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!”
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”