Category Archives: Mice

Martin Soan: the tit-fancying surrealist comic who props up other comedians

Yesterday: Martin Soan in a quiet suburban setting

Yesterday, on his way back home to London from Leicestershire, where he had been writing scripts with comedian Boothby Graffoe, surrealist comic Martin Soan stopped off for a meal with me and my eternally-un-named friend at my home in Borehamwood.

“What was that kitchen set you built for Boothby at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago?” I asked.

“You know what it was,” Martin said.

“I never saw it,” I replied.

“That was my biggest prop ever!” Martin said. “The idea was that it was a whole kitchen including a Welsh dresser with plates, a washing machine, fridge, double freezer, table, pictures on the wall and bookshelves.

“Boothby did a load of sight gags around the kitchen and, at the penultimate moment of the show, he put some washing in the washing machine – a real one – and says, Look after it and he goes through the door and the washing machine is left alone on stage.

“The washing machine goes whiiiirrrr… Silence… Then whiiiirrrr… Silence… Just the washing machine on stage doing this… and I had programmed it so that, on the third one, it goes into this spin… Whiiiirrrrrrrrrr… and I had upset the balancing of the machine so it gets a lot of vibration and wobble on it and the whole kitchen set starts vibrating and, slowly, things start falling off: the oven walks out and explodes, the fridge falls down in bits, the Welsh dresser’s shelves all drop at a special angle so the plates run off like a pinball machine and it all falls apart in a spectacular and stylistic way.”

“And what were you writing with Boothby yesterday and today?” I asked.

“Basically, the return of The Greatest Show on Legs to the Edinburgh Fringe in August with their new show,” he replied, “which is a deconstruction of the Legs, basically.”

“What’s a deconstruction?” I asked.

Deconstruction means taking it apart and building it up again,” explained Martin.

“And how are you going to do that?”

“We don’t do it. It’s just what we tell people. Then we do the same old shit and everyone thinks we’ve re-invented ourselves.”

“You do other writing work with Boothby, don’t you?” I asked.

“Yup,” Martin said. “He’s a great gag/punchline man and I’m good at creating scenarios and situations. What a lot of people don’t realise about Boothby is he’s a great physical actor: a great clown, great at being stupid. Most people think of him as being a rather cerebral comic on the surreal/intellectual side of things. They don’t realise he’s a great prat-faller and he does that for me and I think he really enjoys it. When I’m writing with him, I’m falling about laughing, because he’s a genius.”

“And you’re a bird watcher,” I said.

“A lot of comedians are ‘twitchers’,” Martin replied. “When I was a kid, I studied my Observer Book of Birds every night before I went to bed. When I was eight years old, I became a member of the XYZ Club.”

“The XYZ Club?” I asked.

“Exceptional Young Zoologists,” Martin explained. “It involved taking a keen interest in animals and birds and their welfare and, when I was eight years old, I was involved in the ecological side of the balance of nature. For my efforts, I received a monthly periodical called Animals and twelve free tickets to the London Zoo which, even in those days, was well worth getting.”

“What’s your favourite bird?” I asked.

“Probably the mistletoe thrush.”

“Why would that be?”

“Because,” he said, “I have a great fondness of them, being a London EastEnder. It was probably the most exotic type bird that I regularly saw.”

“You saw it in Forest Gate?” I asked, genuinely surprised. “Surely it was all sparrows in the East End?”

“I was tremendously fond of sparrows and starlings and skylarks,” he said, “And thrushes, bullfinches and tits – They were all common in the East End at that time.

“Lots of tits in the East End?” I asked.

“Lots of tits in the East End, yeah. We used to get coal tits but no marsh tits and no long-tailed tits.”

“Cold tits?” I asked.

“There are about six tits,” said Martin. “There’s a blue tit, great tit, marsh tit, coal tit and long-tailed tit. I think there might be a bearded tit, too, but I might be getting mixed up with a circus act.”

“You were telling me that,” I said, “this time of year, you get depressed because you have to build all sorts of sexual props for other acts.”

“Yes,” he agreed, “stand-up comedians going up to the Edinburgh Fringe want to do a new show and sometimes they either think of slide shows or some sort of sexually-orientated genitalia props – usually mammoth-sized. In the past, I have had to make a woman’s genitalia six-feet high – all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing… it actually talked. I built it so it talked like a mouth. I looked at millions of women’s genitalia to get it anatomically correct, but I decided there were no two anywhere that were similar.”

