Sunday 31 August 2008


The household was woken up at 3.30 a.m. this morning by a couple of very loud, very close, explosions. Needless to say this did not help with the collective blood pressure situation. The cat's and mother's both went sky high and mine almost shot up to normal. A few more of these explosions confirmed what we already feared, that someone was letting off fireworks up the back somewhere. Grrrrrr! Tempting as it was to ignore the cat and go back to bed, thoughts of RSPCA blacklists and fears of becoming a social outcast in the neighbourhood of eleven spitting dogs and the Ginge gang drove me to stick my head round the door of Austin's pied a terre. He was nowhere to be seen, which was unsurprising given the noisy ambience.

All of a sudden a black shape shot out from under the two-seater and streaked across the kitchen growling and making one heck of a fuss. I managed to deduce that this was Austin in a furry funk. All thoughts of returning to slumber vanished and I put the kettle on. While he was sorting himself out, I peeped out of the window and saw our deaf neighbour (not Toby, tother side) pacing up and down the road in his dressing gown, waving a torch and checking his vehicles (of which he has a few!). 45 minutes later I looked again and he was still doing it. It was also raining! I fleetingly thought about going out and telling him that our resident vandal wasn't out taking pot shots at his tyres this time. But quickly rejected this as it was pitch black and he doesn't lip read, even in daylight. And it was raining (did I already say that?) Had manic thought about police coming and arresting me for disturbing the peace when they should be rounding up the pyrotechs.

By this time Austin had calmed down somewhat. Poor fella, he'd already had a disturbed evening when Ginge Secundus attacked him from the rear and then attacked me from the front when I went to intervene! Austin was very brave - not! He hid behind the wall.

So all in all he was in need of R & R, so took him to bed with me for rest of the night. Big mistake! He was in cat heaven. I wasn't. Of course like all cats his ego is bigger than the available space, so when he wasn't purring loudly in my ear, he had his paws stuck up my nose and then I'd wake up struggling to breathe only to see his worried little face peering down checking that I hadn't died while his attention was diverted. But mostly he just laid out at full stretch across me and the double bed so I couldn't turn over without hurling him on the floor. So in the end I just lay there perched precariously on the edge, clutching one inch of duvet, a quivering wreck, a beached whale, a lump of exhausted misery. All this so he could catch up on his shut-eye.

When Fidget the Tabby arrived all perky this morning shouting at my bedroom window to see if Austin wanted to hang out at his place, I let him out with a sigh of relief. But I did see them having a good laugh about something as they trotted up the garden.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Lap Cat!

Austin, my little spiky feline friend, has discovered laps! He's always been friendly, well, except when he's got a project on, like fly catching or curtain climbing. He's never liked being picked up and still doesn't, except when his curiosity overcomes his fear of confinement. However, just lately he's found that he can get a very comfortable few minutes kip by burrowing his way into my lap. I suppose, if I were to be honest, my lap is to him what an overstuffed armchair is to me! What happens is this:

He scratches at the door

I open it

He marches in with purpose written all over his face and gives me the perky big-eyed piercing look which impales me to the back of the chair - even though I was on my way out to the shops at the time.

I cower, terrified

He jumps up on lap

I recline

He turns round exactly seven times and sticks his claws in to check for leaks.

I leak red stuff

He burrows head in my hand

I stroke his ears

He applies his acupuncture technique - well you can forget the "acu" bit, he goes straight to "puncture"!

Eventually head lolls - mine

He sleeps

I snore

He dreams

I twitch

He jumps

I groan

He stretches

I yawn

He gets up

I cringe

He then, very kindly, starts to give both of us an all over body wash. Although I suspect his apparent concern for my personal hygiene is incidental rather than deliberate.

Update on Bodgit and Scarper Enterprises

Well they come and look in the hole from time to time and even bring their mates along for a confab. I reckon they think they've hit a sewage pipe because of the cats using it as a toilet. Who's going to enlighten them? They themselves also use the hole as an ashtray - a multipurpose hole, eh!

