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The Railway Mice

For those of you who are familiar with the London Underground system the following will come as no surprise.

Most of the stations on the system have a resident population of mice. These rodents live in the walls and scurry about the corridors and platforms when it is quiet. They survive, and indeed thrive, by taking advantage of the vast amounts of litter that the humans casually throw away.

Picture of mouse in an Underground station

These mice also run around on the tracks. They seem to be fairly unconcerned by trains thundering overhead. Again, it will come as no surprise to regular users of The Tube that, occasionally, one has to wait a fairly long time between tains. When this happens the mice come out and run around the tracks fighting, fornicating and going about their everyday mousey business.

close up of lots of mice

Sometimes when this happens the mice are seen by children who have become bored waiting for a train. Excited by the sight of the mice the children shriek, rush to the very edge of the platform and lean over pointing......

undergound train at speed entering an underground station

This is a frightening thing to see as, the rails are live, with 640 volts DC, the suicide pit might be as deep as 6ft and the trains when they come into the platform are travelling at about 30mph and weigh over 150 tons - the trains are not easy to stop.

Front of underground train at speed

I have used origami as one solution to this dangerous situation.

Everyday while at work in the station I would fold a number of my "La Petite Souris" which I would then store in my hat for safe keeping. Whenever I saw children leaning over the edge looking at the mice, I would suggest to them that, smelly, old, disease-ridden rodents were not as nice as these....

London Underground hat with multi-coloured origami mice

Producing a handful of brightly coloured origami mice from thin air always impressed the kids and they soon lost interest in the track mice when they realised that, yes, they could choose and keep one of the origami versions.

Another potential tragedy averted!

 

 

 


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