There is a rat within 164 foot of you.
They used to say that it was within 6 foot, so count yourself lucky, unless you love rats. Using percentages and different habitats, scientists have recently concluded that there are only around 10.5 million rats in our country, which is one heck of a lot less than you and I thought. The last I heard it was one of them per one of us, so around 66 million. But they never tell you about these things when they improve.
24 hour rolling news wants you to be miserable. No, really, it does. If you are not tearing your hair out with worry after watching a bulletin, they haven’t done their job. So they leave you assuming that your space is overrun by vermin when it isn’t, because good news is an editorial problem. I suppose good news doesn’t sell advertising.
Most of the people I know, us included, have given up watching the news altogether at the moment. Too worrying. Too unchanging. Too embarrassing. Pathetically, I now fill some of the minutes released by switching the TV off in looking up a cheerful fact that I can take to bed with me, and last night was rats. The statistic, not the animal.
Tonight it is birds.
And the surprising news is that there are 29 species of bird on the increase in the UK, as opposed to 28 on the decrease. They didn’t tell you that one either, did they? (BTO survey 2017).
They didn’t tell you that shelduck, blackcaps, nuthatches, mute swans, stock doves, green woodpeckers, mallards, woodpigeons and goldfinches are all thriving. As are sparrowhawks, chiffchaffs, great tits, reed warblers, pied wagtails and robins. Or that buzzards and red kites are everywhere, and more beautiful little goldcrests are skulking around your gardens than there were one or ten years ago. They just kept talking about the turtle doves tree sparrows, greenfinches and snipe that are on the way down. And yes, my poor, beautiful, melodic curlew.
Pollution killed off the last salmon in the Thames in 1833, but, ever since 1974, they’ve been edging their way back, and there is now a small population, which will shortly be a big one. There are more beehives kept by more beekeepers than 10, 20 or 30 years ago, and there are white-tailed sea eagles in the Hebrides again. Atlantic bonito, jack, bream and hammerhead sharks are in our waters; yes, global warming brought them here, but my point is that it isn’t just one-way traffic.
It’s Monday tomorrow, but I don’t care. I think I’m 164 foot away from the nearest rat.