This wouldn’t be a true London living experience without a visit by small, long-tailed, rounded-eared, beady-eyed, cute(?) rodents, brazen enough to break and enter into the home of us innocent humans.
Before you become too attached to these little mice, I feel it’s best to start by sharing with you how it ended for one of these fury fellas:
Under the cover of darkness, he snuck out out yet again from the loosened boarding covering the gap under the sink. Under the impression that he was simply re-entering the empty playground of the living room at the end of the day, he lacked the caution required when entering No Man's Land. As far as he could tell, everything looked the same, except for three new pieces of equipment lining the boundary of the playground. His mother had warned him about touching things that looked suspicious but these ones smelt delicious. Peanut butter. Which one to choose? Skirting along the boundary to the right, he set his sights on the one with the huge peanut chunk. If only he knew that No Man’s Land was really just home to landmines and barbed wire.
Okay, we can leave this one here. Time instead now for a story of adventure, excitement and freedom:
Speculation of an uninvited guest was first raised when sporadic scuffling and occasional creaking were heard through the walls of the flat. The mouse first ventured out at the beginning of April while the humans were lounging around watching their third straight episode of Too Hot to Handle. Twice he appeared, only briefly, and within a second of getting spotted, swiftly darted back into the safety of the walls.
Although the murmurings continued on for a couple of days, the watchful humans didn’t catch any further sight of the intruder for some weeks to come. The humans pondered the correlation between the building lift breaking and the initial mouse presence, followed by a period of peace beyond the walls as the lift sprang back to life with the help of a heroic handyman.
Further evidence to support this suspicion was gathered when the lift once again commenced its OUT-OF-ORDER-take-the-stairs-you-lazy-humans state and the stage manager cued the mouse to yet again take centre stage.
Not even waiting until night, the mouse made his matinee debut, dancing across the floor in the middle of the afternoon. Jumping out of her seat and double-taking, human #1 took one step towards the mouse before he scurried back into the cavity under the kitchen sink.
Mouse: 1, Humans: 0
Before proceeding any further, it is important to note how exceptional this maneuver was; the humans had securely sealed off the possible entrances below the fridge and sink with countless cereal boxes and high quality sticky tape so obviously there was no plausible way for a mouse to ever get back through. Clearly the humans were as shocked as you are now. Okay, so maybe this wasn’t the most professional structure, but after the mouse escaped between the cardboard box and sink, there was barely a centimetre of space left ajar. Evidently this stage entrance and exit was well rehearsed.
Half time came and went and before human #1 could take her seat, the mouse appeared yet again but this time he forgot his blocking and ran aimlessly across the living room and took refuge under the sofa. Human #1 quickly boarded up the entrance with the contents of the recycling bin before pursuing the mouse (remember this crucial detail for later).
He was too quick though and darted out from under the sofa, and across the room to the safety of the tv cabinet or rather the VANISHING CABINET from Harry Potter. With no idea where the mouse had disappeared to or where the sister VANISHING CABINET was, human #1 spent the next few minutes searching every corner of it before giving up, baffled and wondering if the mouse had silently slipped into the hallway.
No sign of the mouse there either.
Mouse: 2, Humans: 0
Almost defeated, human #1 turned to head back to the living room, when the mouse returned to the spotlight for an encore. In what could only be described as a video game character taunt, the mouse sat there silently laughing at the human’s lack of hide and seek ability before skipping off to make his trap door exit from the stage.
Finally one point for the humans. (This is the aforementioned “later”).
Caught off guard, the mouse began to panic. Scampering backwards and forwards, he needed to hatch a plan quickly. Luckily the human was unarmed and also in a flurry of panic. He knew a temporary hide-out if only he could get there in time. Zipping back across the living room, with the human shrieks in the background, he disappeared again behind the sofa.
Human #1 immediately dropped to the floor and peered under the sofa, expecting to see a quivering mouse, but there was nothing there. How could this be? Human #1 tried to pull the rug out from under the mouse’s feet to see if the mouse’s feet were under the rug, but he wasn’t there either. Surely he’s there. There was only one way to find out apparently; upturn everything in the ENTIRE room.
All this crashing around finally caught the attention of human #2 who emerged from the bedroom to discover the bombsite of a floor strewn with cushions and head-high stacks of containers, papers and socks. Together they ruled out that the mouse could be under the rug or behind a cushion. The only place left was...INSIDE the sofa.
On the count of three, they lifted the arms to expand the sofa and proceeded to scream their heads off as the mouse leapt out of the sofa and sped to the corner behind a standing lamp.
The humans recovered from the shock and rallied to assemble a blockade surrounding the corner. Suggesting plan after plan, the humans finally decided to arm themselves with a flimsy storage box, a 1 litre strawberry yogurt bucket and a plastic strawberry punnet. Many counts of three later, they swivelled the lamp around to expose the mouse who dodged first the strawberry punnet, then the 1 litre strawberry yogurt bucket, but he was no match for the flimsy storage box. Now enveloped in darkness, the mouse was trapped.
One more point for the humans.
Not having thought this far ahead, the humans again sat around throwing out ideas. Um and ah, um and ah. Eventually they slid a towel under the box, flipped it over, stacked it inside the laundry basket and escorted the suspicious package to the bathroom where the mouse could no longer hide behind anything. Releasing the mouse into the corner, it took the humans many attempts with a 1 litre strawberry yoghurt bucket to finally catch him.
Suddenly awash in pity for the little fella, the humans decided to take him to the park to set him free. Venturing across the park, with the 1 litre strawberry yoghurt bucket gently swaying at her side, human #1 placed the bucket down in the middle of a grassy square.
Bracing themselves not to jump with fright, they removed the lid of the bucket and watched on as the mouse hopped out and came to terms with his surroundings. There was no brazen look of confidence, no taunting to be done, nor a look of sorrow at his hosts. He gazed into the distant fields of long grass and wondered what adventures lay ahead. One, two, three hops at a time, pausing to look ahead, he slowly made his way into the embracing arms of the grass tufts.
What happened next to the curious mouse?
There’s no way to know
But it's been a good show
Full of ups and downs
Some shrieks and some frowns
A learning or two
But it’s over now, phew
Us humans rest easy
The living room’s breezy
Peanut butter for us
No more mouse trapping fuss
The lift’s working fine
No stairs left to climb
Though it's been quiet a while
Handyman’s on speed dial.
Mouse: 3, Humans: 3