Another morning in an ex rifle range in Mayfair. They’ve got me a new nightie. It was £100. It’s very modern looking to my eye. I objected but nobody else did so I’m probably just resisting change. Extremely successful political parties have been built to serve that very particular human instinct – the fear of change. I try to catch it in myself when I notice it. For someone that lives so immediately, my first reaction to change is instinctive resistance. Then I very quickly come to terms with it and get on with it. And so I will.

There’s a tester show on Sunday afternoon. This is the first time we’ve played in traverse, so it’s really just in order for us to bed in the shape of Christmas Carol in a long room, and to make sure that people enjoy it and hear it and see it. The kitchen won’t be cooking, which means the first full service will be live for a paying audience, but we’ve got a good team and I have a suspicion it’ll go off well. We should practice the tables coming in and out and the shape of the service as that’s always the logistical nightmare. We’ve had some incredibly weird things that we’ve had to do over the years in this show, to make sure that everybody gets to sit at a table.

It’s odd coming straight back from America and putting on the nightie. It feels both familiar and unfamiliar. Jack and I have a deeply inscribed shorthand now, having spent one month every year for half a decade in each other’s pockets. This version is going to be glorious and strange. Pickle is above my head the whole time, in Brian’s new flat above the shop. I still haven’t seen her since I got back and it makes me sad, especially since the mice have come back. Trigger warning. I’m going to go into detail about my mouse murders.

A cat is a heck of a deterrent for those little critters. Even though I’m on the third floor, they come in when it gets cold as soon as they can’t smell cat. I have killed so many mice over the years. Pickle provided a welcome break. So many little souls. It’s a messy business killing mice… It really is.

I found one in a snap trap once with a broken lower spine and legs but still completely alive and panicking, unable. I ended up getting another trap and snapping it on the head manually.

One afternoon I got home in summer and there were three mice on the kitchen work surface. One of them hid under the microwave, but its tail was sticking out, unaware. I was so angry that the creatures had worked out how to get up there. I somehow I managed to pick up the thing by the tail. They aren’t monitoring their tail. It pissed and tried to bite my fingers as I walked it down three flights of stairs, crossed the road and threw it overarm into the Thames. I stood and watched it drown. I had already decided I’d throw it tide low or tide high. It would’ve lived at low tide. It didn’t at high tide. It tried to swim. It was a low point. I’m not proud of that. I was so angry, and I guess as they say, it’s easier to kill the second time.

Third time a flatmate put out glue. I found a mouse stuck firm. At first I thought I might be able to free it with water, but it did nothing. The thing has already lost its feet. It was tearing itself apart with fear. Killing it was mercy. Glue is evil. I carried it outside thinking I might drown it and there was some building work at the bottom of Tite Street. Great big masonry slabs on the road, and no workers on the weekend.

I put it on the road. It screamed at me with all its malice as I dropped a slab on it. To my shame I left the slab with a crushed mouse glued to the underside just lying there and went home feeling sick. Somebody had a terrible Monday morning when they started work laying pavement.

Fourth time it was dying of poison and I got home drunk. I trapped it in a jar and released it in the garden. “Maybe it’ll recover,” Brian and I told one another. Then Pickle came and no more mice.

I don’t want to have to do this genocide again. I don’t want to have mouseageddon. But I have a feeling it’s coming. 17 in 24 hours is my record, when I got home from As You Like It with Sprite. This isn’t so bad. But it will be if I don’t either borrow the cat or start priming traps.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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