Have you ever had unwanted critters in your house? I certainly know I have.

My darling mother always seemed to cop the brunt of critterdom.

Have you ever had unwanted critters in your house? I certainly know I have.
My darling mother always seemed to cop the brunt of critterdom. On retiring for the night, she went into the kitchen to make sure everything was tickety boo for the morning, so see that our Siamese cat had taken up residence on the shelf under the kitchen work table.

Flipping the back of her hand at the offending tail, she was somewhat surprised to see Mrs. Possum instead of Puss. How Mrs. Poss got in is still a huge mystery, but mum did what any self respecting mother would do, let out a minor shriek and went and dragged my youngest brother out of bed to act as usher to our new-found marsupial.

Now don’t go “ugh” on me, our Australian brush-tailed possums are absolutely adorable, and if one takes up residence in a tree in your garden, you can slowly but surely have it eating out of your hand. Not like the North American opossum, which fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

The North American opossum wouldn’t eat out of your hand – it would just eat the hand.

Then mum would get all just a tad sentimental about huntsman spiders. I have a spine melting breath holding fear of spiders, and the huntsman, although not venomous, would give you a nasty suck, let me tell you. I suppose on average, if you measured tiptoe to tiptoe, an adult huntsman would measure about 4 inches across, all eight of those loathsome tiptoes. Oh, it is to shudder.

Well, dear mum got a bit gooey and decided to let one stay in the house – well after I had left home, I might add – firm in the belief that they eat mosquitoes, so wasn’t that just a wonderful thing.

What mum didn’t realize was that this particular huntsman was in fact a huntswoman who proceeded to give birth to approximately 2,000 babies all over the sun room ceiling. Mum’s Snowy White friendly attitude gave way just a tad at that point and the exterminator was summoned.

I guess my most fabulous encounter with an unwanted critter happened on my (first) honeymoon. Given that my new husband and I had lived together for eight years, it wasn’t so much a honeymoon as a nice holiday, and as we had wedding guests who had traveled some 12,000 miles for the event, we felt that they may as well join us.

Deciding to stop halfway on our 450-mile trip, we decided to catch a twilight swim before dinner – not a hugely intelligent idea to have a twilight swim in the Pacific, as sharks tend to love a twilight chomp on a stray leg at that time. But, not thinking, as we weren’t, in we went.

One of our Pommy friends let out a shriek after about 10 minutes, the shriek closely resembling “Oh #$@#@ shaaarrrrkkkkk!”

Looking to my right, there indeed was a dorsal fin, and I cannot begin to tell you how fast I climbed up my new husband. Sodney I think walked – nay ran – on water to get out. I think at one point I trod on the damned thing.

I discovered later it was a Wobbegong, which as sharks go is quite a gentle one, but I wasn’t hanging around to check out its dental records.

Back to the hotel for a quick change, and after a wonderful meal and a goodly drop or seven of wine, we made our way back to our rooms, all gathering in ours for a nightcap.

To cut a very long story short, someone found an Aussie bush mouse in the bathroom and there ensued a Keystone Kops scene with new hubby and his brother trying to trap the mouse.

Imagine if you will a hotel/motel built in about 1958 with no updates since then – the orange shag carpeting, the orange and brown bedspread – all the better to disguise mouse droppings – and the handy-dandy all in one bureau, wardrobe, desk and television, nattily perched atop the wardrobe. Well, our little mouse decided behind the wardrobe was the safest place to be, but the brothers would not be deterred. Moving said piece of furniture, the TV wobbled precariously, and with a barked order, Sodney was ordered to “watch the television.”

Now paralytic with laughter, Sodney ambled over, reached up a long arm and switched on the set. Well, that did me in.

Sir, my lovely and delightful husband of more current years is so paranoid about unwanted critters in the house he is a slave to closing the screen door even if he steps outside for a nanosecond. Well, step outside he did the other day to save the 6-foot barbecue cover from flying away. There he was, not a small man by any stretch of the imagination, with a flapping gray cover and the screen door firmly shut.

So firmly shut that it locked itself.

I received a rather cold and shivery phone call at 3 p.m. at the office, some 20 miles from the house. Sir had locked himself out, it was cold, and could I please come to save him.

Thankfully not a minute later, he called back to say he had rescued himself, and I could carry on. Well, gee, thanks.

On discussing the trauma later, I did wonder at the gutsiness of our local squirrels, chipmunks, ducks and birds. Were they in any way going to make a charge for our kitchen, being brave enough to face a man with a flapping cover? I think not.

“What were you expecting, dear – a herd of elk to take up position in the living room to watch the basketball?”