Never really there.

Animals, Essays, stories, writing

I really thought that was the end of that.

But clearly I was wrong.

No signs, no evidence. Just shreds of paper.

I could hear the unmistakable sounds… right above my head.

One of the dogs could hear it too, even though she chose to ignore it.

Maybe it’s the best way? Ignore it and it will just go away…

No, it’s just too tempting.

I just… have got to… go and have a look.I make my way across the room, as quiet as, well… a mouse and stay still for a moment.

Then I come up with an elaborate plan: I’m going to pounce on the cupboard door and fling it open.

But… What I’m going to find?

I know I’m going to find a rodent in there, but what if I come face to face with a gigantic rat?

I’m not usually scared of animals, but these are wild animals, unpredictable and probably as nervous as I am about the encounter. Who knows how they might react, out of fear?

The only difference is that the rat – if he even is a rat – doesn’t know that I’m about to give him what might possibly be the biggest fright of his life. What if he has a cardiac arrest?


The door is flung open.

The rodent is electrocuted with fright but still manages to scurry away to the far corner of the cupboard, through a hole, where he squeezes behind the washing machine and back to safety behind the skirting boards. These are like secret corridors that take them absolutely everywhere in, around, above and through the house, like a secret labyrinth.

Where is the cat? And why is the dog so uninterested in this?

So a terrier walks past the window, on the lead going everywhere but through our gate, and that triggers the ultimate state of emergency, with the most threatening barks and howls – a lot of posties and delivery drivers are actually convinced that I have a dog fighting ring in my house, most of them won’t even come through the gate. But when an actual invader moves in and throws a party in my cupboard, that’s not even worth lifting the head for?

Now what?

I call my son to share the news, and he temporarily removes himself from the mysterious world inside his iPad to come and have a look. He makes a growling sound at the long gone intruder and starts banging on the cupboard shelf when he is told that it was his papier mâché flour that was targeted during the attack.

– Was it a rat then? He asks

– I don’t think so. I didn’t really get a chance to see, he disappeared so quickly… I think it was probably a mouse. She sounded rather small. She hasn’t left any droppings though…

My son declares that we should set up some of these humane mouse traps so we can look at the rodents and meet them properly, before disappearing back in his nest.

We could also try to retrieve our cat from the claws of the local cat lady down our road.

Like all the cat ladies, she operates as a local cat thief. She seems to have the visceral need to feed all the cats of the neighborhood, to keep them under her spell.

I personally think that she is in the middle of recruiting an army of cats for some malevolent grand plan.

You may have come across this belief on the internet, that cats are aliens sent to earth from another planet to look after us.

But what if cats are somehow under the command of extraterrestrial creatures who will set them all against us when they see fit?

What if cats were actually remote controlled missiles?

What if one day all the cats get a secret signal from their real masters and turn on us?

Have you ever noticed how there are cat ladies in every neighborhood?

Same profile: single, middle aged, well to do, nice car, tidy house, no partner, no kids?

And they feed all the cats. Especially those who look well fed and have collars on.


I’m sure that if we were to put pins on a map to show this secret network of local cat ladies, we would get some sorts of intricate geometrical figure, like a crop circle. Or maybe we would get a Roswell creature’s face?

In case you are wondering, I did try to save my cat from the aliens. I tried for years. But he inevitably goes back to eat there and even sleeps on her bed, as if under some spell.

Perhaps she has a remote and controls him?

I’m sure she has technology I don’t have. I can’t take on an entire network of cat ladies and their alien masters all on my own… I would need help, fancy gadgets, a spaceship…

Plus he is old enough to make his own choices. If he wants to join the extraterrestrial forces and be a pawn used to take over the earth and turn us all into servants, then so be it. He was already treating me like his servant anyway. I know his game.

Or I could just ask the mice.

One morning, I came downstairs and there were ants everywhere on the kitchen floor. I just took one look at them and said: Guys I give you half an hour to go.

Thirty minutes later, they were all gone. Every single one of them.

Now you are thinking, who is the maddest, the cat lady, the aliens or me, the pest whisperer?

Well, you decide.




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