We have mice. No surprises there. But we didn’t think it would lead to this. Driving out every evening to a hamlet a few miles down the road with a bagful of them. Thing is, we have no choice. It’s either kill them, let them loose here and watch them troop back in the minute we turn our backs, or drive them to somebody else’s house.
‘Oh look, there’s One Eyed Jim,’ we heard the other mice scream last night as we delivered yet another to the hamlet. ‘Got you as well did they, you daft bastard,’ they shrieked while showing him their half-length tails to assure him he was one of them.
This is the unfortunate part of the operation and a serious design fault in the traps we use. The humane mouse trap is a simple wire mesh cage about the size of a large matchbox. At one end is a thin metal door kept tightly shut by a spring attached to the other end of the cage. Dangling half-in half-out is a rod on which the bait is attached, the other part attached to a metal loop that is joined to the door. Once you’ve loaded the bait, you spring the door back, attach it to the rod and it’s set. But here’s the problem.
The cage isn’t long enough. Mouse goes in. Nibbles on the food. Rod is released. Door closes. Trapping mouse’s tail in door. Tail falls off. Mouse is annoyed.
‘Yeh, thanks for that guys,’ One Eyed Jim moaned last night before we transported it. ‘I’ve always wanted a runt as a tail,’ it complained bitterly as it licked its bloody stump.
‘You should count yourself lucky you’re alive,’ I replied. ‘If I’d used the old traps, you’d be licking more than your mangy tail. Chiefly your heart, lungs and liver exploding through your ribcage.’
He got the picture, rolled his eyes and proceeded to sit in the corner in an enormous sulk until I let him out at chez gullible neighbour up the road.
But not as gullible as I thought. Waking up this morning for my morning stroll, I noticed a car at the end of the drive. Interesting, I thought, I’ve seen that car before. But where. Old grey Citroen, rusted bumper, missing hub caps, flat headed Frenchman. I quickly rushed down the drive.
‘Monsieur, what on earth are you doing?’ I asked in my finest French.
He looked at me squarely. His face sad and full of mistrust. ‘Monsieur, your mice,’ he said opening a box.
‘They’re not mine,’ I contested.
He started laughing. ‘Monsieur, don’t bring your vermin round to my house again. I have enough of that as it is, what with my two sons-in-laws drinking my wine every evening. Leave them here, it’s where they live, they like it here. Leave them in peace. Put away your traps. Relax, sit down. Have a drink.’
I looked at him. He had a point. I was never going to win against the mice. Not here. Not in France. Not anywhere.
‘I’m sorry, Monsieur,’ I apologised. ‘And thank you. Thank you for bringing them back. I like them really. Especially, One Eyed Jim.’
He tilted his head to one side. ‘One Eyed Jim?’ he repeated.
‘It’s just a name,’ I insisted.
He nodded and slowly got back into his car eyeing me suspiciously. He then drove away at top speed leaving me standing there looking at One Eyed Jim holding his half length tail.
‘Welcome home, One Eyed Jim. Welcome home.’