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Corona Diaries: a morality tale in three parts

April 15, 2020

And now for a morality tale of sorts.

For a while we’ve had visitors in our loft. We hear them but we never see them. A few years ago, we called the council and they sent a man. He climbed up into the loft to our extension, which we don’t use, and told us that on the evidence he saw we had resident squirrels. He left a bowl of chopped-up Snickers bar laced with poison. Squirrels love chocolate and peanuts apparently.

It didn’t work. He suggested that we get ourselves an air rifle and shoot the culprits, who were most likely hanging out in the garden. His qualifier that “I didn’t tell you that” was enough to put me off from going down to our local gun shop (yes, I know this is the UK, but we actually have one!) and purchasing the necessary weapon. I don’t like the idea of shooting things, and anyway, a few months later the squirrels went away.

Recently they came back. Maybe not the original ones, but perhaps their grandchildren, who had listened to stories of the magic loft on their grandpa’s knee. You could hear them above our bedroom at strange hours of the day and night – tapping and scratching away. If we banged on the ceiling, they would go silent. But not for long.

This time, we decided on a hi-tech solution. We got ourselves a little device that emits a high frequency sound wave that squirrels are not supposed to like. We stuck it up in the loft. There was silence for a while. But then the little bugger (or buggers) returned.

Now we’re in lockdown, so it’s highly unlikely that we can find a posse of exterminators willing to use any means necessary to get rid of them. I’ve been a bit worried about the possibility of one of our visitors chewing through an electric cable and setting the house on fire, but I figured they would trip a circuit breaker before things got to that point.

But yesterday, as my beloved was having at the driveway with our pressure washer, the machine just stopped. After doing a bit of fault-finding I discovered that a circuit that provides power to half the house has gone kaput. No breaker appeared to have tripped, which was ominous, but there was no smoke from the loft either.

We now had no shower, because the pump in the loft seemed to have been affected. Fortunately, the lights were still working, and so was the heating. But what caused the outage? If we called in an electrician, assuming one was available, we would risk the deadly virus penetrating our little cocoon. If we didn’t, we would have to live with whatever was happening up there – live wires and God knows what else.

But wait, my precious. Since the outage started there was not a peep from the squirrel. Which suggested that there might well be a dead body in the loft.

After much agonising, we decided to call the electrician, give him a mask if he didn’t have one, have him slather himself  from our dwindling supply of antiseptic gel, wipe all the surfaces he touched and hope for the best. The alternative would have been to spend the rest of the lockdown getting very furry. But that would be better than being electrocuted or burnt to a frazzle.

We may have wanted the squirrel gone, but not under these circumstances.

Up to this point, then, with a dead squirrel cooking in the loft and us facing the prospect of months of jungle-washing, the moral of this tale would have been to be careful what you wish for.

But there’s more. We called our home emergency service. Yes, said the charming chap from Athlone, we’re still in business and we can send you an electrician. Five minutes later, we got a call back on the phone. It was the electrician, who turned out to be an equally charming woman called Karen. Which surprised me a bit, since in all my long years I had never met a female electrician.

So the second moral of the tale is just because you haven’t personally experienced something, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

As it turned out, Karen didn’t need to visit us. She asked us to send her a photo of the circuit board, and quickly identified that a switch I thought was on was in fact off. One flip and we were back in business, with me feeling like a total idiot. Collapse of cable-chewing dead squirrel theory.

And thus to the third moral, which is that when shit happens, the most likely cause is usually the most obvious one.

Each of these morals is relevant to the current plague, but I’ll leave you to figure out how.

Now we have to work out what to do about the squirrel. A final solution is required. Yet another Google search has led to innovative solutions. Ultrasound is useless, we are told, so I suppose we should sue Amazon.

The latest colourful answer is to spray the urine of foxes or deer around the loft. Yeah right, as if I’m in a position to go hunting these animals with a little pot and asking them politely if they’d piss in it. I reckon that a more effective solution would be an electrified fence around the eves that delivers 20,000 volts to any animal brave enough to touch it.

It would be interesting to see how many circuit breakers that would blow. Perhaps an automated taser activated by movement would more easily do the trick. But I doubt you could find one of those on Amazon.

This being lockdown time, there must be an online forum of frustrated Americans with hunting jackets and AR-14 semi-automatics who have nothing to shoot. They would surely be glad to advise.

On the other hand, perhaps there’s new life being created up there, and we should take satisfaction from that thought in this time of doom and death.

But enough of this rambling. Just another day in lockdown. Time to make a cake, I think.

From → Social, UK

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