Thursday, 28 October 2010

Cat Man Doo-Doo

It’s not entirely clear when it happened: sometimes these things take on a life of their own and evolve seemingly out of control.

One day there’s this new strange cat in the garden inviting itself in, the next it’s living with you hiding constantly behind the sofa and then, all of a sudden without warning: the cat becomes French.

I know what you’re thinking: what cat? How did you acquire a French cat? How can an English cat become French without going through the messy business of passport application?

It all started from some odd noises in the kitchen. We had seen the Alleged French Cat (AFC) in the garden several times over the summer but with myself increasingly working from home and increasingly leaving the back door open so that Willow could enjoy the summer weather the AFC started inviting itself in.

Ever since Charlie died in January Willow has had full reign over the house and spent more and more time with me, even joining in the occasional conference call (to much amusement from work colleagues)

And now the AFC, a black and white cat that was clearly afraid of humans (mostly running away from me despite my attempts to make friends) had decided that Willow’s food was particularly appetizing and had begun repeatedly launching commando runs from the kitchen door to the bowl and back

Willow seemed to get on with AFC pretty well: in fact they had joined forces against the hated enemy black-cat-white-nose on a couple of occasions and although she was slightly cautious around this new interloper they did seem to get on ok: which is why we decided to try and catch the cat, take it to the vet for a check-up and make sure that it was being looked after

(AFC's then unnamed 1st trip to the vet)

AFC had no collar and was unkempt: it was clear he’d been in a few fights and he was not a happy cat. This is why, soft buggers that we are, we decided to catch him and take him for a check-up at the vets.

At first we tried a range of traps and tricks that would put The A-Team and McGuyver to shame – involving upturned laundry baskets and string around the scratching post that doubles as a door stop. The cat was just too fast.

And then one day I saw the cat sitting in the kitchen doorway and managed to make it to the food bowl without scaring it away. I positioned myself and the food bowl so that the cat would have to come past me to eat and then shut the door. The thing immediately turned into Steve McQueen and started a desperate bid to climb into the windowsill and through the closed window as we tried gamely to pull the cat’s claws away from the net curtain and stuff it into the carrier that used to belong to Charlie. The cat managed to sink his claws into Herself’s arm and left her with nasty marks but otherwise went quietly.

At the vet they checked him over and told us that that he is a male, about 1 year old and with all his bits in tact. They were pretty sure he was a stray and had either never been owned or only briefly. They gave us some details for the Cats Protection League, but told us cheerfully that they have no room to re-house cats at present due to the recession (people abandoning pets)

We let him loose in the garden and discussed the situation, Herself still with huge red wheals on her skin and an arm swollen to the size of a tree trunk. Cats Protection League would pay to have his naughty bits removed or amended, but after that we would be facing the prospect of putting a homeless cat back into the garden for the winter.

So a week later we trapped him in again. He spent the first few hours hiding down by the window until we moved him to the front room: where he promptly hid under the sofa.

We barely saw him for two days: just long enough to eat some food or use the litter tray we placed under the kitchen table then he would vanish.

Before we could take him to the vet again for injections etc he needed a name. We went through a couple of options – I was quite fond of Mr Flibble until Herself reminded me that when you to the Vet with your pet they call out your pet’s name

Herself suggested Giles (going with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme started with Willow) and it stuck, along with the usual array of extra names that cats gain as you get to know them.

(AFC, aka Giles, still in hiding under the sofa)
After a couple of days he stopped hiding under the sofa and started alternating between hiding under the sofa and under the bed. When he was seen (briefly) it was clear that his fur condition was improving.

The problems started a week in when Willow started to realise that there was another cat about on a permanent basis. She had a nervous weekend: wee’d on the bed a few times. We rapidly ran out of bed clothes until we ended up spending two nights sharing a zipped-open single sleeping bag that was so devoid of actual warmth that Sir Ranuph Fiennes, had he been stuck with it on a polar expedition, would have had no option but to burn it.

