Monday, 28 February 2011


I begin to wonder about my life before mice. They have become a fascinating part of my life. I could do without them very easily but the sheer volume of material they have supplied makes me feel I owe them one. I also reckon that mine are exceptional mice. We seem to be running a kind of hotbed scheme with either myself or the mice in residence at any one time. Not exclusively of course, there is the case of the stock cube orgy. I had been making some soup that day and whacked a stock cube in – along with the herbs I get in jars from my love’s sister near Turin and ancient veggies, new veggies and a bit of this and that. I am rather good at soup I’m told but that might be to keep me cooking. Anyway I enjoy it, it makes me feel I am taking part in a rural idyll  - odd because my raw materials come from Aldi ( We all need our illusions!) anyway I must have left the top off the glass jar that I keep stock cubes in (because the thought that the mice got together in a  team and removed the top is far too  worrying) I was putting the washing on when I noticed nasty brown marks on the counter.

I investigated further and found eight cubes chewed at the corners and evidence of the little mothers in the jar. I emptied it out and saved the damaged cubes with a view to putting them in mouse traps. That was the day I bought ‘humane’ traps. I tried to set the wretched thing, caught my finger and it didn’t feel even remotely humane to me. They are now empty on the window ledge, I had hoped that my cleaner may care to take responsibility for mouse murder and I think she would but she had caught her finger before and refused. Then I saw no evidence of them for a few days, though the guy next door swears he hears them in the wall (his paranoia or my loss of hearing?) I know they make their way from house to house under the floorboards so I endeavour to keep a food free kitchen, the stock cube slip up was an aberration.  But I know they are around. In fact they have a taste for plastic which might mean they are building nests or they are rather dim mice with eclectic tastes.

I spend up to four days at a time in London and when I go home I am greeted with a powerful essence of mouse, pungent and unmistakable. The little varmints have been in occupation in my absence. As I enter the kitchen I sometimes see a mouse in fast motion tiny and fleet of feet, it scuttles away in the direction of the back door though I have blocked all holes – I think. I am convinced that decamp when I am home but they have frequent recces  
to suss out if I have made a slip up of the stock cube variety. I imagine them alarmed at this large creature invading their territory and making it her own. I expect mice have different time scale to human beings and four days allows them to settle in nicely then along I come to disrupt them. I will get some of the traps that they walk into next and take them walkies to the river – but the river has big rats to imperil their safety. A cat seems to be the answer but the Cameron cat turned to be  a non combatant cat so there are no guarantees. I shall report back.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


The train was not running from my local  station so we were bussed to the next station. This involved humping my heavy wheelie bag and far from light self up into  and out of different vehicles all stuffed full of discombobulated travellers in filthy moods. There were a few plucky wartime spirit characters, I was not one of these. Most of  us were grumpy sour faced buggers. It brings out the worst in people to have our plans disrupted.

The driver was unnecessarily jolly particularly with any young females  who got within his vicinity – clearly his flirt opportunity for the week. This notwithstanding he dumped us all on a nice fast secondary road so we could run the gauntlet of traffic speeding on their way to the Saturday shopping orgy that takes over Southampton each weekend. We galloped across to the sound of squealing brakes, I brought up the rear because I‘m not great at galloping so I caught the curses of drivers – and I enjoyed retaliative action. It seemed essential that we rushed to the train that was waiting in the station. In fact we all pushed and shoved our way on and sat for at least fifteen minutes, time for me to fillet my newspaper of its dross and establish myself (I am very territorial) we muttered about being late but softly – we are British after all.

My love was away and I was off to warm the flat up for her return so I had to get on two buses the first to the Elephant then another to Watt Tyler road, I love the name but the journey was hell with more and more people clambering aboard at every stop until the bus was crammed to bursting and my large cumbersome trolley taking up valuable foot room. I apologised  profusely shoved it hither and yon out of one lot of feet into the next persons ankles gathering glares along the way.  When it came to getting off the bus I had to fight my way through a phalanx of backs and a few resentful fronts to the door that was being held open by a kindly couple who must have heard my panicky squeals of distress. I shoved the case out in front of me and followed it unsteadily, thanked them and, restored to sanity marched over the lawn speedily.

