You will have noticed, being the intelligent, keen-eyed and tasteful reader that you are, that I am scared of mice-in-my-house. I am not scared of mice per se. Mice as pets? Adorable! Mice on the tube? Couldn’t be cuter! Mice at work? I’ll probably try to feed them and make them a nest under my desk. Mice in my house? Cue standing on a chair shrieking EEK at the top of my little lungs and ringing my daddy for help. I know it’s pathetic. I wish I could rein it in. But sadly, as is the way with those pesky irrational fears, there’s no talking me out of it with mere logic.
I am of course crazy about animals. I haven’t eaten one since the summer of 1986 and my dream is to one day run a sanctuary for horses that have been knocked about a bit. I am the kind of crazy lady who even thinks that stick insects are cute, and I have a special passion for rodents, having owned, loved and cried rivers of tears over the deaths of more hamsters and guinea pigs than you could shake a sesame seed treat at.
Given this last fact, it really makes no sense that I am so terrified of mice-in-my-house - or mice, as I shall call them from now on, for ease of my poor typing fingers. If I found a stray hamster dashing across the bedroom, I would squeal with delight and start anthropomorphosising the fuck outta him before you could say boo. Why is it different for poor wee mice?
I think it's at least partly because of a student house I frequented during my first degree, which was rented by 5 friends of mine, one of whom was my then-boyfriend's brother, so I was there a lot. This house was, quite literally, over-run by mice. They weren't scared any more. They had little parties in the hallway, gossiping over Tesco value crisps crumbs and thimbles full of K cider. They had chewed holes in the all the cupboards and clearly thought that the bags of rice and bowls of apples were socialist snacks. One on memorable occasion, a member of this household woke up to find one on his pillow, staring him in the eye. Looking back on it now, it's a wonder my friends didn't all die of some hideous mouse-borne virus... or of being mistaken for a wedge of cheese and nibbled in the night.
This was my first introduce to house-mice, and I assumed that this was the way it would always be if you had mice in your house. I didn't understand that there was a middle ground.
However, I still wasn't scared by these mice. The reason for this is, I think, two-fold. Firstly, the mice weren't scared of us, so ambled around... they didn't do that scuttering, dashing, sprinting thing that mice and spiders do, and which make our primeval limbic systems seize up in terror. They were chilled, and so was I. I seem to remember trying to feed them chocolate on several occasions. Helpful, huh? Secondly, I didn't live in this house. Despite being a frequent visitor, I never stayed the night. So it was a problem removed, which everyone knows is a problem halved, if not quartered. It was, to be honest, a novelty to me, not something to stress about. However, it did, as I said, plant this idea in me that where there was one mouse, there would be 500 of his closest chums, just waiting to start a karaoke party in your chutney cupboard.
The first time I saw a mouse in my house, I was living with my brother in Manor House. He had gone out for the night, and I was in my room, working on a not-very-good novel that never got finished. In those days, I could write, listen to music and sing loudly all at the same time. Don't ask me how I could do this... these days I need silence to write properly. I was very into what I was writing, but also had the music on very loud, and was having a marvellous time alone and lost in myself.
I spun round on my chair to head towards the kitchen and get a drink, and standing there, cool as a cucumber, was a mouse, several foot away from me, clear in the middle of the room, staring at me as if transfixed.
My reaction - which was like something out of a cartoon - surprised me. If someone had asked me three seconds before seeing the little critter, if I was scared of mice, I would doubtless have scoffed NO very loudly and carried on typing. However, I would have been wrong - and cue the standing on a chair, screaming my head off, total panic that ensued.
Oh, the shame, dear blog readers... I must confess that I hopped across pieces of furniture to the bedroom door, ran down the corridor, jumped on the sofa, picked up the phone and rang my dad to come and save me. Which, god bless him, he did, searching the house for the mouse and (I seem to remember) taking me back to sleep as his and mum's as I was too scared to sleep in my room.
Ridiculous? Yes. Laughable? Oh, I know. I'm not proud. But I only need to think about it for about 3 minutes before I start freaking out that much again. I can kinda tease my brain with it, the way you might after seeing a scary movie, and then laughing with your fella in bed in a dark bedroom afterwards about how funny it would be if you were really scared - and then you start talking about it and before you know it, you're jumping at shadows and bashing the cat across the nose with a frying pan because you mistook him for a knife-wielding serial killer. I start thinking about how stupid I would be if I were to imagine 5, 20, 100 mice, all under my bed, teeming over one another in a black, writhing mass that I might accidentally plunge my hand into when looking under the bed for something else... it starts out as a joke, but before I know it, I'm back on the nearest piece of furniture with my heart in my mouth.
I've had many more mice incidents since that first one - incidents that have necessitated running to boyfriends' houses, back to daddy, even just to high-pitched phone calls at the crack of dawn - but I won't go on. Keen followers of my Facebook statuses will realise that there has been a recent plague of the little buggers in my house, waking myself and my DJ life partner/best friend/tenant up in the dead of night. The first time this happened, I was woken up by a scratching noise under my bed which chased me over to the chaise longue... I couldn't work out if it was a mouse or a monster, and I think I would genuinely have preferred the latter option. On that occasion, I had to be talked out of my room by a lovely, understanding boy... who possibly could have laughed at me a wee bit less. ;-)
I have - with the help of the same understanding boy, god bless him - now taken everything out of my room in an effort to de-mouse it, and I think the little feckers have fecked off. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. More updates as and when.