“This was research you had to do?” my eternally-un-named friend asked, “on the internet? Or you actually had to go and find…”

“No I did not,” Martin interrupted. “I did not go round asking people like you: Can I have a look at your cervix for someone else’s comedy show?

“Which internet pages did you look at?” I asked. “I think we should see.”

“No,” said Martin, “I don’t want to look again because, in the end, they all start to look like aliens. You start having dreams about them.”

“I know,” I said. “Are you doing any of those sort of props this year?”

“Yes,” said Martin. “I’m doing one for an act that I really do like: Bridget Christie. I’m making a birth canal for her.”

“But you’re not using any for your own Greatest Show on Legs performances at the Fringe…”

“Oh, well,” he replied, “I’m using loads of proper ‘prop’ props. I’m going to have Bob Slayer come on with an enormous pair of maracas and, of course, one of them explodes.”

“Of course,” I said supportively.

“And I’m going to have a proper hospital drip,” Martin continued, “on wheels so we can move it around.”

“Why do people approach you to make props for them?” I asked.

“Because I’m so cheap!” said Martin. “And because I specialise in low-tech props.”

“Innovative,” my eternally-un-named friend interjected,” with materials that are easily acquired.”

“Yeah,” said Martin. “So, if it goes wrong, they can very easily…”

“Like the Red Sparrows on sticks,” my eternally-un-named friend interrupted.

“Yeah,” said Martin. “You got it. And I’m beginning to familiarise myself again with latex.”

Martin paused and looked at me.

“When you write this as a blog, John I expect you to use a little grace,” he said.

“Oh, come on,” I replied.

“At least modify my foul mouth,” he replied. “There was one blog you wrote about me where I was saying Oh, for fuck’s sake fucksake, John, don’t you fuckin… ‘ave you fucking ‘eard of… I mean,” he said, turning to my eternally-un-named friend, “I’m drunk and telling a mate a story and he copies it all down and leaves all the fucks in! He could have quoted me as saying, My goodness, my good man, why I do believe it once happened that... But some of your blogs are funny, John. That one about the mice and Lewis Schaffer…”

There was a suspiciously long pause and then Martin looked me in the eye and said: “You known I had a relationship with a mouse?”

“You see,” I told him. “Lines like that, Martin, are ideal for blogs.”

“It was driving me mad,” he continued, “and I was very cruel to this mouse.”

“You were?” I asked.

“I was,” he replied, “and then I felt sorry for it.”

“How were you cruel to the mouse?” I asked.

“It had made an actual mouse hole,” he explained, “like a Tom & Jerry mouse hole. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a hole and it was very Tom & Jerry and it was in the wainscoting.

“So I set up this very elaborate little crossbow pointing at the mouse hole, triggered by a hair. And, when the mouse came out to get this little bit of cheese, it set off this hair-triggered crossbow which was rubber band powered. The ‘arrow’ was a match with a little pin stuck in the end and it just shot it towards the mouse hole.

“I fucking pinned the mouse! I got it! I killed the fucking mouse! I was so shocked I was immediately full of remorse. But I skewered him. I pinned him. I got the mouse. I killed the bloody mouse. And it made me feel really guilty.”

“Imagine how the mouse felt,” I said.

“I killed a mouse!” said Martin, looking simultaneously glum and triumphant.

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Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour, Inventions, Mice, Theatre

A death in my home, a dead body lying among the bushes in my back garden

I wipe away a tear as I walk back from the bushes in my back garden

The last couple of days, I have blogged about the mouse in my living room. Sitting in bed, yesterday, I posted my blog, then mentioned it on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and then…

…literally about 30 seconds later…

My eternally-un-named friend rushed into my bedroom and almost shouted: “It’s dead!”

Flashback.

My eternally-un-named friend had built a mouse trap which was poo-pooed by both myself and by mouse-killing comedian Lewis Schaffer.

“Mice can swim!” we both separately told her.

How to build a better mousetrap including the death plank

The trap was a bowl of water covered in a sheet of newspaper with a cross cut in the middle and a small piece of Mars bar placed on the cross as bait. The seemingly silliest part of the trap was a wooden ruler placed against the side of the bowl so that the mouse could get up to the newspaper, crawl across towards the piece of Mars bar and, because of its weight, when it reached the cross cut in the paper, the mouse would fall through the paper into the water and drown.

