The Tale of Two Bad Mice is a children’s book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, and published by Frederick Warne & Co. in September 1904. Potter took inspiration for the tale from two mice caught in a cage-trap in her cousin’s home and a doll’s house being constructed by her editor and publisher Norman Warne as a Christmas gift for his niece Winifred. While the tale was being developed, Potter and Warne fell in love and became engaged, much to the annoyance of Potter’s parents, who were grooming their daughter to be a permanent resident and housekeeper in their London home.
The tale is about two mice who vandalize a doll’s house. After finding the food on the dining room table made of plaster, they smash the dishes, throw the doll clothing out the window, tear the bolster, and carry off a number of articles to their mouse-hole. When the little girl who owns the doll’s house discovers the destruction, she positions a policeman doll outside the front door to ward off any future depredation. The two mice atone for their crime spree by putting a crooked sixpence in the doll’s stocking on Christmas Eve and sweeping the house every morning with a dust-pan and broom.
The tale’s themes of rebellion, insurrection, and individualism reflect not only Potter’s desire to free herself of her domineering parents and build a home of her own.
A tailor in Gloucester sends his cat Simpkin to buy food and a twist of cherry-coloured silk to complete a waistcoat commissioned by the mayor for his wedding on Christmas morning. Whilst Simpkin is gone, the tailor finds mice the cat has imprisoned under teacups. The mice are released and scamper away. When Simpkin returns and finds his mice gone, he hides the twist in anger.
The tailor falls ill and is unable to complete the waistcoat, but, upon returning to his shop, he is surprised to find the waistcoat finished. The work has been done by the grateful mice. However, one buttonhole remains unfinished because there was “no more twist!” Simpkin gives the tailor the twist to complete the work and the success of the waistcoat makes the tailor’s fortune.
It may be small, furry and too fond by far of the contents of our cupboards, but the humble mouse has great things going for it. It now transpires that Mus musculus is remarkably similar to Homo sapiens. Indeed, each of us shares 99 per cent of our genes with it.
Not only are mouse genes like ours, so are the development of their embryos, their patterns of disease and even their behavioural problems. Mice get stressed, too.
These similarities are about to be exploited by the scientific community. Mice are to become researchers’ main vehicles for unravelling humanity’s genetic secrets.
The first mouse to grace our screens was Mickey Mouse who first featured in the black and white movies Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie in 1928. His white gloves were added later because the black of his hands weren’t clearly visible against his body. Originally called Mortimer mouse, Mickey is a global phenomenon and his face is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. His character has been shaped into everything from a bunker on a golf course to birthday cakes. Mickey is currently the main character in the Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney series “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”.
The irony of Mickey Mouse’s creation is that Walt Disney was in fact scared of mice. However, he pictured mice as sympathetic creatures, despite people being scared of them
The German Wotan feast was a mixture of sacrifice and fertility festivals during and around the midwinter feasts. The lads and lassies of the Germanic tribes prayed in those early times for a partner. The presents from Sinterklaas were also in the form of lovers made from speculatius or other cakes. Also, presents were of animals in the form of sugar mice and pigs, to substitute for the real animal sacrifices.
In Victorian England, sugar mice were an eagerly anticipated part of the Christmas holidays. Children who accompanied their parents to holiday parties were given the mouse-shaped lollipops; Santa could be counted on to leave one peeking out of their stockings.