Archive for December, 2009

Rat in the Kitchen

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 22, 2009 by yammerman


The first sighting

It is difficult to know where to begin with this saga as the first inkling of our close proximity to rats came about this time last year when I discovered the corpse of a dead rat in the garden. When we lived in London, the line that “you’re never more than 10ft from one” hardly impinged on my consciousness.  I don’t know if it’s the compost heap that’s attracted them but in the last year or so I’ve noticed that the variety of wild life in the garden now includes some rather unsavoury members.      

 After the dead rat the next evidence of their existence was the chewed at bags of rabbit food that I noticed in the garage. Round one to me as I immediately put Dandelion’s favourite “Green Flake” in a cool box.  I made some half hearted attempts to block the holes in the wooden door to the garage only to discover the beasts were more determined than I had imagined.      

 When we put Dandelion into his winter quarters inside we discovered the evidence of the rats who clearly fancied an easy billet for the winter. I blocked more holes and they chewed new ones; they were not to be denied. I entered one evening to be confronted by a fat rat (King perhaps) sitting bold as you like atop Dandelion’s hutch. This time I made damn sure I blocked every single gap in the door making sure to include stones as further barriers to their chewing. The next day I noticed fresh chews in the wood but much to my satisfaction it appeared I had defeated them.      

 There was sadly a flaw in this plan, as although the blockages kept them out it did not allow for the possibility that one was still inside. We fast forward here to the happy moment when the family gathers as our fake Christmas tree is brought in from the garage. I heaved the box inside and noticed immediately upon opening an odd smell and little bits of torn paper. Witnesses were summoned and the conclusion drawn was that something had been living in the Christmas tree.  I pushed the possibility that the creature was still somewhere in the box and dragged it back out side. I perhaps failed to hear the echo of heavy piano chords on the sound track of my life when the possibility was mentioned that whatever was in the box might have escaped into the house. I just thought “wow, that tree is decorated with some form of pooh and it isn’t coming in my house”.  The hale and hearty fellows at the dump were in for a bonus in the form of one fake Christmas tree.      

 I was still relaxed at this point, disappointed that the festive period had to be delayed until we had purchased a “real” tree. Perhaps the spirits of Christmas disapproved of our inauthentic pagan symbol. My mood was somewhat altered in the morning when upon entering the kitchen, I heard the distinct sound of rustling coming from under one of the kitchen units. I tried really hard to find a perfectly reasonable explanation for the sound but I was left with the realisation that something living, possibly with a long tail, was sharing breakfast with me. “Damn I wish we had a cat” flashed through my head for a moment but I soon realised in the absence of any other volunteers I would need to tackle this problem myself.      

 I pulled all the skirting from under the kitchen units suddenly rather conscious that a dressing gown is no outfit for pest control.  I never saw anything, but there was the sound of movement and an echo of my own panic. I then opened the back door, shut the kitchen door, and dashed up stairs to change into something more appropriate, making sure that the happy sleepers were fully informed of the current state of emergency.      

 Frankly I had no idea how I was going to tackle this beast but I went out to the garage and selected a pair of gardening gloves and a hoe as my weapons of choice. A vision flashed through my head of luddites marching to destroy threshing machines or villagers tackling Frankenstein, not that I wish to over dramatise events. Returning to the kitchen I poked and cleared but no evidence of the creature could be discerned. Naturally at this point I was rather hoping he had fled out of the open back door but that was too much to hope for. The next morning once more I could here him scuttling behind the units and to my horror realised that he had found a route up to the floor above through a old boxed in pipe. It all went quite again until the evening when I decided to put some poison down to see if he take it. It was gone in minutes and so I put more down and by morning it had all gone. At this point I began to realise poison isn’t the smartest move as the internet provides numerous stories of the smell the rotting corpse will  induce. So out I went and bought a couple of traps a “Little Nipper”, a “Super Rat Trap and a large live rat trap.  All were positoned and baited with a piece of chicken while I could here our new friend moving above me.      

We came close with the traps, he set one off the following day but it had failed to catch him and being smart he didn’t make that mistake again. I caught sight of him one night when I came in the kitchen dashing behind the dishwasher but other than that all went quite. Just at the point when I though he was done for he came wandering out during the day much to Gillian’s alarm. Since then no sound has been heard and I’m rather hoping that was his last hurrah. The not knowing is a bit of  a pain and with guests coming for  Christmas, the dilema of whether to make the fact known that our home is rat infested arises.  It’s no topic for Christmas lunch that’s for sure so now I await the next problem, the smell…..will this nightmare never end?. Of course you couldn’t have a week like this without UB40’s “Rat in the Kitchen” running round your head and believe me it was no comfort. When life decides to mimic art, next time perhaps it could choose something a bit more pleasant.      

