Friends

17 November 2018

FELINE CAPERS 1



Characters:

There’s me, Lee, a lady cat. This is my diary.
Mom and Dad, my human parents.
Tom and Sukie, my best feline friends.
Woof, a visiting Persian kitten with a daft name.


INTRODUCING LEE

Hello. My name is Lee and before I go any further I have to tell you what a pretty cat I am. I’m mainly white but I have some very fetching black markings on my back and the top of my head. I’m a ladylike cat, or so my owner keeps telling her friends and neighbours. She’s right, of course, I am very elegant and apparently royal because she keeps saying when I sit my front legs look like Queen Anne’s. I don’t know the woman but she must be okay if I sit like her.

It feels like forever since I arrived here in my third home, fourth if you count the market. I don’t remember much about the first one because I was shoved out when I was very small. Me and seven others.  I think we were related but it’s too long ago to remember exactly. We ended up at the market, cooped up in a cage. Even now I recall how hot and smelly it was and sometimes I wake in the night thinking I’m still there. I was rescued for a while by an old man who died a few months after I got there. It was just my luck to be whipped back to the market. What a relief to know those days are over. Now I live in a proper house. Brick built, carpets on the floor, a garden to explore, and toys to cuddle up to. 

My favourite toy is a tailless, one-eared mouse and that’s because I attacked it on sight. I wasn’t used to such things, you see. Not even real ones. Dad thought it would be great fun to roll the lifelike toy towards me and, of course, I went berserk. Pulled the ear off in one bite and felt victorious doing it. It was only afterwards I realised the mouse was a toy. Obviously I know the difference now, I’m not entirely stupid. Every night I chew off a bit more of the fur while imagining it’s the real thing.

Mom likes to kit me out in new collars. I’ve had four or five since I arrived here but most of them were lost while climbing trees. You should see the present one: state of the art tartan with a silver medallion bearing my name.  I don’t think it is real silver but I like to think mom gives me the best. I don’t have a pedigree or anything to say I come from a good background. In fact I don’t think even Mom knows where I originated. For all I know I might have unsavoury parentage but I do my best to act like I come from good stock.

You’ll have gathered by now that I’ve got human parents and I have to say it’s no bad thing. Mom and dad look after me well, good food and plenty of attention which I return whenever I can. If Mom picks me up I always put my paws round her neck and nuzzle into her. She adores that, she goes all soppy and tells me how much she loves me. You can’t blame me for stretching it out, can you? I like being told nice things. It’s good for my ego.

It’s a bit different with dad; all he wants to do is play with bits of string and rolled up silver foil. I join in, of course I do. It would be silly not to. I mean what would be the point of watching the foil ball roll past and not try to stop it. Actually I quite like the way my claws sink into it. It makes a soft crackling noise, the sort of noise that makes me want to do it all over again. Another game is called catch the pea but this drives mom mad. Dad will insist on throwing me an odd pea or two when they have them for dinner. Old as I am I never fail to catch one which is probably a good thing since mom keeps warning him that if she finds peas on the floor she’ll kill him. I’d hate to be responsible for that. When I hear the tension rise I disappear inside my paper bag. It’s peaceful in there. I usually have a sleep until the atmosphere changes.

I only have one complaint about living here and that’s the frequent visits of a Siamese cat called Smokey. Daft name for a cat but I suppose it describes his appearance. He has a cream body and a lilac face, ears, legs and tail.  Sounds more like a flower than a cat. Well, this Smokey comes through our fence and gazes round, positively radiating his snootiness. Even if he’s out of sight we know he’s there, that stupid bell around his neck gives him away every time. He thinks he’s important, walks up the path as if he owns it. I tell you, I may be a lady cat but I know how to fight and I won’t let that upstart put one over on me. 

One day, when I was lying in the sunshine, there was a right kerfuffle on our lawn when Smokey intruded on a tête-à-tête between big black Tom from next door and ginger Sukie from the other side. I saw it happen from my spot by the laburnum tree. They were minding their own business, planning a love tryst for all I know. They’d been pretty friendly for a while and I couldn’t fathom why they didn’t get together. Anyway, Smokey walked up the path in that highfalutin manner of his and barged in between the two of them. I put my head down. I knew what a temper Tom had and didn’t want to get involved. That’s the beauty of being an older cat; I can keep my distance without offending anyone. They just think I’m past it; little do they know what I’m capable of when roused. We’ll keep that bit of info between you and me, if you don’t mind. I don’t want all my secrets revealed. There are occasions when the surprise element is a valuable thing.

Generally speaking I can tolerate foreign cats but the Siamese gets on my nerves. There are two more in the road but they don’t ever step outside their boundaries. It’s only Smokey who does that. He acts like a grandiose VIP so it’s no wonder he rubs animals up the wrong way. Mom doesn’t like him either. She hammers on the window whenever she sees him, while dad’s face turns puce with temper. He rushes out and yells at the top of his voice ... Smokey soon disappears when he starts, as well as all the birds. The reason dad doesn’t like him is because he drinks the water in the birdbath and pinches the apple cores that are thrown out for what dad calls his feathered friends. Aren’t humans funny the way they conjure up silly names for animals? A cat down the road is called Charlesworth but I’d better not go on about him ... I’d probably die laughing.

