Why has Crazy Joe1, my next-door neighbour from hell, taken to walking his dog in my driveway, creeping out Mrs Stevie and the Stevieling? I'd ask him, but every time I end up in the same space as him and the dog he retreats at a speed I'd never have believed possible for a 70-ish man with a hip problem.
The motive behind this bizarre behaviour has been a hot topic of conversation in Chateau; Stevie, and we think that maybe we've hit upon a possibility.
A while back, Crazy Joe confided in me that he had caught a rat in his yard and that the guy next door to him had found a rat's nest under his shed. I greeted this news with great joy, never having had the good fortune to have lived in a rat infested hell-hole before. I assured Crazy Joe that I hadn't seen any rats, and I checked the land for burrows or signs of furry freeloaders and didn't find any, but I have uncovered signs that our garage was used at some time by a rat to eat snails and evacuate it's bowels in. No sign of any actual rat though, but watch this space: I'm mining the garage this month. I've only managed to extract gangue crap like old tent poles, decking offcuts too short to use for anything, two old swimming pools and a truck jack that does not work so far, but I expect that I will strike gold any day now2.
We figured out that the guy at the other end of the street, who runs an antique car restoration business, had cleared some land and moved some old junkers that had been overgrown for about fifteen years and that the rats might've come from there. They migrated up the street, attracted by the nitwit halfway down the road who leaves open cans of cat food out for the cats in the area. Once assured of a regular food supply, they scouted out new digs under the aforementioned shed and it was rat heaven. This situation was addressed, or so I was assured by Crazy Joe, and we were now rat-free.
My current theory is that Crazy Joe disapproves of the jungle our old veggie garden3 has become and suspects a rat condo has been built therein. He may be using the dog as some sort of rat detector. Should that be the case, I would let him in the garden so he could either satisfy himself we are rat-free or find the buggers for me so I can begin the process of ridding the universe of them, were he to stick around long enough for me to make the offer.
We did see a young possum a few weeks ago, in one of our trees. This could be mistaken for a rat if you were in the position of never having seen one or out at night without your glasses on. What I assume was the same possum was spotted by me hiding under our kitchen4 sometime around the end of May, so maybe Crazy Joe is also labouring under a case of mistaken identity. Perhaps he is a Possophobe and is being driven out of what remains of his mind by the thought of a baby possum marauding about in the grounds of the Steviemanse and loitering sub kitchen with intent. Perhaps he has just found a new way of being an annoying git.
If only he would stand still long enough for me to ask him why he is in our driveway.