thoughts in the mornings

An old Victorian house

It was a house typical of its time, with three bedrooms, a kitchen that had once been extended and a garden, which for city standards, was an impressive length of some 100 feet. Many years ago, at the height of her fitness and health, the woman had spent a summer with her friend Big Bill, laying a patio and having the time of her life.

She looked back now to that summer in 2001 when the world was still in a steady state. She recalled that there was still a sense of excited anticipation in the air about what the new century would bring. She recalled how she and her wife had gone to Alexander Palace on the eve of the new millennium, looking out across London, delighted by the fireworks and full of hope for what the future might bring.

It had all changed on the 9th of September and she could feel now how the reverberations were still being felt. An act of such violence at the beginning of a new millennium had shaped so much of what was to come. It was important not to get overwhelmed even now and she turned her thoughts back to that summer before the world had lost its mind.

All these years later, she could still remember the profound satisfaction she'd had as together she and Big Billy had shifted 15 tonnes of sand, laid out 1500 bricks and she had the chance to use a sledgehammer. She'd loved it, just as she had loved sit on an upturned wheelbarrow having a cup of tea and a smoke in the breaks. It was another of her Mr Benn adventures, dressing up as a builder and playing the game. Joyous.

She'd gone back to school that September, proudly showing the kids her sledgehammer injury – she'd hit a finger and split a nail that threatened to fall off under a sea of bruising and the exaggerated horror of teenagers was all part of the fun. They were such easy times she thought. We just didn't realise. Another life lesson to keep learning. She could still remember where she was when the planes hit the towers and she imagined many others could too if they were so minded.

Of course, that was all in the past somehow, even as the ripples were still being felt across the globe. For now, the woman had other issues to deal with. The most pressing of which was how to deal with a mouse. The thing was, the house was old, the garden was huge and life in the city was a constant competition for food and shelter. It made sense that periodically, a mouse would find its way in, looking for warmth, disturbed in its own dwelling or simply just taking a chance for what it might find. Outside, there were cats who used the garden as a playground, a pair of foxes had been seen emerging from the decking at the back and on one occasion, many, many years ago, the birdfeeders had all been taken down in a flurry after a rat was spotted in a tree behaving like it was at a bottomless buffet. She had been appalled but she had accepted that it was nature.

What she couldn't accept was nature coming into her house, running around, likely leaving its dropping and generally giving her the feeling of eebiejeebies and making her feel like her house was minging. Which it wasn't but clearly, the mouse didn't realise and had left its own trail of doubt in her domestic mind.

She'd reviewed the options. Poison, 'humane' traps or sticky pads. The smell of a poisoned mouse, a box with a mouse caught in it or the chance to trap one on a pad by its foot and then need to be killed manually. None of them appealed.

Instead it had been a day of maniacal cleaning coupled with yards of steel wool crammed into every crack and crevice that she could find. It had taken hours. She wasn't sure it would work and she was exhausted after the early spring clean but it had at least left a sense of some satisfaction. It wasn't quite the patio paradise of yesterday but it had given a reason to finally chuck out the various half bottles of mystery found at the back of the cupboard under the sink and so, with a half held breath, she'd completed the task and crossed her fingers.

She really didn't want to do any killing and she really didn't want to feel like a minger. People said it wasn't because houses were dirty and she knew hers wasn't, but still, it bothered her and anyway, whatever the reasons, she really didn't want the mouse in her house. So far, there was no sign it was still hanging around but perhaps the only option was to keep chucking things out, keep filling holes and keep clearing up any little scrap or morsel that a mouse might find appealing.

She had to keep an eye on her own obsessiveness of course but she figured that with a little perspective, she might be ok and the mouse might not come back. That said, she decided that one more day of mania and magical cleaning cloths could only be a good thing and she resolved to crack on with the task in hand. Move the mouse out of the house and make sure it can't get back in. It was as good a plan as any and she could keep her conscience clear. She didn't need to kill it. She almost laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. All of life is ridiculous really she thought. It's easier once you accept that. Another of those smiles of inner acceptance and it was time to crack on. The holes wouldn't fill themselves and the mouse wouldn't know it was really not welcome. It was good to have a purpose for the day and that was all a person needed really. Purpose. Today, she would purposely not kill a mouse. That was good enough.