One of the delights of reading Ruth Park’s autobiographies is the insight they offer into her novels. The rat, for instance, that in Fishing in the Styx (1993) sits on a window-sill, ‘a composed leisurely rat . . . murderous as Set, a kitten-eater’, the sneering and frightening but not otherwise harming rat we’ve already met in The Harp in the South  nibbling a baby. It is ferociously murdered by the child’s mother, the young and once more pregnant Roie, but not before it has run up under her skirt and needed to be beaten off. When Roie dies in childbirth shortly afterwards the reader remembers the rat and lives the horror of it all over again.
I can assure Marion Halligan that the descendants of that rat are alive and well and have been causing havoc on my front balcony and in the garden fronting Belvoir Street.
Perhaps building work at the Belvoir Theatre has made them move down the road a piece?
Anyway, I have taken to leaving nasty surprises for them. Last night two packets were taken. I await results.