Friday, 11 May 2007


Tiger claims she is hungry. She claims she is hungry at very inopportune moments, like lights-out at bed-time, or going out the door on the way to French, or being asked to put on wellington boots for a nature walk.

Now at first I was giving into this. Out would come the oaty biscuit and the warm milkshake; from the bread basket would be delivered a fresh fruity bun to eat in the car; then all would stop for fifteen minutes for some toast and honey.

And I began to get suspicious, mostly because of the timing. I can smell a rat, I think. So I've eased up on the instant food and suggested waiting till the next mealtime.

This could be a disaster. Tiger is now evidently feeling the deprivation and settling in for a famine. A few days ago I discover a banana under the bedroom carpet. I discover half a Weetabix in a dressing gown pocket, just as it's heading to the washing machine. I find a crudely-made jam sandwich wedged down the back of the hall table and a slice of hairy fruity bun under the toy box on the landing. This is before the apple in the doll basket and the Chewee bar under the computer table. Clearly, Tiger reckons hard times might be ahead.

I'm hoping that Tiger's stores of feast piles - particularly the ones yet undiscovered - do not encourage the local wildlife. Or, to be more specific, Roland and all his little ratty friends.

We have had a rat before. This was no cutesy little bachelor fella called Tomkins. This was a livin' it large party rat who crept in through a broken airbrick under the office floor, and after a few days of nicking the cereal on the quiet decided it was time to swing out big time and began to dance about the floor at 3am every morning doing juggling acts with a bag of potatoes and some spanners. Probably the local mice were bussed in as the audience because there was a suspicious disappearance of a bar of my very favourite cooking chocolate at about the same time.

This was not our first rat, either. The very first rat came to visit us at the Family Pile in Northumberland two years ago and scared Dig half to death by leaping out from behind the toaster at 10 am one morning. For a man who doesn't wear trousers until midday, this was a very scary moment. I sympathised, shouted 'I'm off' and got Shark, Squirrel and Tiger into the car to head back down south within seconds, leaving Uncle Eff to sort it out with the rat killer. That rat was clearly Hard Head Harry Rat of the North East. It didn't go quietly. It gnawed half way through the door, destroyed a tea tray and ripped the carpets up before it left. I'm surprised it didn't scrawl 'I'll be back' on the walls in red paint as a parting shot.

So if Tiger's little feasts entice any of these furry friends back again, well, I'm not apologising. I'll be back on the phone to Mrs Rat Murderer from the council who comes round in her very discreet white van and does a nice job with some little blue pellets.

Which would be brilliant. As long as Tiger doesn't find them.

No comments: