The Anonymous Widower

How Real Printers Catch Rats

My father was a real letterpress printer and his works was a rather decrepit building with a rodent problem.

Over the years he told me various stories about how they dealt with them

In the 1930s, he’d lived with his widowed mother above the shop, so to speak, and they’d employed  a traditional solution; a cat.

According to my father, who was not unknown to embellish a good tale, the cat was an enormous ginger specimen. And as was typical of those days, he was a proper Tom.

Whether he was any good in the ratting department never entered the story  But above the shop next door lived a posh lady with a pedigree  Siamese female.

One morning my father was confronted by the lady, saying that his mother’s cat had fathered a litter of kittens, that her Siamese had just produced. On inspecting them, there did seem to be a large number with a ginger hue.

The lady said that her cat never went out and he knew that his family cat was always shut in to deal with the rodent infestation.

So how did the two cats do it?

One hot night,my father was returning from the Jolly Anglers opposite. all the top windows were open and he saw the ginger cat balance along the parapet on the wall and hop in next door to see his lady friend.

His other method of catching rats, relied on those things that were always around in a print works.  He would take a quad box and prop it up at an angle over the rat hole with a pica reglet.  They’d then all wait in the dark for action. When the rodent disturbed the reglet, the box fell and trapped the poor animal underneath  It was then a matter of switching the lights on and moving the box gently to the middle of the room, keeping the rodent trapped  Everybody, then grabbed something suitable, like a small coal shovel before the box was removed

It was a quick end. And as my father told it, a fun tale

December 19, 2011 Posted by | World | | 1 Comment

A Good Sign In Morpeth

I have various Google Alerts setup and one found this story from Morpeth in Northumberland.

Let’s hope it works and improves footfall to the shops.

As I found on my trip around all 92 League clubs, in many places signs are non-existent or downright useless. Many seem to have been designed by those, who have no idea what a visitor wants to do.

December 19, 2011 Posted by | News | , , | 1 Comment

Islington’s Hidden Temple

Walk through the back-streets of Islington and tucked away in Gibson Square, you’ll find this curious building in the garden in the middle.

A Curious Building in Gibson Square

So what is it?

The clue is in the roof, as it doesn’t look like the wire mesh would keep the rain and weather out.

But then that isn’t necessary as it is the ventilation shaft for the Victoria line.

The shaft was built in 1970 and has recently been updated to improve the cooling of the line for passengers.

December 19, 2011 Posted by | Travel, World | , | 2 Comments

Good Riddance Kim Jong-il

Is there anything else to say after his death?

Except possibly the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

December 19, 2011 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Farewell Vaclav Havel

The death of Vaclav Havel was not unexpected given his health problems.  It is very sad and he will be missed by many. He would be on any sensible person’s list of the greatest of the twentieth century.

If I look at countries that have thrown off dictatorships successfully in the last few decades, they seem to have needed a figure to whom they could rally. The charismatic Havel was a supreme example as he took Czechoslovakia from under the heel of the Russians to a free and proud country.

He was no mean playwright either!

When we lived in that flat in St. John’s Wood, we had no television, but we did have a radio and often listened to it, after the children had gone to bed. Some nights we listened to the play on Radio 4.

One night, I can remembering listening to a play called The Memorandum by a Czech author.  It may have starred Donald Pleasance, but I can’t find any reference to the production.

It is a superb play and one of the best I’ve heard on radio.

The author, who was unknown to both C and myself, was Vaclav Havel.

How many politicians, even the good ones, will be missed for what they did outside politics?  Not many!

December 19, 2011 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment