I think my little Jemima will take the crown this year. She’s already won best in show eight times. One more win, and she’ll be mouse of the year. She is a beautiful black mouse, and as laid down in the standards, her sleek coat is evenly coloured throughout her whole body. Her tiny dark eyes shine with an almost human-like intelligence and compassion. When I whisper into her tulip shaped ears, I could almost believe she understands everything I say.
I’m hoping that victory for Jemima will lead to salvation for the National Mouse Club. That might sound dramatic, but the current committee are ruining this historic association. The chairman, Kevin Green, and his merry band are inexperienced and altogether too arrogant to listen to an old-timer like me.
“Bill. It wasn’t personal. No hard feelings, eh?” Kevin had said on the evening he stabbed me in the back. I taught that young man everything he knows about mouse fancying, so it was a bitter pill when he, with no warning, stood against me at the national AGM. He gave a speech on how the club had to move with the times and adapt the strict guidelines laid down by our founder Walter Maxly. Now the club welcomes all comers and runs sessions on such diverse and idiotic subjects as cross-breeding to create new species, mice as a pet for children and, unbelievably, a lecture on gerbils and hamsters. I’ve taken a step back from the club and focussed my energies on breeding traditional black mice. Attention to detail and a great deal of effort has led to the production of a generation of the most superlative mice that I’ve ever seen. Of the current crop of siblings, undoubtedly, Jemima is the best.
So, at the final show of the year, my girl has already taken the prize in the best of breed. Now the judging begins for best in show. She’s up against Kevin’s mouse, Mickey. I’m not joking, he really has called his show mouse Mickey. That kind of blatant populism and trivialisation should lead to instant disqualification and I fantasise about adding this into the rulebook when I’m re-elected. The judge holds up Mickey and Jemima together. Mickey is a broken marked mouse which means that he is white with uneven black splodges. I’ve never been that keen on the marked varieties, but there were some excellent, banded mice competing in his class. I suspect that favouritism got him this far, but marked mice are always the bridesmaid.
I hate the touch of the clinical, impersonal judge. He lifts me up by my tail and holds me in his big, cold hands. I look over to the right, and I’m cheered at the sight of Mickey in his other hand. Mickey is super cute and has these fantastic black spots all over his white body. He looks across at me and says, “Hey Jemima, this guy needs to warm his hands.”
I giggle. Although I’m stressed, Mickey can always make me laugh. We’ve been meeting at mouse shows all year and have even rubbed noses through our cage bars a few times. That was nice.
When my owner Bill cradles me in his gentle hands and tells me of his troubles, I long to offer him words of comfort, but of course he can’t hear my tiny mouse voice. So instead, I need to win each contest and help him regain his rightful place. That’s a lot of pressure for a small mouse, and as the season goes on, I’m starting to feel it.
There is a strange sensation in my tail. I think it has developed a slight kink. This can happen when a mouse is unsettled, but you don’t win shows with a less than perfect tail.
“My tail is kinking Mickey,” I say.
He senses my desperation and replies, “Don’t worry babes. I got this.”
Mickey sacrifices the contest by biting the judge hard on the finger. I barely have a chance to think, “My hero,” before the judge drops both of us. There is chaos in the room. Bill is shouting about disqualification while Kevin is laughing uncontrollably. Mickey and I meet up below the table. There is no cage between us, and no feuding owners to stop us.