There’s a Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose

Now this is the scary bit. I’ve just watched a bit of Loose Women – an annoying programme for Ladies featuring a selection of twittering Lady presenters with nothing better to do – hugely outclassed and overshadowed by the erudite Janet Street-Porter. Anyway, on this particular bit-of-a-programme the question was: Do you believe in an afterlife?  Janet Street-Porter, surprisingly, did, and explained why. That blonde woman who writes ghost-written romances and used to be married to Peter André appeared not to believe because… I mean, if you die and go to heaven, where can you go? Where is it? I mean, it’s not up there, is it? ‘Cos up there’s the sky.’

Anyway, they showed this film of a boy’s Wake in  the Philippines … well, lets see if I can find it…

[video since removed from YouTube by user]

Well, I had just been watching that and you just wonder – why wasn’t anyone else giving her a hug at this point? Are they all just sitting around filming her and watching her cry? And whether or not the balloon is her dead little boy come back to give her one last cuddle you have to hope, don’t you?

So I suppose I was already in a frame of mind to be spooked, because I looked down and there was Rufus the Younger looking up at me with a dead mouse in his mouth. Not a stuffed mouse – a real mouse. But dead. Which shouldn’t be. Because my cats are indoor cats. They have to be, because the neighbours are prone – or at any rate rumoured, which is enough – to murdering inconvenient cats and depositing them in wheelie bins for the bin-men to take away. I’ve been here around five years and no cat has ever caught a mouse inside my house. There appear to be no mouse holes, and if there is one that has escaped my attention in five or more years, why didn’t I notice all thirteen cats glued to it? No red-blooded cat is going to ignore a hole in the skirting board, not for a second.

I ran through all the possibilities.

Eight of the thirteen had had to be taken to the vets last week to get their injections (for going into a cattery on moving day). Could a mouse somehow have snuck into one of the pet-carriers, journeyed home with the cat (the equivalent of being sealed into the labyrinth with the Minotaur), jumped out once indoors and hidden all this time undetected by thirteen cats?

And yesterday… yesterday I had to go out in the garage. My landline is playing up and I was on my mobile to some boy in a call centre in Scotland. He was insisting on doing tests, over the phone. He told me to find my old handset and an old set of splitters. No hurry, he had all day, he said. Mind how you go there, dearie, don’t fall over anything… I was getting increasingly frantic and irritable. I had found the old handset (not in the garage after all) but no splitters. I had made several trips out into the garage, in the gloaming (as they say in Scotland). There is no light in the garage so I was bumping around among cardboard boxes (neatly stacked to impress male house-viewers) trying to find by touch a set of splitters. Then I remembered putting them out for the ‘small electricals’ collection last week.

So, a lot of stress, no splitters, no further testing possible, landline still up the spout, calls diverted to my mobile indefinitely, £10 on Amazon to order a new, unnecessary set… not a good day yesterday. But could I have brought a mouse in in my frantic searching of the garage in the semi-darkness? Could it somehow have hitched a ride in my pocket? Poor mousie. What a mistake!

I never kill anything, and I’m not afraid of mice. If I’d found one attached to the leg of my jeans or poking out of my pocket I’d have saved it. I’d have fought off flesh-hungry cats till Kingdom Come. But…

how did that mouse get into my house? Suggestions on a postcard, please.

 

Anna Maria’s film – so very bad it’s almost very good, if you know what I mean. Should point out – as she does, that though Anna’s video features her stuffed moose, Zeus (naturally) moose in ‘Scottish’ actually means mouse. The song Hoots Mon, There’s a Moose Loose Aboot this Hoose is by Lord Rockingham’s XI (1958).

Witches’ Knickers and Other Weirdness

I suppose this one’s a bit of a cheat. After all, I did promise a whole month-ful of articles and/or short stories on a richly ghosty-halloweeny theme, and all I can come up with (let’s face it, we all have our scraping-the-barrel days) is Witches’ Knickers. I heard a lady use this expression in TV yesterday morning, and it moderately amused me. It was an Irish phrase, originally, for those plastic bags that get caught in the branches of trees and go on waggling about there for all eternity. And the reason the lady was on TV was to comment sagely upon – you guessed it – plastic bags.

