FIONA LOONEY

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS - KITCHEN SINK DRAMA Don’t miss Fiona Looney’s bril­liant col­umn, with her unique take on mod­ern Ire­land, only in the Ir­ish Daily Mail ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

The mice are back. When I say back, I’m pre­sum­ing that this isn’t the same happy cou­ple who caused such up­heaval in our home last au­tumn. But it has oc­curred to me that th­ese lat­est furry raiders might have been tipped off by the pre­vi­ous in­cum­bents, pre­sum­ably in some mousey con­ver­sa­tion about how un­sea­son­ably cold it is, and how, if you’re stuck for a warm press and a feed, the peo­ple at No. 18 leave opened pack­ets of dog treats in theirs and if they catch you, they won’t kill you.

And in this, at least, they are quite right. When the mouse prob­lem first raised its ad­mit­tedly cute head six months ago, it was I who put my foot down (gin­gerly — there were mice about) and ruled out those bar­baric, car­toon­ish traps that make mince from mice. And although I was ini­tially skep­ti­cal about the ef­fec­tive­ness of the so- called ‘hu­mane’ traps, we did man­age to catch a pair of mice that we re­leased onto the green and watched scam­per off to, we’d hoped, a bet­ter life in the wild. Now it seems that in­stead, they more or less set up a tiny let­tings agency and sim­ply passed on di­rec­tions to our lily-liv­ered, softon-law-and-or­der home.

As it hap­pens, I haven’t ac­tu­ally seen any of th­ese mice, ei­ther past or present — so my much par­layed boast that I am un­afraid of, unim­pressed by and gen­er­ally not both­ered by mice has gone untested. I can say, with ab­so­lute cer­tainty, that I would not be ad­versely af­fected by any mouse in­tro­duced to me by, say, some­body say­ing, ‘I will be show­ing you a mouse in about 30 sec­onds; you might want to brace your­self.’ But if I opened the kitchen press and sud­denly came upon a furry friend perched on a packet of pinto beans — as The Teenager did the other day — could I hon­estly say I wouldn’t even flinch? (Ac­tu­ally, I have no idea if the mouse was on the pinto beans; it could just as eas­ily have been on the Nutella. This is just my way of let­ting you know that in my kitchen press, I have pinto beans.)

Any­way, that lit­tle fel­low was quickly caught, a small piece of cooked ham prov­ing more ap­petis­ing than ei­ther pinto beans or Nutella. The whole palaver had passed by the

‘It was I who ruled out bar­baric traps...

Now the mice have spread word of our soft-on-lawand-or­der home’

time I ar­rived home that evening, though The Youngest, wit­ness to the lib­er­a­tion of the mouse on the green, did tes­tify that he looked very happy and ‘like a ham­ster, only cuter’. His com­pan­ion in squat­ting showed up the next morn­ing in The Boy’s bed­room, forc­ing The Boy out of bed and into his school uni­form un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally early. Do I need to men­tion that the pre­vi­ous in­ter­lop­ers were also caught in the kitchen press and The Boy’s bed­room? The press is more or less self-ex­plana­tory: the afore­men­tioned Nutella, etc. The Boy’s bed­room, be­ing an ab­so­lute tip, is the only other place where open food pack­ag­ing is fre­quently found, and is there­fore also the nat­u­ral choice of the ca­sual diner. You might have thought the pre­vi­ous mouse episode might have in­spired The Boy to keep his room tidy from then on, but that is to reckon with­out The Boy. This, af­ter all, is a child who had to get worms three times be­fore he’d wash his hands be­fore meals.

Any­way, The Boy’s lat­est un­in­vited guest has now been dis­patched back to Mouse Cen­tral and the trap set once more in case this cou­ple man­aged to, as they say, get it on. In the mean­time, our ever ex­pand­ing fam­ily has also been joined by an un­usu­ally fat blue­bot­tle, which seems to have been fly­ing through our kitchen in a half-hearted, al­most slovenly man­ner, for more than a week now. I have no idea where he goes dur­ing the day, but just as soon as The Dog goes to sleep each evening, the blue­bot­tle comes to lazy life and starts loop­ing around the room, so that The Dog wakes up and goes mad try­ing to eat a blue­bot­tle that is just a tiny frac­tion too fast for him. It’s a te­dious busi­ness for all but the blue­bot­tle and The Dog, who keeps crash­ing into things in his un­gainly ef­forts to catch his prey mid-air, and then has to re­tire to the pitch-black garden ev­ery few min­utes to bark ur­gently at a tree. Which means I have to get off the sofa, a dozen times a night, to open the door to let him out, and again to let him in again. And ev­ery time, just a few me­tres away, I swear I can hear na­ture, its mice and its blue­bot­tles, laugh­ing at us.

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