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.