furry little rodents in our kitchen. I lay awake, asking Gladys for her help but there was no divine intervention so, when I got up, I did the next best thing and rang Charlie.
David, Matt and Mac are golfing today and would be out until at least 6 - Lydia was coming for lunch so I rang and whispered my shameful secret down the telephone. "Oh, blimey, don't worry about it. It's getting cold, that's why they're coming in" she said knowledgeably. They? Charlie arrived at just gone ten, with Lydia following close behind her, the latter carrying a large gateaux from Ayres. I'd spent the morning tiptoeing round my own kitchen, jeans tucked into socks and jumping every time Junior Dog (who has been dreaming a lot of late) squeaked from his basket.
Charlie is one of my dearest friends and just one of the reasons I love her was fast becoming evident as she unpacked her bag on the kitchen table. "Now, we've got traps - humane and otherwise depending on how sqeamish you are" She fixed me with her brown eyed gaze, took one look at my face and threw the Little Nippers back into the bag "for now". She was a Girl Guide and still lives by their motto "Be prepared". "How many have you seen?" she enquired as she got a large jar of Sun Pat peanut butter and a packet of wafer biscuits out of the depths of her rucksack. I answered in a wobbly voice and gazed fearfully at the microwave. "Just one?" she laughed, which inferred that the single mouse I saw last night was just the very tip of a very furry iceberg.
Lydia was slicing up the cake and asking if we could watch the rugby later as Charlie, watched by all three drooling dogs, smeared peanut butter on the wafers and dropped them into cylindrical black boxes. "Y'see how these are shaped? Right, you put this on the floor with the trap door open" here she demonstrated by flicking the trap open and lining it up along the skirting board behind the fridge. "Mr Mouse comes along, in he goes and wham! The trap tips up, closing the door which means he can't get out and is secure for you to dispose of."
Right. Which means that I'll be carrying a live mouse out into the garden, opening the trap and letting the mouse run out (possibly over my hand) before running back into the house. "NO!" Charlie yelped as she headed over the to the PC in the living room. "No?" Lydia and I chorused. Did she suggest that I was going to keep it in its little trap? Filling them up until I've got a houseful of meeces in little black oblong boxes? "No" Charlie said as she logged onto the internet. "Mice home you know, you need to take them away from the house altogether." Right. So I'll be trekking The Avenue at the dead of night with my cheese chomping cargo, opening up the trap, letting the mouse run out (possibly over my hand) and running back to the house. Even better.
"There you go" she said, five minutes later, handing me a dossier on house mice she'd just printed. By the time I'd read this, I was ready to up sticks and move. "You're never more than fifty foot from a mouse" Charlie reminded me. "That's rats" Lydia piped up from the sofa where she was watching George and Mildred. "It's all rodents" Charlie said witheringly. More traps were being set up, the whole kitchen was full of them., like some sort of grotesque production line. "Right, come with me" Charlie ordered, handing me several traps. Apparently (and to my utter horror), mice don't confine themselves to the kitchen. Traps went down in the airing cupboard (I got a sudden urge to re-wash everything in there), under our bed, in the bathroom behind the bath panel, Mac's bedroom and behind the cabinet at the top of the stairs. Charlie seemed quite cheerful as we went about our grisly task while I tried not to think of the mouse (mice?) watching our antics and laughing. "How come you know so much about them?" Lydia demanded as we came back downstairs. "I lived in the country, mice everywhere there y'know. I used to get rid of them for our neighbours" Charlie said as she whisked out of the room again with her bag of tricks. Charlie, the Pied Piper of Ongar.
We settled down to watch the rugby - Charlie is obsessed with Jonny Wilkinson and did not take too kindly to us laughing at his hair. During the break and our third slice of cake each (what with the big game hunting, I hadn't got round to doing any lunch), we turned the sound down on the TV and were shushed by the Big Game Hunter. "What are we listening for?" I whispered. Charlie had, whilst I was washing my hands for the fifteenth time earlier, put some Little Nippers out and about. "Oh no!" I wailed. "Oh come on, they're a quid each, you just throw the whole thing away, you don't have to prise the mouse off the sp......" Charlie gaped at me. She knew then that I was imagining canine noses being trapped by the Little Nippers, an emergency trip to the vet and huge bills, that would be heading in her direction. She assured me that they'd been put out of the way of marauding canines and turned the TV back on.
The fateful event happened while I was making tea at about 4pm. I switched on the kettle and heard it. Snap!
Mouse trap tripped, mouse trapped. Location: behind the microwave. Course of action: call Charlie in from looking through our DVD collection to dispose of said tripped mouse trap. She refused. "What's going to happen if another one of these goes off in the middle of the night? And no, I'm not coming over to sort it out." Bugger.
In the end, it was simple and only took me ten minutes. I put on my Marigolds and had a Sainsbury's carrier at the ready. I pysched myself up, moved the microwave, watched by a hysterical Lydia and a disbelieving Charlie. I saw the gruesome mouse trap full of (rather flat) mouse. It looked quite sweet if I'm honest. I wiped a Marigolded wrist across my eyes to stem the tears that had suddenly sprung to my eyes and swept the whole thing into the carrier bag, hopping from foot to foot and making "eurgh" noises as I tied the handle. I then wrestled the bag from Junior Dog who has the endearing habit of carrying out all tied up carrier bags to the bin for us. Middle Dog thought this to be a hoot and joined in whilst Senior Dog was still mooching round the kitchen, trying to find the rest of the peanut butter.
Five minutes later I was in hysterics on the sofa as Charlie did an impression of me weeping at "my loss". Twenty minutes after that, during a pause while we fast forwarded the boring bits of Dirty Dancing, we heard another snap! from upstairs. And then the cheery voice of my darling husband as he and Mac arrived home: "Hello darling, what have you been up to today?"