You know, there’s one thing worse than finding a worm in your sandwich …. and that’s finding half a worm in your sandwich. Or possibly a cliche that makes the hills look quite young in a blog …
There is, however, nothing quite like finding a mouse in one’s (environmentally friendly jute) shopping bag when one is about to pay for one’s (environmentally friendly) purchases in an (environmentally friendly) organic Garden Centre. Said mouse only came to light when my dear wife extracted the carrier from another; as she unfolded the bag, a somewhat surprised rodent peered myopically up at her, squidged eyes trying desperately to get used to the sudden ingress of light. It looked faintly annoyed too; I swear I could see little ridged furrows on its brow denoting its disapproval of large humanoids who rudely awoke mice from their slumber. My wife, it has to be said, hardly moved a muscle. The surprise was complete.
The creature, suddenly aware of its own mortality and realising that at any second it may become a food item, leapt theatrically and balletically from the unfolded bag; a leap at which many a lesser mouse would have baulked. He hit the ground running and sought sanctuary behind the Pisa-like stack of customer baskets, much to the consternation of passersby who, valiantly, and with varying degrees of success, tried to stifle screams of panic and fear ….
In the stillness that followed, I swear you could hear a tiny, adrenaline-charged heartbeat. Free for the moment, my small daredevil rodent had sown the seeds of its own demise; the baskets, though an excellent hiding place, also constituted a cage ….
It was an easy matter, therefrom, to capture the peevish creature under an upturned basket, and remove it from the shop and its attendant dangers (and delights, rodentially speaking, since the till in question was only a few feet away from the organic food section; a selection of comestibles as vast as it was delicious). I released the thing into a bush – though it probably, in referring to the incident to an audience of open-mouthed, admiring rodent peers, said that it had escaped into the bush. I never saw it again and it never saw me again. Which is good for the mouse, since I found that it had, while comfortably ensconced within my shopping bags, gnawed itself a comfortable bed from the jute linings and assorted leaflets, handouts and till-receipts within … my Bag For Life had met an earlier-than-expected demise. There was worse to come. A Penguin biscuit, saved for the rainiest of days, when chocolate was needed terribly, terribly badly, had also bitten the dust – or, rather, had been bitten into the dust. I cursed the name of mousedom. My wife asked, casually as she might, whether I had taken my medication that morning.
And my first flying lesson, later in the day? That, I regret, like a penguin biscuit should be, must be saved for another time.
Be at peace, now, y’hear?