webofevil: (all hail)
A gentleman who lives in this house, on the same floor as I, used to put dead mice under the door of my room. Then the young lady who lived on the floor below me acquired a cat with the result that my tormentor ran out of ammunition. Now the woman and her pet have moved and the rodents have returned. This may mean that my journal will become even emptier than it habitually is. I may find myself living under 'mouse arrest'.

Quentin Crisp, Resident Alien
webofevil: (Default)

Further to this mouse-dispatching tip: Be sure not to tie the binbag before dropping the heavy object on it. I thought this might save a little time and minimize even further the possibility of gore and general unpleasantness.

On this occasion the Angel of Death was a whopping great Salvador Dali collection in hardback, even heavier than the Quran. Salvo stared up at me haughtily as the book fell from my hands and landed on the binbag, which promptly split open with an impressive bang. I watched aghast as the smaller plastic bag containing my latest victim shot across the room. I'm hoping the shock of the noise and his impromptu land-speed record attempt were enough to give him a heart attack on the spot.

I'm beginning to think it would be less distressing all round not to kill them at all, but maybe instead—as someone once drunkenly suggested—I could keep them all alive and feed them, and use them as chess pieces.
webofevil: (Default)
A friend has drawn my attention to the following example of blatant propaganda:


by Rose Fyleman

I think mice
Are rather nice

Their tails are long,
Their faces small,
They haven't any
Chins at all.

Their ears are pink
Their teeth are white,
They run about
The house at night.

They nibble things
They shouldn't touch
And no one seems
to like them much.

But I think mice
Are Nice.

© The estate of Rose Fyleman

Of Mice And Me

by The Web of Evil

So I'm supposed
To change my mind
Because their jaws
Are well-defined?

I don't trust Rose's
Judgement here.
She's dazzled by
A nice pink ear

But as a basis
For deciding
Whether they
Should be abiding

In my walls,
It's not enough.
I must be made
Of sterner stuff.

And as for their
Nocturnal sprints
Around my house -
They make me wince.

I'm growing
Ever wearier
Of this daft bint's

She's clearly
Never had to claw
Their tiny shit
Up off the floor

Nor woken up to
Scratch an itch and
Heard one squeaking
In her kitchen

Or found books
Its hungry sibling
Has been studiously

I am going to
Make a stand
Before my mice
Get out of hand;

Their sheer verminous
Leaves no room for

So I've hatched
A fiendish plan
To off them
Any way I can:

It can't be news
To all you boys and
Girls that I've been
Using poison.

Trapping them
Is also good
For if it all
Goes as it should,

With all the adults
Caught in traps,
Their infrastructure
Will collapse.

Then hopefully
They'll up and quit
And that'll be
The end of it.

So no amount
Of poetry
Will make a convert
Out of me.

A hundred thousand
Mouse Eisteddfods
Won't dissuade me
From my methods.
webofevil: (Default)

TIP: An effective and reasonably compassionate mouse-dispatching scheme is to carefully place the trapped mouse in a plastic bag, wrap that plastic bag inside a few others, put the lot into a binbag, and then drop a very heavy weight onto it (several times, just to be sure). The mouse is calmed by the pitch darkness, and then never knows what has hit it; what's more, you don't have to view—or, more importantly, mop up—the results.

It just so happened that, at the time when I improvised this technique, the nearest heavy flat object happened to be a hardback copy of the Quran. Already a hefty tome in its own right, this particular edition contains not only the Arabic text but also a page-by-page English translation. It's the Quran TWICE. It does more damage from a height of four feet than an entire patio's worth of concrete from three storeys up, and it's the holy word of God. Truly it is a weapon of mouse destruction.*

Incidentally, the Quran states that everything that happens is the will of God. Nothing could happen that He Himself has not decreed. Consequently the mouse/book interface was clearly earmarked aeons in advance. So before someone yells "blasphemer" and the fatwas flood in, just consider that attacking me for implementing God's design would itself be bringing blasphemy to a whole new level.

* This joke is available for after-dinner speeches at reasonable rates.
webofevil: (Default)
It's been a couple of weeks now. There's been no plaintive squeaking in the night. I think it's safe to assume that my little test pilot bought the farm some time ago, which is just as well for both of us.

