A BATTLE of wills has developed in our house over the past few weeks and I think my wife may be losing it – in more ways than one.

She’s at war with a squirrel and the conflict is threatening to spiral out of control.

Every day, the squirrel skips down the garden and performs an impressive acrobatic routine to reach the collection of bird-feeders my wife has lovingly arranged through the patio windows of the dining room where she works during the day.

My wife doesn’t like this pesky intrusion – not one little bit. She wants to look out from where she sits and see the various members of the tit family, goldfinches, robins, blackbirds and perhaps even a woodpecker on her nuts and fat-balls. But dastardly Mr Squirrel is intent on stealing their food and scaring them off.

And so, when she sees him coming, she flies into a rage that starts at the dining room table and takes her out into the garden. The noise she makes reminds me of how she sounded during child-birth – a kind of guttural, animalistic eruption that comes from deep within and builds into an ear-piercing screech.

I remember during the climax of one particularly long labour, when she was at a heightened state of sensory intolerance, and she shouted at me for wearing after-shave.

“Don’t ever come near me again!” she yelled, in much the same tone as she addresses Mr Squirrel as she rushes at him with her arms waving like a windmill in a storm.

No matter how scary it might be to see a deafening human-being running at you – often in a dressing gown and pyjamas – it never puts Mr Squirrel off. He just keeps coming back, overcoming every obstacle and security measure, even if it means raiding the “squirrel-proof” bird-feeders while hanging upside down. If he could stick two fingers up at her, I’m sure he would.

Anyway, when she went off to Ireland for a girlie weekend last Friday, I thought it would be an opportunity for a welcome ceasefire in operations. However, in her absence, I couldn’t help noticing a book on the table beside her laptop. If I tell you it’s called “Outwitting Squirrels – 101 Cunning Strategems To Reduce Dramatically The Egregious Misappropriation of Seed From Your Bird-Feeder By Squirrels”, you can see why I think her fight is becoming an obsession.

It is the most bizarre book. Flicking through the pages, I came across a chapter about positioning five or six Perrier bottles – glued together and weighted down with tap water – in strategic locations used by squirrels to launch themselves towards the bird-feeders. Apparently, the bottles prevent squirrels from being able to take off. But why specify Perrier? Would any bottles not do?

Then, to my horror, on Page 130, record albums are described as “a successful tool in the arsenal against squirrels”. The book advocates creating a squirrel barrier by poking a wire through the holes of several albums and hanging them between trees on either side of the feeders.

“Squirrels will have a difficult time getting over and around the albums,” says the author. “Needless to add, you shouldn’t plan to play those albums again.”

Alarmingly, this particular page has been folded over at one corner, which suggests it is something my wife plans to come back to.

For the record, if I come downstairs and see my Phil Collins collection strung across the garden, there may be a serious escalation in hostilities.


DON’T get me wrong, I love my mum – but sometimes she’s as daft as a brush.

She was sitting with my brother, John, telling him she was looking forward to watching one of her favourite programmes, The Chase, on the telly. Here’s how the conversation went…

Mum: “The Chase’ll be good tonight – that bear’s on.”
John: “Paddington?”
Mum: “No.”
John: “Nookie?”
Mum: “Nope.”
John: “Fozzie Bear?”
Mum: “Noooo!”
Long pause…
Mum: “Basil Brush!”
John: “Basil Brush isn’t a bleedin’ bear. He’s a fox!”

A few hours later, I was sitting with Mum after delivering her Sunday lunch meals on wheels. We were watching The Chase and Basil Brush was at his wise-cracking best…

Mum: “So, how do they get the voice into the bear?”

See what I mean?