Yesterday morning, hearing the news, I put on my dressing gown and went downstairs. Sure enough, there was a hole in the paper.

Death by drowning in a bowl of water: a sad end to a life

When I lifted the paper off, the dead mouse was floating, face-down, in the bowl of water, its little paws stretched out from its torso.

“I’m amazed,” I told my eternally-un-named friend. “I didn’t think it would work.”

“It’s the amount of water that’s important,” she told me. “It has to be shallow enough that it can’t climb out the side of the plastic bowl, but deep enough that its feet can’t reach the bottom of the bowl. That way, it drowns.”

“You are a dangerous woman,” I told her. I should have known. I have a photograph of her sitting at a dinner table in Milan with three bullets on the plate. Don’t ask.

I told Lewis Schaffer about the drowning of the mouse.

“Wow,” he e-mailed. “That’s incredible. You need to take a picture of the device.”

The last resting place of a living creature, lying unburied

“Have photos,” I e-mailed back. “of device, dead mouse in bowl, corpse in back garden, me returning from disposal sobbing piteously.”

Perhaps I should be ashamed of myself. Making light of a death.

I poured the water and the body of the mouse onto the earth among bushes at the end of my garden. I like to think it is what the mouse would have wanted. It is far better, I feel, than being thrown away in the green wastebin provided by the council for garden rubbish. Better to be eaten by a passing cat or pecked-at by magpies than to rot with orange peel in a rubbish tip.

When I die, I have told my friend Lynn, the executor of my will, who will have to dispose of my body, that I don’t want to be cremated. I want to be buried and slowly rot into the earth. It seems far more natural. Romantic, even.

Lynn is currently in Kyrgyztan. I suppose someone has to be. Why her, I have no idea.

Late yesterday afternoon, as I drove to see a recording for the Sky Arts TV channel of Michael Parkinson interviewing war photographer Don McCullin – someone who has seen countless men, women and children die in front of him – my eternally un-named-friend said: “I wonder what happened in the night, in the dark. Did the mouse go into the water head first? It would have climbed up the ruler, then crawled over the newspaper until it got to the Mars bar on the cut cross and then… Was it scrabbling with its feet in desperation as it felt the paper collapse under it? How long did it take to drown, alone in the dark?”

“I haven’t mentioned Malcolm,” I told her. “But I thought about him.”

We both knew comedian Malcolm Hardee, who drowned one night in 2005.

“I was thinking about him too,” she said. “I didn’t like to mention it.”

Ars longa. Vita brevis.

So it goes.

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Comedian Lewis Schaffer revealed as a multiple killer in New York and London

Lewis Schaffer: the face of a killer

Last night started quite showbizzy. Then it went downhill rapidly.

After his show in Soho, London-based American comedian Lewis Schaffer and I were eating £2 take-away pizzas, sitting on the new wall opposite the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square. He paid.

Comedians Paul Chowdhry and Gary Delaney were passing by, noticed Lewis sitting there and stopped to say hello to him.

Then Lewis Schaffer and I returned to talking about my current mouse problem. As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, a mouse has taken up residence in my living room.

A small mouse. But it is a mouse nonetheless.

“We had a mouse,” Lewis Schaffer told me last night, “and my tenants wanted to get rid of it. The Spanish guy thought it was a rat. I said It needs to be killed. They said What about a humane way of killing it? I said It doesn’t work. I don’t know if it does work, but I can’t imagine it working.

“You gotta get glue traps, John. It’s like the glue that is on the bottom of a sticky tile or a linoleum square – your hand sticks to it if you touch it. You put the glue trap on the floor and the mouse gets stuck on it.”

“You put bait in the middle of it?” I asked. “We tried Mars bars yesterday.”

“You don’t need to put food down,” Lewis Schaffer told me authoritatively. “The mouse just stumbles on it and realises Boy! I’ve made a very big mistake. Cos it can’t get off. And then you’ve got no choice but you’ve got to kill it.”

“How?” I asked.

“Scissors in the head,” Lewis Schaffer told me. “That’s what I would do next time.”

“Next time?” I asked.

“I used the kitchen knife last time,” he said flatly.

“You slit the poor beast’s throat?”

“Well,” he confessed. “I didn’t slit its throat. I slit underneath its belly.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it was squirming,” Lewis Schaffer told me.

