Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Urban Cowgirl

Rudi and the rodents
When I moved to Crumlin in the mid-90s, and was told by a friend that my road was a well-known ‘rat run’, little did I know the description would turn out to be so accurate.

As well as the rush-hour ramp-dodgers, and yummy mummies in their SUVs, speeding past my little Council house front door, there were even more unwelcome visitors zipping past my back door.

Within a few days I discovered, to my horror, that a gang of brown, four-legged rodents had been using my garden as an all-night disco, dancing up and down the little garden and sometimes peering in at me from a perch on my kitchen window sill. 

The massive development of plush apartments on the posh D6 side of our local park had sent them scurrying across to ‘dumb down’ outside my little D12 shack. After spending a month’s salary on a variety of useless extermination firms, I opted for the good old-fashioned advice from my next door neighbour Bill, and got a cat.

I dare say little black and white Rudi, who had come from a shelter in leafy Sandymount, was experiencing something of a culture shock, because he spent the first three weeks of his Crumlin life under my sofa, while Roland and his buddies continued their frenzied rodent orgy unabated in my back yard.

Drawing from the resource of childhood fairytales, I enticed nervous Rudi to the back door with a trail of tuna flakes, and eventually he even negotiated the cat flap, teased by the vision of a juicy sardine on the patio.

But the subsequent ‘treats’ were to prove even more inducing, as Postman Rudi soon began arriving with large brown ‘parcels’ deposited on the sacrificial altar of my back doorstep.

There were a few, em, ‘hairy’ moments, when my ‘gift’ had not quite expired, and Rudi spent many hours bending it like Beckham outside, using a (locked) cat-flap as the goal mouth, scoring a few ‘rat-tricks’ before his toy uttered its last demonic squeal.

Within a few weeks, however, Rudi’s supply of sports equipment dried up, thankfully, and he was reduced to retrieving discarded batter burgers from Mario’s and using them to practise his Magic Johnson moves.

Imagine, then, his delight at our move to the countryside. Apart from the near heart-stopping occasions when a combine harvester or baler would pass the bedroom window, Rudi discovered he was in his element with such a variety of birds, shrews, and field mice to choose from.

But if Rudi was expecting to mirror past success with the rat population, he was to be sorely disappointed. For the rodent kings of Irish agriculture are an altogether different breed from their pansy Temple Bar-fed and Dodder-watered jackeen cousins. Faster, bolder, and, believe me, way, way, bigger, they would have no truck with the feathery-footed city slickers, as poor little Rudi quickly discovered.

So when he finally managed a rare victory after one of his injury-prone, energy-zapping ten-round bouts with these country brats, he would keep the prize hidden for a special occasion, when it would be offered up in all its glory.

These occasions usually involved me proudly inviting my latest beau back to view the homestead over a little post-pub tipple. No sooner would we be settled on the sofa, with suitably mellow music providing the soundtrack to our little soiree, than the click-clack of the cat-flap would alert me to Rudi’s arrival home to check out my latest ‘catch.’

On no less than three occasions did my little darling make this entrance with his own ‘catch’ - a 13 inch ‘delicacy’ gripped tightly in his incisors, making a bee-line straight for my guest with his still-warm prey.

I guess Rudi’s little ruse quickly separated the boys from the men, as I backed into the hallway and watched the reaction. Two out of the three times my Romeos shovelled up Roland, and flung him mercilessly out the front door, as I swooned in admiration. Alas, these two fellows never darkened the same door again.

The third recipient wasn’t quite so lucky – or fast. His present was deposited very neatly on his lap due to the fact that Rudi’s grand entrance had frozen him to the spot.

I visited him last week. His counsellor says that after a another two or three months’ treatment he might be ready to go home.


Email:
siobhan.cronin@weeklycolumns.ie

-