Ashamed not to have blogged since July. In fact, I have not really written anything significant since then. I have been in quicksand in literary terms, barely holding on to branches that friends have thrown from time to time. It is strange not to write: distressing, frustrating, alien. Life of course continues and the world is still both evil and wonderful around me.
I also had a rat in my house, under the floorboards, building a nest. To me it really symobolised my lack of action; that another creature had moved into my life and was happily 'getting on with things.' Absurdly, I first thought the scratching behind the wall was mice and researched some gentle mice deterrents. They hate bay leaves apparently and so I picked a dozen, stuffed them into the hole in the air brick into which they had burrowed. I felt a tug and deftly, rather gently, an invisible paw tugged them away from me. So it was a rat, not a mouse. Rats love bay leaves. They are such clever creatures that they use them for natural flea control in their nests.
So I had an intelligent life form living beneath my house that was sharper than me. Or was at least at that time. We baited a live trap and the creature took the food and escaped before the door slid down. Genius. At night a huge owl took position on our roof and hunted it. It still survived and every evening I would hear this hard hard scratching.
I am not afraid of rodents. I have respect for their intelligence, particularly rats. If man died out, rats and cockroaches would remain. Fact. But I could not share my house with one, for all sorts of reasons, mainly that he was chewing through floorboards, then possibly wires. not hygenic either, if he got into the house.
Finally, a bacon bait did the trick and the rat sat there shrieking as I approached. It looked like a frightened wild animal, acclimatised to fear by man's hatred and need to destroy it. But we covered it, took some food and released it in a wood five miles from home. Perhaps it has a chance to survive. It had a large belly.....a very large belly.....so possibly pregnant. Just trying to cope with the usual preoccupations: finding a home, procreating, keeping safe.
Then I saw Lost Land of the Volcano, where a giant and friendly rat was discovered. In fact, all the animals were trusting, loving. They had no experience of man's neurotic need to change, kill or wipe out other species...including his own.
There is a twitch forming, a need to write. An absolute need, like a drug hit.
I wonder how my little rat is doing. I have a rat exterminator coming tomorrow. We booked him as an emergency measure, in case we had to poison them. But now I just want his advice where to block up holes etc. I must resist the urge to tease him though. When his mother gave birth to him, she gave him a fine aristocratic French christian name to go with his equally fine aristocratic surname. I don't think that she dreamed of him as an exterminator, or boasted to her friends that her son worked with poisons for a living. She was proud of him, proud of her son ROLAND.
- Julia Bohanna
- Shortlisted Bath Short Story Award 2013 Runner-up Cinnamon Press Competition 2013 WNNER: Don Louth Writer of the Year (run by Reading Writers) WINNER: Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2012. SHORTLISTED: Scott Prize (Salt Publishing) 2012 for a short story collection. Writer/ Journalist - assistant editor and writer for the art and books pages of Wolfprint. Most recently published in Independent on Sunday and short story anthologies: Sentinel Champions No 9, 100 Stories for Queensland, 50 Stories for Pakistan, 100 Stories for Haiti and From Hell to Eternity. In a recent writing competition, Joanne Harris described my writing as '...compelling (but quite creepy)'
- ▼ 2009 (13)
Prizes and Writing Awards
- Winner Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2012
- Shortlisted for Salt Publishing's Scott Prize for short story collections 2012
- Finalist in Brit Writers' Award 2011
- 2nd in Sentinel Literary Competition 2011
- Whitechapel Society Anthology to be published 2010
- Shortlisted for the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2009
- Shortlisted for The Asham Award 2009
- Joint winner of the Penguin/Decibel Prize 2008 - Asian Invisible. Published as The Map of Me
- Highly Commended in The National Galleries of Scotland Short Story Competition 2008
- Runner-up in Segora Short Story Prize 2008
- Joint Winner of The Lancet Short Story Competition 2007: The Resurrection Girl.
- Runner-up in Virgin Trains/The Guardian Short Story Competition 2007: A Small Revolution
- Winner of the Woman and Home Short Story Competition 2006: Ghosts of Jamaica.
- Shortlisted for The Asham Award 2005
- Runner-up in the Good Housekeeping Short Story Competition 2003
- Winner of The Sunday Telegraph Tourism for Tomorrow Travel Writing Competition 2002: Wolves of Rumania. Winner
- Winner and also Winner of Most Original Short Story in the Competition in Trowell and District Writers' Competition 2006