“Well, it would squirm in the circumstances,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer. “Fighting for its life. And squeaking like a baby squeaking. Like a human squeak. It hits the same…”

“It sounds quite similar to what the English did to William Wallace,” I said.

“Did they cut off his…”

“I think they invented hanging, drawing and quartering for him,” I said.

“I thought that was invented by Kentucky Fried Chicken,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“So why did you slit the belly first?” I asked.

“Because it was squirming,” he replied. “And squeaking. I was aiming for its head. It was squirming desperately and I was aiming for its head.”

“You were trying to chop off its head and you missed?”

“Yeah. I missed because it was squirming and I chopped his belly, which put him in even more pain. And then I cut his head off. And then I threw him in the wastebin.”

“Did you stick his head on a spike at the entrance to your flat as a warning to others?”

“No, but I think they got the idea. No other mouse turned up. Usually they come in pairs.”

“Was this in America?” I asked.

“I did it once in America and once here.”

“So you’re a multiple murderer of God’s creatures.” I said.

Josie Long is going to come after me,” Lewis Schaffer said sadly.

“Did you behead both mice or only one?” I asked.

“I don’t remember what I did in olden times in the US,” he replied. “In England, I did this to keep my tenants happy.”

“Did you show them the head to prove it was dead?” I asked.

“No. They believed me. I told them You’re murderers. You’re accessories to murder.

“So you are recommending this is what I should do to my mouse?”

“I wouldn’t,” said Lewis Schaffer slowly, “because you’re gonna feel… Well, if I felt bad – and I’m Lewis Schaffer…”

“So what am I going to do?”

“You’re going to get a glue trap. £2.99. You get two. You put one down and you save the other one till later.”

“What’s wrong with a humane trap?” I asked. “I have one in the cupboard under the stairs. There was a mouse before. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Mice are too smart for that humane trap type of shit,” Lewis Schaffer said and then he paused. “Does it sound like I’m being cruel that I killed a mouse? They don’t tell you how killing a mouse is going to rip your kishkas out and make you feel bad that you’re a human being.”

“Kishkas?” I asked.

“It means Rip your stomach out.”

“That’s what you did to the mouse. That’s what the English did to William Wallace.”

“All I remember is that I killed a mouse in New York maybe 10 or 15 years ago and, when I was asked to do it again in London, I didn’t want to do it.”

“But you did it.”

“We live in very recessionary times,” said Lewis Schaffer. “I need the rent from the tenants.”

Later, I drove Lewis Schaffer to his home via my eternally un-named-friend’s flat in Greenwich. She likes cleaning.

“You slit its throat?” she asked Lewis Schaffer. “There must have been blood everywhere. What did you do with the knife?”

“The knife?” Lewis Schaffer asked.

“Do you still eat with it every morning?”

“There was glue stuck on it,” said Lewis Schaffer, “and blood. In order to get the glue off, I had to use a lighter.”

“You kept the knife,” my eternally un-named-friend said slowly.

“If you use a lighter on glue, it would burst into flames,” I mused.

“The glue was melted off,” Lewis Schaffer told me. “You just can’t throw away a knife every time you kill a mouse,” he told my eternally-un-named friend.

“But how many times are you going to kill a mouse?” I asked.

“As often as it takes to kill those…” said Lewis Schaffer, then he paused. “What are you looking at me like that for? You wanna get rid of it, you gotta pay the price. The price is living with guilt.”

“I wouldn’t have guilt,” my eternally-un-named friend said. “The mouse should not have come into the house.”

“Is there some way of using Zyklon B?” I asked.

“If you ask a mouse to leave and it doesn’t…” my eternally-un-named friend continued. “I haven’t tried that yet, but I might do.”

“You could persuade it to go to the shower room,” I said.

“John,” said Lewis Schaffer, “I’m not going to do some Holocaust joke for your blog.”

“Did you hear about the trap I’ve made?” my eternally-un-named friend asked Lewis. “A piece of paper over a bowl of water.”

“Mice can’t drown,” said Lewis Schaffer. “They can swim.”

“It worked once for me,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “There was a dead mouse in the water. I presumed it had drowned. Maybe it had had a heart attack.”

“Maybe it died of embarrassment,” I suggested, “at falling for the trap.”

“Maybe it was just its time to go,” my eternally un-named-friend sighed.

When I got back to my home in the early hours of this morning, there was no dead mouse.

