Unsolved Mice-teries

As I sit here in my house in February 2021, wallowing in the ennui of this winter lockdown and anticipating another rainy day of half-term with nowhere to go and nothing to do, I’m grateful I’ve at least got these little mouse hole projects to give me some small sense of purpose and a creative outlet.

And with the feedback I’ve recently received, I think I’m going to be busy for months to come, as people seem to enjoy the mouse hole more than I could even have guessed.

The Bernie-in-the-Boot-Scraper went a little bit viral (it helps to have a famous writer for a neighbour), and now I’ve been outed as the creator of the Wakehurst mouse hole. Guess I can’t call myself the Banksy of Boot Scrapers anymore!

A photo of it also appeared in an article in The Guardian.

I’ve been getting loads of messages from strangers who reach out to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the mouse hole over the past nine months, and how much joy it has given them, and telling me to keep it up. It’s been so heart-warming, so affirming, so uplifting–all the things I wanted this to be for others when I started it. It’s all come flooding back to me in the response.

A few of the messages:

I was contacted by BBC television, who wanted to come interview me, but then they ended up canceling. But just today I was contacted by someone at BBC Radio, for the Robert Elms show, and I’m booked in for a phone interview on 4 March at 12:10. Honestly, and I cannot get over this, the last thing I would ever have thought I’d be getting interview requests for would be my sewing.

And a couple weeks ago, a lovely photojournalist from The Guardian, Jill Mead, came and took my picture with the repurposed boot scraper, in between my kids’ Zoom school lessons. First and last time I’ve bothered to put on makeup this year!

Photo credit: Jill Mead

We did run into one of the homeowners during our photo shoot, and chat with her a bit. Now she knows how to get ahold of me, so I guess she can tell me to stop if she gets tired of all the gawkers outside her front door!

We just did a Valentine’s Day theme, with two little love mice, which my 7-year-old named Whiskers and Squeakers.

Photo credit: Jill Mead

We made them some tiny valentines to give each other, and bought a little postbox for all the neighbourhood mice to use to post their valentines.

Soon someone brought a couple of sweet little pink doilies for them to sit on. But then–disaster struck. Whiskers disappeared.

We had ourselves a proper mice-tery. Did he get taken by a tiny toddler hand? Or kidnapped by a kitten (they do look an awful lot like cat toys, to be fair)? Was he whisked away by the wintry winds we had that week? Or did ol’ Whiskers tell his darling he was just popping to the shop for a pack of cheese, and never come back? Right before Valentine’s Day, the cheek of him!

So I did what anyone might do in this situation: obviously, I had to make a tiny mice-ing person poster.

He has yet to resurface, so I think we can assume Whiskers is gone for good (perhaps he’s more of a country mouse?), which is fine. I’ve got the next few mouse hole scenes in the works already, so it will soon be time for Squeakers to move on as well. Our mouse hole is more of an AirB’n’B-type hole; short-term accommodations for critters who come and go. But the joy it’s bringing to people in this area, that, I’m happy to report, seems to be much longer lasting.

(P.S. Can we talk about how the dogs posing with the mouse hole have names like Marmite and Crumpet? LOVE.)

Bernie in the Mouse Hole

The instantly iconic Bernie-Sanders-at-the-inauguration memes this week have been giving everyone something to laugh about during a difficult time, so I decided to get in on the fun.

Not much else to do on a cold January Saturday in lockdown, anyway. I made everything out of materials I already had in the house, which I think Bernie would appreciate. The chair is recycled cardboard and clothespins/pegs, and his hair is some clippings from one of my daughter’s stuffed animals (shh! don’t tell her!)

Hope this gives lots of people a good laugh when they walk past a certain Victorian boot scraper on Clapham Common!

In fact, I already received a message via Instagram, from someone I don’t know:

I think she might be right, I HAVE outdone myself, and I’ve probably peaked now. I don’t think I can top this one!

And ICYMI/have been living under a rock, here are a few examples of what this is about:

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

And we are officially in lockdown lockdown. The real deal. “Tier 5” in what was a 3-tier system just a few weeks ago. It now feels like we’re back where we were last April (but with worse weather). We’ll be doing at least half a term of homeschooling/virtual learning, as Bo-Jo announced that children won’t go back to school until after the February half-term break, meaning March. At the earliest. Now is the winter of our discontent.

Stress-eating through the announcement that made me a homeschool teacher again
Continue reading

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Lockdown, Everywhere We Don’t Go

Last night, PM Boris Johnson held an emergency press conference to announce that London and much of Southeast England would be moving into Tier 4, effective at midnight. This came as a surprise to most of us, because as far as we knew, it was a 3-tier system. Tier 4 was a totally new level they’d just added. The new strain of the virus they’ve discovered here in the UK seems to be even more highly transmissible than the original coronavirus.

For some, this meant canceling their Christmas plans to get together with family or friends. For others, such as my friend Amelia, this meant a mad dash to pack up the car and get to Granny’s house in the countryside before midnight, when their family Christmas plans would turn back into pumpkins. So now instead of isolating for a few more days between the end of school term and mixing with extended family in other households for Christmas, many families will just go for it and hope for the best.

Continue reading