Dear Dave

Friday 24 August 2007

Of mice and Mario

Dear Dave,

Most places it rains water. A few places it rains frogs. Very occasionally, in the American Midwest, it rains cows. We should be so lucky. There's a short season in Edinburgh - it only lasts from late July to the end of August - where local conditions combine with a light headwind to produce a most disconcerting meteorological phenomenon. It rains acrobats. It wouldn't be so bad but they're usually carrying sharp knives, flaming sticks or each other. Somebody's going to get hurt one of these days and, let's face it, it's probably going to be me. I'm usually so busy picking my way through the traders and tourists that I don't see the Super Mario Brothers tumbling towards me, and I can't hear them cursing each other in Italian because of yet another bagpipe rendition of Flower of Scotland blaring away right next to me. So I always end up getting a slice of experimental street-theatre in the face.

The Festival, don't you just love it?

Normally we're far enough from the centre of town for me to be able to avoid the worst of things but we've been moved out of the house while the flood damage is repaired. The insurance have put us in an apartment right next to the Parliament, close to the epicentre of the mayhem. We have to wade through a sea of foreign teenagers and people handing out flyers to get anywhere. It's madness.

(Other locals seem quite adept at phasing it out, however. You know it's the Festival when someone gets mugged despite carrying a broadsword).

The apartment that the insurance company have laid on for us is very swish but not enormously child-friendly. Everything is made of glass. Glass-topped dining tables are not much fun with children. The one here has sharp corners, clatters every time a piece of cutlery is moved and gets mucky the moment a child even looks at it. The only advantage is that when a kid drops some food, you can see exactly where it's gone. At least, you can until the view is obscured by all the fingerprints (and, as it turns out, footprints) on the under side of the table.

On the plus side, cleaners come in every day. This means the table doesn't get too grotty but having the toilet cleaned five times a week can't be good for our immune systems.

It is actually quite nice being away from home. Someone came round to our house and sprayed Something Really Nasty to get rid of the insects but, after the flood and the swarm of ants, our current plague is an infestation of mice. There was a small amount of evidence we had a problem when we came home from my parents, so I put out a couple of traps. Nothing happened for a few days. Then I caught the scrawniest mouse you have ever seen. There was much jubilation. I've never caught a mouse before - they usually just nick the cheese and do a runner. Using a bit of Mars bar as bait seemed to have done the trick. I was delighted.

I was less delighted when I caught another. Catching one mouse gives hope that the problem is solved. Catching two within an hour suggests that the problem is much bigger than first imagined. I've since caught another two. There's still skittering. All the food is in high cupboards or in tins so I'm not too worried but it's disconcerting sitting in the kitchen waiting for the little critters to sniff out one of my deadly surprises. Unfortunately, I can't use our office because all the furniture has been moved out to allow the walls to be repaired and decorated. So I sit typing at the table, surrounded by teetering piles of junk that have nowhere else to go, and wait for the SNAP! of a rodent needing burial.

I'm not desperate to get back.

On top of everything else, my Xbox 360 has been smited with the three red lights of death. I tried dusting it and letting it cool down and things like that but it's not just resting - it is an ex-console. Microsoft have agreed to fix it for free and emailed me a shipping slip but I have no idea when I'll get it back. Sarah has been reassuring me that she's certain Bill Gates is personally waiting with a soldering iron to receive my parcel from UPS and that I'll have my baby back soon. I, however, am aware of how many 360s have been going wrong. You know that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark where the crate is wheeled into an endless warehouse filled with about a million very similar crates? That's more along the lines of what I'm thinking...

Ho, well, maybe things will be looking up next week - the kids are back at school and we should all have returned to our normal routines. There's going to be a big meeting at LBO, though, and there are mutterings of redundancies. Not good.

Right, the P1 class is only in until lunchtimes for the first few weeks, so I should wade off through the street performers to collect Lewis. I was late yesterday because Marie and I got ambushed by some very persistent mimes. Today, however, we should make better time.

I've fitted scythes to the buggy.

Yours in a woman's world,


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