Of Mice and Men

I’m embarrassed to say that I have something of a fear of mice. This, I think I inherit from my Father, who, fairly early on in their relationship was found by my Mother in the kitchen, standing on a table with his trousers tucked into his socks. He’d just seen a mouse on the floor, although this of course could have been a bizarre cover up for being a Freemason.

I got tapped up to join the masons once. Or at least, I think that’s what happened. I was invited out for a evening of beer and snooker by three of my senior work colleagues. I was rubbish at snooker and I’m not very good at being drunk, and I think I may have misread some of the questions I was being asked. So, if  one of my colleagues said ‘Tell me why family and diligent work is important to you’, I may have misheard it as ‘Tell me why democratic socialism is the only way forward for this country’. Anyway, I didn’t get invited back for another cosy chat, although it puzzled me why certain people managed to get on so well in the company, and it was only after several years that another ex-colleague suggested to me that they might have been ‘looking after each other’ in their own special way.

I don’t ever feel I was missing out on that much, although for years the traditions of the Freemasons have interested me, not least for the way I which they’ve  influenced our behaviour and language. If you say someone is a four-square fellow, for example, it means that they’re the sort of person who will pass the initiation ceremony of running to all four corners of the Freemasonry hall before acceptance. I shall make it my business to call more people four-square fellows I future, and I’d respectfully encourage you to do the same.

Anyway, we’re here in France, and in round three of our thrilling ‘Come
Dine With Me’ challenge, in which the junior Emus are tasked with creating a menu and providing an evening’s entertainment in the vain hope that their parents can get to read their books in peace. As far as that hope has been concerned, it’s been an unqualified disaster, as we’ve been roped in to do the heavy lifting, and indeed the vast majority of the light lifting. And so it was that last night’s lentil and peanut surprise (surprisingly good, thanks for asking), bubbled away happily in a very very heavy dish in our calor gas oven, while Felix put the final touches to his entertainment for the night ahead, which was a free form rap about a rabid cat (surprisingly entertaining, thanks for asking).

The great moment arrived, and I was tasked with removing said dish from the oven. This was a more precarious task than you might imagine. Our oven is about 50 years old, and wouldn’t last terribly long under any Health and Safety inspection. Health wise, it has c50 years worth of hurried meals baked into its very being. Safety wise, it is very probably the most dangerous item we own*, threatening to cough out an explosion from its oven, hob or connecting and slightly perished gas tubes at any moment. And so it is always approached with a degree of caution. And that caution is increased when a very heavy dish, full of bubbling nutrition is eased out against the rusting sides of the oven. Mid way through this delicate exercise, the mouse appeared from underneath the cooker. Looking rather disturbingly well fed, and without any discernible fear, he appeared to be eyeing up my right foot. We both froze in a moment of time, and I remembered the story of my Dad on the table. I continued to delicately wrench the dish from the cooker while my dear wife shouted at the mouse to get lost. Without spilling a drop, the meal moved from kitchen to table (not always an easy exercise, as the blog ‘Mrs Emu Gets Custardy’ will testify).

I had conquered my fears and spent the evening feeling around 2 feet taller as a result. Just don’t ask me to own one as a pet.

*The cooker now takes first place in the most dangerous list,from a previous rating of 3rd. Felix’s window has now been replaced with slightly stronger glass, and, after re-enacting the scarier moments of ‘Speed’  at 75mph with a broken throttle cable, the Mini has finally gone to a better place.


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