Meanwhile Giles had learned how to use the litter tray and was managing to create a smell that permutated into the bricks of the house. He’s about twice the size of Willow and can happily chomp through a whole packet of food and then go and eat Willow’s for an encore.

He’s still a kitten: so when you do fuss him he will go to catch you with his claws or bite in a friendly way – which makes me wonder why we are so forgiving of our pets. If our pet shark gnawed someone’s leg off would we just say “ah, he’s just being friendly?”

The other day we took Giles off to the vet to “have his ‘nads chopped” as the vet charmingly put it. He was gone for most of the day.

Since he came back he doesn’t seem to be holding it against us and has shown no interest in going outside. My main concern is the first time we do let him out: will he come back? I hope so.

(Giles grabbing my jeans)

It’s been about six weeks now and he’s really come out of his shell and we’re starting to get a picture of his personality.

So what do I know so far? He’s a cheeky bugger who’ll scoff all the food he can. He likes to rub against your legs and catch things in his paws. He destroys the litter tray in an attempt to cover his extremely smelly poos. When he miows he sounds like a broken squeaky toy. He can move fast enough when he wants to and is oblivious to our calling his name. He is still a kitten in many ways and will jump on shoelaces and attack pieces of paper.  He likes sleeping on the edge of the bed and pouncing on my toes at 4am.

On the whole Willow tolerates him, though they do seem to be arguing, especially when he's just woken up and is full of energy – some of it is that he doesn’t realise that his idea of playing is seen as aggressive. My worry is that Willow won’t feel as free to roam around as she has and will retreat – I hope not

And yes - we still refer to him as Monsieur Gilles

(Willow and Giles in a rare moment of tranquility)

Monday, 25 October 2010

Poetry Bus - The Visitors

OK - so this week my good friend Argent has set the subject for the poetry bus.  The topic we were supposed to take was "meetings", but I have taken the term slightly loosly (alright, I threw it out the window, but it didn't get hurt - so no letters of complaint please) and thought I'd write a poem loosely based on a well known meeting.

So, and with apologies to Samuel Taylor-Coleridge, here is my poem about meetings (sort-of)

A Caution To Callers From Porlock

A person from Porlock came calling
Upon a bright summer’s day
I was out in my shed, when he messed with my head
And sent those daft visions away

He asked if I’d like double-glazing
I told him I’d had them all done
But he wouldn’t be gone, and he just carried on
So I snuck down and hid till he’d gone

I told him I never had needed
His patter, no matter how slick
But he just wouldn’t go and he couldn’t take no
So I had to resolve it and quick

A person from Porlock came calling
And gave me too many a thick head
But he’ll cause me no trouble, coz I fetched out my shovel
And I buried him under my shed

Friday, 22 October 2010

And The Award Goes To…

OK – so some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been around much this last week – or most likely not to be fair. There’s far more interesting things to be noticing than the absence of my piffle for a few days.

This absence is due entirely to the evil machinations of my broadband suppliers who have taken every last opportunity to drag out what should have been a simple process for 11 days

And there’s lots of odd things that I’ve been thinking about whilst I was away: all of which could make potential posts before I fall back into the habit of Wordzzle/Poetry Bus entries – if my creative spirit were so motivated.

Like I was going to tell you about my new cat (and please keep an eye out because this post WILL happen), and I was going to bring you a list of top 5 concept albums (and may still do so) and discuss at length the health and safety implications of Alexander cutting the Gordian knot (no, not really)

Also – I was going to tell you how frustrating I’ve found my latest art course and why I’m at the point of giving up on the whole damn thing – but to be honest my creative batteries seem to be quite low at the moment, so I won’t be doing that at the moment either.

Instead I will tell you briefly of something I really should start doing. This is, in part, brought about by the recent Evil Machinations of my Broadband supplier, but also in reaction to an increasingly bizarre world

Like the other day I was out with Our Kid and some random woman approached in the street and just when I thought she was going to ask for directions she asked me if I ever drank cider.

