What I wasn’t expecting was to be awoken in the night by the sound of tapping. Initially, I thought it was the open bedroom window rattling in the breeze, but I immediately established that it was a calm night and that the noises were coming from the other side of the room.
I lay awake, for some time, trying to work out whether I would be able to hear our next door neighbours that clearly, if, in the middle of the night, they started rattling about in close proximity to our common wall.
But the sound got louder - and more scratchy - and then it was definitely in the room, just behind my cello, which sits in the corner, in front of the wardrobe.
I got up, switched the light on, waited for a moment, and then saw the thing I was dreading the most: a grey female rat scuttling, at high speed, along the skirting board. Now, obviously, I am a great lover of rats, but even I draw the line at sharing a bedroom with a wild one. There was no way I was going to be able to get back to sleep again - particularly as she was now behind the piano, which meant every movement she made was amplified by the instrument’s inbuilt mechanisms. Wildly depressing.
So, I went into the sitting room and slept, very uncomfortably, folded up on the sofa like a broken accordion...
This morning, as I was eating breakfast, hoping the rat had become bored of my bedroom and gone back to wherever she’d come from, she wandered in, bold as brass, and stood staring up at me, for long enough for me to ascertain that she was indeed a pretty rat, definitely on the grey spectrum, rather than a more sinister black or brown, and not dissimilar to some of the rats that we used to keep as pets. “You shouldn’t be here!” I shouted, thinking, as I did so, what ludicrous things we tend to say when we’re stressed. As I stood up, she bolted, back into the bedroom, and behind the piano.
And then it was time for me to leave the house to visit Bernard Kops...
What with the water pouring through the sitting room roof again, the damp walls and the broken draws and cupboards in the kitchen, sometimes I just want to close a door on my flat and run away as fast as I can. Being poor just isn’t fun any more!