I have killed my first rat. I suspect the creature must have found its way into our area via a missing drain cover, smashed by my eldest son in the cause of science, when he was dropping old computers from our balcony to see what would happen.

Like Rasputin, its metabolism was too strong for the poison I put out for him (unless, as I rather suspect, there was more than one, and rat or rats unknown perished in the sewer). So, at the weekend, I was forced to clear out a shed, built for bicycles but piled high with old notes for books and dried-up paint pots. A thorough training in English literature helps on occasions such as this.

I took a spade. (A policy confirmed by that good old book Rat-catching for the Use of Schools. Those were the days.) When I say that the handle broke, you will realise the intensity of the duel, but I came out victor.

Only today, when talking rats to a neighbour, did I start to feel queasy. Rats, he said, will jump at you when cornered. There is supposed to be an ever-growing number of rats in the world. In London alone, it’s said that you’re never more than a few feet from one. And some of them have four legs.