Michaela Merz


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London


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I’m working for a few days in London. Right in the centre with all the sights close by. It is a bitterly cold January, when you stay outside only if you have to.

I check into the hotel. I have the corner room at the end of the corridor. The door to the room is full of smaller and larger indentations. As if someone had tried with brute force and a sharp object to force an entry. I hope it was a one-off that is not repeated in this room every night. Only once in my life have I experienced how a drunk tried to force his way into my room. In the middle of the night that was scary, because I could scarcely estimate how long the door would hold. The door was stronger than I thought and then I had no visitor and I still don’t want one.

From the window I have a breath-taking view, but the room temperature is very low. I turn the heating up to maximum, but after an hour it is obvious that this heater has no more to offer. I’ll have to go to the reception and ask for an additional blanket.

But now I have to cross Tower Bridge to reach the restaurant, in which I have agreed to meet someone. I set out. It is at most 20 minutes by foot. I cross the road and enter a small park beside the Thames. And suddenly I feel rapid movements along the ground and quickly look around. But it is dark and difficult to tell what it was. I guess it was a rat but I’m not sure.

The dinner was very interesting and useful and shortly before 11.00 I set out back to the hotel. I walk across the bridge, which is wonderfully illuminated in light blue. Despite the cold there are still a lot of people about. I turn into the small park, which is empty and deserted. But I feel a lot of movement on the ground and suddenly I hear a painful squeaking and feel something under my winter boots. I have stepped on a rat’s tail. We are both startled. And the rat also felt the pain.

It is not alone. On the ground there is a great deal of activity. Perhaps it is the now closed wooden refreshment kiosk and even more the rubbish bin next to it which is the reason why the rats live in the centre of London, so close to all the sights.

When I told Dana this story, she told me that today she was present at the birth of 25 baby rats from two mother rats that come from 2 father rats, which were sold to her as castrated.

Life is obviously full of surprises.