Monday, 27 September 2010
Of Rats and Humans
So termites are cockroaches after all?
Both give me a headache. If it isn't termites constructing red muddy tunnels up my lounge walls made with the mastigated paste of my ever depleted wooden floors it is cockroaches running across my desk and scurrying hither and thither in every drawer. I'll warrant I use a case of Shelltox every week holding the bastards at bay.
And then there are the African Field Mice which, I recently learnt, carry a much more lethal cargo than Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (I haven't a clue what that is but it sounds awful) but also Arenaviruses which cause haemorrhagic fever. I know what that is and it is definitely awful but although messy for relatives who have to clean up afterwards, is mercifully quick for the victims.
The house isn't exactly infested with these little bleeders but it isn't uncommon for me to see one or two flit across the lounge floor while I am watching TV late at night and yesterday, when I dug into the rarely accessed drawer containing what silver cutlery I have left, I was dismayed to discover a nest they had made of the felt pockets containing my best eating irons.
A woman not too far from here fell sick with flu like symptoms and deteriorated so rapidly that an air ambulance from South Africa was ordered (clearly she had more money than our average neighbour). Sadly she died but tragically so did the attending ambulance paramedic and the nurse who accompanied her. All down to mice which are apparently being smuggled into UK as 'pocket pets'.
While scouring what is left of the countryside around my house for interesting beasties and seeds to send to the Natural History Museum in London, Dominic discovered four emaciated and dehydrated feral kittens and brought them home.
Marcia caught us feeding them with syringes full of milk and went mad.
Cats, apparently, kill every under five year old here because of the lethal allergies they provoke. These deaths clearly having nothing at all to do with flea and virus ridden mice, polluted water, cockroaches, flies bloated on rotting rubbish and effluent, termites, mosquitoes and every other evil beastie that infest every household and liberally dispense often lethal ailments with every multi footfall, defecation or bite.
I made the very serious mistake of presenting to Marcia my contention that Englishmen, ardent lovers of dogs and cats, a race of human beings not only allowing the animals they domesticated and trained into their close orbit but the intimacy of their beds as well, succeeded in demolishing the rest of the world, enslaving and exploiting notably Marcia's ailing ancestors, as conclusive evidence of the efficacy of something as simple as a decent mouse catcher in the house. As a result, it is me that is now occupying the vacant cattery while Marcia reclines luxuriously, and in splendid solitude, under a German manufactured eiderdown.
I love Marcia dearly but every now and then I am reminded that she is Angolan and I am English so we are occasionally about four thousand miles and a century or so apart. Rather than argue with her, and since I am kipping in the yard (at best the sofa), I will feed our chickens and geese and resist the temptation to talk to her about Avian Flu.