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READING THE ARTICLE
to kill a rat in the April 2015 issue was fascinating and brought back a forgotten memory of being in a wonderful place called Georgetown, Malaysia, 25 years ago.
It was a six month south-east Asian backpacking adventure and I was travelling with a fiddle player who made a point of finding local venues where he could jam with other musicians. We found such a place one night, and after a spectacular evening at a bar listening to Whitesnake being performed by electric guitar, bass, drums, a slightly off-key Malaysian singer and my companion on fiddle, we were invited by the bar owners for brunch. We were really chuffed – this was what we had gone travelling for.
Brunch the next day was spectacular. Our host had taken the opportunity to showcase the best of Penang cuisine and the meal was to die for, except all I remember was the moment an extremely large, glossy, off-white rat ran across
the table tops next to where we were. We were both absolutely horrified, both for the fact that we had just eaten there and for what we thought would be the embarrassment of the bar owners to have a rat on the premises.
Said owners, seeing our reaction, were very reassuring. This was no ordinary rat. This was their rat, carefully chosen for his size and different appearance. No streetlevel-filthy-sewage-eating-ordinarybrown-vermin was ever allowed in their premises due to the presence of their rat in the bar, which he regarded as his own. The kitchen staff fed him the best scraps and looked after him much in the manner of a household pet. In turn, he patrolled the bar and kitchen as his territory and kept the commonplace street rats out.
The bar owners told us with great affection, sincerity and pride that they kept him so well fed and provided for that he was bigger, fiercer and the best rat they had ever had at defending the bar, and by the way, wasn’t he handsome with his glossy fur?
What could we do but agree, nodding weakly? We then proceeded to wash down the rest of the meal with the harsh local spirit we had previously refused, as a counter to the shock and hilarity of the situation and as a possible prophylactic against any disease.