Memo: Must write to council about smoking in the workplace.

Oh and they also came and put up scaffolding last Wednesday and returned the next day to take it down again.

Note to self. Must make sure I know where Austin is when they finally fill hole in again!

Sunday 17 August 2008

Balconies and flagpoles

I've been intrigued the last week or two to observe what's going on next door. This is the house that's the twin of ours and belongs to Toby the Tibetan terrier and his human entourage. Some months ago we'd received a notification from the council informing us that Toby wished to build a balcony extension out from the upstairs living room and did we mind? Well we didn't mind really except for the noise and mess and parking problems that would undoubtedly ensue. Happily, it was going to be on the far side, away from us and would probably annoy Geoff and June* and their several dogs much more - or maybe not.......

People who have an eccentric house such as theirs probably don't get annoyed at the same kind of things as normal people! I mean the building is weighed down with all kinds of aerials, antennas, gadgets and cables sticking out from the roof. There's even a wire growing out the chimney for goodness sake! I've thought for a long time that he used to work for MI5 and can't get out of the habit. And then there are the flagpoles. Two of them, one large and one small. I reckon each morning there's some kind of ceremony as the appropriate flags are raised for the day. Happily I'm still languishing in the arms of morpheus when this occurs. What the criteria is for selection, I've no idea. Three of the flags I recognise - Union Jack, Welsh and Canadian! But the rest could be anything, although I swear that one day I saw the Libyan flag flapping.

Anyway I quite like Geoff although I don't know him very well. One day when it was flooded outside, he went out and sailed his model boat up and down the road and took a photo of it to send to the council. Several weeks later a couple of workmen came and dug up the road for a few days, sat around drinking tea and then went away again. Since then, no flood. Well not there anyway, it seems to have moved down the road to outside the B&B. But I digress.

I assume Toby, or his Estates Manager, interviewed several prospective candidates for the job of balcony builder, but didn't see any of it take place (despite evidence to the contrary, I don't sit all day twitching at the nets. Mainly because we don't have any, otherwise I would!). One day though, I heard engines and voices outside and went to investigate. It appeared that Toby had made his choice and Messrs Bodgit and Scarper were fetched up outside in their white van. At least I think that's who it was, as the white van was a bit shy about telling the world who it belonged to. Apart from the usual dents, scratches and mud marks there was nothing to say what its role was in life. It could belong to Joe Burglar rather than Mick Bodgit for all I knew. I pulled up a chair and settled down for the show.

My mind wandered a bit while they got their thermoses out for the first cuppa of the day. I'm sure there's a thesis in this somewhere ... "The theological and metaphysical ramifications of non-specific white van man and the influence of the cuppa as the first cause in the zeitgeist of the 21st century British work ethic" There would be various concepts discussed, including the "why the heck does he always cut me up at Four Crosses roundabout?" motif. I think I would be asked to give the odd Reith lecture on the strength of that.

Anyway, back to the two clowns. After the cuppa, Pat Scarper went off in the van after Mick had removed his pick and shovel from the back. By this time I was ready for my cuppa, so tootled off to the kitchen. I was sometime as I discovered Austin out in the conservatory looking tense - his tail had gone all "Basil Brush". I soon realised that Ginge Secundus was in the vicinity, looking thunderous and intent on tucking in to Austin's mid-morning snack.

Now, knowing that he was responsible for Austin's ginger-vitis, I was not best pleased to see him, so crept up behind. Austin, I noted was approaching from the other side and together we performed a perfect scissor manoeuvre on Ginge. He didn't know what hit him. I screamed, Austin screamed (we're good at that) and together we saw him off down the steps. Austin and I looked at each other, high fived and went our separate ways. By the time I returned to the front window, Mick had dug a small hole in the drive next door. At this point Pat Scarper returned, Mick got in the van and they drove off.

