Tag Archives: rats

1750. Oh rats!

Every fifty stories or so I deviate into the quagmire of narcissism and tell a story based loosely upon the truth.

Years ago, when I was in my teens and at boarding school, something happened that didn’t exactly change my life but it left a lasting impression. The boarding school was next door to a large poultry farm. There were gigantic sheds with row upon row of caged battery hens. There must have been several thousand hens in cages. A hen would lay its egg and it would roll down gently in front of the cage to be collected. There were automatic feeders, and polythene pipes everywhere to bring water automatically to each cage. (These days, you’ll be glad to know, battery hens are mainly a thing of the past).

At night the place was crawling with hundreds of rats.

In the middle of the night I would sneak out of the school dormitory and taking a machete, a torch (flash light), and the school’s little fox terrier (called Elsie), I would go to the poultry sheds. By covering the torch with red cellophane I could see all the rats but they couldn’t see me, for (apparently) rats can’t see red. Anyway, in the red light they took no notice of me.

I would go along the battery cages and flick each rat into the air with the machete, and Elsie would snap the rat dead in mid-flight. That way I’d get dozens of rats each night. It was kind of fun.

Then one day the Headmaster made an announcement: Someone has been going into the fowl-houses at night and killing rats. It is not our property and the farmer has requested that we don’t do it.

Well, it didn’t stop me did it? The following night I went down to the sheds as usual and began decimating the rat population. And then quite suddenly and accidentally my machete cut open a polythene water pipe. Water sprayed everywhere all over the hens in cages. It was as if the fire brigade had arrived to douche a conflagration. And I couldn’t find where to turn the main water supply off. It was two o’clock in the morning!

There was only one thing for it: I had to go and wake the farmer and get him to turn the water off. I did that and he was none too happy.

Two days’ later I was called into the Headmaster’s office. The farmer was there. I got a good telling off. I just about wet my pants. And then one of them guffawed, and they admitted it was the funniest thing that had happened in a long time.

That’s when I learned that not everyone on this planet is a rat.

1330. Rats!

Jim insisted on getting rat poison. June had presented him with every argument she could think of to stop him, and now look what has happened.

“There’s a dirty rat in the shed,” said Jim. “I’m not having that.”

“The cat will get it,” said June. “It’s too expensive. We don’t have the money. It’s too dangerous. Some child might eat it. Anything could happen. We don’t need it. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional rat.”

June had always watched the pennies; Jim not so much. They were not well off. There was so much allotted for living expenses each week. There was little room for luxury, and in June’s mind rat poison was a luxury.

“There’s a dirty rat in the shed,” repeated Jim. “I’m not having that.” Rat poison was purchased.

“I told you it would happen,” said June. “Now there’s not enough money left in the bank account for me to get cigarettes.”

938. Cat heaven

938cats

There had been so many complaints; centuries of complaints, going all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians. Person after person, coming through the Pearly Gates into Heaven had complained. Why can’t I bring in my pet cat?

Pharaoh Tutankhamun led the charge. He had a couple of mummified sacred cats he’d brought along with him. He’d moaned nearly every day since around 1327ish BC. He was only 17 years old, so he didn’t know any better, silly man.

Saint Peter was sick of it. He relented. Henceforth, cats and only cats (no dogs yet you understand?) would be allowed in. Nigel brought in 23 cats almost immediately; Nora 27; Davinia 85; Indira just the 1; Andrew 8; Beveridge 11; Debbie…

The place was overrun with cats.

Freddie wasn’t alone in hating the whole jolly cat thing. He was all for upping and leaving until someone pointed out that Hell allowed its residents to bring in their pet rats.

607. A plague on your houses

© Bruce Goodman 9 June 2015

607plague

Joan Combton-Maxwell was very fashion conscious. In fact, she was the doyen of fashion for the English Upper Class. Unfortunately something terrible was happening down in the yucky portion of town. There was a bubonic plague going on. It was, after all, 1350AD and all that.

Norbert was a neighbour. He was a crank, an inventor, a scientist. He was way ahead of his time. He knew the culprits for spreading the plague were flea-infested rats. He offered to fumigate Joan’s house and destroy the rats and fleas.

Joan consented, if only to protect her eleven children.

“But,” said Norbert, “we must burn all your clothes and start anew. It’s the best way to safeguard against fleas.”

Joan agreed, although she secretly kept her favourite fashionable dress.

It takes only one flea. Joan and her eleven children are buried in a beautiful marble-carved crypt in the local church.