It wouldn't have had to end this way if I'd known then what I do now: that his relative kinetic energy was roughly proportional to the cube root of his mass. Of course here I'm employing the new usage of the word "know", meaning "have just looked up on the Internet". In fact the whole topic of mass and surface as they relate to dropping animals from enormous heights turns out to be more hotly debated than I had ever envisaged—i.e. at all, ever.

It all stems from an article written in 1928 by the biologist John Haldane, who introduces the topic to the layman with the memorable words: "You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes." He then wanders off into lengthy explanations about resistance presented to movement by the air being proportional to the surface of the moving object, but his voice fades into the distance as you're left contemplating this unwelcome image, like a child on a school trip to an art gallery transfixed by a naughty picture.

Thankfully, though, the horse-splashing allegation is these days dismissed as "a myth". One chatroom contributor pointed out that "in order to splash, the animal has not just to break its bones and much connective tissue - the impact has to tear away and project pieces into the air (on the rebound, too). A horse will be pulped, but stay more or less in one piece", which is at least marginally less grotesque. (He adds: "An elephant MIGHT splash, but I doubt even that.")

To summarize: mice don't die from heights. My carefully crafted plan turns out to have been doomed to ignominious failure from the off, which is the closest I've ever got to resembling a Shakespearean hero.

Of course, Haldane notoriously failed to include the attachment of a small piece of card in his calculations, but even had he still been alive it's unlikely that this would have troubled him. My vague hope that the added impact of the card might have helped to jolt the mouse to a speedy death only serves to illuminate my profoundly defective knowledge of anything which could be remotely classified as "science". All of which leaves me with the unpleasant knowledge that I left a mouse to die a very slow death on someone else's patio.

At first I was able to console myself that, given the sizeable cat population roaming around the gardens, at least he wouldn't have time to starve to death. But we all know that cats love to toy with their prey; indeed, they're genetically programmed to do so. There is no sport in a mouse already fastened to a piece of card. It's the equivalent of stabilizers. A cat on the prowl is going to want its food free-range, not pre-packaged.

Then again, if a particularly lazy cat did take a fancy to what was on offer, there's still the problem of the glue. What if the cat got stuck fast before it had even had a chance to take a bite? And what if a passing fox then decided it wanted a piece of the cat? The possibilities are dizzying. I'm worried that I'll open my curtains one morning to be faced with a giant ball of hopelessly entangled animals engaged in a delirious mutual feeding frenzy. Your mind is free to worry at things like this when you don't have a mortgage.

And this issue isn't going to go away. The reason I was able to execute Project Get The FUCK Out Of My House with impunity is that the property downstairs is currently uninhabited. The travel firm which was based there quit the place some months ago, leaving me entirely unable to get to their basement-level garden. They also took with them their constant supply of leftover snacks on which entire families of mice had clearly been feasting, which is why the cuddly incontinent doe-eyed disease-ridden snuffly-whiskered vermin are now all making their way upstairs to me.

So I'm probably going to be faced with the same dilemma again very soon, and I'm no closer to a solution. I'm still laying out poison for them, but it scarcely seems to be touching the sides as they wolf it down. They appear to develop resistance to new toxins before scientists have even finished figuring out how to spell them. (I still think "warfarin" looks wrong written down. It looks like the title of a Bob Marley album.)

Someone at work told me about their own mouse experience. During a dinner party they heard a tell-tale snap from the kitchen which meant their spring trap had gone off, but when they went to investigate they discovered that the mouse, although trapped by the neck and badly injured, had survived the attack. Indeed it was able to move along their kitchen surface, dragging the enormous trap on its back like a tiny Jesus labouring under its cross. One of their guests said bullishly "Don't worry, I know how to handle this", grabbed a large piece of wood, and brought it crashing down on top of the mouse. Its third dimension having been so suddenly and brutally curtailed, the animal exploded along its y axis. They were scraping rodent residue off the walls for days. At the risk of stating the dazzlingly obvious, this is NOT an option.

A surprising number of helpful people have suggested putting the captured mouse in my freezer. It's the most humane way, they say. The mouse will slowly nod off, its little nose twitching occasionally, and be enfolded in the arms of slumber, and it will never wake up again. All of which may well be true, but I find that I'm just not prepared to store tuberculosis bacteria next to my fish fingers. Neither am I keen to invest in a separate mouse cryogenic chamber.

