Monday 14 March 2011


The other week after the show I returned to the rental flat and as I opened the door in the dim light of the hallway…(Now for lengthy digression so hold on!)

The flat is tiny. Not even big enough to swing a very small cat. In fact I would not be at all surprised if at Acme labs, boffins aren't working on a special tiny breed of dwarf feline with extra resilience so that it would not come to any harm should anyone decide to give it a whirl at any point.

(N.B. Before you march to the BBC with lighted torches, I am not advocating whirling any creature around to check how tiny your accommodation is. Although I expect estate agents would benefit from a superior measure of dimensions when it comes to describing the size of places on their For Sale or rental books.)

For "Deceptively spacious" read: "Small cat. Occupant has short arms."

For "Kitchenette" read: "No room for a litter tray."

For "Within a level walk of the shops" read: "We hadn't seen him for a few days and when we broke down the door there wasn't much of him left. His cat seemed OK, although it was bigger than I remember."

As I flicked on the light there was the sound of frenzied scuttling and I saw a mouse hurrying out of the bathroom in the direction of the bedroom.

How had it got there? I don't worry about mice as, frankly, I am considerably larger and with a whole raft of poisons and traps at my disposal so frankly I have the upper hand. Also as a kid I had a pet grey mouse of my own. It was called Henry. We were inseparable. We went everywhere together. Although I did most of the leg work with Henry in my blazer pocket, peering out every now and then to take a look at the surroundings and hoping for a small piece of Caramac.

It was a blissful scene; a cross between E.T. and Puff the Magic Dragon. Not realising that mice are weak bladdered, I just thought other kids were jealous so that was why they were keeping a wide berth. I had no idea that I reeked of piss!

My ex-friends took to calling me "Mouse-wet". I didn't care. I loved Henry and Henry loved me. Of that I was sure, although he was a little short-sighted so any sudden moves were liable to result in an agonising bite to the finger. He had strong jaws did old Hen.

Then one day I went to check on him and someone had released him from his cage.

Whoever you are I hope you burn in the fires of hell for that. Now, nearly half a century later as you lie in bed, I hope a small grey mouse appears in your troubled dreams, points a gnarled and furry finger at you and squeaks: "You cut me off from a lifetime of Caramac, you bastard!"

Meanwhile back at the small rental flat, a mouse has just fled into my bedroom from the bathroom. I hope he washed his paws. How did it get there? The apartment is on the fourth floor?

Mice may be nimble but it’s an awfully large number of stairs. He would also be too small and probably too puny to press the button in the lift.

What to do now? He was under the bed. I am referring to the mouse as a "he", I would guess that would be the case as the "she" was probably at home looking after innumerable babies and wondering as mice do: "Shall I pop down the shops as the cupboards are nearly bare. Hardly anything left, no chocolate or crisps to see me through the Eastenders omnibus. Not sure I can be bothered to go out in this weather. Hmmmm, what to do. I know, I'll eat one of my young”.


"Yes Mum"

"Stop playing with the X Box and come here a minute will you...."

I thought I would play the long game so retired to the bathroom and there "enthroned" with the door open waiting. Shortly after - to the sound of pizzicato violins of the type all the best cartoons use - out tiptoed the mouse. Looked up, saw me beaming at it with my trousers round my ankles, and with an audible squeak it fled into the kitchen behind the washing machine never to be seen again.

I checked with the people who run the block and they said that there had been various mouse sightings lately. They put this down to the maintenance work that is going on. As I have mentioned on the show and in blogs before; the flats are about sixty years old so things are beginning to drop off. The roof is being replaced at the moment and yet another person’s bathroom has succumbed to "pipe rot", whereby the water and drainage system has corroded so needs replacement. Sadly, as the plumbing is buried in the concrete floor of the bathroom, they can only be accessed with a pneumatic drill. These drills are a lot more sophisticated than the ones that road menders use. These have a "sleep timer" on them; the moment I am asleep in the morning the drilling starts!