I did try to bring some technology to bear on the problem with my D300. I set it on interval timing ,a feature I hadn’t used much up until now, snapping the kitchen floor once very few minutes.  The rat proved a no show so enjoy a few dull snaps of underneath our kitchen units. Happy Christmas and if he pops out of the turkey on Chrismas Day I’ll be sure to blog it.      

Take This Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 6, 2009 by yammerman

I’ve been trying to do a version of this song for a while but could never make my mind whether to add some layers to it or to leave it spartan.  I like singing it and have done some great versions that sadly fall apart in the later verses.  It’s been hanging around a while and so in order to move past it I thought I would just do a demo and put it on here.  I wrote this around the same time as “Love is Stronger” and, as Paul Hazel actuely observed, I’m still using those same old chords.

Here it is then Take This Love (Willson)

Take This Love

Catch your thoughts
Before they fall
Even when
They mean nothing at all
Say a prayer
Breathe it slow
Is there an answer
Before you go
If you feeling lost
If your words unspoken
Take this love Take this love
Take this love as a token and pass it on.

There’s a secret
And it can be shared
Find somebody
Don’t be scared
Look around
What do you see
Is anybody
Really free

If you feeling lost
If your words unspoken
Take this love Take this love
Take this love as a token and pass it on.

You get to choose
How you live
Do you take
Or do you give
The moment comes
The bow breaks
And all that’s left
Is the love that you make.

If you feeling lost
If your words unspoken
Take this love Take this love
Take this love as a token and pass it on.

IEW   Jan 2009

A Farewell with Colours and Smiles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 2, 2009 by yammerman


I wanted to conclude this trilogy of posts with some words on the trip Gillian, James and I made to Mandy’s funeral in East Anglia yesterday. I thought those that had expressed sadness at the news of her death might like some knowledge of how her passing was marked. Please forgive my journalistic failings in detail but I hope these words and pictures express some of the tone of the day.

 We drove through a Norfolk bathed in sunshine, the sky blue and the countryside rich in the colours of autumn somewhat different from the Wales of the last few weeks. We arrived at Great Yarmouth Crematorium to be greeted by Hal and Jessie who must have made Mandy very proud. They are as young and beautiful as we all were in a time long ago. They were pleased to read the comments and the blog and to know Mandy had touched so many lives.

 The colourfully dressed company moved into the chapel and proceeded to replace the rather austere atmosphere that these places seem to possess with the warmth and love for a friend. The coffin appeared, handmade with a decorative carving, and a guitar jangled. It was a humanist service and after a short introduction by a member of the Humanist Association it was the turn of friends and family to give their memories and recollections.

It was very well done by all concerned; from those that had known her as a child to those that had been her companions in the later years. Through it all, the same fun loving, gentle and creative being shone through; she had such a strong sense of herself and yet there was plenty of room for others.  She seems to have really flowered in the soil of East Anglia and it was a real pleasure to hear how much she’d meant to her friends and family.  Her love of children and the importance she placed on art in their lives was clear.  Reference was also made to the delight Mandy took in making gifts in the form of little drawings and cards  and we have a fine collection ourselves.  The surprises were her involvement in a female singing group (every week for the last eighteen years) of which a recording was played and her love of a bonfire on the beach with friends.  It was a wonderful, sad yet funny, moving tribute.

Afterwards we drove to Yoxford as the skies darkened to a gallery where Jessie had mentioned they’d put up a few pictures. This was quite an understatement as, when we entered, the room was filled with warmth and light, while the walls were covered in pictures of Mandy and her works. Some of them  Gillian had taken and feature in our own albums. A table at the centre groaned with food and the atmosphere was one of celebration. There were no dark corners; Mandy filled this room to bursting with images and works quite beautiful. It was something to behold and will live long in my memory as a shining example of a life well lived.

 It felt right that we were there to represent the years we’d known a remarkable woman and good that Gillian could say farewell to friend. I snapped some shots in Yoxford that have no merit other than to try and convey  in some small part of what it was like. I apologise if they seem frustratingly distant.