Magazine article The Spectator

Rat Attack

Magazine article The Spectator

Rat Attack

Article excerpt

I can't help it. When I look through my front window and see two super-coollooking young black guys dressed from head to foot in Nike screaming obscenities, it quickens my pulse. I'm sorry, it just does.

No doubt I will be taken to the Equality and Human Rights Commission just for admitting that I find such a sight interesting and exciting. Maybe I need to get out more.

In any case, on this occasion, I came out of my house to see what the commotion was.

It turned out the pair were jumping up and down and screaming: 'Rat! There's a rat! It's massive! Aaagh!' And one of the men all but leapt into the other's arms. I told them to pull themselves together. 'It's just a rat. There are loads of them in London.'

'You don't understand, ' said one of them, pulling the tracksuit jacket off his friend's back as he clung to him. 'It's massive . . . oh god . . . there it is again! Aaaagh!'

I told them not to panic, I would see to it. 'Now calm down and tell me where it is.'

'There! It just went under that car!' 'OK, it will come out in a minute. It will just be a common or garden r. . . aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!'

This rat was the size of a dog. And not even that small a dog. A Sloane would consider it too big to put on a lead and walk around Knightsbridge, and there was certainly no way it would fit in an Hermes Birkin bag.

It took me minutes to get my head round the fact that it really was a rat. I had to go through about 12 other species possibilities before I came to the conclusion that this monstrous creature was indeed some sort of mutant, sewer-dwelling, science-fiction sized rodent.

'I think it might be a weasel, ' I said in a daze, 'or some kind of otter. . . ' But of course it couldn't be an otter. Even with my limited knowledge of semi-aquatic mammals, I know that an otter could not cruise along the gutters of Balham even if it wanted to. No, this was a rat. A rat so hideous and scary that two six-foot men in hooded leisurewear who had set out to look rough, wicked and clever that evening were now begging me to call the police in case it came after them. The worst part about it was that it was sauntering down the street, mooching casually about as if it owned the place. It was probably too fat to move much faster. It looked like it had just swallowed a couple of cats. …

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