Not long after I met Mark, his Dad left his Mum for a woman who went by the name of Mary. Trouble she was. Trouble in a feisty five foot small little Irish package.

Soon after, cushions from the family sofa and a whole collection of teaspoons started disappearing. Now far be it from me to start pointing the finger at he who was setting up home with someone else’s wife, but my point is this: it wasn’t me. I wasn’t stealing the pillows or the aluminium spoons even though in his Mum’s eyes, although she liked me awfully, regardless, I was the only possible suspect and would have to hauled in front of a cup of tea to explain my urge to create a dowry full of stolen goods…

I mention this rather scandalous state of affairs because it has become apparent that while the spoon thief clearly doesn’t find my floral cushions attractive he can’t keep his grubby little hands out of my cutlery drawer. The full extent of this particular crisis became apparent on Saturday night when in a fit of the hostess with the mostess I found myself laying the table for oodles of people when clearly dinner a deux would have been more fitting considering I couldn’t rustle up more than two matching places at the table from two, once huge, canteens (I love that word!) of cutlery. So I concentrated on lighting too many candles and making the rest of the room look twinkly and relied on plying my good friends with wine and hoping they wouldn’t notice that their knives were weightless while their forks required a forklift truck to get the chilli into their mouths…

Things disappear don’t they? While it clearly won’t do to point the finger at Mark and his erstwhile lady friend, or indeed his father, it is becoming clear to me that there exists, somewhere on our rose-sprinkled planet, a black hole filled with bone handled forks and pink paisley socks. Remember my darlings, the terrible case of the washing machine filter? You don’t? Perhaps I never told you… I do seem to be suffering from a rather spectacular case of blog induced Alzheimers lately…

While I would like to pretend to be the kind of Mummy that monitors socks with the kind of vengeance I only reserve for my stash of rose creams, most of the time socks come and go and sometimes they go away in pairs and often they find themselves living in a rather fetching little apricot and cornflower blue net bag that is the home for lonely socks in my house, while we wait patiently for their estranged partners to re-commit themselves to life on our feet. So when a teeny little fawn coloured sock went astray you won’t be surprised to hear that I didn’t notice.

What I did notice was that whole vials of lavender oil  weren’t making a jot of difference to the stench that was my laundry. In it went, smelly. And out it came. Smellier. I was mystified so I donned my Sherlock Holmes pinny (a rather snazzy tweed affair) and got down on my hands and knees to investigate. I opened the filter and watched grey water splash my toes.

Hmmm, I said, stroking my whiskers and fiddling with my bushy sideburns. 

Hmmmmmm, I thought as I stooped to stare into the bowels of the machine and saw what looked, for all the world, like a tangled mouse. I froze. And screamed. And called my little mate Finley.

“Sweetheart, what’s that in Mummy’s washing machine?” I screeched.

“Its a dead mouse” he said and went back to inflicting severe punishment on his pink power ranger.

Oh dear Lord. A dead mouse in my washing machine. Who do you call? Mouse busters?

I was freaking. And a Mummy. And Mummy’s aren’t allowed to be scared of dead anything just in case it scars their children for life, so I pulled on some leopard print rubber gloves and dragged the filter and the mouse it contained, out, and stood in the foot deep bath of dirty water that followed it, staring at the mouse, baulking past myself and wanting my Mum. Then I got a fork and poked the mouse. Yep. That seemed like the slimy furry skin of a drowned rodent. So I poked it again to make sure, called Finley to have the matter witnessed by someone less round the bend than I, and sighed in sick relief, when my four year old looked at me like I had finally lost my marbles, and said “That’s the sock that goes with my grey pants silly, can I have a biscuit now Mum?”

A sock, a lovely little sock. I pulled it out with my teeth (only joking), practiced my breast stroke up and down the river that was my kitchen and chucked the mouse stained fork into the bin. Which probably explains why one of my darling guests found herself nibbling a really rather sublime slither of raspberry chocolate tart off the end of a pint-sized Noddy fork on Saturday night.

If I ever invite you to dinner, do us all a favour and invent a prior engagement won’t you?