Small game hunting in a dishwasher
Eight-year-old Carol went to put a plate in the dishwasher, its door was slammed rapidly and she returned looking somewhat bemused, still carrying the plate and announced:
'There's a mouse in the dishwasher, Daddy.'
We live in an old house where mice are an occasional problem, usually solved with a trap or two.
'We seem to be faced with three options,' I declared, keen to display my strategic wisdom in such a situation, 'One, we could open the door and chase it out of the machine. Two, slip in a baited trap, close the door again and wait. Three, switch on the machine and give the mouse a good hot wash.
'Aaaaaaaah! NO! Daddy. How would you like to be shut in a machine and sprayed with very hot water?'
'I certainly don't want any mice running about inside the house.' declared her mother vehemently.
'What's his name?' contributed Carol's younger brother.
'Don't be daft. It's only a mouse.' snapped Carol.
'He must have a name, how would other mice know what to call him if he had no name? I think his name is Monty. Monty Mouse sounds respectable.'
I gently opened the dishwasher door a fraction. Then a bit further, and then another bit but there was no trace of Monty or any other rodent.
'Carol! You made it up. There's no mouse in there,' I accused, triggering an instant chilliness.
One bright, sunny morning I went to empty the dishwasher that had performed its duties overnight and saw, with my own two eyes, a mouse leap from inside the filter basket in the floor of the machine onto the lower rack and vanish.
I was obliged to dine on humble pie and apologise profusely to my smug daughter. Yes, there was a real mouse. OK, it probably was Monty, but how did Monty get into the machine and how did he vanish so quickly?
Both trays out, meticulous inspection of dishwasher; discovered an air vent at one side I had never noticed before. I had to hand it to Monty for sheer mastery of his environment. The little fellow had worked out that once the machine fell silent all he had to do was wait until it cooled sufficiently before entering via the vent pipe and eating his fill from the food scraps caught in the filter basket before returning to safety via his secret vent-pipe. What a mouse!
We ran the machine empty and ensured that no food remained in the filter basket. Two baited traps were introduced. A plug of nylon pot-scourer was prepared and placed near the dishwasher, ready to be inserted quickly into the vent as soon as Monty was observed inside the machine. As there had been no sightings for a day or two the top tray became loaded with glasses and a few plates. The lower tray had been removed.
'Monty's back!' Carol announced next evening.
Cautiously I opened the door of the machine a fraction. A thin tail was just visible projecting from beneath the bottom rotor. A skillful movement got the nylon pot-scourer into the vent and the door was closed. Monty was now incarcerated with no hope of escape and no food supply other than the bait on the two mouse-traps. All we had to do was wait... and wait... and wait... Nothing happened.
We needed the dishwasher. The family demanded that I should 'DO something!'
A peep inside confirmed that Monty was still there. Direct and brutal terminal violence would have to be resorted to. I decided to apply the Snooker Cue technique. Not having a cue, a broom-handle, equally long and straight, was selected as weapon of choice.
The Sheffield Crucible has never seen such a tense scene. Even Sam, our very large German Shepherd dog joined the semicircle of excited onlookers that gathered behind me as I approached the dishwasher, broom-handle at the ready, intent on rodent murder.
The door opened out and downwards and I caught a glimpse of that tail protruding from under the rotor. Now to remove Monty's cover by turning the rotor 90 degrees with the broom-handle. Success! But Monty then scuttled to the back of the machine seeking an alternative refuge. My angle of attack was too high for my weapon of choice to fit under the heating element. Crouch low... lower still, feet astride the open dishwasher door... take careful aim... steady... deep breath... ready...
Suddenly I was heaved off my feet as something very powerful charged through between my legs from behind and the kitchen ceiling light passed rapidly forwards over my head as I landed on my back on the floor, feet still astride the dishwasher door. I howled in pain as furiously clambouring canine claws sought a firm footing, digging into my thighs and other important places while my disorientated brain deduced that the large hairy monstrosity lunging agonizingly again and again on top of me was the tail end end of our big dog. Sam's dormant hunting instincts had been reawakened on seeing me stalking the mouse and he had decided to demonstrate his expertise in such matters. His repeated lunges into the dishwasher were accompanied by the sound of teeth snapping against teeth, snapping on the rotor, snapping on the heating element and snapping on .... CLICK! With a mighty yowl of pain the dog's head violently struck the underside of the top tray, lifting it off its rails, smashing the glasses on it and showering him with the splinters as he recoiled from the shock of the mousetrap tripping in his great jaws. Sam then shot backwards, sat on my face for a moment, dug several more claws into me and retreated to a remote, less hazardous corner of the kitchen, shaking off shards of glass as he went.
All the other members of my audience were convulsed in unsympathetic hysterical laughter with tears of mirth streaming down grinning faces. My anatomy bore the claw-bruises for months.
No trace of Monty, living or dead, was ever found.
He really deserved to get away. What a mouse!