Les spiritueux vieillis

It’s happening! The Rum and Whisky Club, aka High Spirits, will be hosting its inaugural reboot – if, indeed, a reboot can be inaugural – tonight, at Le Château.

I know that there are other cat-loving gentlemen reading this, who would love to attend. But, since it’s not possible, here are the details. Perhaps doing one or more of the same things, on the same day, will make you feel a part of it?

Time: 7:30pm GMT until whenever the last attendee staggers home.

Drink of the day: Abhainn Dearg whisky, which I bought Cat Daddy for his birthday (but he drank it all so he’s had to buy a second bottle for The Club).

Menu: A variety of Scottish cheeses with oatcakes.

Activities: Drinking, stroking Louis Catorze, more drinking, admiring the inordinate amount of rocks that Cat Daddy has collected during various holidays.

Playlist: “God, I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead.” (I would put money on Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd featuring at some point during the evening.)

I will be brushing Catorze thoroughly in preparation for this auspicious occasion. He is very much looking forward to receiving the gentlemen, mainly because he thinks they are all coming to see him.

“Messieurs, I’ve been expecting vous.”

L’invasion verte

Cat Daddy is trying to re-teach Louis Catorze how to hunt. He is becoming increasingly frustrated by his boy’s refusal to fend off the parakeets and pigeons who eat from our small-birds-only feeder, and he is hoping that some refresher sessions will help.

The training sessions appear to be going exactly as one would imagine: a bit of mwahhing, a LOT of Unrepeatable Expletives, but not much action.

Catorze is excellent at catching and eating bugs, and he puts a great deal of time and effort into doing it. And, when Cat Daddy goes outside for a quiet read in the garden, Catorze is on high alert and full of energy, bullying him non-stop for attention, darting back and forth and generally being a pest. However, when the parakeets come along, he goes to sleep. And this infuriates Cat Daddy like you wouldn’t believe.

Well, you just help yourselves.
Let them eat bird seed.

I went out with a friend the other day and, when I came back, Cat Daddy was mid-altercation with a particularly persistent parakeet, yelling, throwing water at it and so on. He then scooped up Catorze, pointed his little face in the direction of the bird feeder and said, “Look: that’s what you’re supposed to be guarding. When the parakeets come along, do something! Don’t just lie there and do f*** all.”

Catorze: “Mwah!”

Cat Daddy thinks Catorze is scared of the parakeets. I don’t agree. I think that, having seen Cat Daddy pursue them, he thinks it’s his papa’s job to chase them off for him, and not vice versa. After all, he is Le Roi Soleil, and Cat Daddy is a mere [insert appropriately lowly noun here].

This was the sequence of events when THE SAME PARAKEET came by for another go:

Trying to give a merde …
Still trying to give a merde …
STILL trying to give a merde …
Nope. Merde not given.

Les fruits d’une sécheresse

Non-Brits: check on your British friends. We are just about managing to haul our frazzled carcasses through what we really hope is the last hot snap of the year, and we are far from ok.

It’s been so hot that Cat Daddy’s iPhone flashed a warning message last Wednesday, about needing to cool down before it could work. (Ok, so he left it in the sun and forgot about it, but that’s not the point.) Our surroundings are so unreassuringly brown and parched that we have started having those conversations that old people have: “I really hope it rains, because we NEED the rain”, debating the probability of a hosepipe ban, and so on.

Not normal.

One of our water-saving measures at Le Château has been to invest the kingly sum of £8 in a washing-up bowl, which catches the water every time we use the sink instead of just letting it run down the plughole. It has made us acutely aware of how much water we use – I once discovered that I’d used a whole bowlful to rinse just one smallish pan – and, when it’s about half full, we empty it into the flowerbed.

As I thought it only fair that Louis Catorze cut down, like the rest of us, so I swapped his usual tumbler for, erm, a Chambord cocktail coupe. The tumbler holds 500ml of which he only ever drinks half, due to not being able to squeeze his silly face right down to the bottom, whereas the coupe holds half as much and is wider:

Très fancy.

Cat Daddy: “You can’t use that! It was expensive!” (Actual price of coupe: £0, because it came free with a bottle of Chambord.)

Cat Daddy again: “But that’s our favourite dessert glass!” (Actual number of desserts ever served in this glass: 0.)