It is still there somewhere. In the living room. Confident. Taunting me.

I have to do something about it.

Death is inevitable.

For one of us.

Well, for both of us.

But, as in comedy, it is the timing that matters.

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Filed under Comedy, Mice

3 Angry Daddies, 3 Real MacGuffins & an elfin comedian upstaged by a mouse

The three Angry Daddies having a gay old time in Los Angeles

Yesterday, I thought I knew what today’s blog was going to be about.

Last week I blogged about Mike Player, organiser of America’s gay Outlaugh Comedy Festival

This Friday, at the Outlaugh Festival/Hollywood Fringe, Mike is performing an improvised show as one of the three Angry Daddies: they are Mike (one of the Gay Mafia comedy group), Mark S.Barnett (from Second City) and Dave Fleischer (from iO West)

Oh, I thought, That might make an interesting blog: the difference between being a solo comic and being part of a comedy group. And Mike is now in at least two comedy groups.

“Does this mean you got bored with the Gay Mafia gents?” I asked him.

“No,” he told me. “It’s just like I’m just taking a lover on the side. It’s very French to do that. At least that’s what I was taught as a child.”

“But why would a straight audience watch three gay guys doing comedy?” I asked, trying to rile him.

“Well,” he replied, undermining my ruse, “only two of the Angry Daddies are gay. One is straight. Mark is an actual father of progeny. The Daddies are ‘post-gay’ where the gay thing doesn’t matter as much but is not shied away from. Dave and I play straight guys and Mark plays gay. We mix it up. There’s something for everyone, except dogs. And dogs don’t understand comedy.”

“Would it work in the UK too?” I asked.

“Well,” he replied, “Mark is from Bath, England, and has an English accent and everything. So we come fully equipped. In a commercial, Mark played a giant hotdog that runs through a park and explodes…twice. We have got it all covered.”

Still, I thought, there is something to be said about the difference between solo and group work.

“What’s it like to be in a group rather than being an individual performer?” I asked him. “Don’t all performers want to be the sole centre of attention?”

“I like groups,” Mike told me, “because you can react and do physical comedy in scene work. With good improv, there is collaboration which can be very exciting. Plus you can blame other people if the laughs aren’t big enough. I like to blame Dave and Dave always threatens legal action.”

I thought I would see if a couple of British comics thought the same.

So, early yesterday morning, I e-mailed ever-amiable Englishman Dan March, one of The Real MacGuffins.

The Real MacGuffins lean on a metal post in Soho yesterday

“The major difference with doing group instead of solo for me,” he e-mailed me back a couple of hours later, “is that when a gig goes wrong I blame Matt and Jim and when it goes right I take all the credit. Doing solo work it’s different – obviously I take the credit when it goes well but when it goes wrong I blame the audience. Also the writing process is more fun with a group – I get to shout ‘Not funny!’ at Matt which is very therapeutic.”

Laura Lexx played cricket last year

My elfin comedy chum Laura Lexx, is appearing as part of Maff Brown’s Parade of This at this August’s Edinburgh Fringe. Yesterday, she told me: “The main thing is that with more than one person you simply have to rehearse, which is not something comedians really naturally do (for the most part). So it feels quite unnatural and hard to make yourself do it properly. We struggle to rehearse for more than about an hour without getting horrifically distracted and trying to go to the pub! It’s hard to rehearse and then it’s also hard not to ad lib once you’re on stage because that’s where you’d naturally go with stand up. I think they’re two completely different disciplines.”

So, late yesterday afternoon, strolling through Soho, I was content in my blog about the nature of doing group comedy. I can do something with all that, I thought.

Then, just six feet ahead of me, I saw Dan March and the other two Real MacGuffins standing round an unexplained black metal post, leaning on it, looking at me.

“I’ll take your picture for the blog,” I said.

And I did. And that was it. A perfectly rounded blog idea.

If it were not for the mouse.

Two nights ago, my eternally-un-named friend was staying at my home (we are an ex-couple). She was born and partly brought-up in the Mediterranean. I was brought up in Scotland. She leaves outside doors open because she thinks it’s hot outside. I shut everything because I think the cold outside air will make my penis drop off.

There was also the trauma of the mouse a few years ago. I have not yet written about this in my blog. But I will, dear reader. I will. Perhaps in a few days. It was about five years ago. I still bear the psychological scars.

