It was on a sunny Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago that I spotted the little blighter myself. His huge hairy brown backside swayed gently from side to side as he sauntered brazenly down my garden path in the broad daylight; his tail trailing casually along behind him. He didn’t even bother to take cover in the shrubbery. “Great”, I muttered to myself as I sighed in resignation and proceeded to fire up the laptop and google ‘pest control, Canterbury City Council’. My irritation increased as the web page informed me that the council no longer offered a pest control service, and advised me to search under several accredited bodies for a reputable private service instead.
I should probably explain at this point that rats have been recurrent unwelcome visitors to my garden throughout the ten years that I’ve lived in my little house. When I say ‘recurrent’, it could be worse – the last time my neighbours and I had to call out pest control was about 2012. However, about a year before that we had a most unpleasant episode when they burrowed down (the rats that is, not pest control) and got into my neighbour’s cavity walls and up into his loft. That frantic sound of scrabbling in the walls is not one which is easily forgotten, and my skin still crawls at the memory. So clearly we don’t want that to happen again.
After spotting The Intruder (it seems appropriate to use capitalisation here), I became ever so slightly obsessed with staring out of the window whilst clutching a hefty baseball bat, ready to rush out and whack it over the head the second it had the audacity to appear. Okay, so maybe the bit about the baseball bat isn’t strictly true, but the first part certainly is. I’d already undertaken a meticulous examination of my garden and spotted the exact place where I suspected it was making its unwelcome and illegal entrance. (Maybe I should build a wall there, and get the other rats to pay for it…) In the absence of Rat Cam, I had to rely on my own dodgy vision to track the blighter’s movements.
A couple of days later, early in the morning, I spotted a suspicious looking brown shape loitering in the middle of my lawn. As it was so early, I wasn’t wearing my specs. I therefore grabbed the closest instrument of magnification I could lay my hands on, which just happened to be a pair of antique opera glasses. I raised them to my eyes with trembling hands and baited breath and spotted… the blurry shape of a blackbird, pecking about in the lawn. I exhaled, and then set about trying to sharpen up the image seen through the opera glasses.
I figured that the glasses must have been at the optimum setting for my eyes pre-retinal detachment. I closed my good eye and looked through them using just my bad eye. The image was very blurry, but surprisingly I managed to improve it by turning the little dial to the right as far as it would go. Obviously it was still blurred as I was looking through my waffy RD eye which has silicone oil in it; but it was better than I expected and certainly better than when I just have my specs on. I then closed my bad eye and tried looking through my good eye without adjusting the settings. It was horrendous! In order to get it back into focus, I had to turn the dial almost all the way to the left. I then closed my good eye and opened my bad eye again, but was back to a blurry mess once more. I tried to adjust the opera glasses so that I could get a decent overall image whilst looking with both eyes, but it was impossible.
At this point, I had to stop as the experiment was beginning to make me feel a little dizzy and queasy. However, it gave me a greater understanding of why the optometrist had said that my vision in each eye is so unbalanced that it’s impossible to fully correct it with glasses. It also made me wonder whether this unbalanced vision, coupled with the fact that I’m still apparently right-eye dominant despite the vision in my right eye being extremely poor, is the reason for my frequent headaches, which are sometimes accompanied by a slight feeling of nausea.
Anyway, I’m hoping that Rat Man (aka pest control) will be able to do his stuff and dispatch The Intruder swiftly, in the same manner that Hamlet disposed of Polonius. At the cost of two full-price return train tickets to Moorfields, the service certainly isn’t cheap, but I guess that’s to be expected when hiring a hit man…