The mouse that escaped last week didn’t perish after all. I have been waiting for the tell-tale odour to indicate its passing, and clearing up the remains of several more in the interim. Emailing details of this to a friend she replied: “We had 15 dead birds in our house over the last year, and a blood bath on the carpet, got the carpet cleaner in, two days later on the same spot another half dead black bird, with blood and feathers all over.” That made me feel better. Although I did start to wonder whether my cat has some form of Attention Deficit Disorder (along with all the other adverse personality traits) that causes him to be so easily distracted. He’s not really a dedicated assassin, more like a playful clumsy boy with instincts he hasn’t entirely mastered yet. And then yesterday morning I opened the kitchen cupboard under the sink and saw a trail of mouse droppings weaving a path through the many cleaning materials that are there mostly for decorative purposes since I rarely clean anything. This was the golden opportunity for that cupboard to get cleaned, even though I dreaded finding a small corpse at the back of it. How can one person accumulate such a huge variety of spray containers of stuff for cleaning every conceivable surface? And when did I ever realistically believe I would want to polish stainless steel or add extra whitening to my washing load? I followed the track of the mouse as I removed every item, using one of the sprays to usefully disinfect as I went. Finally I came across a half chewed J-cloth and a small sieve (why did I ever get that? What would I even use it for?) full to the brim with mouse droppings. That intrigued me. Had it been designated a latrine for some arcane reason best known to the mouse? And the chewed J-cloth just broke my heart. Was it that desperate for food? Or was it building a nest? Suddenly my propensity for anthropomorphism kicked in and I started to over-empathise and worry about the mouse. I visualised it, isolated from its family, hiding out under the kitchen cupboards, subsisting on dust and J-cloths, pining for the water-logged fields from whence it had been dragged. I began to think of it as plucky and resourceful, making the best out of a bad situation, much like Anne Frank in Amsterdam during World War 2. I was relieved when the entire cupboard had been laid bare to find nothing but the vast amount of droppings as evidence of the mouse’s sojourn there. Perhaps she (by now it was definitely a ‘she’) had escaped somehow through an unseen hole under the sink unit and found her way back to her real home? I could but hope. This morning I opened the cupboard again to get out the washing up liquid (I’m not an entire slob) and saw more droppings. She hadn’t escaped, then. Good on her, I thought. Then I opened the drawer under the sink to get out a tea-towel (see, I’m quite domesticated really) and there she was… We stared at one another, transfixed, for one of those nano seconds where you wait for your fight, flight or freeze mechanism to remind you of the animal you really are, and then she opted for flight, while I froze. Too late, I pulled the drawer wide and called out: “Anne! It’s ok, I’m here to rescue you!” She had already leapt from the back of the drawer down into the depths of the underworld beneath the sink. Yoni, meanwhile, was sleeping on the sofa, in that enviously profound state of unconsciousness that cats do so well. The mouse had looked suspiciously well fed, I realised. I’m wondering now whether it isn’t just the fat cat down the road who comes in every night and blatantly steals my boy’s food from his bowl, but perhaps the mouse who has developed a liking for it. Anything has to be an improvement on J-cloths, after all.