Now apart from the odd ten minutes, they've not really been back to do anything in a couple of weeks! Toby and his staff have also not returned to check up, so all in all, it looks a bit sad and neglected. Bits of scaffolding, mud and concrete just lying around. Austin of course has found the hole, I know because I've seen his head popping up from time to time and judging by the rather intent and focussed expression on his face, he's using it as a toilet.

*Names have been changed to protect the weird

Monday 11 August 2008

Doors - the sequel

...... or "Cat in a Downpour". I wish I could paint a picture, but with me you just get the usual "thousand" words! I know rain is not something cats generally relish, but Austin gets especially grouchy if caught in a deluge. Now I've told him that if he is averse to getting wet then maybe north west Wales is not the place for him. I've left brochures of somewhat warmer, drier climes lying around for him to see - Margate, Beirut, Sahara! But I guess he must be dyslexic or something!

So here's the thing. I hear his lordship howling outside during an inundation that only Noah would be slightly happy about. I hurry to the door. No sign of the wailing one! I close door as precipitation is accumulating on my person. I try another door. Meanwhile he appears outside first door which is now closed. I close second door as the floor is becoming a swimming pool and return to first door. He's gone to second door (which is now closed). Are you with me? Please say if you're not?

At this point I become a bit deranged and for some unknown reason I now find myself at the third door. Now this is the door that has the rain coming in at right angles, accompanied by a force 10 gale. It was like some torturous liquid acupuncture! (maybe it will accidentally cure my migraines. One can always hope?). Well Austin, of course, wasn't there either. He's far too contrary and anyway maybe he wasn't in need of the liquid acupuncture treatment. Eventually, when hurricane Blodwen had finally subsided a bit, he came in through the bedroom window and delicately wiped his feet on my nice clean white duvet. Grrrrrrr!

Friday 1 August 2008

Chips with everything!

We've got one of those computerised ovens! Our old mate Richard came and installed it and took the old one away. Now Richard's a lovely bloke, very good at his job, however his communication skills leave a lot to be desired. It's not that he's a member of the grunting monosyllabic, neanderthal tribe of young men who need 10 pints in them before they open up - usually with expletives not deleted and then vomit in your lap. Richard is a "nice boy", but he hasn't yet learnt to articulate and express himself so that the words leave his lips and travel unhindered and unencrypted to your ear. It takes alot of patience on both sides in order to get the gist. I want to shout: 

"Open your mouth Richard, let the words go free!"

But no, they continue to rush around inside his oral cavity, desperate but unsuccessful in their bid for freedom. So I become adept at pretending I understand. This, of course, leads to confusion - mine! So when he gives a short tutorial on the dos and don'ts of the new appliance I'm all smiles and nods - in all the wrong places. I catch a word here and there, "catalyser" "flexiclip" "keypad"! Have I made a terrible mistake? Is it some kind of gruesome crossbreed robot straight out of Stepford Wives? A mobile phone car? What the .......? All I want is something that will heat up fishcakes!

He leaves eventually and I head straight for the manual(s). Big mistake. There are six of them plus a "moisture plus" cookbook! So it's an oven that steams as it cleans as it cooks? One of the books appeared to be about something called a "wireless food probe". And then there was the bag of inklamatrinks that came too. By this point I'm beginning to think I'd wandered into Ann Summers territory! What have I done? I'm sure I saw the words "kitchen appliances" above the door of the shop, but to tell the truth my eyesight's not what it was. Then of course trying to find instructions in English is rather time consuming. By the time you've waded through the Arabic, Chinese, Serbo Croatian and Gujarati you find that English takes up about 1½ pages at the back of book 5. Long live the E

Well getting
 the oven to start is no problem. Austin can do it just by walking in front. I think it must be to do with the fact that both he and the oven are chipped. I think also that both he and the oven can moonlight as defibrillators, so that's a bonus. Bit worried about frying my brains though, let alone fishcakes!