Tony Halliday, our boss, has spent years on the front line of pest control in London. His tales of strange situations and even stranger customers would fill volumes. He’s allowed us to record some of the skirmishes he’s experienced in his battle against vermin in Southwark and beyond.
A lot of Tony’s pest control stories feature Rats. These unsavory rodents breed in the old London sewers, making their burrows in the cracks and crevices of decaying Victorian brickwork and broken pipes.
Not surprisingly, rats often turn up in kitchens. They’re always hungry and always looking for food. In older houses, often those which have not been so well looked after, there are plenty of gaps and holes through which the rats can slip in.
On one call-out in Southwark, Tony and his mate were met by a burly South American bloke who didn’t speak a word of English. Tony tried to explain why they were there and the South American responded by waving his arms around and firing off a torrent of words in a foreign language.
Eventually the South American seemed to calm down and led Tony through to the kitchen, a ramshackle affair that had seen much better days. There, on top of the washing machine, peering out from under the worktop, was a rat.
Despite his size, the South American refused to enter the room and simply pointed from the doorway. Tony and his mate knew that they had to get rid of the rat and take measures to protect against other vermin.
Catching a rat is relatively easy using modern pest control measures, such as sticky boards. Unfortunately, this encounter was before Tony’s team had such equipment. So he was forced to hunt the rat down to catch and dispatch it.
This particular rat had a strong sense of self-preservation and did not want to be caught. It quickly disappeared, leaving Tony and his mate to begin a cupboard by cupboard search. They removed kickboards and emptied cupboards as they methodically closed in on the creature.
Looking into one cupboard, Tony thought he heard a noise from the back. He grabbed his torch, put his head in the cupboard, and found himself literally face-to-face with the rat, which was hiding in a saucepan.
For the rat, it was almost a case of out of the frying pan into the fire. Tony dealt with the rodent quickly and efficiently. The South American, despite being unable to speak a word of English, understood that the job had been done and was effusive in his gratitude to the pest controllers.