We have a mouse in the house. Apart from alliteration, there is nothing pleasing whatsoever about this statement. And anyway, we live in a flat. Which doesn't rhyme.
I know, before you call come tutting at me with your stoicism and your courage, that having mice is just an inevitable part of living in London. Everyone has mice, irrespective of wealth or hygiene standards. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge probably have mice in their apartment at Clarence House. I bet Kate stands on a chair in her nightie shrieking "Kill the bastard! Whack it like a polo ball!" while William wields a broom.
Indeed, we had mice before - but that was last year, in the infamous Highgate House, the flat that saw seventeen different flatmates, countless unsanitary parties and several major structural incidents* in three years I was resident. That flat had mice by default. It was Club Tropicana for rodents.
But not New Flat! New Flat, with its lovely airy whiteness and clean kitchen and fetching antique end tables, we thought was a haven of calm. There are no plates of festering pizza crusts stacked in bedrooms, like there were in the old house. We have handwash, and fresh flowers. We've got Cath Kidston oven gloves, for frick's sake.
So when Tara starts screaming on the landing on Monday night because a mouse has run out of her laundry, I barricade myself in my bedroom and start to cry. Not because I'm scared of mice - though I am, pant-wettingly scared - but because now I will never be able to properly relax in my lovely home. I will constantly be watching out the corner of my eye, jumping at little noises and inspecting all my food for tiny bite marks.
Thinking he may have crawled into out big walk-in cupboard, we barricade the gaps under the bottoms of the doors with a towel. Because obviously, no mouse could possibly defeat a towel.
We decide to name the mouse Arnold, because as Dumbledore says, fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself. Perhaps if we give him a personality, Arnold and us can co-habit comfortably, respectful of each others' space and domestic rights. Particularly, and this is a point I would beg Arnold to pay heed to, my right to sleep at night without a rodent crawling into my hair.
After two days of nervy living, however, of crowing, "helloooo, Arnold, I'm walking into the kitchen now…" before entering, to give him time to make a discreet exit, we change our minds. We look for traps. But everywhere only seems to sell humane traps. We want inhumane. We want dead.
"It was fluffy," Tara recalls. "Sort of cute, and… fluffy." Supressing all worry that we might be butchering a local kid's hamster, we finally find proper, old-fashioned mouse traps. I bait them with peanut butter. Crunchy, not smooth - mice would prefer crunchy, I am convinced.