The experiment failed. Although Catorze drank from it, he made the most almighty mess, which is exactly the opposite of saving water. I would far rather give his leftover water to the plants than see it all over the floor.

So Catorze is back to his pint tumbler again, and his part in our water-saving drive remains nothing, niente, nichts and nada. It’s a shame as I really wanted him to make a contribution to the planet.

Cat Daddy: “Well, that would’ve been a first.”

Why, yes, that is a piece of cobweb on his whisker, flapping in the breeze.

EDIT: To make up for his aqua-selfishness, Catorze has kindly agreed that the local wildlife may use some of his 9,983 bowls for their water. So we have dotted them around Le Jardin in shady spots and are refilling them daily. Catorze has always refused to drink from a bowl but I have a funny feeling he will start now, just to be difficult.

Le vampire de la pleine lune

It’s a full moon tonight. And, just as we thought Louis Catorze couldn’t possibly be any creepier, I am starting to believe that his fangs grow during the full moon.

American Horror Story knows him well.
Louis Catorze feels seen (and wouldn’t say no to cuddles from Finn Wittrock).

Now, please hear me out.

Obviously teeth don’t keep growing in the same way that hair does. But something happens to Catorze during a full moon – his top lip contracts, or whatever – to give his fangs the appearance of having grown, in the same way that they look longer when he’s feeling mischievous and playful. And I thought I was imagining it until a few full moons ago, when Cat Daddy said to Catorze, “Look at you, Louis. It’s a full moon, your fangs are out, your eyes are like saucers and you’re ready to party.”

And party he did. Cat Daddy knows this because the little sod woke him with his horrendous, guttural screaming at 1:30am on that full moon night. The sound came from the direction of the Zone Libre outside, so no doubt there was an altercation with some unidentified creature.

Me: “Did you actually see him fighting?”

Cat Daddy: “No, but I heard him. And you just KNOW your own cat’s voice, don’t you?”

We do. Saint Jésus, we do.

The full moon has been associated with both magic and madness for thousands of years, so I see no reason why it WOULDN’T have an effect on an already-creepy, already-moon-sensitive, black vampire cat of extra-terrestrial and/or demonic origin. And, whilst having fangs that grow under a full moon is weird beyond belief, it still wouldn’t be Catorze’s weirdest trait, all things considered.

Here are the fangs, in all their vampiric glory and, as you can see, even when his mouth is closed they still stick out. Long may they remain:

Life is kinda crazy with a spooky little boy like him.

Big Brother veille sur vous

Is there a link between Facebook and WordPress? I know that they’re not owned by the same people, but is there some sort of creepy algorithmic link, in the same way that every keystroke that we type is monitored somewhere?

I ask this because, since my last post, my Facebook feed has been full of unsavoury animal ads, of which the most alarming was: “Are your dog’s anal glands full?”

Jésus, Marie et Joseph, et le petit âne.

I am shuddering, sweating and bleeding from the eyeballs as these words fall from my once-clean hand, and I pray that it will be the only time I ever have to write this. After today, let us never speak of this again.

Worse yet, the offending ad was a VIDEO. Naturellement, I didn’t watch it all the way through, but what I did see – and what my brain visualised – was enough. Could it be that the mention of animal arses on WordPress somehow triggered Facebook to bombard me with all this?

This is not the first time that we have suspected Them of spying on us. Cat Daddy once had a brief discussion with a friend about a magic wallet into which you could stuff multiple credit cards, without the wallet getting fat and bulky. The next morning, his Facebook feed was full of ads for said wallet.

On another occasion, my students were telling me about some crypto-currency that I’d never heard of, called Moondoggy or some such thing. When I Googled it whilst chatting to them, it was top of my search menu.

Students: “WHAT? It should be, like, the seventh or eighth thing, not the first! They’re listening to us!”

The most bizarre of them all was when Cat Daddy and I were watching Fargo, and we discussed one of the actors having also been in The Usual Suspects. Forty minutes in, we paused the film to get some snacks, then resumed … to find that we no longer recognised the characters or understood the plot. We wondered if Louis Catorze had spiked our popcorn with catnip … until we discovered that we were no longer watching Fargo. We were watching The Usual Suspects. And we weren’t even watching it from the start but from about – yes, you’ve guessed it – forty minutes in.