Another thing that isn't going to happen: catching them alive and releasing them in the wild. I refuse to be party to their disease-spreading activities. And in the current political climate, if I were caught transporting one of the infectious little buggers I could probably be arrested as a terrorist engaged in chemical warfare.

My brother tells me that a friend of his, whose stint in the Norwegian army involved extensive knife training, once spent a happy couple of weeks at the family cabin dealing with an infestation by pronging mice with blades from a distance of several metres. Maybe I'll have him to stay. It would certainly enliven cold nights in.

One other suggestion has been to "let it go". I admit that this has become a bit of a consuming issue, and my conversation has been rather mouse-flavoured of late. However, "letting it go" would entail learning to co-exist peacefully with herds of mice galumphing around my flat, and to be honest I'm just not prepared to do this.
webofevil: (all hail)
It isn't the first mouse I've tackled. It really shouldn't have been that difficult. But this one had got me angry.

Not in a serial-killer way, you understand ("She MADE me!"). It's just that last night, as I switched out my light, I heard the tell-tale sound of something scrabbling about in my room again, and I knew then and there:

(a) that I would yet again not sleep properly that night (and I was right—three fitful hours was all I got);

(b) that I would now be too weary to do my job properly (right again); and

(c) that for this my intrepid little mouseketeer would DIE.
So I spent the day as dazed as you do when you've had three hours' sleep (Margaret Thatcher ran the country feeling like this! I could barely organize my evening meal!), and came home in a foul mood, ready to set him a lethal obstacle course he'd never remember.

The already explosive mouse situation had been exacerbated the previous evening by my catching sight of him ambling along in my kitchen. At least when they've been scuttling around in the dark and then either bolt or freeze when you switch the light on, there's a sense that they know they shouldn't be there—they've been rumbled. But my kitchen lights were ON and I was WALKING ABOUT. This mouse had become so blasé about my presence that it really didn't care whether I was there or not. And, frankly, I resented this.

First, I put down a glue trap in front of his bolt-hole. This is a large piece of solid white card covered in, well, glue. In the middle of this trap I placed some pungent Danish salami, infused with garlic and red wine.

Beyond the glue trap I put down a fresh batch of poison, although this was more a token gesture than a serious attempt at assassination. I had been laying down this particular poison ("for rats and mice who have become resistant to warfarin") in my bedroom for the previous few weeks, and the little sod had been merrily gorging himself on the stuff with no apparent ill effects whatsoever.

After the poison I baited two spring traps with the salami. I also blocked his alternative routes with steel wool (which they can't stand—it's like a wall of razor wire). I was a man possessed.

Then, the booby-traps all laid, I relaxed. I knew I was likely to find something unpleasant in my kitchen in the morning, but I was prepared to psyche myself up to face it. I popped out to the shop to get a drink before I'm Alan Partridge.

Five minutes later I came back, walked into my kitchen, and saw the mouse struggling in the glue trap. I can hardly have left the room before he made his crazed dash for the salami. What's more, this meant the dozy git had probably watched me lay the traps for him. How I long for a worthy opponent.

So there we were. Him struggling for his life, and me stood over him cursing the day he picked my flat to scurry about in. Both his hind legs were caught in the glue, as well as the right side of his face. It's particularly gummy glue—it doesn't tear or burn, but the animal is resolutely stuck. So I pulled the strip of card out into the light, and we regarded each other. He was palpitating madly, but then mice always do that, so I wasn't too moved. But when his enormous, dark, baleful eye fixed mine, I began to feel stirrings of remorse.

Then I remembered something I'd seen only the previous evening. Standard cheap American pap—When Unusual Pets You Thought Were Really Nice Turn Out To Have Been Vicious Meat-Eating Predators All Along, or something—and I'd flicked over to it just as they showed amateur footage from an Australian suburb. A wild kangaroo had boinged into someone's garden and taken an untoward fancy to the family dog. Pest control were called, and five trained experts advanced on the roo with netting and sedatives. It literally punched its way out of the corner it found itself in, but was eventually, and again literally, wrestled to the ground and sedated, all the time howling and growling like a wounded lion. And as I watched it I was suddenly struck with the realisation: that six-foot bastard with a Naseem right hook was nothing more than a rodent. A slight shift in evolutionary history and I could have found myself faced with that going through my waste paper basket in the middle of the night.