On the day of the fracas Sukie actually made a play for Smokey. Well, not exactly a ‘play’ but she definitely gave him the eye. Now I know what mom means when she uses the expression fast cat because that’s what Sukie was being, a fast cat. She actually nuzzled Smokey’s ear. I was about to look away when I saw Tom’s paw fly up. His claws looked wicked as he struck Smokey on the nose. That did it. I flew into the house where it was safe. Female cats are difficult to understand sometimes. I mean, why eye another cat when you’ve got a good steady male who dotes on you? Daft, if you ask me. Yes, I know I’m a female feline as well, let’s just say I have no tendencies for flirting. Come to think of it, I don’t have tendencies in any direction. I’m content as I am, with just a mom and a dad to please. Can’t be doing with all that hanky-panky the youngsters get up to.

Oh well, that’s enough storytelling. I need my sleep. I might even go upstairs to lie on the bed, or inside if Mom’s forgotten to tuck in the sheets. It’s my favourite sleeping place, especially at night when the folks are in it. There’s nothing like nestling between two humans even if dad does moan about it.

Maybe I’ll catch up with you some other time.  Meow!

Next instalment 24 November

15 November 2018

MORE THIS AND THAT...




1.   Letters don’t normally come on Sundays, but it took several hours for me to realise it was Saturday.

2.   Charlie the cat has decided that my desk is the best place to take a nap. Perhaps he’s after the mouse!

3.   My window cleaner has a knack of knowing when the weather will stay fine.

4.   Switched grocery supplier. The old one didn’t seem to understand English!

5.   Thank goodness the clock changes are upon us! I much prefer lighter mornings.

6.   I only like cold mornings if I can stay in bed an extra hour.

7.   Charlie didn’t like the fireworks but I enjoyed him snuggling up to me and hiding his ears on a cushion.

8.   Hearing their three-year-old son crying very loud, his parents rushed into the room to see what was wrong. The boy had swallowed a penny and was convinced he was going to die. Nothing his parents could say would convince him otherwise. Finally, the father palmed a penny that was half hidden in a sheet, rubbed his son’s stomach and pretended to pull the penny out of his ear. The little lad started smiling when he saw the penny, though he quickly snatched it out of his father’s hand, swallowed it and said ‘Do it again, Dad!’

9.   Have disposed of pampas plumes, now all I have to do is cut back the knife-edged leaves. Wishing we’d never planted the damn thing.

10  I would have thought Chicken Tikka was too spicy for a cat but Charlie begs for bits of it when I’m eating. Obviously, I don’t give him huge lumps, I mean it’s really for me not him. 

11 November 2018

MEMORY FAILURE

My memory and powers of awareness have failed, and to think that only recently I was patting myself on the back for being astute. 
Each week I order enough ready meals to last me a week. They go in the freezer and I top-up when the numbers go down.
This week I gave the suppliers something to laugh about. I hope!
While the delivery guy was unloading my order in the kitchen, I hastened to make space on the kitchen counter. Several of the just delivered items were shifted to the fridge in the outside extension, then I returned to carry on helping the guy unpack the rest. After he left, I started to put the goods away. First, I spotted a huge bag containing sixteen (16) packets of cheese and onion crisps…. which I hate and which had not been ordered. I do have ready salted crisps in smaller bags of 6 so I don’t know where they got 16 from or cheese and onion.
After complaining by phone, I set about putting other stuff away. It was then I realised more items were missing. Six ready meals to be exact.
Of course, I had completely forgotten that I had shifted some and mentally accused the delivery man of not delivering the full order. I think I must have had the problem of the crisps in mind which stopped me concentrating on the job in hand, e.g. putting other stuff away.
Can you imagine how awful I felt after ringing the company yet again to admit my mistake? 
Within minutes I received an email to tell me I was being reimbursed for the wrong delivery of 16 packets of crisps, four of each flavour. I sent polite thanks but deliberately didn’t mention the state of my brain; nor did I request the attendance of a crisp lover to help eat the unwanted cheese & onion, salt & vinegar, or prawn cocktail. I can manage the ready salted on my own.

07 November 2018

A FALSE FACADE



~A FALSE FACADE~

Holding aloft the two glasses of Chateau Robert, Sonny Blake pushed through the crowd, nodding to colleagues as he sidestepped the potted palms. He was a popular figure at these thespian functions. Until the conclusion of Crisis, the hospital soap, he played the leading role which set budding actresses clamouring to take his arm; an irregular countenance and lopsided smile giving him that rugged appearance which was so in vogue with the younger set. His enforced retirement meant nothing to them. He was legendary; his position was influential.