The thing that had sustained me on this entire trip had been the fact that I knew I had a  half -full bottle of gin waiting for me and I was nearly sure that I even had a bottle of tonic. I could almost taste the fresh zing of a stiff gin. I thumped up the stairs with no regard for the noise factor or computer safety and practically fell in the front door. I collapsed in a chair to catch my breath and went for the gin. It was gone. I did a futile search in which I looked in the same places again and again until eventually I was convinced that it was gone. I was furious. I telephoned Turin to quiz my love who said she ‘must have drunk it’ but I  had asked her the week before if it was still there and now it occurs to me that my enquiry had alerted her to the fact that it was hidden beneath the kitchen table. I slammed the phone down and opened a bottle of Chablis and guzzled a fast glass – not the same thing at all.

My disappointment was profound, my apoplectic rage probably out of proportion. it  was just as well that  I had a day  or two to recover a semblance of good humour before she got back. Forgiveness? 
Forget it!

Monday, 14 February 2011


Last week I went home to Southampton for a day or two, see how the mice are doing( not a lot ) get my parking permits pick up letters, see friends. Meanwhile my love went to yet another opening where she met a charming actress who was reading some poetry. She talked to her, said I might need a reader in the future,’ I am reading some poems at the Royal Court on Saturday  evening come along if you like!’ said Rebecca, the actress( no bishop figures in this tale!) So it came to pass that we trolled up to Sloane square and I wasn’t keen, I like poetry but..and I was quite certain that it wouldn’t be main stage and when the guy in the box office knew nothing about it I was all for finding the nearest boozer and my mind was focussed upon the inflated prices of beer and other mundanities so I didn’t hear the very lovely very young girl ask the guy about poetry, my love is a far better focussed woman and talked to her. She knew a director and telephoned  her telling her that she had TWO OLD LADIES who had also come to see the poetry.

This was a pivotal moment in my life. I have never knowingly been called an ‘Old Lady’ before, at least not in my hearing. I was shocked. I have been called old bag and various other terms of abuse mostly in anger but never LADY. There is something incredibly ancient in that term, irretrievably old. I think I may have a secret belief that there is a switch somewhere that I will hit one day a become forty again( one of my finest years) and I know now that I am .in the eyes of the world, indeed an old lady I dislike the word ‘lady’ but it is the conjunction that really got me.

When we got to the bar I told Rosanna ( the beautiful girl)  that I had never been called an old lady before she told me that she was describing us in case somebody was looking for us. And that’s another thing, my love is my love not a bloody old lady! My irate mind churned over my G&T an old lady’s drink and I explained that I Ioath the word lady, and I do. Then I bought her a drink because I realised that it is not her fault that I am an old lady.

We found the director Sophie Ivatts and went into the back room, filled with chairs all full and we were witness of  An eye for Cupid… in two acts of fifteen pieces of poetry all written by Simon David that was marvellous in its variety, had me moved in all directions from ‘To see me wee’ hilarity and the most witty trumpet I have ever encountered played by Caleb Frederick in Why eye my thigh. To the most moving depiction of the result of rape that had  me near to tears through to two men getting in and out of touch with their very feminine side,. Simon David also acted and I counted twenty three actresses on stage for the finale. (I prefer ‘actors’ but everybody I spoke to said actress so I am clearly out of date with my daft feminist attitudes – my age you know!)

It was the most enjoyable evening in a theatre ( kind of) I have spent for years and so many gifted professional actors knocked me sideways with their talent the writing and direction was superb and – it was, sadly, a one off!
 Such a very lucky privilege and as I say – only in London!