Express & Star

Toby Neal on Saturday: A new kitchen doesn't deter the mousey invader

We've had the kitchen done. Everybody says they love the colour. Duck-egg blue, since you ask.


And if you are having trouble picturing duck-egg blue, then obviously you are not of the generation brought up with Airfix kits.

As everybody who has ever made an Airfix kit knows, duck-egg blue was the colour the instructions said to paint the underside of your Spitfire. As a matter of interest, early Spitfires were painted black and white underneath, but that's incidental.

A whole cohort of today's male adults were brought up amid the narcotic aroma of polystyrene cement, and idly chewing the plastic extrusions as they impatiently put together their latest kit.

The current gotcha! question put to Labour politicians is: Define a woman. The obvious answer that they never give is that a woman is somebody who has never made an Airfix kit. There are, I know, exceptions to that, but the exceptions prove the rule, as they say.

Another possible response would be that you don't have to define a woman, you just have to go through their pockets. I never have done myself, but I would guess that generally they are empty, so as not to spoil the line of the clothing. If you go through a man's pockets you will find balls of twine, loose coins, old bank statements, and various assorted storage items.

Back to the kitchen, and the real point of all this which is: Man v Mouse – The Replay.

Regular readers, if any, will recall the saga of my running battle with mice in the kitchen. It was not because of the mice that we then had a new kitchen, but it did occur to me that it would be an end to it, as the whole kitchen was stripped back to the walls, holes were bunged up, and when I sidled up to Roger the workman out of earshot of my wife and asked if he had seen any evidence of mice, he said no.

If I were a mouse, a new kitchen would be the last straw and I would move out.

Then about three weeks ago I picked up a bag of dry dog food out of a cupboard and dog food started spilling out of a hole in the bottom. I must have caught it on something, I tried to convince myself.

You see, you go into mousey denial.

The clincher came about a fortnight ago when I discovered that the plastic top of the bottle of cooking oil was not only missing, but the green bits of what was left of it were scattered around the bottle. That is not something that can just happen spontaneously. And my mouse must have got on top of the toaster to do it.

Time then to root about the shed to bring out the humane mouse trap from its temporary retirement. Last time I had used dried peanuts as bait, with a good success rate of three mice caught in four deployments, but I couldn't find them on the supermarket shelves so invested in a tin of peanut butter, which they are said to be mad for.

That night I couldn't sleep. You're supposed to check humane traps every so often so that any trapped mouse isn't trapped for too long, as that's not quite so humane. On the first check at 2am, nothing. At 4am, bingo.

They say if you don't release them far enough away, they come back. Dawn was breaking and the birds were singing as I trudged through our local woods in my dressing gown, hoping to evade any inquisitive police patrols, and released mousey close to some posher homes where he or she could enjoy a better standard of living.

A follow-up deployment of the trap drew a blank so tentatively I declared victory. But then, two days later, guess what happened to the replacement bottle of cooking oil.

Out comes the trap again. Success first time, the culprit matching the description of the previous occupant (furry, four legs, rodent features).

This time Mickey or Minnie enjoyed a little car ride to the far end of our estate.

There have been no further problems, but I fancy that, even as I write, somewhere in the woods a mouse is making a great trek while humming that Detroit Spinners' hit, I'm Working My Way Back To You...