‘What am I going to do about me and the mouse?’

There was no way I was going to set a trap – humane or barbaric

Maybe I have been living alone for too long or maybe the pandemic engendered such a comfortable sense of solitariness that accepting my resident mouse this winter as a harmless member of the household makes sense.

It was either that or lose my mind over the sight of a tiny-tailed tot scuttling for cover under the fridge late one insomniac night.

After I screamed, the sound of which probably scared me more than the mouse, I made a medicinal hot whiskey, turned on Netflix and binge-watched three episodes of Friends before beginning to nod off again.

Naturally, though, my first thought the following morning was: “What am I going to do about me and the mouse?” There was no way I was going to set a trap – humane or barbaric.


The fact that Census 2022 confirmed that I am now part of the huge rise in the age category of older people living alone is of no comfort during these little crises. As Age Action repeatedly argues, data should not always be aggregated by the decade to understand the circumstances and nuanced needs of older people.

Whilst we no longer live in Dickensian times when rat-catchers earned a good living, no matter how behind the times we are here in the wild west of rural Ireland, I haven’t seen any ads for mouse-catchers in the local newspapers lately. Furthermore, as good and supportive as my three daughters are, I’m hardly going to ask them to down tools, take a day off work and drive up the N20 to commit murder.

I imagine they would roll their eyes up to heaven and have a good laugh. You see, I have form regarding mice. Last autumn I was in a pretty dramatic standoff with another mouse when I was house-sitting in Cork for the youngest pirate princess. She was off on a Greek island getting engaged whilst I cat-sat the elder Lenny and kitten Stevie who you’d imagine – since they are from the feline family – would have dealt with the mouse. Particularly, since Lenny had brought the little f***er in through the patio doors as a paternal present for his new housemate.

Thus began 36 hours of unadulterated terror for me.

Fortunately, after a frenzied series of phone-calls, text messages and WhatsApp videos across the Irish Sea to the Aegean island of Paros depicting different scenarios from the crime scene, a brave friend of Saoirse’s arrived to give me a hug, appease me, track down the elusive visitor and remove him in whatever manner she deemed appropriate

“Thanks Joanne,” I whispered, my knees knocking together. “I’ll wait in the kitchen, make some lavender tea, snort some rescue remedy.”

Over the next 15 minutes, I could hear couches being moved, cushions being thumped, lamps, vases, candle holders being lifted and the place being pulled apart.

“He’s gone, Áine,” she said, reassuringly, after finally returning to the kitchen.

“Are you sure?” I asked, flushed and, quite frankly, shook to my core. “My gut is telling me he is still in there somewhere.”

More tea, cake and reassurances followed and by the time my caped crusader left, she had managed to convince me that Monsieur Mouse had happily relocated to the big field on the other side of the garden.

Why, oh why, didn’t I take heed of Stevie’s repeated interest in the cubicles and crevices of a corner set of shelves, as I read my book that night?

Meanwhile, Lenny – like a stoned hippy who missed Carlos Santana playing Evil Ways at Woodstock in 1969 – was out for the count on the top floor of his faux fur-lined cat tree. Not a sign of an encouraging meow for his young apprentice.

Isn’t it hard to believe that Monsieur Mouse managed to elude the two resident cats for another 24 hours?

The following evening I was just settling in to my reclining chair with my book when out of the corner of my eye I spotted him. Peeping from the side of an aloe vera plant on the top of a bookshelf.

And where were the two cats, you may well ask?

Fast asleep on different floors of their faux fur climbing tree.