The long-haired human recently returned home after being away for a while, so I brought her an early morning mouse. I don’t know whether they have mice where she was. As luck would have it, the porch door was open, so I brought the mouse straight into the bedroom. I chased it around for a while, but then it hid underneath some clothes and I lost interest, so I wandered off and left them to it. I’ll let the short-haired human describe what happened next. Over to you, human:
It’s 6am, I’m tired, and there’s a mouse in the bedroom. I don’t want a mouse in the bedroom, alive or dead, and since Jessie has nonchalantly departed in search of a warm radiator to curl up to, it’s left to me to deal with. I am not normally very good at catching mice, since I’m not quite as agile as, for instance, a cat, but I give it my best shot – I find a small cardboard box to use as a trap, close the bedroom door, turn the lights on and head towards the clothes that the mouse is hiding under. What ensues is ridiculous, futile and comic. If you’ve ever tried to capture a live mouse in an ethical non-destructive way using just your hands and a small cardboard box, you’ll know just how pointless it is, and how unlikely it is to ever result in the mouse being captured.
Eventually the mouse ends up under the bed. This is not good, because there’s even less chance of me getting it there than there was when it was running along the skirting boards from one corner to another. The only thing for it is to remove the mattress, dismantle the bed frame and prop it up again the wall -I need maximum clear floor. An hour later, and we have true stalemate – I am on one side of the now vertical bed frame, the mouse is on the other. As I move slowly round the frame clockwise, so does the mouse, remaining exactly on the other side of the frame at all times. A sudden change of direction counter-clockwise does not fool the mouse. It changes too. Stalemate. Attempts to reason with the mouse are unsuccessful. I need something more cunning…
With my eye on the mouse to make sure it doesn’t escape, I sneak out of the room for supplies. I will construct a TRAP. I will catch the mouse with a trap and repatriate it to the outside, where it belongs. And, frustratingly, where I’m sure it actually wants to be. Two hours after the arrival of the mouse, the trap is ready:
I am now crouching behind the mattress, twine in hand, poised like a coiled spring. The moment the mouse is gorging itself on delicious, life-giving CHEESE, I will pull sharply on the twine, displacing the cocktail stick lid and causing the tupperware to fall, enclosing the cheesed-up mouse in a see through plastic cage, in which I can transport it triumphantly to the safety of the outside world.
An hour passes.
I invite you to compare the two images. Keen-eyed observers will note that the mouse has not moved. No matter! Soon, the mouse will succumb to temptation. A further hour passes.
Deadlock. The mouse is aware of the cheese, the mouse wants the cheese, but the mouse is not eating the cheese. Perhaps the mouse is more clever than I gave it credit for. It knows that something that appears too good to be true often is too good to be true. It knows that Cambozola Blue Brie doesn’t just appear in bedrooms for no reason. Perhaps it also feels that the tupperware is balanced a little too precariously atop the cocktail stick lid, and being a safety conscious mouse, feels that it would not be sensible to enter the fall zone, at least not without some kind of protective headgear.
A further 30 minutes pass. I realise that we have entered a new and surreal situation – this is no longer human versus mouse. It is bigger than that. More important. It is possible that 20 years could pass without a resolution, and when mankind has self-destructed as a result of nuclear war and global warming and swine flu, thrill-seeking youngsters from the post-apocalyptic future could stumble into the wreckage of the bedroom and find a strange, crouching, pre-apocalypse human staring unblinkingly, determinedly at a small mouse sitting two feet away, a small mouse that stares back, desperate for a little nibble of cheese but frozen in place by a primal terror.
It is misleading to say that at this point I admitted defeat – because the decision to abandon my trap and go and fetch Jessie could only lead to one thing: victory for me. Victory in this sense meaning: the mouse will no longer be in my bedroom. But I had failed to outwit the mouse on equal terms. The mouse was too agile, and the mouse was also not sufficiently enamoured of Cambozola. Perhaps things would have been different had I employed Cheddar. But we should not dwell on what-ifs. We should simply look to the score sheet, upon which is written the following: Simon & Jessie 1:0 Mouse. But is that being too harsh on the mouse? After all, it ended up outside, and as far as anyone can tell it is happier there and is even now enjoying all the things that mice enjoy – running around, eating stuff and whatever else mice do. Let’s instead consider it one of the rare and special draws where both teams come away feeling like they’ve won.