A squirrel with no tail by Jo


Last year we had some very unwelcome visitors in the back garden. A couple of brazen local rats thought it would be really funny to visit the house of a woman with a pathological fear of them. They probably had been plotting it for ages, putting wagers on the person they guessed most likely to scream the loudest.

[advert:mpu]Well obviously I was a popular selection, as they decided we were a great garden to visit. I know there are rats everywhere, and particularly outside, but have you seen the size of our garden - it is tiny. It just seems rude and slightly unfair to choose a space which you can walk across in under 10 paces. Surely the 100 ft garden down the road would be a better selection.

The first time I saw it, I was in denial and decided it was just a squirrel who lost a tail. The second time there was no hiding from the truth.. Barney was outside playing with his friend Bill. They had a bowl of milk and were making some concoction. As their backs were turned, this monstrous creature (far worse than any gruffalo) lurched out (rather like a streaker at a cricket match) in front of them and started drinking the milk. Bloody cheek!

I thought rats were supposed to be scared of humans. No these are street wise London Rats. They’re probably dealing crack cocaine and running a prostitution racket with no fear of recourse.

Well that was that. I called Rentokill. Quite ridiculous as they were only outside. But I just couldn’t cope with these brazen hussies. I think they may have finally gone, fingers crossed, but the scars are still there. I still harp on at the children to keep the back door shut, and if I see anything darting across the grass, I flinch and stop breathing. But just like any good pimp, if you’re turfed out your territory you just move on to pastures new.


Pastures new, took them 100 yards north, to the home of my good friend Sally. Obviously our hospitality was not enough and with standards flagging they wanted a better class of hostelry.

One morning my friend rang me up. Her voice had a slight edge to it. She asked nonchalantly –“so Jo what do rat droppings look like”. “Err why” I replied.” Well I think we might have one in the house, but I’m sure it's just a large mouse, or a squirrel with no tail.” Oh the sweet bliss of ignorance, I stayed silent for a moment not having the courage to break it to her, that her visitors were serious, and meant business.

Soon it was a daily phone call and a crazy story on the antics of her resident rat. I’m sure our rats were related. They showed the same personality traits, brazen confidence, arrogance and a tenacious daring – a perfect fit for the next Apprentice.

One morning Sally was on her way downstairs, when she heard her daughter talking to someone in the kitchen. Thinking it was a funny time for visitors, Sally entered the kitchen to find six year old Chloe face to face with a rat.

Chloe had been about to help herself to Bran flakes, when suddenly there was a rustling sound and an unusual shifting of weight in the box, either the Bran flakes were moving or…. out leapt the rat, straight on to the table.

It was stand off, a battle of wills, who would look away first. Chloe had never met a rat before and was thinking about the logistics of taking it in to show and tell.

The situation was resolved by Sally walking in, glancing over and screaming at the top of her voice. Chloe jumped, but the rat jumped higher and scurried off elsewhere.

Action stations were enforced. All food was put into containers, parents to go first into the kitchen, kids accompanied to the toilet at all times and doors shut at night. Thinking they might have fooled the rat, they came down the next morning with a smile. Only to find that their downstairs toilet door had a giant hole nibbled out of it. The rat was not to be defeated. You can just imagine the rat chanting “They will not lock me out – I will eat my way out, toilet door/ bran flakes it’s all the same to me.” I would like to set Gina Ford on that rat, I’m sure she could knock some sense into it. But that was not the end – there was more in store for our poor family.

The next morning Sally came downstairs warily. She entered the kitchen all was quiet. Food containers untouched, doors and windows intact. Sally relaxed a bit. She made herself a cup of tea, ate some toast, put the dishes away… opened the dishwasher AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH, there it was settled on the top tray, giving the dishes a pre-wash , ready to leap.

This was too much. The phone call was put in. The masters were called. Rentokill did their work.

In the meantime baby Oscar had a new babysitter. Rat knowing the latest government report that kids were not getting enough time playing outside, and being such an urban creature with a need to better himself, took this onboard and spent a proportion of his day in the garden. Oscar safely ensconced inside spent hours watching the rat’s antics through the window. One might say they had developed an understanding and may even call themselves friends.

Indeed it was to his parents'delight that Oscar finally started talking during this period. They listened carefully, waiting for the proud moment, Oscar concentrated and announced his first word ‘ RAT'

Well this story is coming to an end, but not without paying respect to Sally. The rat finally imbibed the treat left by Rentokill. Then sat cowering under the kitchen table, probably waiting for his friend to come in and feed him Bran flakes. But Sally got to him first. “It's you or me babe, there ain’t room enough for the both of us.” She muttered through gritted teeth. So on went the rubber gloves, she grabbed a load of towels and get this, SHE PICKED THE THING UP, carried it through the house, exited through the front door, and promptly deposited it in her bin. By the time Rentokill came with all their gear to get rid of the rat, it was too late – this great Northern lass had battled and won, the rat was no more. The Rentokill man was so impressed he offered her a job on the spot. She declined gracefully, but Oscar is still contemplating his terms and conditions…..

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