Un peu de honte est bientôt passée

We now have two new people to add to our “We Owe You An Apology/Explanation Because Of Louis Catorze” list: Basil who came to install our new front door lock (Embarrassment Rating: Level 4), and Lee the tiler who is doing our front path (Embarrassment Rating: Level 8).

Catorze started screaming from a distance the minute Basil started his work and, when it was finished and Basil was demonstrating how to use the lock, the little sod – still out of sight – ramped up the volume. Basil stopped the demonstration mid-sentence and said, “Sorry, but … what IS that?”

Me: “Oh. Erm, that’s our cat. Sorry about him. He loves visitors so he’s just excited that you’re here.”

At that point Sa Maj pitter-pattered into view, up-tailed, psycho-eyed and screaming. Basil looked at him and said, “Aw, are you excited? That’s nice but, unfortunately, I’m going to have to go soon.”

Catorze: “Owww-mwaaaahhhhhh!”

Basil: “He said “Oh, why?”! Didn’t that sound just like “Oh, why?”?”

It actually did.

Anyway, despite the drama, Sa Maj now has a new friend. And it seems that there was a reason for the screaming other than just to greet Basil: I later discovered that the little sod had brought a mouse (his second of the day) and left it in the place from where his distant screaming had originated. And that place happened to be right in the middle of Lee’s route from The Front to his tile-cutting machine at The Back, so he absolutely had to have seen it.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, after I’d picked up and bagged the mouse, I hung the bag over the outside tap at The Back, out of Catorze’s reach, with the intention of disposing of it in the park bin after Lee had gone. But then I forgot about it. And I hadn’t tied up the bag very well so, in the highly unlikely event of Lee not having noticed the mouse the first time, he certainly would have done so when he took the bag off the tap to hose down the patio.

So, at best, Lee thinks we have a mouse infestation and are too lazy to clean it up. And, at worst, he thinks we put dead mice in bags and hang them around the house for fun.

Cat Daddy: “Or both. It could be both, you know.”

La joie est un escargot rampant

Cat Daddy and I were met with this scene when we came downstairs yesterday morning. The photos do not do it justice and, in real life, it was more horrifying than I ever thought possible:

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: this is snail juice. And, judging by the huge amount of ground covered in just one night, you would imagine a full-on gastropod party with several attendees. But a search of the area revealed just one culprit, and not a very large one at that (shown below with a 20p coin for scale). You can even see some of the sofa fibres stuck to it:

I have questions:

1. How did it get into the house? (Cat Daddy: “I think we both know the answer to that one.” And, regretfully, he has a point, because Louis Catorze has previous when it comes to bringing in slugs and snails. In case you missed the worst incident, here it is: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/04/03/la-limace/)

2. In the extremely unlikely event of Catorze not being responsible for bringing in the snail, why the flip didn’t the little sod try to stop this carnage? (Cat Daddy had no response to this one.)

Anyway, the snail juice was promptly cleaned up, with Cat Daddy philosophically declaring, “It could have been worse. At least it’s not bird shit.” (This is true. But it doesn’t really help.)

It’s a tragic day when the slasher-clawed killing machine that is your cat not only fails to stop the slowest animal in the world from wreaking silent havoc overnight, but most likely gave it a helping hand by carrying it in in his mouth or letting it hitch a ride on his fur. And, short of keeping Catorze in a cage for the rest of his life, I don’t see how we can prevent this horror from happening again. Any advice would be gratefully welcomed.

Le maudit hebenon

One of the glorious things about our garden is that plants just magically appear without us actually planting them. Neither Cat Daddy nor I know a thing about gardening so we very much welcome this, especially if the plants turn out to be particularly attractive or unusual.

A new and quite pleasant-looking plant recently appeared which we didn’t recognise. A family member thought it might be something called “tree tomato” and suggested popping a couple of the berries into our cooking. And merci à Dieu that we didn’t, because a bit of Googling – using the sophisticated and targeted search term of, erm, “plants with purple flowers and red berries” – revealed it to be … deadly nightshade.

As the name would suggest, every part of this plant is poisonous and if you so much as look at it, you die. This is the Hallowe’eny witch-plant of nightmares, the enemy-eliminating poison of every story book I read as a child, so frightening that I half-believed it to be of Shakespearean fiction along with hemlock (Cat Daddy: “I’m fairly sure that’s an actual plant”), mandrake (Cat Daddy: “I think that’s an actual plant, too”) and wolfsbane (Cat Daddy, tapping on his phone: “You’ve just named three ACTUAL PLANTS”).

