I was woken at 4am. Not this time by the rhythmic slamming of my neighbour’s bed against the wall. I was woken by a mouse. Chaplin, concerned by the austerity measures, is bringing home mice on a daily basis. He is not sharing but is proving he is self-reliant.
But this one, it seems, got away. So at 4am, I woke from a very deep sleep to see Chaplin, like a flying phalanger in mid-flight, jumping from the bed. He didn’t catch the mouse immediately. He didn’t catch it when it ran back into the living room disappearing under the settee, or the chair, or the bookcases. Instead he sat patiently while I moved furniture trying to get the mouse out of its hiding places. Occasionally he looked at me, urging me to move the table or shoes, so he could follow the scent.
We did this for an hour. Then we went back to bed. I was woken a second time by Chaplin leaping across the room and got up to try to catch it again. It had made it into the kitchen. It was hiding under a pile of plastic bags waiting to be recycled. Had it had the sense to stay there it might survive because my housework doesn’t stretch the cleaning that corner – instead it ran out, like a dustball speeding across the kitchen floor and behind the cooker.
I watched it behind the cooker. It sat on a bottle top, looking back at me. I sat on the wash basket and calmly explained I had no intention of killing it. I said it needed to come to me before Chaplin, by this point salivating and meowing in annoyance, had it for an early breakfast. It ignored me. As Chaplin tried in vain to get down the side of the cooker he knocked over the garam masala, covering the mouse.
We did this for an hour. Then we went back to bed. I first put some sheets of newspaper down in a vain attempt to collect its wee and so that we would hear it when it came out. I was woken a third time at 6am with Chaplin leaping into the hall. Tired but determined, I shut all the doors trapping the mouse in the hall. It hid under shoes and a hessian bag (I really should tidy up more) then, before I had a chance to catch it, found itself in Chaplin’s jaws.
Now, considering the austerity measures affect us both, and I too had spent two hours chasing the mouse, it would be nice to think Chaplin would share but instead he stood proud and, looking back briefly and smugly, wandered out into the street to eat his catch.
It is, I suppose, a good thing that I don’t have to go to work. Once awake, though, I decided to complete some job applications. I have completed ten this week. I have a few more to do to meet the deadline. I fear RSI from repeatedly inputting the same details over and over but can’t see an end to it any time soon.
I also did a bit of research while Chaplin ate a dusty, garam masala-covered mouse. There are 2.49 million people currently unemployed in the UK, as we know, but let’s give this some perspective: there are 2.2 million people living in Greater Manchester so we could fill the area and have overspill of unemployed people unable to fit in.
There are currently more unemployed people than there are people living in Leeds (443, 247); Bristol (545, 823) and Liverpool 10,296: All the unemployed would fill three cities and still need more space.
The unemployment figure is often reported glibly, easily, as if it is rather low, perhaps because back in 1982 unemployment topped three million. They do little to inspire my faith that I’ll find work.
I’m going to have to do something, though. This “lifestyle” is not to my liking. I was taken out by friends yesterday and fed well but I would like to know I can one day return the favour. The many favours I now owe.
I also read that the average cost of a first date is £210. If you go to the cinema, for some food and drinks then even going Dutch would be out of a lot of people’s pockets these days. Chaplin won’t even share a mouse.
How much money I have: £135 because it is giro day
What treat I have had: As Chaplin enjoys mouse, I’m enjoying a break from sardine curry – with a Thai takeaway for £15 which will feed me for two days