No, we did not switch films when we paused (and, if we had, we would have started it from the beginning, like normal people). No, we do not have a smart remote control prompted by voice commands, nor do we have Alexa.

Even more peculiar was that I’d made a mistake, and in fact the actor whom we were discussing was NOT in The Usual Suspects. Which disproves the theory that either we or They had somehow summoned a menu of All Films Starring Steve Buscemi, and selected one to start playing randomly from the middle.

Not even my tech-savvy students could explain this one. However, one of them, who has a chat noir and therefore knows exactly what they’re like, said, “Miss, erm … was your cat around at the time?”

At the apex of the pyramid comes Big Brother. Big Brother is infallible and all-powerful.”

I don’t recall seeing Catorze but, of course, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t there. I would definitely remember, however, if he’d sat on the remote and switched films with his arse.

OH GOD, WE ARE BACK TO ANIMAL ARSES AGAIN.

On that note, here is Freya, whose fluffy hindquarters started off this whole thing:

“You mock my arse? You can kiss my arse!”

It wouldn’t surprise me if Freya were the mastermind behind all this.

Meanwhile, I am mystified by how They can be clever enough to know that I mentioned animal arses, but not clever enough to pick up on the tone and to understand that I was talking about my AVERSION to them. If it were all some marketing ploy to sell me dog anal gland cream/pills/whatever, They have failed.

However, one thing in which They HAVE succeeded is getting me to buy is more vodka – lots of it – to numb the trauma.

Hors de ma vue! Tu infectes mes yeux!

*WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF CAT ARSE*

Anyone who knows me knows that a cat’s rear end is my least favourite part of it. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s one of my least favourite things in the world. I would rather face War, Famine, Death or whatever the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse is, or even all four at once, than have anything to do with a cat’s arse.

Obviously the only solution to this is finding a cat with no arse, which is unlikely to happen unless someone in a lab were to create a genetically-modified Doctor Doolittle-style push-me-pull-you thing (younger followers, ask your parents). But a short-haired cat is a reasonable compromise. Hairless cats have everything permanently on display, with no barrier whatsoever between the arse and your furniture. And long-haired cats, whilst the arse is concealed from view, can have all manner of unspeakable horrors lurking within the depths of that fur.

On Saturday Cat Daddy and I went to Leicestershire and, whilst there, we visited one of Louis Catorze’s favourite pilgrims, who lives with her husband and FOUR feline overlords. And the cats very generously allow two dogs to lodge in their house, too.

Indy and Dyson (with Cat-and-Dog Daddy reflected in the television, encouraging them to look in the right direction.)
A visual representation of what Indy’s tail feels like when he wallops your leg with it. (He is a VERY happy dog.)

Upon arrival, we became acquainted with the canine contingent and three-quarters of the feline contingent. As ever, when meeting other cats, I kept saying “They’re ENORMOUS!” over and over again when, in actual fact, this is what all normal cats are supposed to look like.

Draco, initially shy but soon gave in to cuddles and play.
Pumpkin, who struts into other people’s houses and makes himself at home.
Weasley, the smallest of the bunch (but still much bigger than Catorze).

Cat-and-Dog Daddy brought the fourth cat – a stunning, long-haired beauty named Freya – to us and she pitter-pattered elegantly around us as we talked, with her fluffy tail aloft. As she did so, I noticed solid matter stuck to her hindquarters.

Be careful where you put your hand.

Me: “Freya’s got something stuck to her arse.”

Cat-and-Dog Mamma: “Oh, has she?”

Me: “I think it’s a leaf. It’s definitely a leaf, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Please tell me it’s a leaf. PLEASE TELL ME IT’S A LEAF.”

Cat-and-Dog Mamma, glancing at Freya’s arse: “Erm … no.

Saint. Jésus.

Freya then pitter-pattered off. I had awful visions of her returning to us with the offending substance still affixed to her arse … or, worse, returning to us with the it NOT affixed to her arse and the Cat-and-Dog Parents having to do the Chasse de Trésor around the house.

I don’t know how the offending substance was eventually dealt with, and I didn’t ask because I was too busy thanking the universe that Freya didn’t deposit it onto my lap.

