It was the mouse wot dunnit!
The morning of June 8th dawned fine and balmy, full of hope and birdsong. In fact, the birdsong may have been a tad too fulsome, having woken Ro at about 4.30 am so, to be honest, he was not in the best of spirits. But, notwithstanding, he ate a hearty breakfast and departed in good cheer to his hairdresser, to have his luxuriant tresses coiffured, leaving his help-meet, the Goodwife Sal, to attend to matters domestic , as befits her sex.
All was going well, and the Goodwife was embroiled in domesticity, that is to say, making the conjugal bed, when she heard a strange noise. She quickly identified this as emanating from Phoebe, a tiny but extremely vocal household cat. As she turned to speak to her feline helper, her delight turned to horror as Phoebe dropped a large mouse at her feet.
Now, the Goodwife is what a later age would come to call ‘phobic’ about mice. That is to say, reduced to a shivering, moaning wreck in the blink of an eye. However, she had just enough presence of mind to drop a waste-paper basket on top of the mouse, hoping it had shuffled off this mortal coil, but confining it if it had not. Then she grabbed the cat and exited the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
Sometime later, the Master of the House returned, relaxed and newly pomaded, only to be informed of the intruder in the upstairs chamber. Bracing his manly muscles he leapt up the stairs and lifted the mouse cage (otherwise known as the waste-paper basket) preparing to dispose of the corpse. But he had misjudged the situation. Released, the dead mouse sprang back to life with considerable alacrity and dived under the bed.
Now, some description of the conjugal chamber is required here. The home of this somewhat bucolic couple is a small but beautiful old country cottage, where they live in harmony with not only each other (most of the time) but their three dogs, and several cats. The bedroom occupies the entire top floor, and is dominated, of course, by the bed. This stands between two stanchions and does not leave much room for manoeuvre, especially as the bed has four large drawers under it.
The Master of the House (hereafter referred to as the MotH) summoned the Goodwife for help in trapping the mouse. With extraordinary courage, having donned knee length socks over her jeans (to stop the mouse running up her trouser legs), thick gloves, and wraparound goggles, the Goodwife entered the fray. The MotH disdained extra clothing, but armed himself with a torch, a colander and a table mat – sorry, you’ll have to work it out!
The first drawer to be evacuated proved to be the Good-wife’s shoe drawer and spilled an embarrassing number of pairs of shoes over the carpet but not the mouse. The second was the MotH’s shoe drawer and was mainly notable for the array of shoes not worn for some time. The MotH pounced on one pair with cries of joy, having apparently mislaid them some years before. However, the mouse was still eluding capture.
At this point, the ottoman at the foot of the bed was piled high with the bedclothes from the now unmade bed, and the MotH remembered that is was possible to separate the bed into two hales. Indeed, it was the only possible way to elevate up our narrow staircase originally. So, aided by the Goodwife, he proceeded to dismember the bed., enabling him to see underneath the entire area of the remaining section. And.– victory was his! Well. nearly. The mouse was spotted lurking furtively under the headboard.
With enormous bravery and ingenuity the MotH lay full lenth on the carpet, and, confronting the mouse literally head-on, managed to trap it under the colander. Some further strategic manoeuvring, that is to say, the table mat slid under the colander (see, he did know the right tools for the job!) and the mouse was ejected out of the window on to the roof. The Goodwife then ran frantically round slamming the windows closed against its re-entry.
There was then the small matter of restoring the bedchamber. Sadly, ato the mortification of the Goodwife, who obviously had failed in her domestic tasks, a considerable amount of dust and fluff had been uncovered during the furniture moving exploits. By the time this had been removed, and the bedchamber returned to something approaching its previous appearance, evacuating the mouse had taken one and half hours, and the MotH was exhausted.
But no rest was allowed. It was time to walk the dogs. For the first mile we limped around, not quite comatose, but coping, even possibly recuperating, but then we were plunged into chaos again. Ancient and bolshie Bengie-Sprocker, in his 17th year and with his front legs going much faster than his back ones, decided to plunge down a slippery slope into dark and muddy woodland. No use yelling for him, he was always selectively deaf, now he is really deaf. We called back the other two and were both trying to apprehend the truant when a saviour appeared and , summing up our limited resources, leapt into action and, catching him, made a dogizens arrest and returned our recalcitrant and totally unremorseful dog to us.
This same rescuer re-appeared some short time after, when the MotH was taken ill in the woods, overcome by the events of the day. He dialled 999, probably saving the MotH’s life by doing so. And that is the true story of a day in the life of Roland Aloysius Gardner.
And the moral of my tale? Just remember to vacuum under the bed. Oh, and as my mother used to say, always wear clean underclothes, because, well, you just never know…