A few days later I was hanging out my washing when there was a helluva commotion from the other side of our fence, and as I looked over to see what was going on one of my cats leapt over the fence with something in its mouth. Two things were immediately obvious 1) the thing was very large, and 2) the thing was very much alive.
I shrieked in what must have been a rather girly manner, but unfortunately my shriek scared the cat who rushed into my kitchen, still carrying the thing in its mouth. I got into the house just in time to see that quite obviously what my cat had in the kitchen was a rat. It wasn't a good moment. In the words of the song (UB40??) "There's a rat in my kitchen, what am I going to do?" I can deal with mice, I can deal with birds, but quite honestly in the face of adversity I realised I wasn't so good with rats. And now I had one in my house. To be precise as the cat had now shot up the stairs, I had a rat in my daughters bedroom - a box room - a VERY small room. I shut it in there with my cat.
It was clear to me that what I needed was a man. But they were in short supply as they were working and stuff. Ah, but my friendly and brave shop keeper would be in and he was only across the road! Excellent. Such a nice man and I know he would do anything for me. I rang up and explained that I had a rat in the house safe in the knowledge that he would turn up Sir Galahad style, and remove that what was causing the fair maiden* distress. Wrong again Jane. He was very sorry to have to tell me that he had a terrible deep seated fear of rats and couldn't possibly come to my house if it contained a rat. Arrh but, he did have a workman in and would send him over to help me. Excellent. I open the door to see a six foot four inch skinhead with a tattoo on his forehead (yes, honestly - that is a true to life description)heading up my drive. I thank him profusely and take him upstairs (as one does with strange men all the time) (that last comment is not to be taken seriously). We go into the tiny bedroom and the door is shut behind us. He asked me where the mouse was. I told him it was a rat. He jumped a mile and the colour drained from his face. "I don't like rats" he said.
For a few minutes nothing happened as neither of us could really think where we went from there, but then there was a knock at the door and it was the shop keepers wife armed with a broom. Anita I should mention is about four foot ten and what I would guess is an American size 0. She is a tiny woman. She joined us in the bedroom - the six foot four skinhead, the tiny shop keepers wife plus lethal weapon (broom) and me. Still we debated what to do. The cat was under the wardrobe just out of sight but something had to be done. The skinhead (Frank as I now knew him to be called)plucked up courage, took the broom, and cautiously looked underneath the wardrobe. He reached under it very gingerly and then withdrew his hand holding out at length and by its tail, one very dead rat.
OK, so now I personally had encountered two rats in a mater of days. Enough was enough. I rang environmental health and told them I thought there might be a problem with rats in our village. "Tell me" said the environmental health man wearily, "something I didn't already know."
* Yes, OK - poetic licence employed.
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