Big and baleful my captive's eyes may have been, but given the chance he'd have been boxing me for my tenancy rights, and we both knew it. The jig was up. His goose was cooked. This mouse's cookie had categorically crumbled.

I'd already made plans for what I was going to do once I'd snared my prey. I was going to throw him out of my window.

Don't start. I'd been through all this already. The glue trap was a last resort in the first place—if your nocturnal visitors have craftily avoided everything else you've put down for them, you catch them alive in a big puddle of glue, and do away with them yourself.

But how the hell do you do that? I haven't been brought up on the Scando hunt-and-fish ethic. (As my Norwegian half-brother once said to me, "Have you ever looked a cod right in the eye just before you slit its throat?") What was I supposed to do? Drown it? Stab it? Strangle it? Smother it with a pillow? None of my options were attractive. But I did reckon that a swift dive out of my bedroom window on to the hard concrete thirty feet below should do the trick. Plus it would give the mouse the most exhilarating ride of its short life.

So I went into my room to open the window. As I switched on the light I noticed an added extra: a simply enormous spider on my wall above my bed. It was easily as big as the mouse I was about to dispatch. It's fair to say that I was pretty fraught by this point—I had already been loudly calling down curses on my unwelcome houseguest, along with his extended family—and I found myself yelling "What the fuck am I, Gerald Durrell?" as I pounded the spider to a pulp with a hefty copy of Damon Runyon's collected stories wrapped in a plastic bag. (I refuse to ruin a perfectly good paperback with spider glop.)

I made sure my light was off for the deed itself, though. The last thing I needed was to be witnessed by someone in a flat the other side of the gardens, framed menacingly against the light as I launched my hapless minion on his mission. What would I tell the court in my defence? "I was trying to make a bat"?

I carried the card with its squirming prisoner into my room, roundly berating him as we went. "It's your OWN FUCKING FAULT! I WARNED you!" I may have said. "If you'd only FUCKING WELL GONE when I TOLD you!" is another phrase that might possibly have been uttered.

I held the card out of the window. I could just see him dangling in the darkness. And I could hear him squeaking.

I want to point out here that I took no pleasure in any of this. I genuinely was angry with him. If he'd ever gone for any of the bait I put in the spring traps, he'd have been killed instantly and painlessly. If he'd gone about his mousing business in someone else's flat in the middle of the night, I'd never have been driven to this. But his own stubbornness led us to this fateful duel of wits, and destiny did the rest.

I apologised to him just before I let him go. For some reason I had a momentary vision of an incandescent Ernest Hemingway standing beside me screaming derisory abuse.

I have to report that the mouse's voyage of discovery was even more brief than I had expected. And anyway, his discoveries mainly concerned things like gravity and acceleration—nothing that hadn't already been discovered by Galileo about four hundred years ago.

But the worst bit was yet to come. The card disappeared into the night, and hit the ground with an impressive clap.

Followed half a second later by a pitiful squeak.

He didn't die! He didn't sodding die! What the fuck kind of übermaus had I been dealing with? Thirty feet on to solid concrete and he survived! That's got to be over 500ft in mouse years!

I felt awful, although presumably not as bad as he did. The whole point of flinging him out of the window was that I had no more humane methods of disposal at my disposal, and I was trying to avoid inflicting any pain. I listened hard for a good couple of minutes, but if he made any more noise, it wasn't loud enough for an audience thirty feet up. I closed the window.

And that's where I've had to leave it. If he isn't dead yet, he soon will be. I honestly hope he is, though, and that the squeak I heard was just a last gasp of rage and momentary pain; a bony little mouse claw pointed up at the open window in accusation.

So what have we learnt?

(1) Mice will hurl themselves into the very jaws of death just for a nibble of Danish salami infused with red wine and garlic.

(2) Although I'm normally pretty easy-going about spiders, it turns out I really, REALLY hate finding enormous ones in my room.

(3) The first five minutes of that episode of "Alan Partridge" will forever be tainted for me, as it was on in the background during all this. Luckily, the opening bit isn't actually very good, and the episode only really picks up about half-way in.

(4) Apparently I start yelling like Basil Fawlty at insects and rodents when I have been denied sleep in any appreciable quantity.

(5) Mice can't fly.
I'm going to bed.

December 2015

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