As he pressed through the swarm of performers he flirted with the starlets, knowing his overtures would not be taken seriously. At fifty-nine his inclinations had subsided; only the memories remained.

Proceeding towards the Windsor Lounge Sonny was hailed by Susan Craig, an erstwhile star whose fortune was in decline. Over the months he had led her through the intricacies of everyday accounting, but Susan felt more comfortable spending money than saving it. Not having time to chat, Sonny inclined his head and nodded as if to say, Tomorrow, I'll call. Tomorrow, I will counsel you further. Susan gave him a dazzling smile. She understood his meaning. Taking a sip of wine, Sonny pinned on a jolly smile and carried on.

He spotted his friend, Peter Vaughan. 'Fine crowd tonight,' Sonny said, raising his voice above the hubbub. 'It's taken me a century to get these drinks through. Meryl will be wondering where I am.'

He started to move away, but Peter clutched his dinner jacket. 'Before you disappear I'd like a word.'

Sonny glanced towards the Windsor Lounge, imagining Meryl's frustration at having to wait so long, but the anxiety on his friend's face prompted him to enquire, a touch facetiously, 'Which word would that be, Peter?'

'You said you'd help with access to the kids.' Peter glared at a highly made-up woman who was endeavouring to get by. 'Weekends are dreadfully inconvenient but it seems I have no choice. Damned solicitor's taken Josie's side. Now, if you could collect them…'

'I will collect them, Peter, and I’ll take them to your flat on the understanding that I join you for lunch. I'll contact you tomorrow for instruction. Now I must get on. Meryl will be organizing a search party.'

As Sonny turned away, Peter remarked to his female companions that Sonny Blake was the very essence of compassion, an absolute rock of dependability. Who else would drop everything to drive twenty-five miles there and back to escort a colleague's brats.

Sonny paused at the doorway to search for Meryl. She would by now have forsaken the couch and joined a group most beneficial to her trade. He acknowledged a couple of agents, one of whom had sought his advice about his ailing mother. Sonny had recommended the relevant organisation. An intelligent suggestion, held the agent. One obvious to a five year old, deemed Sonny.

Meryl's piping voice emanated from the vicinity of the fireplace. Sonny moved in that direction. One of her routines was in full flow, the one he had taken such pains to perfect; hours of instilling into her that to successfully impersonate Joan Rivers she must remember to use the proper accent.

Standing at the boundary of Meryl's audience Sonny signalled his presence, lifting the wineglass for her to see. However, Meryl was absorbed in entertaining the crowd, using the grey marble fireplace and a damson-coloured chaise-longue as backdrop. Sonny watched and gloried in the fact that her performance was outstanding.

At the end, amidst well-deserved cheers, one beefy American roared his intention to engage her for his next revue. Smiling triumphantly, Meryl ran to Sonny and kissed his cheek. He handed her the drink and put his empty glass on a small onyx table. 'It worked,' she said. 'Your badgering worked.' She hugged him. 'Where would I be without you.'

At midnight, after installing Meryl in a taxi, Sonny headed home, tugging his collar round his neck, battling against the rain. His black shoes squeaked as they always did when wet. His blue-black hair was soaked. He regretted not having brought a hat but who expected to see such a deluge after all that heat. A car drove by, splashing water on his trousers.

Reaching his basement home, once a high class Victorian dwelling, he gripped the iron handrail and began to descend, treading carefully on the slippery steps. One by one the street lights were extinguished. Raucous laughter emerged from distant revellers. A clock struck the quarter-hour, its clarity dulled by the rain. A cat meowed nearby. He fished in his pocket for the key, shaking away the drips from a leaking gutter.

The door swung open. Sonny knocked the light switch with his shoulder and the bed-sit was flooded with harsh light. Nine months he had lived there and still the bulb was naked. The tiny sink was cluttered with soiled crocks. The blue plastic curtain which hid the pipes was torn where once he grabbed it to break a fall. On the opposite wall was his unmade bed. Each night he vowed that next morning he would straighten the sheets, but he was prevented by apathy from attending to domestic tasks. Little point when the only spectator was him.

Taking the bottle of Gordon's from the shelf alongside the sink, Sonny filled a Horlicks mug. Thinking again of his dead fiancé, killed through his own neglect, a little thing like failing to spot the faulty brakes on his car. He felt despondency setting in, once again acknowledging that without his beloved Gloria his life was worth nothing.

Accidental death; accidentally caused by him.

This evening had been like slow torture and he knew he couldn't go on much longer pandering to the whims of others, aiding and advising, supporting and succouring, getting nothing in return. Good old, reliable Sonny. Rock of dependability. If only dependability could pay the rent or reliability settle bills. Advising Susan on budgeting had been easy but for him the road ahead was littered with court orders and final demands. And he still had legal costs to meet.

A profound sigh ripped through his lips. His temples throbbed, a common occurrence after consuming red wine. Refilling the mug with gin, he drank from the chip-free side. If nothing else it would ease the pain.

THE END