Freya is OUTRAGED that her lower portions are being discussed.

Never did I think I would be GRATEFUL for the Catorzian arse, yet here I am. If my only direct dealings with it involve colouring in photos using the iPhone’s black markup tool, I have got off lightly. As for indirect contact, I don’t want to know. If I thought too hard about where Catorze’s arse had been, I would never touch anything in Le Château again.

Nicely in shadow, just the way it should be.

Le jus de ronronnement

Most cats dribble a bit, but Louis Catorze does it a lot. This is mostly because his mouth cannot fully close on account of his protruding vampire teeth, leaving a permanent escape route for his spit.

Since the spit is at its most plentiful when Catorze is purring, Cat Daddy has coined a rather delightful nickname for it: purr-juice. I love it. Somehow calling it by that name makes it seem less revolting and almost, dare I say it, endearing.

Photographing the purr-juice is quite difficult as you have to be quick with the camera, but Cat Daddy managed it. On this occasion Catorze had joined him on the weekly Zoom call with his boozy pub mates and was purring like crazy, overwhelmed by the heavenly chorus of male voices:

Blame it on his juice, baby.

Before anyone starts to panic, this is NOT drooling due to heatstroke – in fact, this photo was taken before the heatwave – and there is nothing wrong with his teeth. (Cat Daddy: “I should f***ing well hope not, after a grand’s worth of dental work.”)

This is pure Catorzian happiness. And there’s more where that came from.

Le téléphone noir

I didn’t think there was much in life worse than Louis Catorze’s screaming. But, as ever, when I think we have reached rock bottom with the little sod, he hands me a shovel and tells me to dig until I strike the Earth’s core.

Taking a brief break between screamathons.

He has now begun to scream during phone conversations, especially highly sensitive and/or important ones. There were a few isolated incidents in the past (such as when I got a new job and my now-boss called to discuss terms) but now it’s becoming a much more regular thing. I don’t even have that many people call me. But Catorze actually comes running when the phone rings, as if the sound somehow activates his “Urge To Be A Massive Idiot” switch. And this is embarrassing beyond measure.

He screamed when Cat Daddy was consoling a friend with a sick relative. He screamed when I was offering condolences to another friend who had just lost her dad. And when Catorze’s cat food didn’t arrive, he delivered a fine, Day-Lewis-worth performance during my phone call to Ocado Zoom, in his portrayal of a starving animal who had never been fed.

Each time (apart from the last one because, on that occasion, the screaming actually served me well) we tried to leave the room but Catorze simply followed us, continuing to scream, even jumping onto our laps to get closer to the phone.

More recently, he screamed when the doctor called to arrange an appointment for a steroid injection in my shoulder. Catorze was especially bad during this call, almost as if he knew we were talking about steroid injections and was saying, “This is what they do to you! Proceed à vos propres risques!” During the other phone calls mentioned above, the callers asked, “Do you have a cat with you?” or, if they knew him, “Is that Louis?” Conversely, this actually breaks the ice and makes the situation about 1% less embarrassing. However, the doctor said nothing. NOTHING.

The latter part of the conversation went something like this:

Catorze: “Mwah!”

Doctor: “Let me check the availability for later this month.”

Catorze: “Mwah! Mwah!”

Doctor: “How about [whatever date it was – I’m too traumatised to remember now]?”

Catorze: “Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!”

Me: “I’m afraid I can’t make that day. I could do the Monday, though? Sorry about the noise, by the way. That’s just my cat.”

Catorze: “MWAHMWAHMWAHMWAHMHWAAAAAAHHHHH!”

Doctor, without hesitation: “Yes, the Monday looks fine. How about midday?”

I know that doctors are busy, but come on. This was as awkward as having a high-five ignored.

Naturellement I’m not able to video the little sod and talk on the phone at the same time. But below is an old video demonstrating the kind of sound that hapless phone callers can expect to hear.

There really are no winners when it comes to phone calls to Le Château.

Honestly, just text me instead.

Le renard et la panthère

Not long ago, we spotted this fine gentleman in the Zone Libre:

Foxy Loxy.

The fox stared at us, motionless. And, in the time it took us to debate whether or not to supervise Louis Catorze in his outdoor jaunts that evening, the little sod had slipped through the hole in the fence and out into the Zone Libre.

