Maeve Higgins on... shared flats and calling in the exterminator
Life & Style

Maeve Higgins on... shared flats and calling in the exterminator

I’M LIVING in a shared house. I share it with two housemates and one mouse. At least I think it’s just one mouse. How likely is that?

A mouse striking out alone, away from the watchful gaze of his controlling mouse parents, all grown up and living independently — in a hip part of town, no less.

Much more likely than a lone mouse is a handful of mice, a clutch of mice, a gang of mice… but it seems like it’s just one because, I’m going to say this, to hell with political correctness — they all look the same.

They don’t go to the trouble of getting their ears pierced so we can tell them apart, so why should I tiptoe around their feelings?


My housemate, let’s call her Charise, is terrified of mice. Charise screams shrilly when she sees one, even if it’s unarmed and not making eye contact.

So, in a stunning display of action-taking, I emailed our letting agent about this tiny new tenant who spent his days loafing about the place and didn’t even pay rent.

Our letting agent, who’s name I could never catch but sounds like ‘Tugboat’ responded with a phone number.

I don’t fully trust Tugboat, because she often says things will happen one way, but they happen another way.

Like when we asked for new curtains and she agreed to send them, but then old, tiny curtains arrived, smelling of smoke and making the windows look like they’d rolled their trousers up to go paddling.

When I explained about the mouse, Tugboat showed due concern and gave me a number to call. “This,” she said, “is The Exterminator.”

As I sat eating my lamb chops, I thought about all the humane ways there are to get rid of rodents.


I thought and thought as I sucked the bones, then decided to call The Exterminator. He told me he was in the area and could come around in 10 minutes.

I thought two things — that maybe he was just Tugboat’s uncle and not a real pest control man, and he’d come over and lay some tic tacs out to make us feel better, and secondly — that it was all happening very quickly, there would be no time for goodbyes.

Soon after, The Exterminator arrived with a convincing looking rucksack of poison that he distributed behind the fridge and under the floorboards.

We made small talk, he said he was Turkish and I told him I was Irish — he said he heard Obama had visited this year.

“He is a brave man. Maybe one of your crazy peoples would kill him, no? But he go visit anyway.”

I froze, mid-nod, and felt a mightily great responsibility to defend my nation’s reputation. So I said: “Oh I don’t know, I don’t think any of my crazy peoples would even want to do that.”

The Exterminator shrugged and kept doling out the poison. I couldn’t help wondering what had just happened.