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It's been a couple of weeks now. There's been no plaintive squeaking in the night. I think it's safe to assume that my little test pilot bought the farm some time ago, which is just as well for both of us.

It wouldn't have had to end this way if I'd known then what I do now: that his relative kinetic energy was roughly proportional to the cube root of his mass. Of course here I'm employing the new usage of the word "know", meaning "have just looked up on the Internet". In fact the whole topic of mass and surface as they relate to dropping animals from enormous heights turns out to be more hotly debated than I had ever envisaged—i.e. at all, ever.

It all stems from an article written in 1928 by the biologist John Haldane, who introduces the topic to the layman with the memorable words: "You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes." He then wanders off into lengthy explanations about resistance presented to movement by the air being proportional to the surface of the moving object, but his voice fades into the distance as you're left contemplating this unwelcome image, like a child on a school trip to an art gallery transfixed by a naughty picture.

Thankfully, though, the horse-splashing allegation is these days dismissed as "a myth". One chatroom contributor pointed out that "in order to splash, the animal has not just to break its bones and much connective tissue - the impact has to tear away and project pieces into the air (on the rebound, too). A horse will be pulped, but stay more or less in one piece", which is at least marginally less grotesque. (He adds: "An elephant MIGHT splash, but I doubt even that.")

To summarize: mice don't die from heights. My carefully crafted plan turns out to have been doomed to ignominious failure from the off, which is the closest I've ever got to resembling a Shakespearean hero.

Of course, Haldane notoriously failed to include the attachment of a small piece of card in his calculations, but even had he still been alive it's unlikely that this would have troubled him. My vague hope that the added impact of the card might have helped to jolt the mouse to a speedy death only serves to illuminate my profoundly defective knowledge of anything which could be remotely classified as "science". All of which leaves me with the unpleasant knowledge that I left a mouse to die a very slow death on someone else's patio.

At first I was able to console myself that, given the sizeable cat population roaming around the gardens, at least he wouldn't have time to starve to death. But we all know that cats love to toy with their prey; indeed, they're genetically programmed to do so. There is no sport in a mouse already fastened to a piece of card. It's the equivalent of stabilizers. A cat on the prowl is going to want its food free-range, not pre-packaged.

Then again, if a particularly lazy cat did take a fancy to what was on offer, there's still the problem of the glue. What if the cat got stuck fast before it had even had a chance to take a bite? And what if a passing fox then decided it wanted a piece of the cat? The possibilities are dizzying. I'm worried that I'll open my curtains one morning to be faced with a giant ball of hopelessly entangled animals engaged in a delirious mutual feeding frenzy. Your mind is free to worry at things like this when you don't have a mortgage.

And this issue isn't going to go away. The reason I was able to execute Project Get The FUCK Out Of My House with impunity is that the property downstairs is currently uninhabited. The travel firm which was based there quit the place some months ago, leaving me entirely unable to get to their basement-level garden. They also took with them their constant supply of leftover snacks on which entire families of mice had clearly been feasting, which is why the cuddly incontinent doe-eyed disease-ridden snuffly-whiskered vermin are now all making their way upstairs to me.


So I'm probably going to be faced with the same dilemma again very soon, and I'm no closer to a solution. I'm still laying out poison for them, but it scarcely seems to be touching the sides as they wolf it down. They appear to develop resistance to new toxins before scientists have even finished figuring out how to spell them. (I still think "warfarin" looks wrong written down. It looks like the title of a Bob Marley album.)

Someone at work told me about their own mouse experience. During a dinner party they heard a tell-tale snap from the kitchen which meant their spring trap had gone off, but when they went to investigate they discovered that the mouse, although trapped by the neck and badly injured, had survived the attack. Indeed it was able to move along their kitchen surface, dragging the enormous trap on its back like a tiny Jesus labouring under its cross. One of their guests said bullishly "Don't worry, I know how to handle this", grabbed a large piece of wood, and brought it crashing down on top of the mouse. Its third dimension having been so suddenly and brutally curtailed, the animal exploded along its y axis. They were scraping rodent residue off the walls for days. At the risk of stating the dazzlingly obvious, this is NOT an option.

A surprising number of helpful people have suggested putting the captured mouse in my freezer. It's the most humane way, they say. The mouse will slowly nod off, its little nose twitching occasionally, and be enfolded in the arms of slumber, and it will never wake up again. All of which may well be true, but I find that I'm just not prepared to store tuberculosis bacteria next to my fish fingers. Neither am I keen to invest in a separate mouse cryogenic chamber.

Another thing that isn't going to happen: catching them alive and releasing them in the wild. I refuse to be party to their disease-spreading activities. And in the current political climate, if I were caught transporting one of the infectious little buggers I could probably be arrested as a terrorist engaged in chemical warfare.

My brother tells me that a friend of his, whose stint in the Norwegian army involved extensive knife training, once spent a happy couple of weeks at the family cabin dealing with an infestation by pronging mice with blades from a distance of several metres. Maybe I'll have him to stay. It would certainly enliven cold nights in.

One other suggestion has been to "let it go". I admit that this has become a bit of a consuming issue, and my conversation has been rather mouse-flavoured of late. However, "letting it go" would entail learning to co-exist peacefully with herds of mice galumphing around my flat, and to be honest I'm just not prepared to do this.

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