One of the worst, worst creepy-crawly stories I remember has forever cemented in my mind the absolute essential nature of pest control. Frankston, 1998. Great aunt Muriel in all her incredible ability to keep living, was I think, pushing 101 years old when she called my Dad (her landlord, the house owner) to complain that she could hear something in her walls. Dad took us all over there, suspecting Muriel was not so worried about what was in the roof but more so eager for someone to talk to. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
She looked at us kids as though we were something to be dealt with by pest infestation control. Dad clocked the look on her face, and realising she definitely could hear something in the walls, charged through to her living room where he ordered us all into complete silence and cupping a hand to his ear, holding himself up to the wall. He drew back from the wall in abject horror.
‘How long has this been going on?’ Dad demanded to know.
Great Aunt Muriel had no answers, but the guys who eventually came to assess the house said that while they were extremely concerned that the rats and possums living in Muriel’s walls had extended their route over the years and chewed their way into kitchen cupboards, he was amazed that there had been no termite damage to such an old place.
Over the space of a few weeks, Dad managed to have Muriel’s tenants dislodged and following this, arranged with her to tell him at any time she heard them return.
Aunt Muriel lived to the tender age of 104, and we never once again heard about her unwelcome visitors. Even though I was only a kid at the time, I never forgot the look on Dad’s face when he realised his house- now sold and redeveloped as a unit block- was habitable by beast.