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The only thing the mousetrap has caught recently is my finger

Mousey is back. Or should that be micey? One steps into the kitchen and sees a little grey flash scuttling guiltily away. Over the chopping board. This distresses me, for in a kitchen where space is so much at a premium that having a microwave would reduce the available surface area by about thirty per cent, the chopping board also serves as a kind of plate.

And call me some kind of weirdo clean freak if you want, but I really don't like the idea of eating food that has rested where mice have trod. (If you wonder why I have food out in the first place when there is this wonderful new invention called "the fridge", I suggest you look at my fridge.)

Oh crumbs

I suppose having mice around the place doesn't automatically qualify a household for Hovel status any more; they're on the increase everywhere. And I like mice elsewhere: on the underground, for instance. (I tell my children they are the stunted descendants of the miniature ponies that were used to haul the first tube trains.)

But the Hovel is a place that was made for mice, with its loose floorboards, its crumbs all over the chopping board, its crumbs behind the backs of immovable things, its crumbs everywhere, come to think of it.

The children alone are quite capable of covering the entire living room with crumbs when they stay, as if they had pulverised the contents of a tube of Pringles and then wafted it about like the "shake" part of a Shake 'n' Vac process, but without the vaccing. I used to compare them to locusts to evoke the level of devastation they can cause simply by sitting down and watching an episode of Black Books; but locusts strip things bare, I realised, and so could at least be said to have left things tidier than when they arrived.

I thought that if I turned the top of the washing machine into some kind of chef's station then this would at least keep the food safe from mousey; but then one evening I came into the kitchen and there one was, as bold as brass, having a leisurely stroll over the top of it, during the spin cycle of all things, as if it were on some kind of funfair ride, or about to press its little groin into the corner and give itself a mousey orgasm. (I hear doing this is popular in certain parts of suburbia, and not just among mice.) Now all outside edibles are huddled on top of the fridge, as if flooded out, or besieged.

The first thing I noticed was that this rodent had got me saying things like "bold as brass". I nearly said "without so much as a by-your-leave." When disruptions like this make one's language slip back half a century or more, then you know you're in trouble.

The problem is that when language reverts, so does the thinking, and so the only mousetrap I consider aesthetically possible to use is the classic "Little Nipper", whose coy name conceals a very vicious reality: a tightly coiled spring that can propel the hammer - this being the correct technical term even though it doesn't look like one - with such force that it all but bisects the mouse, and forces a little turd halfway out of its bottom for good measure.

I have no problem with this. Then again, neither does Mousey. One of his forebears got done by the Little Nipper about three years ago and since then they have set up whatever the mouse equivalent of the DVLA is, whose teaching in its entirety consists of what a mousetrap looks like, and to avoid it.

Even if I put mouse cocaine, or "peanut butter" as it is more commonly known, on the catch (technical term: thank you, the internet), they're not interested. Indeed, the only thing the mousetrap has caught recently is my index finger; another resident, I know not who, had placed a trap by the light socket in the living room and when I went to plug a light in without bothering to see if there was a fucking mousetrap by the fucking plug, I brushed against it and - well, it's a miracle they didn't have to amputate. And my children learnt some new swear-words, or combinations thereof - and they thought they'd heard everything.

Sticky wicket

Which means it's off to the hardware shop to buy the kind of trap that has a very sticky surface and basically glues the mouse into a position where one can be Blofeld to its Bond, gloating over its demise. It is not a situation I relish, having to dispose of a live rather than a dead mouse (see David Mitchell's soapbox rant about this on Youtube), so this is the only way I will be able to deal with it. "I look forward to watching you try and get out of zis one." The only snag is that it probably will . . .

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 12 March 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The weaker sex