Sunday, 7 June 2009


I'm OK with a mouse that's wild and free. Questing voles passing feather-footed through the plashy fen? -they get my vote every time.

But I was never that keen on the sort of rodents you mostly get in houses.

In 1969 or so, I bought a copy of a book called "Ratman's Notebooks" in Woolworths (I think it cost me a shilling). The narrator describes how he trains a pack of rats to do horrible things to his enemies, but then they turn on him, and the book ends in a "O no they're scratching at the door" sort of way. I read it, horrified, in the attic room I inhabited in a Welsh house where the scrabbling sounds of mice came from above, below, and the sides.

And then there was the night that father and his new intended went out for the evening, leaving us children alone in a (to me) unfamiliar and unpleasant-smelling house in Preston, Lancashire. We watched a horror film on telly, and my troubled sleep was later broken by snuffling sounds in the dark. In the morning, I found a mouse caught in a trap in the kitchen and gravely wounded, snuffling through its own blood.

And then there was the farmhouse I was working on in Devon, when I popped up to Bristol for the weekend, and returned to find that rats had found their way into the house and started chewing through anything that took their fancy. Right bloody mess it was too. I chased them out with a stick, and slept the night in my car rather than stay in the house that night.

Katie, on the other hand, very much wanted a pet with a bit more in the upstairs department than Twinkle the hamster. Twinkle is OK, but she's hardly the shiniest apple in the bowl. Katie wants an animal who can share adventures and return her love.

So here is Yuki. "Are you sure it's all right?" asked Katie for the thousandth time as we walked to the pet shop. I made reassuring noises.

We let Yuki settle into her new cage undisturbed for a day, then Katie started handling her gently. Yuki took up residence on Katie's shoulder, occasionally releiveing herself there. The pile of washing mounted higher.

Yuki looked very lonely in her cage though, and it seemed cruel to have so sociable an animal in solitary confinement.

So now she has been joined by Pookie.

Picture no doubt to follow.