Une journée au musée

This would have been the first Sunday of the Easter holidays, with people out and about doing fun things in beautiful weather. Instead we’re still in lockdown, too scared to step outside for fear of the sunshine flushing out the non-space-respecting stupids, and days of the week aren’t even a thing anymore. But it doesn’t do any harm to dream about normal life resuming again. And, one day, it shall be so.

If you have never been to the London Museum of Water and Steam in TW8, I would highly recommend a visit once we are safely through all this horror. Not just for the water and the steam, but for this:

Not a chance in hell
Rather you than me

For reasons that I will probably never know, the museum has chosen a black cat as the recurring symbol marking their kids’ treasure hunt trail. I think a water-dwelling animal or a mermaid or undine or some such thing would have made more sense but, that said, black cats practically INVENTED the art of randomly showing up in places where they have no business being. So why not a black cat?

I took my niece to the museum during her February half term visit, and she thought the Louis Catorze trail was the most exciting thing in the world. As for me, it took superhuman effort on my part to stop myself from flitting round with a bottle of Tipp-Ex and painting fangs onto every single one of their cat pictures. And, as my last entry gained me a free pass for a whole year, it wouldn’t even cost me anything except for, erm, however much a bottle of Tipp-Ex is.

So what ARE the horrors that lurk in the black cat’s terrifying crawl-hole? I was too scared to look, and my niece – whom I sent in on my behalf like a pit canary – says you’ll have to come and look for yourselves. And you would be more than welcome to stop by at Le Château for a cup of tea afterwards: just turn right when exiting the museum and follow the sound of the screaming.

https://waterandsteam.org.uk

*Disclaimer: tea invitation applies to post-quarantine period only. If you arrive prior to that time, you will be refused entry into Le Château.

Je suis heureux, j’espère que vous l’êtes aussi

I have completed a whole fortnight of teaching from home and survived to tell the tale.

It was someone else’s cat – a lovely plushy ginge called Simba, belonging to one of my students – who brought my video lessons to a standstill by gatecrashing, meowing to the class and then settling on the desk to watch his small human work.

Louis Catorze, however, saved his star turn for my online staff meeting, climbing across the keyboard, screaming. Then, when I kicked him off, he ran riot with a noisy bell toy that he had hidden behind the sofa, most likely for this very purpose.

Apart from that, Catorze more or less left me alone and either slept through my work or annoyed the merde out of Cat Daddy instead of me. I later discovered that the sleepiness was because Cat Daddy has been wearing him out at extended Boys’ Club which starts at around 9pm and goes on long into the night/morning.

Being at home all day means I have been able to take a cheeky peek into the once-mysterious ways of Le Club, and I can report that Cat Daddy and Catorze have been enjoying lengthy late-night music sessions together. This is mostly old-school prog rock, but they’ve been going through a new wave phase recently. Sa Maj bounces up and down on his daddy’s knees to Elvis Costello’s “Welcome to the working week” in an ironic nod to the fact that neither of them know what one is, whilst I still slave away like a chump. That said, I am very much aware of how lucky I am to still have a job.

Cat Daddy recently announced – after a few too many sloe gins, I might add – that he wanted to create a cat-themed playlist for their music club. This is excellent news as it saves me doing the same job for Catorze’s birthday.

The songs that we already know are as follows:

1. Lovecats (The Cure)

2. Cool for Cats (Squeeze)

3. What’s New Pussycat (Tom Jones)

4. Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats), although the bit about the lady cats, of course, doesn’t apply

5. Louie Louie (The Kingsmen)

6. Sun King (The Cult)

Six songs aren’t much of a playlist, but never fear: Cat Daddy and Catorze are on the case, and I am confident that the list will be complete by 30th April. And Cat Daddy has trained his boy so well that he sits happily in a room with loud, blasting music and doesn’t even blink (see photo below for proof), so they will probably work on the list together.

Me: “Does Louis prefer vinyl or streaming?” (It’s important to get this right for the party, after all, even though the party will end up being just the four* of us.)

[*Cat Daddy, me, Catorze and the mouse whom I know is still at large, even though I can’t prove it.]

Cat Daddy, firmly and without hesitation: “Streaming.”

Me: “You seem very sure about that.”

Cat Daddy: “Yes. Because vinyl means I have to get up and change the record, and that disturbs him.”

Of course.

Here is Catorze in his happy place. Would you believe, the little sod actually got up and moved closer to the speaker when David Bowie came on:

“Je n’ai jamais fait rien de bien …”

La vie en quarantaine

This turbulent period of time seems to be bringing out the furthermost extremes of human behaviour.

The good: Everyone in our street is sharing provisions (responsibly) and looking out for each other. And, last weekend, we had a quarantine barbecue with Oscar the dog’s family – them in their garden, us in ours, separate food and drink – of which the highlight (for us, probably not for them) was Oscar stealing three stuffed vine leaves from their table when nobody was looking, and letting his innocent human sister get the blame.

The bad: Most of the population of TW8 don’t give a hoot about social distancing. They stride along in the middle of the pavement, expecting the rest of us to move out of their way and not noticing or caring whether we do or don’t. We have seen many walkers and sweaty, virus-propagating runners with zero regard for the two-metre rule, happily letting us step into oncoming traffic to avoid them whilst they remain steadfastly on course for their new personal best. We have also seen not one but TWO cyclists, on separate occasions, cycling along the pavement whilst looking their phones. I used to think the reason why people in TW9 and W4 look down on us is because our neighbourhood is less posh. Erm, it’s not that.