For a few seconds, Cat Daddy and I stopped breathing.

Catorze and the fox locked eyes, then Catorze decided he was … bored. Yes, bored. He yawned a little, then looked around at the scenery and had a little wash.

After seeing that neither party intended to move, and that Catorze was neither traumatised nor looking for a fight, we left them to it (but kept the bifold doors wide open, just in case). Catorze remained there until darkness fell, then casually strolled in, ate a few pellets of Orijen and went back out again. He didn’t even give the square root of a merde that the Zone Libre contained one visible predator plus any number of concealed ones.

What on earth is he thinking? Why isn’t he scared? Should we be concerned about the fact that he isn’t scared? We have many questions although we suspect that, even if he were able to answer them, he still wouldn’t.

Meanwhile, he is just going about his business as usual and living his best life.

Pretending to sleep but secretly planning more Zone Libre shenanigans.

Danser dans le noir

Cat Daddy and I recently had friends over for dinner. Two of our three guests were men so, naturellement, Louis Catorze found this very pleasing indeed and spent the evening pitter-pattering back and forth between our gathering and ICB in the Zone Libre.

When our guests were about to leave, I made sure that the coast was clear because I really didn’t want Catorze escaping out at The Front at 2am. I was tired and couldn’t face the sleepless night that I knew would follow if I went to bed with him still outside.

Just as I was closing the door after saying our goodbyes, we heard the most almighty BA-DOOMPH, BA-DOOMPH, BA-DOOMPH. The little sod, who had been waiting silently on the landing for the right moment to strike, galloped down the stairs like a wild deer. You would be forgiven for wondering why the loud stomping didn’t trigger us to shut the door more quickly, but it was so un-catlike that it took us by surprise and we froze.

Catorze shot out and under That Neighbour’s car.

Guest 1: “Oh. Is he allowed out here?”

Me: “Not really. But, as you can see, he doesn’t give a shit.”

Guest 2 tried to entice Catorze out, without success. I know from bitter experience that, in situations such as these, the more one tries to chase, the more resistant he becomes, so the only thing to do is wait until he decides to come back. Regretfully there is no way of knowing whether that will be in the next few minutes, or at sunrise.

Cat Daddy decided to have a go at calling Catorze, to see if he would respond better to his favourite human. But Catorze, seemingly buoyed by the novelty of the quiet, empty street, taunted him by dancing tantalisingly out of his reach and refusing to come in.

Eventually I went to bed, with Cat Daddy promising that he would wait up and keep trying. But I decided that I couldn’t leave Catorze to the mercy of his papa, who was drunk and therefore highly likely to forget and/or fall asleep, so I came back downstairs at 2:40am for one last attempt. Luckily Catorze was waiting on the doorstep when I opened the door, and he gave me a little squeak of gratitude, then pitter-pattered up to bed with me and lay across my stomach like a living, furry belt.

What IS this peculiar beast who can both float silently and BA-DOOMPH like a charging rhino, and who can sense exactly when we don’t want him to do something and then do that very thing? One thing is for sure: no way in the world is he just a cat.

Bastard cat/deer/rhino.

J’adore le ventilateur

During previous searingly hot summers, I have sat in the living room with a fur-covered animal on my lap, a blanket over my knees (because said animal doesn’t like contact with bare skin), a candle burning (because of said animal’s allergies) and the fan off (because said animal doesn’t like the breeze), all the while hating myself and wondering how I became such a pathetic excuse for a human being.

However, Louis Catorze has decided that he does like the fan after all. So I am proud to declare that I now only do three of the four things mentioned above, making me merely SOMEWHAT pathetic as opposed to an utter loser.

Here I am, sweltering in the blistering heat, whilst Sa Maj relaxes in comfort:

You just relax whilst my internal organs melt and leak out of me.

Le maillot arc-en-ciel

A couple of days ago, I went into the kitchen where Cat Daddy was watching the Tour de France. Louis Catorze had squished himself so hard into his papa’s leg that it was a while before I spotted him.

I then noticed that THIS was happening:

Apologies for the Tour de France commentary in the background.

Me: “What’s going on?”

Cat Daddy, without taking his eyes off the Tour de France: “It’s Boys’ Club. This is what we do.”