As from yesterday, England joined Wales and Scotland in charging 5p for every supermarket bag used, except that England has made it more complicated by factoring in all manner of confusing Exceptions To The Rule. In case you are interested per se in English plastic bags, here a useful link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34438030

My own thoughts are:

  • Why don’t they ban them altogether? My cats get their heads through the handles then run about the house like mad things, half throttled and unable to shake them off, so that I now have to cut through the handles of, or tie a bow in, any plastic bag that enters the house, including any that visitors have carelessly left lying about. This sometimes annoys the visitors. Quite apart from spooking cats, plastic harms wildlife and will ultimately harm us. Over time, in the oceans, they dissolve into a cloud of little plasticky globules, which then get eaten by the fishy inhabitants of the oceans, which go on to get eaten by us. It is not yet known how bad all this dietary plastic is for us. The thing is, the plastic bag is a new(ish) phenomenon anyway, one that we can manage without, and always could have. Believe it or not, plastic or single-use bags hadn’t even been invented when I was small.
  • When I was a child I used to go shopping with my Nan. She took with her either her string bag – a multicoloured item that started off small and scrunchy but kind of elongated the more she put in it – or some other sort of permanent shopping bag. She kept it on the hook on the door underneath her coat.
  • We walked up to the shop, which took about twenty minutes. If we asked for tea the grocer would take a metal measuring scoop and shoot it into a cone of paper, which he had made just by twisting it in on itself – something like the cone chips or popcorn might come in now. When the cone was full he would twist the top closed. Coffee, sugar – virtually anything could be scooped into a paper twist. When we got home, Nan would refill her own jar – marked Coffee, Sugar, Tea or whatever – from the paper twist. If we asked for ham it was sliced in front of us, sandwiched between two sheets of greaseproof and slid into a white paper bag. Sweets also came in paper bags, tipped out of big glass jars. Plastic bags are ugly, dangerous, and with one tiny change to our habits we can manage without them.
  • Life has changed, of course, and the majority of shoppers (being careful not to specify women) aren’t “housewives” as my Nan was. We have less time for our shopping and, now that there are supermarkets, we tend not to shop daily but to drive somewhere for a weekly, fortnightly or even monthly shop, which means carrying away a lot of stuff at once. Nan’s string bag wouldn’t be adequate.
  • However, we could still manage without either plastic bags or plastic packaging. Plastic packaging is less about containing the food than about attracting you to it and convincing you to buy it. Plastic bags are less about convenient carrying than about free advertising for the shop they came from.
  • On the rare occasions when I actually do a main shop in a supermarket as opposed to ordering online, I’d be satisfied with paper bags for small items, and it wouldn’t be that difficult to remember to take along two, three or four of the ten or so giant, unwieldy, indestructible Bags For Life that are currently having babies under my kitchen sink.
  • Is 5p of itself going to put anyone off buying a plastic bag? If a person is given one plastic bag for every £10 worth of shopping, and spends £100 on their supermarket visit, that’s ten plastic bags – 50 pence. It seems to me that if you are lucky enough to be able to afford £100 all in one go, 50p is neither hither not thither. What can you get for 50p?
  • The charge itself isn’t going to make a difference, unless you are very poor, in which case you will be recycling and repurposing everything already out of sheer necessity. If there is a decline in plastic bag use and pollution from now on it will be down to a more subtle combination of factors: social stigma – which in Britain means being made to feel conspicuous, which means being embarrassed, which is awful  – and being identified as a member of a lower social class, which in Britain is mortifying. Look, she’s one of those lower class people who still have plastic bags. Similar to being one of those common old slappers who smoke or one of those uneducated plebs, chavs or whatever the current word is – who drop litter in the street or fail to fasten their seat-belts when they get in the car.

Goodness, what a rant! And do I even care about plastic bags? Apparently, temporarily, I do – or did. Maybe I’m cross about something else and the plastic bags are gonna get it in the neck. Or would, if they had necks.

Maybe a cup of coffee and a sandwich might help to rid me entirely of witches knickers and environmental concerns. Perhaps half a wasted hour watching Loose Women on TV. Caffeine, calories and chatter, then on to that short story.