Thursday 28 December 2006

Of Mice and Me

My old house had them, it was an old stone cottage, near two overgrown fields, every winter the field mice would look through the windows at the roaring log fire, assess the cheese wrappers in the bin, and move in. Tiny grey shadows flickered at the edge of vision, the kitchen was ransacked, as only mice know how. Flour and pasta spilled across the shelves, mouse droppings on the table.
The bloody parrot thought mice were for his amusement. The bastard watched calmly, mumbling quietly to himself, as the little grey despoilers ransacked his stash of sunflower seeds. They cached them in my sofa, after gnawing a hole in the back. BASTARDS!
My dog ignored them.
I borrowed a cat, but the cat sat on the mat. and sat. and sat. I feared the cat was receiving mouse pay for turning a blind eye. I tried with-holding cat food. The cat just raided the dog's food. After a serious one to one discussion the cat found itself stripped of rank and privileges, and given a dishonourable discharge from the service. Returned to unit, unsatisfactory conduct when faced with the enemy.

Serious discussion with the dog stalled when he looked me in the eye, yawned, and fell asleep.
The long ago girlfriend was vegetarian and begged me not to deploy the mousetraps with snapping jaws, so at a green festival, I bought a humane mouse trap, which allegedly caught them unharmed, to be released near a cheese shop. But no, it caught none, so after arguments and tears, the 'little nipper' mousetrap was deployed.
The first evening it averaged a mouse every twenty minutes.
Disposing of bloody mangled corpses saddened me, but having to hang all my foodstuffs from the ceiling enraged me, so more nippers were deployed along the western front. The mice abandoned all forms of contraception and set to producing huge families in the attic and below the floor. At night, they owned the house, and gnawed full time at any object that could be turned into mouse furnishings.
Angry hurling of books at the bedroom corner had little effect.
The girlfriend tended to use the bedroom floor as a giant laundry-basket/wardrobe, so the discovery of a palm sized hole in the bosom of the little black dress sparked something that might be described as fury, anger, rage of biblical proportion-had I stayed to describe it, rather than fleeing the premises on some flimsy excuse.
When I returned, things had been thrown at the walls, a big pile of clothing was bagged for disposal, and a large can of poison was on the table. For a while I ate only food from tins, which I opened myself. But I was not the target. My creature-friendly lover was putting out little bowls of choc chip and warfarin for those poor, harmless little rodents.

They loved it, they lined up to eat poison, which must have driven them to write their friends and invite them to visit too. Lines of mice waited patiently for their turn at the poison, "Bring it on!" they roared.
My mother had a catalogue, one of those things aimed at elderly people, full of things you never knew you needed, like um, devices for sucking the air out of frozen food bags, or egg timers that predict the weather, or overshoes that will not slip on wet leaves.. and ultrasonic mouse deterrents. She said she would buy one for us to try. I said it would not work, she replied that as she was going to buy it I should shut up and stop being so negative.

It arrived in the mail, a 6 volt battery, or mains supply was required. As it worked off a battery, I decided to give it a try, I put the box in my pocket and visited the Living World Pet Superstore.... Casually sauntering into the room full of pet rats, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rabbits,... I fumbled for the battery. CHAOS! the place erupted, furry animals ran in circles, squeaked madly, threw themselves at the bars. The humans were stunned, looking around- had a cat walked in?
but the battery was off, the furry beasts resumed their normal demeanour. I had to check again. CHAOS!

The ultrasonic deterrent was thus installed, at Rose Bank Cottage, and the stealers of cheese, despoilers of dresses, the attic nesters and carpet chewers packed their bags and left, a long column, chanting mouse marching songs, from our door toward the far horizons.
All that carnage, little mangled mousy corpses, over so long, was unnecessary, had I only known that ultrasonics upset the nervous systems of rodents,
The dog, by the way, could hear it, but was untroubled. His food supply had never been threatened, he could sleep through any scratching or squeaking, and had no possessions of interest to the small squeaky community.
I found this lack of support annoying, but somewhat tempered by the dog's belief that I am god. When not sleeping, his waking hours were spent awaiting my miracles, like the opening of any package containing food, or the magical making of things to fly and bounce, that can be chased and caught by a dog, and the provision of a roaring fire, in front of which a dog can sleep.
The current demesne also had mice, damn their furry hearts, so out I went to a well known electronics store, name begins map, ends lins, bought ultrasonic plug-in things, no more noises in the night, flickers of grey, mouseshit in the cupboards.
Internet research, interestingly, tells me these things don't work. But the mice have moved out. That's enough for me.

(Originally posted to comments at little red boat December 31, 2005 04:46 PM )


Loituma, from the album, 'Things of Beauty', Ievan Polka.

Nuapurista kuulu se polokan tahti
jalakani pohjii kutkutti.
Ievan äiti se tyttöösä vahti
vaan kyllähän Ieva sen jutkutti,
sillä ei meitä silloin kiellot haittaa
kun myö tanssimme laiasta laitaan.
Salivili hipput tupput täppyt
äppyt tipput hilijalleen.

Ievan suu oli vehnäsellä
ko immeiset onnee toevotti.
Peä oli märkänä jokaisella
ja viulu se vinku ja voevotti.
Ei tätä poikoo märkyys haittaa
sillon ko laskoo laiasta laitaan.
Salivili hipput...............

Now the full translation, English by Susan Sinisalo
The sound of a polka drifted from my neighbor's
and set my feet a-tapping oh!
Ieva's mother had her eye on her daughter but
Ieva she managed to fool her, you know.
'Cause who's going to listen to mother saying no
when we're all busy dancing to and fro!

Ieva was smiling, the fiddle it was wailing
as people crowded round to wish her luck.
Everyone was hot but it didn't seem to bother
the handsome young man, the dashing buck.
'Cause who's going to mind a drop of sweat
when he's all busy dancing to and fro!

Ieva's mother she shut herself away
in her own quiet room to hum a hymn.
Leaving our hero to have a spot of fun
in a neighbor's house when the lights are dim.
'Cause what does it matter what the old folks say
when you're all busy dancing to and fro!

When the music stopped then the real fun began
and that's when the laddie fooled around.
When he took her home, when the dancing was over
her mother angrily waiting they found.
But I said to her, Ieva, now don't you weep
and we'll soon be dancing to and fro!

I said to her mother now stop that noise
or I won't be responsible for what I do.
If you go quietly and stay in your room
you won't get hurt while your daughter I woo.
'Cause this fine laddie is a wild sort of guy
when he's all busy dancing to and fro!

One thing I tell you is you won't trap me,
no, you won't find me an easy catch.
Travel to the east and travel to the west but
Ieva and I are going to make a match.
'Cause this fine laddie ain't the bashful sort
when he's all busy dancing to and fro.