I even asked a friend to name “the worst plant she could possibly think of” and, despite not having much horticultural experience, she said “deadly nightshade” without hesitation. (Well, her first guess was “cucumber” but I disqualified that for silliness.)

When we first moved into Le Château we were very strict about the plants we kept, because of Louis Catorze’s medical issues. But, as we started to realise just how many seeds were unstoppably air- and bird-borne, and how often Catorze pitter-pattered into other gardens with less desirable plants, we gradually became less strict. And it seemed that Catorze, despite not being blessed in the brain department, was cleverly able to ascertain which were to be avoided, such as the spiny butternut squash which he would clear with a flying leap when it strayed across the path. That said, knowing that we had the worst plant in the world in our garden – OVERLOOKING LE ROYAL NAP SPOT – didn’t fill us with joy. The little sod has shown no interest in consuming toxic matter in the past, but we know, don’t we, that if I assume or tell people that he won’t do it, he will. The deadly nightshade had to go.

So, whilst taking great pains not to dislodge any pollen, Cat Daddy snipped off the branches and dug up the roots. We can now relax knowing that the most lethal plant ever to exist won’t be shedding death-dust onto our precious boy as he sleeps. However, we feel somewhat less relaxed about future dinner invitations from that family member who told us to eat the berries, and we are drafting our list of excuses already.

See below for an indication of the the terrifying proximity of Sa Maj’s nap area to the devil-plant:

Aucun séjour à Paris

Cat Daddy and I had planned a short break in Paris to celebrate his retirement, and we should be there right now. But, because I have wrecked my bad shoulder whilst attempting to restrain Louis Catorze for his spot-on flea treatment, we have had to cancel.

Now, I don’t suppose I can fully blame Catorze for this as it was probably too soon after my surgery to book a holiday anyway; I am still struggling to do most of the things required/desired during a city break (walking, carrying a bag, taking public transport, sitting at a table to eat, etc.). Plus we know how awful Catorze is when given medication, so I should have asked Cat Daddy to do it instead of doing it myself. I suppose there are worse places to spend time than Le Château, but it’s annoying beyond belief to see how remorseless Sa Maj is for his part in making things worse: after the incident he pitter-pattered to his bowl, had a light amuse-bouche of Lily’s Kitchen, then napped in the flowerbed all afternoon (facing away from us rather than towards us, with the spot-on stain very much visible on the back of his neck as if to taunt us).

Luckily for me Cat Daddy has been very understanding indeed, and he has assured me that he is happy for us to relax at home this week. He even made me chateaubriand* with smoked Stilton and creamy mushroom sauce to cheer me up (and I told him that it half-worked so he’s making it again tonight). Catorze, on the other hand, couldn’t care less what we do. Here he is in what is now his own private garden on the sedum roof, like some evil warlord planning his next missile strike:

*With the â or without? I have agonised over this and spent countless hours researching, yet the internet appears to be telling me that both are possible. Which, frankly, is as lame as a competition in which “everybody wins”.

Nous sommes sans cesse mis à l’épreuve

We are just a couple of days into Cat Daddy’s retirement, and already I’ve had it with the males in this household.

It’s bad enough that Boys’ Club seems to have taken a darker turn and gone underground – and by this I mean Catorze purring and cuddling with Cat Daddy when I am not around, then disappearing if I try to join in the fun and eventually reappearing and picking up from where he left off if I go away again. But now they are both colluding to ruin my film-watching time, and this is utterly unforgivable.

I have known for some time never to watch a film with Cat Daddy if he’s seen it before but I haven’t, because he ruins every minute by saying things like, “Ooh, this bit’s really good!” or by providing some inane, plot-spoiling commentary. However, I now also know never to watch a film with him if neither of us has seen it but it’s based on a true story that he knows but I don’t. (In fact, this is exactly the same thing as the first scenario, so I should really have figured this out long ago.)

Last night we watched that film about those two racing drivers who didn’t get along, then one of them was hurt in a bad accident and the other one felt bad. Cat Daddy drove me mad with rage by randomly dropping in pieces of Formula 1 trivia and telling me who was going to win/crash/die next. In the end I stopped the film halfway through.

Me: “Right. Have you finished? Because I’m not starting the film again until you stop talking. If you have anything more to say about Formula 1, say it now and get it over with.”
Cat Daddy: “I was only trying to give some context.”
Me: “I don’t want to hear the context right now. I just want to watch the film. You can tell me the context afterwards.”
Cat Daddy: “Ok. Sorry.”
Me: “I’m serious. No more talking.”