Since that one sighting all has been quiet on the vermin front. Although there are some little green boxes marked "poison" by the skirting boards in the corridor which may also have a bearing on the lack of wildlife.

Just over a week ago I had some time off; thanks to Lynn Parsons and Tim Smith for sharing the week between them.

As usual the Dark Lady was really busy with her advertising business.

"Fabulous stocks, great range. Fandango on down one get one free etc"

She loves it when I do "Voice over man"; I love the way she smiles grimly at me. I used to do ads a long time ago, mainly for the radio. I still remember the 100 takes it took to do the commercial for the butchers in Liverpool which had the slogan:-

"You can't beat the meat"!

As you know by listening to the show and reading my various ramblings what keeps me young is my mental development halted at the age of fourteen. Dr Strangelove, the producer, is still actually fourteen or thereabouts so it is a dangerously sniggery combination at 2am each weekday morning, I can tell you.

As DL was working very hard she was only able to take the Thursday and the Friday off.

So I hatched a cunning plan.

"I'm off to France for a few days, dahling. I've got you an air ticket to Paris so I'll meet you at Orly airport first thing Thursday morning. We'll have a night in a nice hotel and then head off out to our friends in Normandy”.

"Ooh lovely,” she said.

Let’s face it, a night in one of the most romantic cities in the world with, er, me. OK, so let’s just stop at "most romantic cities in the world” shall we? Not sure how it got that reputation when there are so many other cities around.

Try it. Say the name of a city and add the words

"Most romantic city in the world" and see if you smile at the thought. It could be a game for the show:

"Coventry" Most romantic city in the world.

"Baltimore" Most romantic city in the world.

"Dusseldorf” Most romantic city in the world.

There is a distinction that has to be made here. She is as trusting as she is adorable, not gullible. She wants this made clear!

Off to France I went clutching - nay - dragging her suitcase. Boy was she in for a surprise!

Reminds me in my mind’s eye of This is your Life with Eamonn Andrews

"You haven't seen him for 43 years. We've flown him 5,000 miles to here, tonight, your old friend....

(Man bounds onto set, subject doesn't recognise him at all then it dawns on him it was someone he loathed and hoped never to see again as long as he lived.)

The days went by as she toiled in London and I didn't toil in France. On the Wednesday the plot swung into action with a selection of misleading texts.

"On my way to Paris now"

"See you at the airport in a few short hours"

"Traffic terrible so stopping at Dreux for the night"

"Don't forget to pick up your ticket from the check in desk in area "B" at Gatwick.”

Whilst I was sending these texts I was actually on the Ferry to Portsmouth.

Heh heh heh. *Strokes imaginary pedigree cat* (N.B Estate agents note: large duplex size Siamese)

What happened next? Find out in next week’s exciting blog. Unless I get sidetracked again…

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mwhite229 said...

Ever thought of writing your autobiography Alex - your blogs run down so many roads a book would be interesting..... and where did you get that awful cat picture - yuck, hope it doesn't belong to you or anyone you know - tho' it looks like it would make short work of your little mouse friend.

Amanda Christine Cox said...

I just caught sight of that cat when you were describing it on your show.. spooky!!

BTW thats a Sphynx, very useful if you dont like vacuuming. I have between 2 and 6 cats at any one time and I'm telling you its so hairy round here I'm so tempted to sedate them with Nytol and get out the clippers!!

(dont do it, kids)

Martin Lower said...

Ooooooo Caramac! Managed to resist you banging on about chicken pie and cheese this morning, but Caramac? Now that's serious.......

Unknown said...

Tonight Alex Lester...Only if it was still on the TV!!

Mike from Pudsey said...

Hope you eventually lose the smell of piss. As a child I had pet mice and it's a smell that I cannot forget.

Unknown said...

poor mouse,confronted by the dark one encamped on the bog,no wonder he took to his heels and ran.hes probably in therapy as we speak