Sunday 7 February 2010

The noise of teething and the taste of death

15st 7lb, 4.5 units. The Baby has been screaming virtually all night. Teething, apparently. He has a couple of razor-sharp little toothy-pegs poking out of his bottom gum, which rather take the pleasure out of him using my fingers as a makeshift teething ring, but I guess the pain must be coming from somewhere else. His pain, not mine, that is. It’s definitely not a lot of fun, for him or for anyone else in the house. I’m writing this at 10 in the morning, having been up for more than three hours, and The Dog is still in our bed, under the duvet, with a paw pressed over his ears. And the mice have started throwing themselves onto the traps, as Les Dawson used to claim that they did in anticipation of his mother-in-law’s visits.

Well, not exactly. I haven’t actually found any traps. But there is the most appalling smell in the spare bedroom above the garage, and an investigation of the cupboards under the eaves this morning showed all the usual signs of mouse activity, viz lots of chewed-up pipe lagging and some bait laid either by our landlords or the previous tenants. Unfortunately they have chosen that poison-soaked grain which the mice are expected to ingest over a period of days, and which still leaves them with the time and energy to wander off and die somewhere completely inaccessible, where the smell of their decomposition can be expected to linger for weeks.

Long experience of this sort of thing in Northumberland has taught me that the only answers are traps and a fast-acting poison called Alphakil. By traps, I mean the old-fashioned snapping sort that ideally come down hard on the victim’s neck. There is no point pussy-footing (maybe not the most appropriate words, come to think of it) around with “humane” traps unless you are going to drive several miles to release their contents after capture. If you are just going to let the mouse out in your garden, it will be back in your house before you are.

That’s assuming that the “trap” holds the mouse for long enough for you carry it outside in the first place. A soft-hearted colleague told me a couple of weeks ago how he had invested in one to deal with a recurrent mouse nuisance, baited it with chocolate and gone to bed. Where he had been woken, after an hour or so, by a munching noise and turned on the light to observe a mouse sitting on his bedroom carpet staring at him, with the chocolate clamped in its little fist. He said that the only surprise was that it wasn’t using its other forepaw to give him the two fingers.

I don’t know what Rentokil put in their Alphakil, but you tear open a sachet and put the bright green granules into a bait tray, and the mice seem to die within about a foot of it. It’s a wonder it hasn’t been banned. Thank God Saddam Hussein never got his hands on it, or where would we be?

One peculiarity struck me very forcibly this morning, as I was swallowing another couple of my Lemsip Max Strength Day & Night Cold & Flu Relief capsules: they taste exactly like the spare bedroom above the garage smells. Dead mouse flavouring, anyone?

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