I received an ominous message from my flatmates a few weeks ago.
"We thought we should let you know that there has been quite a lot of evidence of a mouse in Tara's bedroom."
I girded myself and took a deep breath. "Oh right," I replied. "What was the evidence?"
"Well. It was an actual mouse."
And so began the ongoing saga I like to call MouseHouse '12, or sometimes Haus of Mouse, to lend the suggestion of camp European costumery to proceedings. It isn't easy to glamourise a rodent infestation, but I believe we must try. Maybe, rather than just indicating slatternly behavior with our toast crumbs, having mice makes us terribly bohemian and we will later reference this period of our lives in a bestselling novel and arthouse movie.
The first thing I have learned about having mice is that everyone in the world has an opinion on how to get rid of them, and not a single one will concur. "Get poison!" says one. "No don't!" says the next. "Buy a sonic repeller!" says one. "They don't work!" declares the next, cheerfully. And it is always cheerfully, because on the whole people quite like hearing other people have worse living situations than their own. It makes them feel better about their rising damp or anaglypta wallpaper.
Some will be reassuring, with tales of how in the end they grew quite fond of their mouse and it ended up a bit like Ben the rat in that Michael Jackson song, but mostly they say things like, "you know their spines turn to liquid and they can squeeze through a hole the size of a pencil?" or, "you never get rid of them. Aunt Agnes found one in her porridge and we had to move house." Gee thanks, The People.
The second thing I have learned is that it's surprising how long you can go without entering your own kitchen, if you really put your mind to it (and buy your dinner in the pub a lot). And the third thing I've learned is that I'm slightly braver than I think I am, but still not nearly brave enough to manoeuvre a dead mouse into a bin bag on my own. Particularly when the dead mouse starts moving halfway through.
I've tried to overcome my fears through a programme of mouse sympathising. I think about Jerry, of Tom and Jerry, and The Rescuers, and Rastamouse. Cute mice. I remember the hamsters of my childhood, who were nothing but fluffier, lazier mice after all - and didn't I love them? Well yes, until they escaped, at which point they instantly transformed from cuddly caged pets to wild, roaming vermin in my 11-year-old eyes. But anyway.
I know in theory that they’re more scared of me than I am of them – but there’s little danger of me trying to climb into their beds, isn’t there? So until my Lovely Mouse Readjustment Programme comes good (still to start on the Angelina Ballerina boxset), I’ll be spending my evenings in Starbucks a lot. Possibly working on the script for that movie.