I saw a rat today. It tumbled down the steps, claws skittering on the tiled surfaces. Plump and sleek and shiny fur tailed, it scuttled through the underpass, shrieking women in its wake. So unlike the London monster in our back garden, creeping stealthily through the shrubbery, long black rubbery tail trailing behind it. What possessed me to tell my parents, I didn’t even know what it was. They sent me in the house and my dad went outside with half a brick. Already dying of poison, I heard my aunt gossiping later.

The next I knew was Liverpool, where rats are ten-a-penny, leaping from spoil, running through derelict sites, scurrying along streets, burrowing in my garden — another time there was only a house brick between me and them. These were skinny rats, ravaged, scrawny, scrambling out of the sewers for food.

How come the rats on the Midlands plateau are so well-fed?

(from December 2014)

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