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December 05, 2003

No, I only smoke guerillas

This all took place at 465 Archway Road.

(465 was probably the prototype London net.g*th domicile/geek-flat. I pitched up there for a party, knowing no-one, (mumbly-mumble) years ago when Uncle Nic lived there. Oddly enough, most of the other people there still speak to me.

Anyway. As is the nature of these things, the rental of 465 (and its mad bloody landlady and considerably madder freeholder, but those aren't my stories) passed to me, and we took up residence in its rambling and decaying Edwardiana. It looked out on to the A1, across which you could see the disused LNER tunnels. (http://www.starfury.demon.co.uk/uground/northernh.html) And from those tunnels emerged, like Dr. Who villains, dirty great black tube-rats with hides of unobtanium, glowing red eyes and evil robot brains.

"Yum yum!" They thought, while eyeing the footings of all the houses across the road. "Lunch!"

And so they set to. Digging and scrabbling (tiny rat-sized travel sets) and running about and shagging and whatever else indestructible tube-rats do. Underneath the floor. Loudly. With NMA-follower clogs on, some nights.

We'd been in London long enough that my country-dweller's self-reliance had atrophied somewhat. Since we were living in the same borough as that 'Life of grime' programme, I rang up the council and asked them to send a fellow round to deal with the problem.

"Ah." They went. "Rats are dangerous and a heath-hazard. We'd have to charge you under the Environmental Health Act for that."

... So all that heroic rat-catching action was just so the sods could get their mugs on the telly. Bastards.

Then one of the hairy wee fuckers went and pegged it under the hot water tank. Gosh, but that ponged for a long time.

"Bugger this for a game of soldiers." Thought the JHR.

The next weekend, I went home and bagged a canister of paraquat from the H-R ancestral poisons cupboard. (Pater used to run a farm. Keeping dangerous things because 'that'll come in handy one day' is a tradition proudly upheld.) The label had nearly rotted off the can, but it looked like sixties-vintage Gramoxone. An excellent year (or two) for broad-spectrum systemic weedkillers with no known antidote.

I poured it carefully into the ice-cream tub I'd seen the Hairy Wee Bastards slurping rainwater from and awaited results.

Result: Rats aren't daft and paraquat has a nasty pong and an oily and evil demeanour. They ignored it.

Grimly determined now, I took a hammer and big screwdriver to a PC chassis I had lying about and constructed a metal tray with an insulated holder in the centre. In that holder was a nail wired the nail to one side of a 240v feed. The other side was connected to the tray body. On that nail I wedged some well-rotted pizza-leftover. I placed the assembly on the concrete walkway that was favoured by the rats and observed from the bedroom window.

Within minutes, a large and muscular specimen was inspecting the apparatus carefully. Soon the smell of pizza was too much for it, and it climbed on board to take a bite.

"Sproing!" Went the rat as it leapt several feet backwards and lay on its back, smoking quietly.

"Hurrah! ... Bastard!" Went the JHR, as I watched the bloody thing get up after about five minutes and toddle off.

During the week, a squad of its vengeful chums dug tunnels at the far end of the 'garden' and took up residence. That weekend, I went back to Gloucestershire and returned with an air-rifle. We were officially at war.

Then something odd happened. I'd stopped up all the burrow entrances I could find one pissing wet night - digging into an earthen mound by Mag-Light, all the time convinced that some red-eyed and toothed beast is going to make a dive for your face, isn't something I wish to repeat - and a couple of days later, I found a dead rat ponging up that end of the garden. I scooped the bugger up on a shovel, buried it, and...

... Things went quiet again.

JH-R and the tube-rats currently exist in a state of uneasy cease-fire.

Posted by Hirez at December 5, 2003 06:23 PM

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