Virginia Barton

18 January 2019: Intruders, part 1


18 January 2019


There are some intruders in my kitchen.

No, not rodents, I am happy to say, although I have always had a soft spot for mice. They lived in every nook and cranny of my parents’ country house and though we rarely saw them, we heard them behind the wainscoting and scampering in the roof spaces. Once I found a nest of them in an old mattress; and we girls all kept white mice, ugly creatures with red eyes. This despite a disgruntled cat and neurotic dog.


In 1966 I set myself up to watch the final of the football World Cup, as thrilling a match as you could wish, specially if you supported England. About fifteen minutes from the end I noticed a little mouse had joined me and was sitting, watching I presumed, a few feet from my chair!

No he did NOT wear an England scarf or wave an England flag — or even a German one — and of course when I jumped up cheering at the end of the match he scuttled away at top speed.


My mother illustrated children’s books for years, as those of you who have explored Beloved Snail will know. She felt she was letting down the side of “ART” by picturing these little creatures, and asked CS Lewis, with whom she was corresponding at the time, for his opinion.

He replied wisely:

“Never despise rabbits in hats.”

This cheered her on no end, and she completed almost sixty books.

(To be continued…)





  • Dr J says on: January 18, 2019 at 12:18 am


    CS Lewis! Amazing. Now that’s a pen pal to have!

    Can you share more of his exchanges with your mother?

    • Ginny says on: January 18, 2019 at 2:47 pm


      To my shame Dr J, I don’t actually have my mother’s letters. When she died and an entire house had to be disposed of, we divided her things into what we thought were sensible groups. To the sister who wrote books we gave all the correspondence — masses of it; plus lots of books. To the artist sister went all her paintings and published books. My eldest sister got most of the china and watercolours, and I got the pick of the glass and silver — if I remember rightly. The Lewis correspondence should therefore be with the author sister. My betting is that it’s in a trunk in her attic.

      Inevitably the letters would have been about religion — she was a seeker in those days and Lewis was one of many from whom she sought solace.

      Next time I see my sis I promise to ask about the letters.

  • Rosanne says on: January 18, 2019 at 12:25 am


    Yes! Can’t wait to hear how the story continues.

    • Ginny says on: January 18, 2019 at 2:47 pm


      Are you fond of mice Rosanne? Or do you climb on a chair squawking? I don’t see you doing that somehow!

      The rat is a very different matter as far as I’m concerned. I dislike the way they travel at speed so close to the ground — quite apart from the length of the tail. Even the charming Ratty in Wind in the Willows can’t reconcile me to the rat.

      • Rosanne says on: January 18, 2019 at 6:30 pm


        Ah, Ginny. I am fond of mice, for the most part. In my memoir, Beeing, I have a story about a mouse who had a grand romp with our cat at Christmas and then politely went into hiding until a mouse-hating guest departed.

        And my daughter and I rescued a newborn mouse, so tiny you cannot imagine, who we called Lord Espilac, and who, in the course of a day, went with us to Target to find a soft baby shoe to live in and baby formula to eat (hence the name) and ultimately was given into the care of a native American woman who, with the utmost compassion, found it a surrogate mouse mother willing to take it in. I have always meant to write about Lord E’s real-life adventures.

        As for rats — There was a rat that, for a few seasons, liked to rest in a cement block outside the door. He was a Norwegian Rat. We called him Olaf. He never tried to come in. He just stayed in his little apartment. We didn’t mind. I fear he was eaten, however. Either that, or he moved to a better, bigger cement block than we could offer him.

        • Ginny says on: January 19, 2019 at 7:02 am


          A mouse living in a baby shoe with a surrogate mouse-mother is way beyond B Potter or me Rosanne!

          As for Olaf — well all I can say is you have a very generous heart if it extends to rats, even Norwegian ones.

          • Rosanne says on: January 19, 2019 at 2:57 pm


            As long as they stay outside…

  • Mary says on: January 18, 2019 at 10:52 am


    Hahahaha. I love the idea of the little mouse wearing his England strip and spinning his vuvuzela.

    Ginny what are the intruders in your kitchen? Ants? Moths? Crickets??

    • Ginny says on: January 18, 2019 at 3:39 pm


      I’ve forgotten what a vuvuzela is — something Brazilian at a guess, Mary?

      You and Nadine will have to be patient…

  • Nadine says on: January 18, 2019 at 1:53 pm


    So WHO are the intruders? Curiouser and curiouser.

    • Ginny says on: January 18, 2019 at 3:40 pm


      Nadine, I’m afraid you will have to wait until my Editor chooses to unveil them… next week!

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