MOST men will understand when I say that what starts out to be a small job can soon end up as a day’s work, or worse.
Ms Nomates rang me and said ‘I want you to come over and fit my new legs for me’. Please, no bad Heather Mills jokes.
I knew what she meant. Her new, second hand dishwasher is free standing. Yes I know that dishwashers never charge for standing so don’t try and be funny. Freestanding dishwashing machines have legs and they have to be screwed in. You would not believe how many types of legs there are for dishwashers.
You have to fit the correct ones for the machine. Ms Nomates’ machine is a slimline so it stands to reason its legs are slimline too.
They have to look right.
I make it sound as though I am an aficionado of a dishwasher’s legs and that I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at them. I am not, although I do like to watch Ms Nomates’s legs when she is doing the washing up.
Alas she won’t be doing that any more now that her machine is plumbed in.
She was out so I thought I would surprise her and fit them before she got back from the shops.
Hammy the hamster was in his cage on top of the dishwasher. All I had to do was move the cage on to the floor. Simples! How was I to know the bottom of the cage wasn’t secure?
I gripped the top of the wire cage firmly and swung it away from the dishwasher. The bottom plastic part containing his bed, sawdust and food broke free.
Poor little Hammy must have thought he was on a day out at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
He plummeted to the ground faster than if he had been on the ‘Big One’ and I suppose to him it must have felt like it.
The explosion as the cage hit the floor caused his sawdust food and droppings to form a shape in the air akin to a nuclear cloud. All right, so I exaggerate, but you have to try and imagine you are a hamster and how you would feel when seeing your whole world blow up in front of your very eyes. One minute he was happily sending the ZZZZ’s home in his little bed and the next he was in World War Three.
He was disorientated and couldn’t work his legs properly but still tried to flee.
I caught him, held him in one hand and tried to comfort him.
What is the prescribed way to comfort a hamster by the way? I had no idea I have never in my whole life done it before and let us be quite honest, how many people have?
Normally it is impossible to tell if a hamster needs a cuddle. Hamster owners everywhere will insist, ‘I cuddle mine’. You probably do but that is because you want to, not because your hamster ever asks.
They don’t say much do they? And so far as I can tell they don’t wag their tails or purr to let their feelings be known.
I reassembled the cage in to some sort of safe order with my free hand then rested him in the bottom part wondering what to do with the mess all over the floor.
Of course I did what every frugal person would do, I scraped it up and forced it through the bars at the top of the cage.
Hammy was curious.
He managed to crawl upstairs to see what was going on. He had never experienced a giant covering him with sawdust before.
His bedding had never been delivered that way, he had never been fed that way and he was dumfounded to discover his droppings falling from heaven.
He began acting as if he were in a disaster movie, clutching his side, rolling over in his new disguise and I do believe at one point he tried to speak. I could I suppose make a joke about a ‘ham actor’ but it wouldn’t be funny.
Then he began to pick out his dinner and eat furiously as if it were to be his last meal ever.
Ms Nomates arrived, only to do what she does best when I screw up. Yell!
This did nothing to alleviate Hammy’s condition.
When she shouts, the whole street hears and I could see he was visibly shaking. He must have thought she blamed him.
I tried to explain but that he had not kicked out the contents of his cage but as Judge Judy is fond of saying ‘she did not have her listening ears on’.
He must have thought he was to have his last meal before his execution. He began to eat even more furiously and appeared to double in size. He dived under some cotton wool. I now know what hamsters do when war breaks out. They stuff themselves stupid and find a hole to hide in.
Calm descended and Ms Nomates and I agreed that it would be a bad thing to frighten him any more by disassembling the cage to clean up the mess on the top shelf of his home so instead we frightened him by sticking the nozzle of the Dyson in to the top of the cage.
He was curious and snook out of his hiding place to see what was making the rattling noise at the spot where his chimney would be if it were a real house.
Ms Nomates did not see his little nose pressed up against the nozzle as she switched on.
Woosh! He was gone! That’s not strictly true he wasn’t gone, we knew where he was. He was breaking the world record for ‘the fastest Hamster entering a bag free Dyson cleaner’.
Much to our surprise, he seemed to enjoy it as he flew round inside the cylinder. He didn’t have to peddle to make the wheel go round. This to him was awesome. He was waving ‘come and join me’. I could hear him thinking, ‘if only they had candy floss at this funfair it would be perfect’.
His little tummy realised it was hurling round in space and made its contribution to the spectacle by throwing up all that he had forced down his throat.
This made Hammy even lighter and increased his velocity. His food pellets where whistling past his head, luckily making no contact. He was pulling some faces I can tell you.
Now the thing about Dysons is that they do have a really good suck. They suck up all sorts. The thing about Ms Nomates is that she is always losing things only to find them again in the most unlikely of places.
One of those places just happens to be inside the Dyson. Normally this presents no problem but on this occasion Hammy was the one to find her sewing thimble. As he sped towards the corner, the thimble, held in amongst carpet fibres, slid neatly on to his head. He looked like a member of the Wehrmacht.
Of course, we turned off the machine straight away. He was alive and breathing.
Doctor Nomates here did what anybody would do in a panic. I pulled off his newly acquired German helmet only to realise he only had one ear. He actually still owned two but one was inside the helmet.
It was patently clear that an operation was the order of the day if Hammy’s ear was to be saved. We had the thimble. We had needle and cotton. Now all we needed was an anaesthetic.
Now in my defence, times are hard and vet’s bills can be excruciating. You have to be able to think outside the box or in our case, the cage.
I went to the off licence and bought a bottle of the best anaesthetic money can buy ‘on offer’ for £15 a litre.
Maybe he didn’t smell the vodka I don’t know or maybe he had a taste for it. It could have been the encouragement I gave him. ‘Now take a big swig like this. And another one. And another. Don’t be shy. One more for luck, Two for a girl. Three for a boy. And one last gulp’. Either way he was absolutely sozzled.
A drunken hamster is a lot easier to keep still and sewing the ear back on shouldn’t take a lot of stiches. That’s the theory. A drunken surgeon however is not the best person to do it.
I got carried away. Talk about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear! Somehow his tail got caught up in the operation and I disabled one of his legs. Luckily he didn’t feel any pain when the needle accidentally went in to one of his eyes.
When he came round Hammy took one look in the mirror and screamed. Where the strength to prize open the bars of his cage came from I have no idea unless it was the booze. He was off. We have searched everywhere to no avail.
If anyone happens to find a blind, limpy, loppy-eared, alcoholic hamster with a nervous twitch please contact the Guardian. Thank you.