Mice

Our house was overrun with mice when I was a child. It was my fault. Even though I learned at a tender age how to tell males from females, I never anticipated the onset of puberty in my pet mice early enough. So at one time I had 49 mice in a variety of different cages and at interval loose in the house when they escaped.

My favourite poem was one from my mother’s WI magazine. Its first two verses were:

I live in sober Suffolk

In a dim and sober house,

And I share this dim sobriety

With a noble sober mouse.

 

On an eager April morning

I discovered that the mouse

Had minced a first edition

To lend comfort to its house.

 Of course what appealed to me was her capitulation. She caught the mouse, looked into its eyes of ‘velvet brown’ and (after several verses) let it go:

But all who gaze in velvet eyes

Must pay a settled price

For now my first edition warms

Some newly-published mice.

 Well, I’ve changed. I now have mice, and maybe rats, and they are demolishing my house bit by bit while I look on helplessly.

 Each morning I visit each room in trepidation. So far the tally is:

 Two gnawed holes in the ceiling

Two disappeared loaves of bread (yes, my fault leaving them out).

An enormous, rat-sized hole in the bathroom floor

An Everest-sized pile of carpet nibblings and a non-fitted sitting room carpet.

 But no first editions – yet – so perhaps I’m lucky. Or these rodents aren’t guide-book readers.

Mouse traps are ignored, they tap-dance to the sonic mouse repeller, and I’m at my wits end.

Advice, anyone?

 

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6 thoughts on “Mice

  1. Daniel Austin says:

    My first recommendation is not to use cheese on mousetraps, and second is to try to catch them on a Friday.
    In my last place six years ago, we had mice in the kitchen so I laid live-traps. Researching what to use as bait, everyone said cheese is useless. Top of the recommendations were chocolate and peanut butter, with bread and bacon also suggested. I don’t remember which bait I had most success with myself, but over the course of about two months I caught four mice, and released them well away from the flat.
    For reasons I have never fully established, every last one of them was trapped on a Friday.

    • Hmm. I have my own thoughts about how humane those ‘humane’ mouse traps are. confining a terrified wild animal for hours and then releasing it miles from its companions (and mice are sociable creatures) always seems to me more cruel than my favoured ‘Little Nipper’ traps. But I’ve also heard that chocolate and peanut butter are the best baits. And today’s Friday…

    • Catherine Sheumack says:

      Dear Hilary…This isn’t mice advice, it’s about the poem, a blast from the past!
      I am 83 years old, living in Bathurst NSW. I learnt the piece in the days when children were taught to commit poetry to memory, and it has been tucked away in there ever since.
      I recited it to my son in law [they were having trouble with a recalcitrant mouse]
      he Googled “sober Suffolk” and found your letter.
      Hurrah for Google, that little poem has haunted me for seven decades!
      Catherine Sheumack

      • Dear Catherine — it’s fantastic to hear from you and find someone else who knows that poem! Now, here’s the thing. I too learned it by heart about 70 years ago but have lost one verse. Can you help? This is what I remember:

        I live in sober Suffolk
        In a dim and sober house
        And I share this dim sobriety
        With a noble sober mouse.

        On an eager April morning
        I discovered that this mouse
        Had minced a first edition
        To lend comfort to its house.

        I set a trap to catch the mouse
        I bated it with cheese
        And bacon rind and honeycomb
        The harvest of my bees.

        The mouse was caught.
        It looked at me with eyes of velvet brown.
        It looked at me, I looked at it,
        I could not put it down.

        [and here’s the missing verse, the last line of which is:]
        I had to let it go.

        But all who gaze in velvet eyes
        Must pay the settled price.
        For now my first edition warms
        Some newly published mice!

        So, Catherine, if you can fill the gap for those three lines (and correct any other misremembered ones)
        It would solve the niggle of decades!

        Thank you so much.

        Hilary

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