The ugly: Cat Daddy and his boozy pub mates have been regularly meeting for drinks via Skype/Zoom/whatever. I don’t join in – video calls are my idea of torture, even with people whom I like – but I eavesdrop for the comedy value. Because they are all, erm, blokes of a certain age, the first 15 minutes of their virtual meets usually sound like this: “Tim, turn your microphone on.” “Pete, do you know that you’re sideways?” “Why are some of us in circles and some of us in squares?”

Louis Catorze’s life, on the other hand, continues as normal. He has Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish aplenty – which, Cat Daddy remarks, will also serve us well if we run out of food and end up having to eat Catorze* – and we just about managed to squeeze in a jambon de Bayonne order before the curtain fell on Ocado. The only slight change for Catorze is that Le Jardin is now Le Fitness Suite with Cat Daddy’s stationary bike and my exercise step. Other than that, c’est la même chose. And, despite having been Côned for much longer than anyone ever thought possible, the little sod is happy and enjoying life.

We hope that you and your furry overlords are all managing to stay safe. If you are local and we can help you in any way, please let us know.

*Don’t worry, we would never actually eat Catorze. Mainly because there is barely any meat on him.

“Cat Daddy has prepared a dish of chat farci au poisson fabuleux.”

Le courage fait des disciples

Not that I concern myself unduly with numbers – it’s all about quality rather than quantity for me – but it seems that the frequency of my recent postings has cost me a few followers.

To be honest, I get it. I appreciate that people don’t want to read quite so many posts, and that one can have too much of a good thing (although Cat Daddy would argue that Louis Catorze cannot, by any reasonable interpretation, be regarded as a “good thing”).

Believe me, it was never my intention to post almost every day. However, documenting each detail of Catorze’s condition and all the associated developments is a very useful record for me and, had I not done so, I think I would have struggled to remember what we’ve done and what we haven’t. There have been so many vet appointments, medications and tests that, after a point, they all blur into one.

If you are still here, thank you so much for bearing with us and for supporting us despite having greater priorities at the moment than a silly French vampire cat who won’t do as he’s told. Let’s hope that this wave of saddening news – both Catorze’s and those of the world in general – will soon pass.

“Merci à tous!”

Se gratter sans ongles

Damn this horrid little sod. Anyone would think he didn’t want to get better.

Last week we found Louis Catorze with suspicious new sore patches on his face, indicating that he had found an inventive, secret way of scratching (again). For days we puzzled over how on earth he could possibly have done it, given that he is supervised 99% of the time due to his wicked and untrustworthy nature. Then we discovered that, during his sessions in the exercise yard, he had been darting out of sight behind the shed and scratching himself on a bunch of sticking-out bamboo canes.

We never bothered checking up on him when he went there because it’s only a tiny crawl space the same length and width as Catorze, and we knew that Le Cône prevented him from going far. The space is pictured below, and you can see the offending bamboo canes just above and to the right of him. Cat Daddy has now moved the canes but I’m pretty sure that, even if we put them on the moon, Catorze would find them.

Our vet practice closed last week to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. The W5 and TW3 branches are remaining open for emergencies only – and, no, the irreparable damage to both our sanity and our will to live still doesn’t deem this an emergency – so we really can’t afford to have this turn bad. It seems we are going to have to ramp up our surveillance even more intensely, and possibly even – gasp – reintroduce the full Cône when the inmate is out of sight.

Cat Daddy explained to his boy the other day that we all have to live with constraints during these difficult times, however much we dislike it.

Catorze replied with a “Mwah”. Sadly I don’t think it was the good kind.

Caught you, you little shite.

Le plaisir de Sa Majesté

Last week, Cat Daddy was the one to drop the ball in our duty of care to Louis Catorze. This time it was my turn.

I had just let the little sod outside for some fresh air when I suddenly remembered that I had to prepare for a work video call, and therefore an old sports t-shirt and hair tied up in a bun with a pair of knickers simply wouldn’t do. So I left Catorze outside, thinking “What possible mischief could he get into in the few minutes it will take me to change into my work clothes?” (I know, I know.)

Then Dog Mamma sent me these photos:

What the …?
Don’t even THINK about it!

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Catorze can no longer access the playground at The Back (because he can’t fit through the gap in the fence with his Cône), so it seems that he was trying to get in over the top instead. Because there is a wire fence right up against the wooden fence to catch stray tennis balls, he would probably have fallen through the tiny gap between the two fences and ended up stuck halfway down, limbs flailing and screaming undignifiedly. And, because the school is closed, he would have remained there until who-knows-when.

So the new Château rule is that flight-risk prisoners cannot be left unsupervised in the exercise yard, not even for a second. At least we are in the fortunate position of having two wardens per inmate.

Les mains sales (Partie 2)

I am sure that you already knew this, Mesdames et Messieurs, but hand sanitising gel and cats don’t mix. In short, it’s because the former contains alcohol and/or tea tree and the latter are prolific lickers (especially of things that we don’t want them to lick).

If you’ve had to use hand sanitising gel during an unavoidable trip out, it might be a good idea to wash your hands normally with hot water and soap or hand wash – not with more gel – before you stroke your pets. Admittedly it’s unlikely that you would transfer enough gel for them to do themselves serious damage, but we have enough to deal with right now without having to add vet visits into the mix.

We use liquid soap from Scent Trail (see link below), who are kind enough to custom-make a fragrance-free version especially for Louis Catorze. They are a small U.K. business who are very mindful of animal welfare, and I am sure that they would appreciate any orders at this time.

https://www.scent-trail.co.uk/ourshop/cat_584899-Liquid-Soap.html

Ugly hands need washing, too.