Making It Through The Wilderness – Mousey.

DAWN O'PORTER : 21 OCTOBER 2011
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The London Riots were no fun for anyone. I can safely say that I have never felt so unsafe. Chris was in America so Lilu, Potato and I were home alone with our new addition to the family, Mousey.

Mousey comes to visit a lot, however this time mousey seemed to think he didn’t have to leave. Mousey also seemed to think that Lilu was just a big mousey, and Lilu thought that mousey was her best friend. Potato was in almost complete denial that either of them existed, and I was spending way too much time standing on the sofa watching Sky News and checking Twitter, then tweeting about how scared I was of absolutely everything.

I needed something to do to take my mind off all this commotion, but what? I could cut back the wisteria as it is now half way into the bedroom making bed times like a scene from Little Shop of Horrors, but that would involve going outside and then the yobs might get me. Putting Magic FM on really loudly and dancing to power ballads was no good as I wouldn’t be able to hear them if they broke in, and trying outfits on was way too dangerous – it might involve having to run for my life with no clothes on. Housebound and with all my usual procrastinations unavailable to me I was flummoxed as to how I could exert my nervous energy. I couldn’t even watch a movie in case Mousey crawled up onto the sofa and ate my face. Nope, there was only one thing left to do, the job that I had been putting off for months, the last thing in the world I ever wanted to face, the final frontier of Domestic Godessness… It was time to clean out the cupboard under the stairs.

*Insert dramatic music*

The cupboard under the stairs is the scariest place in the world, fact. For the past month or so a smell has been coming from it that is so strong I have smelt it on myself when I have been out. A deep, musty pong that is completely unidentifiable. If I had to describe it I might say it was a mix of feet, death, dirty trousers and cheese. It was disgusting.

I had known I would have to deal with this for some time. This wasn’t a job I could ask my cleaner to do as it could be verging on abuse to even suggest it. Chris was now away for two months and the smell was so bad that people have commented on it from the front door. So far I had dealt with it like thus – once a week I would open the door armed with a can of Fabreeze and a tea cloth over my face, then I would spray until the can was empty and the smell momentarily masked. I would then try to forget about it for a week until the smell started to seep through the stairs again.

But this was not a long-term solution to the problem. The smell – the only odour that Fabreeze can’t eliminate – had to go. I had to face up to my duties as woman of the house and sort this problem out. But the problem wasn’t just the smell. The main problem was that I have only ever seen Mousey appear from or disappear into the cupboard under the stairs. Going in there would almost definitely mean coming face to face with him, all his little friends and most probably a dead one, which is what I presumed the smell to be. However, at that moment not even Mousey and his entire Mousey army could have scared me more than the thugs who were tearing my city apart. People out there were defending the streets on my behalf, the least I could do was get rid of the smell coming from the cupboard under the stairs.  Especially as there was a strong chance I would be hiding in it by midnight.

Mousey or no mousey, I was going in – but first I needed an appropriate outfit. There was no way in the history of hysterical screaming fits I was going in there with exposed flesh, so I put on some marigolds, some wellies, and my driving glasses to protect my eyes. I was ready.

I opened the door, Lilu and Potato behind me with no faith I would see it through. The sound of sirens outside was getting louder by the minute and the smell was so strong I was gagging like a dog pulling on a leash. The fear of tarantulas jumping on my back was giving me all the grace of Gillian McKeith doing an I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here challenge. This was not my most dignified of moments.

I closed my eyes and started pulling things out and chucking them over my shoulder and into the kitchen. Deep breath, reach, grab and throw. I was looting my own cupboard. There was so much stuff in it, empty boxes, full boxes, dirty, mouldy paint brushes, things I had lost, things I had tried to lose (the hoover).  After a good fifteen minutes of drama I flapped around and felt that it was empty. I got out of the cupboard and opened my eyes. A thin layer of something brown covered the kitchen floor. It was like brown rice, or linseed. It wasn’t, it was mouse shit.

The little buggers had been using the cupboard under the stairs as a toilet for months.

Luckily, I had just found the hoover.

Job done!