Yesterday morning, my eternally-un-named friend confessed to me:

“I saw a mouse last night.”

Relative of the wee, not-so tim’rous beastie loose in ma hoose

“Where? There on the stair?” I asked.

“In the living room,” she said, worried at my reaction, given my previous rodent-induced trauma.

“I have built a trap,” she told me reassuringly.

“You built a mouse trap overnight?” I asked.

“It’s a piece of newspaper,” she explained, “put across the top of a bowl which is half-full of water. The newspaper has a cross cut in it in the middle with bait on top of it, balanced on the cross cut. The weight of the mouse, as it goes across the paper to reach the bait will make the paper cave-in and the mouse will fall into the water below. Hopefully I’ve done it so it’s deep enough that the mouse will drown.”

“Where is the bowl?” I asked.

“Under the dinner table,” she told me.

“Rats swim, don’t they?” I asked, searching my memory for movie references.

“They’re more intelligent,” she said. “and it’s a very small mouse.”

“What’s the bait?” I asked.

“Half a Mars bar,” she replied.

“You won’t let ME eat Mars bars!” I almost shouted.

“They would make you fatter,” she replied rather too smugly.

“Why do you want to kill it?” I asked. “A poor little baby mouse.”

“Don’t be stupid!” she said. “You’re going to turn this into a ridiculous blog because you’re stupid.”

“You like Tom & Jerry cartoons,” I pointed out, “but now you are trying to kill Jerry.”

“You kill flies,” my eternally-un-named friend riposted.

“They’re insects,” I replied.

“So?” she asked.

“A mouse is a mammal,” I said.

“You eat chicken,” she said.

“That’s a bird” I said.

“Lamb,” she countered.

“Sheep are stupid and deserve to die,” I parried.

“Stupidity doesn’t enter into it,” she said. “You don’t deserve to die. Well, not for that… It is a small mouse. I have put a ruler resting on the side of the bowl, so it can climb up from the carpet to get to the bait on the newspaper over the water.”

“It’s like you are making it walk the plank!” I pointed out.

“Precisely,” she said, I thought unecessarily triumphantly.

I was out in central London all day yesterday. When I got home late last night, I asked her: “Why do you want to kill the mouse? We should trap it alive and take it out into a field and release it into the wild.”

“You’re turning into a Buddhist,” my eternally un-named friend said. “Why don’t we just open the front and back door and let all the mice come in? Then you could have a little family of cute mice and any time you wanted to kill one it would be easy. There would be a whole festering mass of them crossing the bloomin’ floor.”

Bloomin?” I queried.

“Bloomin,” she insisted.

“Let the mammal live…” I pleaded. “Or I could buy a cat.”

“You could rent a cat,” she said. “That’s what people did in days-gone-by.”

“We should try to take a picture of it for the blog,” I suggested.

“The cat?”

“The mouse… I suppose it moves too fast…”

“I saw it twice today,” my eternally-un-named friend told me. “It just sauntered across the floor from under the bureau to under the sofa. Then, a little later, it sauntered back again. It was in no hurry.”

“You saw it?”

“I looked at it…It looked at me…We were both surprised… What can I say?”

“Perhaps it doesn’t like Mars bars,” I suggested.

“I was going to drop a file of papers on it,” she said. “but my file was in the kitchen. I have added peanut butter to the Mars bar. I Googled how to trap mice and people were saying mice like peanut butter. Cheese has no effect.”

“I’m sure I tried honey when I had the previous mouse,” I said.

“But, when that happened, did…” she started.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I interrupted. “It was traumatic.”

Then, half an hour later, my eyes got itchy and I started sneezing. A lot.

“I think I may be allergic to mice,” I said.

“And I have a sty in my eye,” she said. “It started about two hours ago. I didn’t like to tell you.”

“We have to out-think it,” I said. “We have to think like a mouse.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” my eternally-un-named friend said. “I don’t want to have to keep shutting the living room door to keep it trapped in here. I’ll let it go upstairs. I’ll help it upstairs. It can get into your bed.”

“Don’t remind me,” I said. “I don’t even want to think about that.”

We left my home and drove late-night to Greenwich where we stayed overnight.

I am still there.

I will have to face the mouse again later today.

“It is very small, but seems to have inner confidence,” my eternally-un-named friend tells me.

