I have been a little preoccupied with household matters recently. Beloved Mr. B left last week to film in New Zealand. Alongside his declaration of undying love was the instruction to “sell the house”. I am not unduly fazed by these sort of ex cathedra decisions from my husband nor do I generally pay much heed to them, after all a great many complications can occur during his absence, which will render the application of his wishes as implausible but this time I was in complete agreement. It was time to move on!
It has been our desire for over twenty years to buy a house in South Shropshire, with at least five acres of land where we can create a haven for wildlife. What my husband dismisses with a regal wave of his hand, is that to sell our house requires an enormous input of labour; my labour to be exact. So, I started at the furthest bedroom and began the transformation. Ceiling, walls and skirting boards painted, carpets cleaned and all extraneous clutter recycled or donated. There I was, a woman in possession of a steam cleaner, disposable gloves and a plan. But as we know the ‘best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray’, or in my case, of ferrets and women.
Gus is our pet ferret and we’ve owned him since he was a kit and he’s now an impressive nine years old. He is an outdoor pet, never having been worked and lives in a large, two tiered enclosure under the sycamore. I would say that despite the odd burst of energy, Gus has committed himself to a twenty-three hour sleep pattern, rising indolently for breakfast and taking a short, lethargic constitutional in the afternoon. I am sure that Gus is extremely happy with this arrangement but to spice up his life, he is often brought into the house to have a play in the annex, which is accessed internally via one door. This enables me to separate him from out terrier Lily, who has a plan of her own for poor Gus. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to forget that he’s in the annex and leave him to it. Two weeks ago I suddenly realised what I’d done and went to look for him, predictably he’d found the pile of dustsheets to bury into and after a lengthy hunt I located him, much to his and my surprise. It was the element of surprise that did it for the future house sale, that and my head cold. Gus, being a card holding member of the mustelidae family, is equipped with anal scent glands, which blow off when the animal is shocked, threatened or generally irritated. Pleased not to have lost the wily fellow I popped him back into his pad and locked up for the night.
In full decorating mode the following morning I spread the dustsheets over the carpet and furniture in our bedroom and began to paint the ceiling and the walls. I love the smell of paint, it wakens the senses and clears the sinuses and, more relevantly, overwhelms the subtle, yet monumentally persistent stench of ferret anal gland secretion. An unpleasant, urine-like smell began to rear its ugly head about an hour into the decorating frenzy. Confused but committed I carried on, finishing late into the evening. I grabbed all of the dustsheets, admired my skill and fortitude and dumped them into the annex workshop. It was only when I got into bed that the smell began to permeate. There didn’t seem to be a source to the stench, or an explanation as to what it was, just the oily, musky smell of bladder weakness. The following day I shampooed the carpet, convinced that it was the source. It barely made a dent in the pong. I bought carpet freshener and ran the cleaner over it again but still the smell persisted, if anything it was digging in, seeping into the bed linen and the upholstery. I had to carry on with the decorating so, leaving all of the windows ajar upstairs, I spread the dustsheets over our leather suite and painted the living room ceiling. It must have taken me about an hour or so before the penny dropped. It was the dustsheets and Gus must have emptied his anal glands into them and now they were leaching the smell all over the sofa. I balled, bagged and binned them, drove to Homebase to purchase a bigger steam cleaner and a box of leather wipes. None of which made any difference.
Two weeks have passed and there is still a heady tang of urine around both rooms. It fades into your subconscious after a few minutes but I can only hope our early viewers are of a forgiving nature.