Thursday, May 26, 2011

Simply the Pest! Petter than all the rest.

I recently wrote a post from my time as a pest controller where I discussed a lady's fear of cockroaches. Phobias are always good to hear about as they are both cruel and funny, like giving Kendal Mint Cake to an elderly aunt with badly fitting dentures.

It reminded me of a time when I was contracted to clear a particularly impressive rat infestation from a farm in deepest, darkest Berkshire, where racehorses roam freely from sauna to hydrotherapy pool, where tiny, rich ex-jockeys from Ireland stare up at you and hope you haven't noticed their pointy, pointy ears, and where people who pop the collars on their polo shirts in the unfathomable belief that it's cool drive "Discos" or "Scoobies" which are always, without fail, green.

Occasionally, in amongst the unnaturally flat fields of the racehorse training grounds, you might come across a real, proper farm where they grow crops and worthwhile, useful animals like cows and pigs.

Don't get me wrong, for these farms are very different from the olden days where, heaven forbid, a real, actual farmer would own and live on the premises. Here, the farms have been bought out by large companies that have converted the buildings into desirable barn conversions that local people can't afford and, for the crops, send in a locum farmer a couple of times a week to make sure things are still alive. For this reason, any old farm buildings can become quite neglected and a haven for pesty critters.

Here was a good example of a wide-spread infestation left to run riot for many years, and centred on a dilapidated old barn once used as an animal feed store.

I considered contacting Bonzo for some mercenary assistance, but he specialised in battles, and this was a war. Also, he didn't like coming down past Nottingham because he thought the cops would be on his tail. Literally.

The substitute farmer met me on site as I arrived to set up the pest control measures (which consisted of, in technical parlance, a shit-load of poison). Once again, I was treated to someone eager to tell me about their phobia. I'm not sure why. I must look like I'm not going to take advantage. Here, the farmer said he didn't like rats. Properly didn't like them. Brought him out in cold sweats.

"What about you?" he asked.

"Me."  I scoffed, "Nah. I've got no phobias."

"Really?" he asked, genuinely interested. "None at all?"

I thought for a moment and shook my head. "Nope," I boasted, "No phobias. No fears. No panic attacks. No anxieties. I have a psychology of steel. I wouldn't even flinch." I wish I chewed matches so I could have taken it out of the corner of my mouth, before saying "You can't. Not in this line of work."

Being twenty-five and enthusiastic, as well as being less likely to chew matches because I might get a splinter and, you know, mouth ulcers are ever so, ever so sore, I proceeded to give him a demonstration about why it wasn't good to be too scared of rats, because they were everywhere in a place like this. I thumped the corrugated iron cladding on the side of the barn wall in which we were standing, and was rewarded with a huge amount of scuttling and running as the hordes of rats behind scrambled for deeper hiding places.

Unfortunately, one of them decided that a better escape route would be from a hole in the cladding above my head, where it leaped to freedom, landing on the nearest available tall thing in the vicinity.


Or in particular, the bit where my head joins my torso. I believe it's called the neck.

I may have shrieked.

In fact, I may have made a noise that I wasn't even aware I was capable of making since before puberty, so high-pitched with surprise that all dogs within a two mile radius sat up and wondered who was whistling.

"Golly!" I said, (or something similar) "Look at that one!" I pointed as it ran down the entire length of my body, jumped to the floor from knee height and rushed back to it's peers behind the wall. I turned for moral support to the farmer, only to find an empty space echoing only to the sound of running foot falls outside.

He wasn't taking any chances, he later told me when we met up later for a cup of thermos-cool tea and a sandwich, as he didn't want anything like that happening to him, demonstrating a strange take on working-class solidarity.

Although I may not have developed a fear of falling rats, I did from then on show a healthy respect for overhead infestations, as well the leaping ability of our furry friends and the overatedness of thermos flasks.


  1. Jules, you read like buttuh. Buttuh!

    Falling rats. Great. I'll add that to "tornadoes at night" and "spontaneous possession".


  2. Pearl - Is that like head-buttah? And at least you're not scared of those little flies that lay eggs in your eyes, which I understand are native to the area in which you live.

  3. why, sugar, why? and NO disclaimer first? *sigh* rats? i hate rats! and snakes and swimming in the ocean or anywhere i can't touch bottom easily! but pearl is right, i could not stop reading! even the part about the flies....i am so never going outside again. or maybe just never going to minnesota. xoxoxox

  4. Savvy - Sorry! And I may have made up the bit about Pearly's flies, as I have possibly, actually, when all's said and done, never been to Minnesota.


  5. I probably just emitted a similar sound, though less voluminous, than yours, and with much more accompanied, gleeful wheezing, after reading that. I'm pretty sure the neighbours are suspicious because I'm having way too much of a good time.

  6. You handled that with aplomb, I must say. Just as well it wasn't a ferret. Who removed the poisoned corpses?

  7. Spiders are my particular phobia, I would rather come face to face with a panther at night than a daddy long legs.

  8. I am literally crying with laughter- this is truly a hilarious blog post!!

  9. Veggie Ass - I can do a gleeful wheeze myself on occasion, but I tend to get visits from the police.

    GB - That delightful job also fell to me on subseuent visits, where they were bagged and removed rady for incineration.

    SkylersDad - A friend of mine with a spider phobia got rid of his fear with some gentle habituation therapy, which involved learning lots of stuff about their anatomy and habits, and now he actually likes them!

    Cass - Glad you liked it!

  10. Har! Tempting rat fate and losing is a funny tale, but the bit about the tough-as-nails match chewer with the sage one-liner? Brilliant. Let's just pretend you did say that.

  11. Nicole - Ta! And yeah, let's pretend I did exactly that! I remember it clearly. And they weren't rats, they were lion-bear hybrids.

  12. Rat are the real worries of many houses. They should be controlled in the houses to live a calm and peaceful life .

  13. Youre a brave man Jules, lesser mortals would have screamed like a girl...oh...uh!
    As my wonderful uncle said many times.."I'm afraid of no man, and very few women!"

  14. hire awp - Either that or feed them so they become so numerous and tame that you become used to each other, resistant to each other's diseases and a tourist attraction, like in the Karni Mata temple in India. Niiiice.

    Tempo - Ha! Love that. I'm going to say it every day!

  15. I am afraid of nothing. On the other hand I am terrified of anything that has teeth.

  16. Douglas - How do you comb your hair?

  17. What's this now? Looks like you have a new post, something about a bucket of pies (I do hope one of them is cherry) but I can't get to it?

    That's just cruel. I demand a working link, dammit!


  18. Pearl - Soz. I just uploaded a photo from Flickr of a bucket of pies (who wouldn't) and Flickr decided it was a fully formed post and published it.

    I haven't written any of them wordy things that are supposed to go with it yet, and seeing as I'm having a week of work and daddy day-care, with no time off for blog behaviour, it might be a few days yet.

    Apologies for blog-teasing you!


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