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Filed under Comedy, Gay, Humor, Humour, Mice

How to inhumanely kill rats, mice, pigeons and people from France

Me - at one with nature

Yesterday I was in Greenwich, talking to someone who lives in a wonderful home up an alleyway with its own open back yard. In reasonable weather, she leaves the door from the living room to the courtyard. This is fine, except mice can wander in. Once, a rat came in.

Her dog, a Jack Russell terrier, went mad running round and yapping. The rat took refuge behind a kitchen cupboard. The Jack Russell refused to leave the kitchen for two days and two nights, occasionally barking through the night.

Eventually, the two humans could stand it no more. They bought some sticky paper specially designed to catch rats. (Yes, there is such a thing. It is like fly paper but for mice and rats.) They hung it down the back of the cupboard overnight and, sure enough, in the morning, when they pulled the paper up, the rat was stuck to it, squealing.

But this provided a quandary. How to get rid of the rat.

I think I would have thrown it in an outside rubbish bin, still alive. Instead, the husband attached a sharp knife to the end of a broom handle and stabbed the rat to death.

The couple still have traumas at the thought.

I have never encountered an indoor rat, only mice.

Apparently, when I was a small child in Campbeltown, living in a makeshift flat above the storage room of a shop, there were mice around.

As an adult, I have only encountered a mouse once.

I was walking to the kitchen about five years ago. As I turned from my living room to the hall, I saw a mouse in the doorway of the kitchen. It looked at me, surprised. I looked at it, surprised. It then literally leapt up the stairs.

It paused; half-climbed, half-leapt up the vertical of the first step. Stopped momentarily. Ran the few horizontal inches to the next vertical; half-climbed, half-leapt up it. Stopped momentarily. Ran the few horizontal inches to the next vertical. And so on.

I was mesmerised by the speed and agility of the small creature. By the time I moved towards the stairs, the mouse was halfway up and beat me to the top, running into the spare bedroom.

I ran in, shutting the door behind me, but I could not find the mouse.

Eventually, I decided to lift everything off the floor. I still couldn’t see any mouse.

I left the room, carefully shutting the door. The next day, I bought a humane mouse trap cage and put some cheese in it.

A week later, the mouse had still not taken the cheese. Two weeks later, the mouse had still not taken the cheese. I cleared the room of furniture, piece by piece. When I lifted a box of books off the bed and lifted the sheets, there was a flattened mouse underneath the bedclothes, a little leg sticking out at each corner.

How it got up the smooth wooden legs, round the bed base under the mattress, up onto the bed and under the bedclothes, I do not know. But I remembered lifting a heavy box of books off the floor and dropping it heavily onto the bed when I had cleared the floor. It had flashed though my mind What if the mouse were in the bed? but I dismissed it out of hand as being impossible.

I was talking to my eternally-un-named friend about this today.

“You’ve freaked out and never opened your doors since,” she said. “Considering you’re a man whose great grandmother came down from the hills speaking Gaelic and hunting haggis, you’re not a man at one with Nature, are you? Nature is not allowed to poke its head in. It was a mouse. It wasn’t a rat. Get over it.”

“I just think bubonic plague,” I said.

“As I did,” she replied, “with the two pigeons who were busy dying on my balcony in a hysterical manner. I came home and they were just huddled-up; they looked really mangy and grey and black and moth-eaten and were flapping madly if I went near them. I wasn’t going to pick them up with my hands and there was no way to get them out of my balcony.

“Whether they’d been attacked by a fox or were just old and on the way out or even were very young… It was ghastly.

“I actually ask wasps to leave and they do. But you can’t do that with pigeons or mice.”

“You can’t?” I asked.

“You can’t,” she said. “I had to put a plastic bucket over the top of the pigeons and shove cardboard underneath it, so that I could turn the bucket over.”

“What did you do with them?” I asked.

“I don’t like to say,” she replied. “It was pretty adrenaline-rushing. Oh, alright. I put them – and the bucket – the whole lot – into the communal bin at the bottom of the rubbish chute and shut the door. I figured they were not my problem after that. They had come onto my territory. I didn’t invite them. It was all very frightening and probably negative karma.”

“Can you rid us of the French?” I asked.

“I like the French,” my friend said. “They admire the older woman in France. They dress well. Older women are still seen as sexual there. I would have studied French a lot harder at school if I’d realised all this. Now it turns out that was the one subject I should have really concentrated on. And, of course, they have nice food.”

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Filed under Death, Mice, Rats