Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Your Favourite Rodent Makes an Unwelcome Return to the Capital

Having returned to London from my travels outside of the M25 (never again – the food was weird, the people spoke funny and all that fresh air gave me the shits) I decided to relax for a day or two by playing croquet at my local club, immersing myself in fine literature, attending the theatre and catching up on all of the Jeremy Kyles that I’d Sky Plussed. It soon became apparent, however, that I was in danger of running out of vitamin C tablets, having taken more than the usual amount over the last couple of weeks in an attempt to combat the effects of the foreign fresh air, so I popped over to my local branch of Holland and Barrett to stock up. But I wasn’t prepared for the frosty reception that I received from the previously accommodating overpriced sunflower seed emporium. Apparently a jobsworth from Islington council had kicked up a fuss over a few droppings discovered on the shelves and fridges full of out of date food. Having bought food from Holland and Barrett in the past I really don’t think that its being out of date would have any effect on either its flavour or its typical influence on the bodily functions. Furthermore, despite rigorous tests, it is still unclear as to whether the substance found on the shelves was actually droppings or in fact the result of a packet of delicious sun dried goji berries splitting.

Sun dried goji berries are an appetizing bargain at a mere £24.95 per 25g pack
After being rudely shooed out of the door of Holland and Barrett (relieving myself on the display of baked carrot and beetroot lemongrass Omega 3 crisps on the way out), I decided that I’d take a stroll around Richmond Park to take in the scenery. But no sooner had I set foot in the borough than I was accosted by a man wearing a face mask and long rubber gloves swiftly exiting the public toilets with his friend. Apparently this kind of thing is now common place in Richmond, as the council attempts to rid itself of what it calls pests. And it seems they will stop at nothing to rid themselves of rats, having last year taken action in 448 of the 734 reported cases of rat ‘infestation’. That means that a mere 286 (39%) of the cases reported by residents were not responded to. Impressive stuff.

I decided that the odds were (just) against me in Richmond, so I made my way north to Barnet, where I discovered that the housing associations there take visitations by ‘pests’ almost as seriously as their south London neighbours. Indeed, one satisfied resident, who has two children, reports that it only took seven years and an interview with a local journalist for her complaints of unwanted guests in her house to be listened to. Louise Parker said that her family had recently been experiencing stomach upsets while living in their flat. She said, “Rats are constantly weeing and I wonder if that is what is making us sick.” Perhaps she is just getting too much fresh air.

Beware the laxative effects of fresh air
With the rapid response rates to rat sightings in Edgware being what they are, I though it best to make myself scarce and head east, where I could be confident that I would not encounter problems. Rats and people have coexisted in east London for many years; you could almost say that East Londoners have acquired a taste for having us around.   

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