We had some not quite so welcome visitors around the time of my birthday. At least one mouse managed to find its way into the pantry, drawn no doubt by the delicious aromas of the birthday food and driven by the dismal wet weather outside. We considered setting traps – nasty things, and I dislike the idea of killing a small creature whose only mistake is to want the same food as me. Fortunately for the intruders, our good friend Stan came round with a mastic gun and mouseproofed the pantry walls. We commiserated on the plight of the mice in the rainy weather and Stan commented that they are, after all, English mice so they probably all have wellies – which prompted this piece of … not doggerel or catterel but mouserel.
(For the information of non-Brits, wellies are wellington boots. And how many children of our generation used to pray “Pity mice in Plicity” wondering vaguely what kind of awful place Plicity must be? It imbued me with a lasting sympathy for mice.)
In June the weather was very wet
And lots of creatures were upset.
The family of Mr Mouse
Were flooded out of home and house.
All the little baby mice
Sobbed and sighed, as cold as ice,
Crying for a nice warm bed
Where each child could lay its head.
Luckily, they all had wellies
But no food to fill their bellies.
“Come,” said Mama, “We must see
Where there’s dinner, lunch and tea.”
All the family, in their boots,
Donned their waterproofing suits
And sallied forth despite the rain
Desperately seeking grain.
Up and down they sought in vain,
It rained and rained and rained again,
Then Papa noticed in a wall
A hole, through which they all could crawl.
Inside, the space was dark, but dry,
And Mama sniffed and gave a cry:
“A miracle! We are behind
A pantry wall! Oh, what a find!”
The family cheered at what they saw,
And everyone began to gnaw
Until they’d made a gap so wide
That they could squeeze themselves inside.
Oh, what a sight they now beheld!
And with joy their hearts were swelled.
Mama Mouse’s whiskers twitched.
She looked as if she were bewitched.
She cried, “That’s birthday cake I smell,
With strawberries and cream as well!
In the fridge, I know there’s cheese
And chocolate! Oh, open, please!”
Alas, the cake was in a tin –
The sharpest teeth could not get in,
But on the floor they found some crumbs
Enough to fill their little tums.
They failed to force the refrigerator
So left the chocolate for later.
Suddenly they heard a noise
And Papa squeaked, “Let’s scarper, boys!”
The noise they heard was made by Stan,
A very clever handyman,
Who stopped their mouse hole up with mastic
Which dried, becoming hard as plastic.
Behind the wall the mice were shocked
For now their passageway was blocked.
They queued up in their little wellies,
Quaking like a lot of jellies,
But Mama said: “It‘s better than
A mousetrap – so we thank you, Stan!”
Papa turned and peeped outside.
And realized the ground had dried.
“The rain has stopped, the sun is out,
There’s lots of other food about.”
So out they trooped, those little vandals,
And swapped their wellingtons for sandals.
This story happily now ends.
No mousetrap: man and mouse are
(Layout with acknowledgments to Lewis Carroll)