Jake O'Kane: The mice behind my bed invited its mouse mates round for a rave
I went to bed half-expecting to hear the snap of mouse traps, but there were none. Instead, our mice had feasted on the peanut butter and chocolate without triggering the traps...
MY 13-year-old son is so laid back that even when he's vertical he's almost horizontal.
Luckily, he hasn't inherited his father's phobias, so it was completely in character when he wandered into the living room a few weeks ago and nonchalantly announced, "I'm not sure, but I think a mouse just ran past me as I was lying on the rug next door."
In comparison to his relaxed attitude, I had to concentrate very hard to not scream and jump onto the kitchen island.
I know my hatred of mice is irrational - I realise they're smaller than me by a magnitude - but none of that matters; I hate them.
It's the hygiene factor that gets me. The horrible wee beasts spend their lives urinating and defecating as they walk.
I know it's not much, but I'm so hygienic I occasionally wash my hands after already washing my hands.
I went to bed that night desperately trying to convince myself what my son had seen was a visual aberration, brought about by his obsessive playing of computer games.
Then it happened - I heard them. I was nearly asleep when I shot bolt upright in bed as if a ghostly hand had administered an enema.
In the process I woke my wife who, as always, thought I was in the throes of a heart attack and fumbled in the dark for her phone to call an ambulance.
"What's wrong, what's wrong?" she asked. "Be quiet... can you hear that? Can't you hear it?" I half-whispered, half-shouted.
As silence fell between us, the sound came again - that half-scratching, half-scuttling which is the definitive calling card of mice. Worse, it was coming from the loft right above our bed.
Not that our new visitors stayed there long. Obviously adventurous by nature, they quickly made their way down the cavity wall to a point just behind our headboard, where they partied all night.
Considering their diminutive size, it's amazing the amount of sound they produce.
Admittedly, this may be due to the fact that, in the dead of night, any sound is magnified, yet it sounded like they were having a céilí.
In the process I woke my wife who, as always, thought I was in the throes of a heart attack and fumbled in the dark for her phone to call an ambulance
So bad was the noise that my wife retreated to sleep on the sofa downstairs. I, meanwhile, dug out a pair of earplugs and embedded them so far into my ears it took five minutes to excavate them the next morning.
This wasn't my first mouse rodeo. I'd managed to defeat an invasion unaided previously, so naively presumed I could do so again.
The next day, I timorously snuck into the loft, placing mouse traps baited with my secret formula - a mix of crunchy peanut butter and chocolate.
I also purchased an electronic mouse deterrent device which, once plugged into a socket, works to deter all infestations via electronic pulses sent through the wiring of the house.
I went to bed half-expecting to hear the snap of mouse traps, but there were none. I subsequently discovered our mice had feasted on the peanut butter and chocolate without triggering the traps.
And as for my expensive electronic deterrent - well, the only affect it seemed to have was to change the céilí into a rave, one where invitations to attend had been sent far and wide.
I lay in bed, aware that inches from my head mice were urinating, defecating but - worst of all - probably now fornicating. I was in hell.
It was time to call in the professionals, and there was only one man for the job - Dave.
I'd had professional dealings with Dave before and he'd impressed me as a man who loved his work. There was nothing Dave didn't know about varmints of all varieties, information he'd readily share, uninvited.
Attempting to arrest my rising panic, he assured me mice would never enter a room we or our dog were in.
That same night, one ran from behind the television, past our sleeping dog, before disappearing behind a sofa. I informed Dave our mice obviously hadn't read his book on rodent behaviour.
It could be worse - Australia is enduring a plague of mice, millions of them making it look like the ground itself is moving.
Thankfully we've gone a week with no activity, yet my anxiety remains.
I sometimes wake out of a deep sleep convinced I hear scratching, or jump, mistaking a shadow for one of them.
I haven't told my wife, but if they return, we're moving house.