A plague does not happen overnight, there are warning signs. Signs that only make sense after the devastation, just as we experienced in Lamont Towers last night. Lets roll back a month to the garden. Two holes appeared in the ground slowly near the base of a tree where divots were formed after we felled a 35m fir tree 20 years ago and the roots rotted. Then two nights ago a strange cat appeared at 7pm sniffing around the holes then sat still tail wrapped around his legs poised. I visited the greenhouse much later to restart the paraffin heaters and noticed through the dark, reflections of cats eyes peering back.

Warning number two occurred in March as Lady Lamont redecorated the downstairs bathroom. Son #2 made first contact while in the bathroom. A mouse appears below the bath. House alerted and everything moves to Defcon 3 then a cautious search begins. I say cautious because no one ever wants to dispose of a mouse or any creature really. So I placed an old electric mouse trap under the bath and after much door opening and listening around the house, nothing. Calm for four weeks until last night.

The parents having watched the fourth Twilight movie and Son #2 burst into the room saying he can hear a mouse in his room. Avengers Assembled. Son#2 and I entered and could hear a munching sound. We closed the door and strategised. Boxes of stuff were stacked in corners so we began to clear it after appointing Lady Lamont the (reluctant) rear guard Avenger armed with a shoe box should it made it past us. Then the hunt began.

Defcon 2.

Minutes later we saw then lost the intruder as torch batteries died. I don’t know why, but holding a beam of light as powerful as a lighthouse gives confidence. Must be a Luke Skywalker thing… “There he is!” I calmly screamed in hurry. The Dark grey fur, twitching whiskers and translucent pink ears, he sat, watching me with his beady black eyes chomping. Cute and so tiny, half a ping pong ball if that. We approached in a pincer movement. With only two shoe boxes we deployed towels as a weapon although unsure and uncomfortable. Should try and trap or squish with a following foot, bit messy and admittedly cruel. He was pinned in the corner and visible, eating polystyrene! First thought – cancerous, then a blood rush of cold fear – nest building! We moved in with gusto. He jumped, sped past leaving us for dust and he was gone.

By now an hour had passed. Who knew chasing a teeny weeny mouse could instil pounding hearts and sweating. We rested on the stairs. Suddenly we saw a flash of fur from underneath us on the stairs zip to the same room and disappear underneath the closed door. “There’s two!” we said in unison. Fearing a contained problem just became uncontained, mice not mouse, war not hunt.

Son#2 and I drew breath and moved faster and more coordinated as a team. We split them apart one in each corner of the room. Again they darted around us like we were in slow motion, which we were. Learning that towels were useless as a weapon. They darted in and out the room to/from under the stairs as we stood, thinking.

Defcon 1

The Avengers tooled-up for the endgame. Towels were replaced by more boxes and a Dyson. My thinking was its long pipe would allow faster tracking of their movement and provide a contactless final act. That contactless bit is important. Remember the story of the elephant and the mouse? It must be true because all three of us were shrieking on every fresh sighting. We made a three stage plan. I would attack under the stairs with the vacuum sabre, Son #2 was ready to imprison any mouse escaping that and making a break for the bedroom with a box and Lady Lamont was armed with a larger box in the hall leading to the bathroom. I poked and prodded the bags under the stairs with the noisy pole of hope, then quick as a flash hopped over the Dyson like it wasn’t there, towards my feet which were oddly six inches off the ground and still rising as I knocked the Dyson and clattered. It scurried past Son#2 who was also in slow un-balletic levitation then broke for the bathroom. (I have to say Lady Lamont was not a Black Widow kick-ass willing Avenger assassin in this war, she would easily substitute this for a visit to the dentist). Bravely though she saw them coming and lunged towards it with a cavernous box. Missed it by an inch and she too found herself with one leg in the air while the muscle in the other went ping making her fall to the floor in agony as the mouse scurried off into the bathroom.

With one casualty, the house resembling a warzone and the Avengers fearing an Infinity War, an order for ten mousetraps was made at 3am this morning same day delivery. I’m off to buy some peanut butter. We’re laughing now because three adults were reduced to squealing, hovering 3rd rate clown ballet dancers, apart from one who didn’t achieve a full mouse hover and is limping badly. That limp will require subsequent explanations 🙂

Be alert in Spring for sings of mice and rats (digging holes in the garden) and act quickly. Another missing Poppy moment 🙁

9pm UPDATE

Mouse traps arrived 3pm. Within 20m of being baited and set the first “snap” echoed from the bathroom. 20m later a second dispatching. Lamont Towers has finally returned to its preferred calm demeanour. However as two poor mice have shown, it’s a thin veneer.

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