Well, I wouldn’t know. I’m not a member, and if I so much as pass by when meetings are taking place, I am met with baleful glares from those in attendance.

It’s not really fair, is it? I am the one who organises all Catorze’s important stuff and, in return, I am merely tolerated. Cat Daddy, the one who swears at him, calls him names and roughs him up to the point of flatlining ears (Catorze’s ears, I mean, not Cat Daddy’s), is treated with utter adoration.

It would be annoying were it not for the fact that it’s also hilariously cute. I can’t help but love their partnership and, despite Cat Daddy’s protests to the contrary, I know that he does, too.

L’eau est la vie

We are still suffering the after-effects of the crippling heatwave that peaked last week. At least we HOPE that was the peak, and that it isn’t going to get worse.

Most normal cats are flopping languidly around the place and not doing a great deal. Louis Catorze, however, is splitting his time between screaming, intensive Rodent Duty, more screaming, gorging on Orijen and indulging in all-night parkour around the back bedroom, including in and out of the window. (Don’t worry, there is an extension roof below and it’s not just a sheer drop. That said, he has tried to jump out of upper floor windows that DO have a sheer drop, and I’ve had to stop him.)

Like good citizens, we have been dutifully putting out extra water for the local wildlife. Stupidly, I assumed that Catorze were too engrossed in his other summer activities to bother himself with the birds’ water bowl. When he’s on Rodent Duty not even Armageddon will shift him, as you can see here:

Good boy.

However, I have just busted him doing this:

Nooooo.

It’s not the clearest picture as I had to take it from some distance away; any attempt to move closer would have sent him scarpering and denied me any evidence. But we can all see what’s going on, non?

And the prosecution would also like to submit this piece of evidence: on the same day that these photos were taken, the little sod came in from a long evening of Rodent Duty with a suspiciously damp body, when it wasn’t raining.

We are now concerned that Cat Daddy’s greatest fear will come true: that Catorze will drink from The Iron Pool (assuming he hasn’t already done so), making it the most expensive cat drinking vessel on the planet. And the fact that it’s not even his MAIN vessel, and only a secondary one, makes it worse.

Will the spooky Book of Hope work some self-preservation magic on its outdoor counterpart? Or will it and Catorze team up to form some unholy alliance that will take over the world?

“Your maman snorts catnip in hell, you faithless slime!”
“The haunted bones made moi do it.”

L’âme de la montagne

During our stay in beautiful Durness, Cat Daddy and I embarked upon a magical voyage into the home – and creative imagination – of artist Lotte Glob. Words alone cannot adequately describe her world and it really has to be seen in person, but you can find out more about it here.

We fell in love with one of Lotte’s pieces in particular, called The Book of Hope. It’s named after Ben Hope, the mountain from which the raw materials were gathered to make the book. But, somehow, it also sums up our optimism in putting a precious, fragile piece of art in the same house as a cat who always does the opposite of what you want. The exact combinations and proportions of clay, minerals, plants and bones (yes, BONES) that went into the pages are known only by it and its author, and that’s part of its wonder. It’s like the Cailleach’s personal book of shadows, excavated from deep within the earth, and we will never fully know its secrets. (Unless Louis Catorze smashes it up.)

When we returned to Lotte’s place the next day to collect the book, a second piece also caught our eye. This one is called The Iron Pool, and we hope that it will provide the birds with some much-needed water in this heatwave whilst also being high-sided enough to keep it from inquisitive Catorzian paws/tongues. We love the fact that it looks like an earth-toned flower from a distance but, when you approach, there’s a surprise blue loch inside:

The Iron Pool, supported by a small selection of the inordinate number of rocks that Cat Daddy insists on gathering, wherever he goes.

I wasn’t allowed to plonk Catorze next to The Iron Pool for a photo (Cat Daddy: “Nooo, we don’t want to draw his attention to it in any way!”), but I did manage to capture the little sod with The Book of Hope. The more I think about it, the less weird it is that a household with a black vampire cat also has a sculpture containing hidden bones.

“Magic et secrets et bones, oh my!”

If you are in the Scottish Highlands, Lotte’s place is well worth a visit (by appointment only). As well as being talented, she is a delightful person and so easy to talk to. We would love to see her again when we return next year to climb Ben Hope.