Cleverness is something that rubs off…


I will clarify firstly that although the title is true, it doesn’t relate to me in that even being surrounded by a host of clever people, I am still as daft as a brush and in the ‘thick as a brick’ category, I am the odds on favourite to win. The children coming home with gold stars, ‘A’ pluses in their SATS and shining in their Spelling Bees gives me pride but I look at their maths homework like they ask, then cloud over after a few seconds before making my excuses and disappearing off to the far less challenging subject of finding a lightbulb to change. No, their cleverness hasn’t rubbed off onto me. It has however, rubbed off onto one of the family pets though, the mouse of all things.

We took a long vacation over the summer and on our return, having collected all the animals, my son sets about giving them all a cuddle. The mouse, she got some extra special attention and gets to play in my sons overgrown locks of hair. All fun and lovey. All smiles and giggles. Then the mouse leaps onto the sofa, off the sofa onto my daughter’s lap, off her lap onto the floor and under the sofa. That’s the last anyone has seen of her for the past four months. Since taking up residence in the sofa I have dutifully left out food and water for her and spent hours fruitlessly constructing a myriad of humane devices in an attempt to catch her. But it seems my efforts have been wasted as she manages to outwit each and every trap I set. Each morning I check the trap and each morning the bait has gone. Trap one was a bucket. A ramp led up the bucket and over the top was a thin wooden dowel running through a cylinder that had a tasty grape glued on with some raspberry jam. The theory was simple, she climbs the ramp, walks onto the cylinder, the cylinder rotates around the dowel and she slips off into the bucket. Nope, it didn’t work. She managed to get the food though. So maybe she was managing to jump out of the bucket. Okay, the next version of the trap used a deeper bucket. Still a nope. The design went through various modifications, all failures as after three weeks of hunting it was always the same, empty trap, food gone.

The next design employed a counterbalanced bit of stiff cardboard with the bait perched on the end. Think of it like walking the plank but the plank is not fixed. So once your weight goes over the point of balance, into the bucket you fall. Even after numerous fine tuning and tweaking, the bait was gone but there was no trapped mouse.

So after a few weeks the family are finding this rather amusing and weirdly routing for the mouse. The clever ones sticking together it appears.

A complete rethink had me build a new trap. She obviously has the balancing skills of a squirrel so my next trap aimed to beat her through deception of a more cerebral kind and used a plastic water bottle with the top half hinged with a couple of cocktail sticks and some rubber bands. The lid was connected to a pin in the base by some string and on the end of the pin was a grape. She pulls the grape, this pulls the pin, the pin releases the string and the rubber bands snap the bottle closed. A+ in geography children, paa! Come here and check out the genius that is your daddy. The following morning the bait is gone. Version two used stronger bands and I trimmed the hinge a little so the whole device was more sensitive. Nope.

The wise here would simply suggest I purchase a proper humane trap and stop wasting so much effort. And that is exactly what my wiser better half did. Unlike me, she didn’t spend half her waking life working on trap designs and the other half in the garage building them. She just went onto Amazon and bought one. I reckon the plan was to give it to me for Christmas but seeing my frustrations made it became an early gift, partly to stop me feeling bad that a field mouse had managed to outsmart me I suspect. The design was good, a trapdoor actuated by a small bar the mouse would step on as it moved towards the bait. A fraction of the size of my traps and visually far exceeding my chunky, blu-tac, masking tape and glue efforts. But it didn’t work. She took the bait and the trapdoor was closed but it was empty of any rodent. The next day we knew she was just having a laugh with us, food was gone and this time the trapdoor was left opened. Like the scene from Spy Kids, she had stepped over all the lasers and simply walked in then walked off with the booty.

It will soon be five months now that she’s been teasing me. A clever mouse in a clever family where it would appear the only one with the brain the size of a rodent isn’t actually the rodent, it’s me. And to further rub salt into my wound of inadequacy, the light I changed now isn’t working. So when you suggest someone is so stupid they couldn’t even change a lightbulb. You’re referring to me.

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