I politely (or impolitely) ignored her existence and carried on walking, but for just a second I did wish that I had, ready in my pocket, an award for the Most Random Question asked of me that I could hand out.

And I would like to encourage you all to produce some small awards and laminate them and keep them ready in your pockets for special occasions: because people who help (and hinder) us should be advised of such

So – here’s a few recent awards I would like to hand out (admittedly belatedly):

London Underground Train-guard who read out the train times in the style of a Darts Commentator – Award for the Person Who Made My Day Bearable

Music shop assistants all over the world – Most Miserable Employee Of The Month Award

Anyone on a bus loudly discussing their personal lives – Conversation I Could Have Happily Lived Without Hearing Award

Or: Person Most Mistakenly Believing Themselves To Be Funny Award

So please go forth, spread the word and produce some awards – the only rules are 1) you can only give out one of each until all of them are given out and you start again 2) if you’re going to be rude to people join a gym/take up karate first

As you can imagine the Minions Of Satan award goes to the IT Support Staff for my Broadband suppliers – put it on display somewhere dark and warm why don’t you?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Don't Laugh At Me Coz I'm A Fool

is where you find it
it can be hard
to find it

is often where
you least
expect to find it

But dont let the smile fool you
behind these eyes
their lies
a story that is seldom told

For who knows
how true
the tears of a clown
can be

Photo: Norman Wisdom (1915-2010)

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Old Ones Are The Best

Sherlock Holmes sat back and felt the thick grass through the blanket. The game of solitaire was beginning to bore him now, so patted his pockets and when they came away without discovering any matches he lit a thin cigarette from the oil lamp and extinguished the light.

He turned to his trusty companion and saw that his long diatribe on the need to save our schools from the decay in education had been wasted as Watson was gently snoring

The great detective frowned in thought for a second. The camping trip had been tolerable at best. Watson seemed to be enjoying himself and had even taken time out to catch a few butterflies but Holmes, neurotic as he was, could not relax.

There was something disturbing him, something that he could not quite fathom. It was only as he stared at the distant church that he realised what it was

Dr John Watson jumped awake as his companion uttered a sharp exclamation, ‘the candles, the candles’ he snapped before he had time to fully wake from the dream. He looked around and groaned as he saw the face of Sherlock Holmes peering into his

‘Having a quiet think were you Holmes?’ Watson asked, tongue in cheek

Holmes shook his head, ‘I am incapable of sleep tonight Watson’ he announced to the field of sheep, ‘I think it is the spam that we had for supper’

‘I told you to take some charcoal tablets’ Watson muttered, knowing he was wasting his breath. Holmes the man was lost to him now, replaced by Holmes the thinker

‘Tell me Watson’ Holmes asked, ‘When you look at the stars above us: what do you deduce?’

Watson thought for a moment, trying to clear his head. The usually reticent Holmes had been something of a chatter box tonight, but he had been too tired to concentrate on the Detective’s postulations and had fallen asleep. He was sensible enough, however, to realise when he was being tested.

‘Well Holmes’ Watson replied, clearing his throat for the forthcoming oration, ‘I deduce that our sun is one of many in an infinite universe: that each may contain planets much like our own and who knows: even life. I further deduce that it is a clear night with little chance of rain and that the nature of creation is far beyond the comprehension of a simple man like me.’

Holmes shook his head, ‘No, no my dear Watson, I will not have that. Though you lack the killer instinct of a trained professional your natural observation skills often lead you indirectly to the correct conclusion’ he paused, ‘although on this occasion you do seem to have missed one simple fact’

‘Oh?’ Watson asked, irked as usual by his companion’s ability to out think and out deduce him at every turn, ‘then tell me Holmes: when you look at the stars tonight – what do you deduce?’

‘Oh it’s quite elementary my dear Watson’ Holmes replied with a small grin, ‘I deduce that the tent has been stolen!’