As a young teenager, I remember hearing what sounded like gun shots coming from my friends who lived next door. Being the none-nosey type, I naturally rushed round immediately to find out what was going on.
As it turned out, they were indeed shots, but from an air rifle as opposed to a .44 Magnum.
As my aforementioned chum was about to go out, he asked if I wanted to take his rifle for the afternoon to take pot shots at stuff. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and hurried home with my new toy. I then had possibly the stupidest idea I’d had up until that point in my life. Well, maybe not the stupidest but it was right up there.
“Why don’t I go up to my bedroom window and shoot at something from there?”
And so, with a smile on my face, I sprinted upstairs and opened my window which looked out over my parent’s lovely, extensive garden.
Now, I am not proud of what I did next and it has haunted me ever since. No, seriously. I have even behaved kindly to wood pigeons since shooting one that day.
Whoops, now I’ve gone and told you.
Oh well, there you have it – I shot a wood pigeon out of the huge silver birch tree halfway down the garden and, it is a teensy bit possible that I didn’t exactly kill it first time around. That’s right; I had to go out into the garden to, how shall one say ….. put it out of its’ misery.
Misery bestowed upon it by me, to be more accurate.
Now apart from the usual boys thing of pulling the limbs off daddy long legs, I have always been very kind to all animals and as I stood there, looking at the now very dead wood pigeon lying on the grass, the enormity of what I had done came crashing in. I know a dead pigeon may not mean very much to some people but, at the risk of sounding holier than thou, it suddenly meant a great deal to me.
“What’d you do that for?” I asked.
Of course, I didn’t have an answer. Why did I do that? Wouldn’t a tin can have served the same purpose with the added bonus of being guilt free?
Would I, in my minds eye, played over the scene of me shooting a tin can every time I passed a drinks machine?
Every time a waiter asked, “can I get you something to drink?”, would I see an empty can looking up at me, injured, as I walked down the garden towards it?
Again, I doubt it.
Anyway, the (only) good to come out of that act was that ever since, I have never harmed another animal.
(Well, I have to admit that probably the only reason why I didn’t kill a fox with my bare hands last year was that it was too quick for me to catch, but that’s another story).
And so, since that day, I have never knowingly hurt another animal.
Until last night that is.
On Saturday evening, I walked into the living room for something or other and as I entered the room, a small, dark “thing” whizzed across my line of sight; it genuinely made me jump!
I stamped about and made lots of noise and, sure enough, a mouse ran back across the floorboards and behind a chair.
Did my memories of shooting Mr W. Pigeon stop me from taking action?
No they bloody well did not!
I took out three mousetraps and loaded them with a piece of grape, a piece of cheese and (on the recommendations of a work colleague) a small piece of milk chocolate; apparently mice love it!
The next morning I checked the traps; nothing.
The next morning I checked them again; still nothing.
On the third morning I casually glanced over while getting changed into my bike gear and eurgh …. success (if you can call it that!).
And yep, you’ve guessed it, my first thought was, “poor little fella. Sorry about that mouse, but this house ain't big enough for the both of us”.
So now you know; mice don’t like chocolate – they like cheese, just like in the Tom and Jerry cartoon’s. I’m thinking of getting some silhouette stickers in the shape of pigeons and mice to stick on the front wing of my car, just like they used to do in the war.
My kill count!
But I might not!