Of mice and mice and even more mice
Back in October, I recounted the story of Mendel the Mouse, who had strayed into our house through a hole in the skirting board and proceeded to help himself to the remains of a bagel carelessly thrown away by our toddler, Alex.
At the time, I felt sorry for poor Mendel, who I imagined to be a lonely immigrant mouse trying to make his way in the big city. So, I didn’t set a trap for him, neither did I poison him, but rather, I found this ingenious-sounding device on the internet which emits an ultrasonic signal designed to drive rodents out of your house.
We fitted one. It seemed to work. More to the point, I discovered that I was not alone in my mousey misery. I had phone calls and emails from readers asking where I found the device, whether it got rid of the problem, what the packaging looked like, whether the flashing lights were intrusive... Overnight, I seemed to have turned into Which Mousetrap magazine.
Anyway, having heartily recommended the ultrasonic electromagnetic doobrey, I now feel rather guilty. Because, you see, Mendel returned (if indeed he had ever gone away). Only this time, he wasn’t a lone immigrant mouse off the boat from the shtetl. No, this time it was mass immigration. Like the streets of the East End at the end of the 19th century, the thoroughfares between my kitchen units were suddenly teeming with rodents. And truly, they had stumbled upon a Goldene Medine. There was more challah than they could possibly eat (at least, until I bought a huge Tupperware container in which to park my loaves) and they were regulars at my corner grocery shop (where Weetabix and Shreddies seemed to be their favourites).
Suddenly, I was left with a choice. I could either leave the mice to prosper and multiply — after which they would presumably migrate to the suburbs and go into the professions — or I could take action to repatriate them.
You see, that’s the trouble with my metaphor about Yiddishe immigrant mice. By taking the decision to confront them, I would become the Oswald Mosley of the rodent world, marching defiantly through the East End of the kitchen. It was also complicated by the fact that four-yearold Lucy had taken to carrying her furry mouse toy around with her wherever she went, in solidarity with the rodents.
Of course I didn’t want to treat them like vermin. But, then it occurred to me that they were, literally, vermin. They had to go.
The crunch came a few weekends ago at around about 1.30am when my wife, Jo, woke me to inform me that she had heard something scratching around in the bedroom. So started a two-hour quest to hunt down the mouse which would have made a silent comedy classic. There we were with frying pans, trying to nail the mouse as it adeptly shot from under the bed to behind the wardrobe, then to the bookcase. Ultimately, as we were about to expire from exhaustion, it nonchalantly sauntered out of the door, leaving us only a few minutes sleep before Alex, with perfect timing, decided he fancied an early morning.
So in came the council pest control expert. Rarely have I come across anyone who enjoys his work more. And there was a particular spring in his step when he visited us. This was because, he informed us, that we had one of the most spectacular infestations he had ever seen. On his last visit, he struggled to drag a huge bucketload of bait into the house. He also brought along a student pest disposal person, there I suppose, to witness the phenomenon of the entire rodent population of Enfield all under one roof. So what lessons can be learned? Well the first is to save your money on the electronic mice device, and spend it on traps (which actually don’t work terribly well either). The second is to make sure make you examine whether your Shreddies packet has been gnawed upon before you eat your breakfast. And the third is to never write a shmaltzy column about a Jewish mouse if you may have to exterminate his entire family at a later date.