POLITICAL correctness gone mad. It's a phrase that is bandied about with regularity these days but I felt the full force of it when the rat catcher turned up to sort out our little rodent problem.
We tried the council first and a man turned up, put poison down then buggered off - all in 15 minutes. But our rat, which I have named Ridsdale after Cardiff City's under-fire chairman who tried to take us to court over a story which was later proved almost entirely true, seemed to take it all in his stride.
Mrs R saw the little bugger run across the kitchen floor just a few hours after the council man had been, and on Saturday it seemed he was single-handedly trying to demolish our house.
Sitting in the dining room, we once again heard the tell-tale signs of scurrying upstairs, followed by what sounded like Ridsdale turning our floorboards into his own, personal bowling alley. The scurrying was followed by a rolling, thundering noise which had me running outside with my torch to see if all the bricks outside the house were still intact. Thankfully they were.
The good wife wasn't too happy, though, so next day I was on the phone to Rentokil pleading with them to come and sort our problem. They, after all, are the experts.
I must admit it cost a pretty penny - more than £200 - to enlist their services but we imagined them arriving like ghostbusters, with all the latest technology to end Ridsdale's hi-jinks once and for all.
"He's upstairs under the floorboards and we can hear him from the dining room," I told our operative Steve. "It might be worth taking the floorboards up."
"Can't do that," said Steve, "If something goes wrong you might sue us for damages."
Instead he put more bait down in the kitchen.
"He didn't touch the last lot - are you sure this will work?" I asked.
"Yeh, he won't be able to resist it."
"Can't you put down some more traps?"
"Well, we have to be careful. All these pests are protected these days by laws. We must kill them humanely. We could put some sticky traps down but they would have to be collected within six hours of the vermin being caught so that it doesn't suffer."
Doesn't suffer? It's a smelly, disgusting, germ-carrying rat that has been making our life a misery for three weeks and eaten its way through my pasta supply.
No matter. Pests have rights too, apparently. More so, it seems, than homeowners.
How about climbing up into the loft to have a look around?
"We're not allowed to do that - health and safety issues."
Gordon Bennett - Rentokil? More like Rent-a-pal for our little monster, I reckon.
Anyway, we will leave the poison down and see what happens. Either that will work or the house will fall down. That should get rid of Ridsdale.
Mrs R was lying on the bean bag when she felt a flutter in her belly. I thought it was probably a response to the baked potato with cheese, chicken and broccoli she had consumed so enthusiastically a bit earlier.
But no. I was invited to put my hand on the offending spot and, lo and behold, there was a couple of little movements. I reckon the baby is already practicing to become the striker Bristol Rovers desperately need after another lousy performance at home to Wycombe on Saturday and a very disappointing day of non-activity as the transfer window closed. The youngster can't arrive soon enough, I tell you, though given my height I will be very suspicious if it turns out to be a six-foot replica of the sadly missed Ricky Lambert.
Still waiting for the insurance company to cough up on poor old Basil and as I write someone is supposed to be coming around to assess the damage. Same goes for the break-in at my London house. All the estimates have been sent off but I am still waiting for the go-ahead to get the broken window fixed. Lummy days.
On Sunday I used my birthday present from the Fat Kid to produce a rather tasty Sunday lunch. The book is called The Food of Italy and has a number of interesting recipes to try out.
I opted for the Roast Lamb and it was terrific.
What you need:
2 sprigs of Rosemary
3 garlic cloves
2 1/2 ounces of pancetta
A leg of lamb (well, we opted for half a leg of Welsh lamb from Tescos)
1 large onion, sliced into four thick pieces
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 1/2 cups of dry white wine
What I did:
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees (gas mark 8)
Strip the leaves from the rosemary, chop the garlic and pancetta then put in a food mixer and mix to a thick paste.
Make incisions in the lamb with a sharp knife, then smear the paste over and poor over the olive oil.
Put the onion slices in a roasting tin then rest the lamb on top of it and put it in the oven for 15 mins.
Then reduce the temp to 180 (Gas mark 4) and pour in a cup of the wine. Roast for about an hour for medium rare, or a bit longer if you prefer. Baste a couple of times with the wine while cooking and, if necessary, add some water if it looks like it might dry out.
Transfer the lamb to a carving platter when done and rest for 10 mins before slicing.
Put the tin on top of the hob, add the rest of the wine, and cook for 3 to 4 mins.
At this point I varied from the recipe, added a good sprinkling of flour to thicken the wine gravy to a paste, then added half a pint of chicken stock gradually until I had a really nice thick sauce.
Add salt and pepper then carve the lamb and serve on a plate, running the gravy over the top. Mmmm!