[I pick up the remote to restart the film]

Catorze, jumping onto my lap: “Mwahhhh!”
Cat Daddy: “Bwahahahaha! Just as you say “No more talking”, HE pipes up!”
Me: “BE QUIET.”

[Catorze sticks his tail and arse in my face and blocks the screen]

Me: “Move!”

[Catorze moves, but only to turn his body the other way around so now I have the other side of his tail and arse blocking the screen]

Catorze: “MWAAAAAHHHH!”
Cat Daddy: “You see? Louis appreciates the context.”

And so on, and so on, until what would have been an excellent cinematic experience – and which might even have made me like Formula 1 – had it not been for their stupid interruptions, finally limped to an end.

Mesdames et Messieurs, this sort of thing is no longer just an isolated, silly incident in my life. This is now my actual life.

Qui a chats n’a point de paix

The three of us managed to survive the hottest day since time began. However, it was the following night that posed more of a problem, and now I have a new “worst night’s sleep of my life”.

I changed bedrooms three times – with Louis Catorze in tow each time – in an effort to cool down. And, when each attempt yielded no satisfactory results, I ended up sleeping in the kitchen with the back door open, just as I did that time when Catorze wore his cone and couldn’t get through the cat flap to use les toilettes.

Then, when the storm came at around 2:30am, the little sod whooped with joy and pitter-pattered out to seek the highest point – our shed with the sedum roof – and to scream at the clouds.

Anyway, on a more positive and less weird note, Cat Daddy’s last few days at work are almost here and I am trying to persuade him to write a guest blog entry in the future about what it’s like to be permanently at home with Catorze. Sadly he’s not keen on the idea.

(I actually meant not keen on the idea of writing a guest blog entry, but it turns out that he’s also not keen on the idea of being permanently at home with Catorze. Just the other day I overheard an exchange of meows and “Shut up!”s from the next room, followed by, “Do you hear this? This is a sign of my life to come!”)

Cat Daddy does, of course, have plans for his retirement, and I don’t suppose being followed around Le Château by a vampire-toothed, screaming, psycho animal is one of them. But writing is incredibly therapeutic and stress-relieving, even if the subject matter is the cause of your stress. And Cat Daddy is forever complaining that I portray him as far meaner than he really is (“You make me out to be a complete ****” is his usual refrain) so this would be a perfect way to ensure accurate representation.

Qu’en pensez-vous, Mesdames et Messieurs: a new incarnation for Cat Daddy as a guest blogger? If enough of us bully and pressure him show some support and enthusiasm, perhaps he will change his mind …

Photo taken during one of their many alfresco Boys’ Club sessions:

La chaleur omniprésente

Boris Johnson is Prime Minister (and yes, non-Brits, he IS an actual person and not some Sacha Baron Cohen-type actor pretending). It’s already too bloody hot and it’s due to hit 38 degrees later. And I am still recovering from my surgery, with my stitches – which Louis Catorze has only kicked once, thankfully – pinching and pulling at my skin especially badly in this heat. So I really don’t have the time, the will or the energy to be dealing with little sods escaping out at The Front and having to find inventive ways of herding them back in again. Yet that is exactly what I’ve been having to do, because the soaring temperatures appear to have triggered Catorze’s “Must Kill Self” switch.

Fortunately I think the heat is sapping him of any mischief-making ability and just making him fall asleep out there, so he’s unlikely to go annoying any neighbours or pitter-pattering into oncoming traffic (we hope). But it’s 793 times hotter outside at The south-facing Front than it is inside. Plus there is no water out there (and, if I take fresh water to him, he won’t drink it). And, worse yet, his go-to shelter from the sun appears to be Oscar the dog’s front garden – too deep into the bushes for me to reach in and pull him out – and we all know that that isn’t going to end well when Oscar finds out.

(Dog Mamma discovered Sa Maj yesterday when she was taking out the recycling, gave him some cuddles and very kindly messaged me to ask if he was ok in the heat, commenting on his sickly-sounding meow. I shamefacedly had to tell her that that was his normal voice.)

Most animals can be trusted in extreme weather conditions to rely on their natural instincts and know what’s best for them. It’s a bit more difficult when your pet appears to be from another planet and goes out of his way to CHOOSE the worst possible course of action.

Below is a picture of the extra water that I left for him in the bedroom during the night, so that he wouldn’t have to go downstairs to drink. (Newcomers to Le Blog: yes, he has always drunk from a glass and would rather go on Thirst Strike than use a bowl.) He did not touch a single drop.

Cat Daddy: “Well, he didn’t ask for it, did he?”