According to the interwebz, in Britain you're never more than 20 feet away from a rat. On average, obviously. And as carriers of diseases from plague to salmonella by way of Lyme disease and Lassa fever, not to mention their nigh-constant bowel motions and the constant gnawing required to keep their ever-growing incisors under control, it doesn't take James Herbert much to make rats horrific.
Which makes it odd that today is World Rat Day.
And no, it isn't sponsored by Rentokil, or the World Health Organisation for that matter, but by a group of dedicated fans of this once-popular Goth pet. Organisers recommend "bearing gifts and treats to unsuspecting rats", hosting "Ratfests" and, generally, making "rats very happy".
If you don't have a pet rat to hand, we recommend you mark the event with a Rat Pack Manhattan, created in honour of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack gang of crooners, who sent Vegas wild during their glory days.
It's also Robert Downey Junior's birthday
Robert Downey Junior, a fine actor and one of the biggest hellraisers of his generation, celebrates his birthday today. Born this day in 1965, he's aged well - an impressive achievement for a man who reportedly first smoked weed some four decades ago and racked up a range of convictions that left him uninsurable during his wilderness years.
Oscar-nominated for his hilarious performance in Tropic Thunder, a BAFTA winner for his role as Charlie Chaplin, you might know the Robster as Sherlock Holmes, as Iron Man, or from cult animated sci-fi movie A Scanner Darkly. People of a certain age will also remember him from the 80s teen classic Weird Science, and his time as part of the Brat Pack with then-partner Sarah Jessica Parker.
We will be raising our glass to Robert with a classic Rob Roy, served to our preferred Embury formula.
But, perhaps most notably, today is also Grumpy Cat's birthday
On this day in 2012, Tardar Sauce, AKA Grumpy Cat, made her way into this world. Described on Wikipedia as "a cat Internet and media personality and actress", her unique expression made her an internet megastar with a brand value estimated at over $50million.
Grumpy, or Tard, whose facial expression apparently came from feline dwarfism and underbite, had her own coffee brand, worked with Friskies, sold 100,000s of T-shirts, countless mugs, keyrings, posters and a book, and even movies.
Which is slightly depressing when you think about it, but great for a cat that only came to fame when her owner's brother posted a picture of her on Reddit. Sadly, Tard died in May 2019 but she apparently lived a happy life and got to be a normal much-loved cat for the 95% of the time (when not occupied with public appearances).
Happy birthday, Tard! We're toasting you with our best grumpy faces and a Smokey Old Bastard, Craig Toone's take on the Old-Fashioned, bastardised with Lapsang Souchong tea and maple syrup.