Yes, it’s true, Helen has been slack about posting here this week. She’s been making us, for instance, for her daughter’s birthday present. It’s lucky that four-year-olds are so easily pleased (we are carefully posed so you see us in our best light). We’re Rapunzel and the Three Bears (according to the recipient). (How would that story work, I wonder?)
Helen’s also been making us. We’d like to be able to tell you that we were made with love, but there was a lot of cussing involved, especially over the making of Pink Fairy’s wings. We’re all based on or inspired by Margaret Bloom’s book Making Peg Dolls.
Now we’re all having a party in the Three Bears’ cave (this was made by Helen’s aunt, who is very clever and creative). We’ve got gin out the back. We can’t pass on any bookish news, but we thought we might tell you the story of the rat, or Rat Saga, as it became. This occurred on Wednesday. Don’t worry if you are sensitive! We can assure you that it’s a story with a happy ending for all concerned! See – we are all smiling!
During the night Helen was awoken by the thunder of tiny cat paws and a loud squeak. She realised immediately what had happened. That thug Puss had caught a rat and brought it indoors to scoff in the bathroom, only to discover that the rat was not dead; and the rat had made a break for freedom into the sitting-room with Mister Puss in hot pursuit. Not fancying rat guts all over her manky but still serviceable rug, Helen got out of bed to investigate. Before she could conduct a proper search, her daughter had bounced out of bed to find out what was going on. Preferring her child not to witness blood and violence just before she went back to sleep, Helen stopped, put her back to bed and returned to bed herself. She couldn’t hear any munching sounds so hoped for the best. A few hours later there was a big scuffle and a lot of squeaking. She got out of bed again, closed her daughter’s bedroom door and switched on the light.
Beside the sofa sat Mister Puss looking unusually angelic. No sign of a rat, so Helen guessed it was hiding beneath the sofa. Her sympathies at this point were with the rat. In any case the siege of the sofa could conceivably continue indefinitely and she didn’t think it practical or desirable to conduct daily life with a rat in her sofa. So she picked up Mister Puss and shut him into the kitchen, deaf to his cries of rage. Then she opened the front door a bit, as it’s handily next to the sofa, hoped the rat was as clever as rats are reputed to be and returned to bed. At six she rose to discover she’d forgotten to raise the door shutter. As she started winding it up, she saw the rat stroll past her and creep back under the sofa. She poked about under the sofa with an umbrella until she felt quite confident the rat had got the general idea and left. A little later she let the furious and swearing Mister Puss back into the sitting room. He went to the sofa but displayed no interest in it thereafter, so Helen decided that the job was done and the rat was gone.
But was it? [ominous music]
That evening, Helen was out teaching and her partner K and Mister Puss were ensconced on the sofa by the fire, watching the television. At one point K casually looked down and there, on the floor beside him, sat the rat, also watching the television. K moved and the rat retreated under the sofa. So K heaved the sofa over onto its side, and there was the rat and there also was a heap of cat food. At some point the rat had crossed the sitting-room, entered the kitchen and helped himself to the contents of Mister Puss’s dish – and unless rats carry lots of food in their cheeks like hamsters, he must have done this several times. Without anybody noticing.
The exposed rat didn’t seem terribly frightened and sauntered under a nearby table. K called to Mister Puss, who ignored him. He picked up Mister Puss and placed him in front of the rat. Mister Puss examined his toenails, looked at the ceiling, spotted something interesting on the other side of the room... K fetched him again but again Mister Puss immediately walked off. The rat was impassive. So K put on a pair of thick leather gardening gloves, picked up the rat and carried him outside. The rat was very cross about this and bit the gloves a lot and shrieked. K shoved him out into the garden and closed the door. He removed his gloves, set the sofa back on its feet and settled himself down to watch the television again. Then he heard a scritch, scritch, inside the sofa... He upended it again and there, peeping out of the hole in the bottom of it (it’s a second-hand sofa and a bit battered) was Mister Puss, who had crept in there to play and now didn’t want to come out again.
The end. Pass the gin!