I am very disappointed to report that my alternative “God save the king” royal bunting didn’t work out.
Alas, despite paying a premium for express delivery so that it would make Le Château the talk of the street during the jubilee, it didn’t arrive on time. When it did arrive, three days late, we weren’t home (because, obviously, we hadn’t planned for it to arrive on that day) and so we had to make the perilous, Dariénesque journey to the sorting office in Hounslow to collect it.
When we collected it, Catorze’s face looked like this:
And, when they reworked it and – eventually, three weeks later, after some quite odd emails from them which read as if written by a semi-literate bot – sent me a digital proof to approve, it looked like this:
Is it THAT difficult for someone to centre a picture? Well, ok, obviously it is.
At that point I told them not to bother, so I asked for a full refund, and they happily obliged. Yes, happily. They seemed quite chipper about the fact that they’d given me shambolic service and a shambolic product.
It’s such a shame as it would have been perfect not only for the jubilee but also for today, which is the birthday of the human Louis XIV. But, luckily, the little sod wouldn’t know whether or not we put up bunting and, if he did, he wouldn’t care.
This was what I originally had in mind when I started my search for jubilee bunting:
And somehow I feel that, even at the height of their naughtiness, the Sex Pistols (younger followers: ask your grandparents’ cooler friends) would have been less troublesome than Le Roi.
I am back at school and, last week, we had the usual fire safety training. (You’d think it were as simple as “Get everyone out and dial 999” but it’s much more complicated than that, and we have to renew the training every year.)
One thing that absolutely blew our minds was finding out that there are fire investigation dogs who are able to identify whether or not a fire was started deliberately. My colleagues are all animal lovers* so the reaction was as one would imagine:
“Oh my goodness!”
“That’s so clever!”
“How do they do that?”
“Do you ask them to bark once for accident and twice for arson?”
*My colleagues’ pets include Winston the tabby cat, Luna the calico cat, Waltham the Dalmatian, Frida the Dachshund, Baby and Henry the parrots and a trio of feral foster kittens who haven’t yet been named because they’ve only just arrived.
Tony the fire training officer eventually said, “Right, that’s enough about the dogs. Can we move on now?” But we didn’t. And, during our coffee break, I was typing “fire investigation dogs” into Google and reading the results to a captivated staff room.
Not only can the dogs sniff out whether or not accelerant was used to start a fire, but they can also locate whereabouts on the site it was used, including across multiple rooms/floors and in unobtrusive locations. What unbelievably clever and helpful doggies. Whereas cats, I’m sure, wouldn’t be so obliging. It’s not that they can’t do clever things. They just don’t feel like it.
The fire investigation dogs were probably the second most important and talked-about part of the day, with the first being, erm, the fact that our school can’t fit cars, staff, students AND the fire engine into our tiny car park without trapping people in close proximity to the burning building. So we need to rethink our emergency assembly procedures.
Anyway, here is Simba, one of the fire investigation dogs who featured in our training (pictured here in his work uniform):
And here is Louis Catorze, who would probably start a fire on purpose if he knew that it would send big, strapping firemen rushing to us:
Brentford FC have had two games in the last week, and Cat Daddy and I have just listened to one of the post-match podcasts by our friends Billy and Dave, who run Beesotted, the Brentford fanzine.
Billy has quite a loud, booming voice so, when the podcast is on, we can’t really hear much else around us. An atomic bomb could drop and we wouldn’t realise.
You know which way this is going, don’t you?
During the ninety-minute podcast I was making dinner and, an hour or so in, I decided to put some empty glass jars in the recycling. As soon as I opened the door, Louis Catorze ran in. The little sod had been out at The Front the whole time and, because we’d been listening to the podcast at full volume, we hadn’t heard the screaming.
Unfortunately, two blokes in the park clearly HAD heard it. And they were looking over and laughing.
As I continued to tidy up after dinner, more stuff needed to be put out for recycling. I didn’t want to go out there in case the blokes were still in the park and I couldn’t face them again, but Cat Daddy persuaded me that they had probably gone home and/or that they may not have been laughing at Catorze anyway. And, like an idiot, I believed him.
When I went out again, I saw that the two blokes had been joined by a friend. And the THREE of them were looking over and laughing.
Oh. Mon. Dieu.
I wish I could say that this were the most embarrassing Catorzian thing ever. However, regretfully, I know that it’s only the most embarrassing Catorzian thing this week.
I have been watching a series on Prime Video called Still A Mystery. Some of the crimes featured are genuine mysteries, as in, nobody has the slightest idea of who is responsible. However, others are not mysteries at all. Quite the opposite, in fact; it’s blindingly obvious who did it, but somehow justice is not served due to a useless police force and/or the culprit just being a slippery little shite.
We have such a non-mystery on our hands at the moment.
Someone has bumped one of the solar-powered bulbs on Cat Daddy’s light show, and now it’s not working. He is not impressed, and the Unrepeatable Expletives have been flowing from his mouth like lava from Vesuvius. Neither he nor I saw it happen (the bulb, I mean, not Vesuvius). But the fact that this wonky bulb happens to be directly on Louis Catorze’s ICB route, cannot be a coincidence.
It’s Catorze. He’s knocked it with his silly arse on his way to Twiggy the greyhound’s place. And, whilst Cat Daddy knows that this is fixable, he would far rather NOT replace a broken bulb than replace a broken bulb.
Cat Daddy did once manage to capture this piece of evidence during alfresco Boys’ Club. Circumstantial evidence … or beyond reasonable doubt?
It had to happen sooner or later, and on Wednesday it finally came into effect: just like other water suppliers before them, Thames Water have implemented a hosepipe ban. We are not allowed to use a garden hose to water plants, fill a paddling pool or clean vehicles. However, we are allowed to use one to water new plants (“new” = planted in the last four weeks), clean a leisure boat (?) and clean a vehicle if visiting customers. I know. I KNOW.
Cat Daddy and I don’t like having to empty the washing-up bowl into the shrubbery several times a day, but we understand why we have to do it. And, so far, la personne royale has escaped an unceremonious soaking, despite the fact that he insists on choosing a new and unobtrusive sleeping spot in the shrubbery every time he goes out.
The day after the hosepipe ban, we had torrential rain for most of the day. Obviously, this is a good thing. However, the bad news is that rain turns Louis Catorze into a complete and utter maniac. Not that he really needs an excuse.
Catorze LOVES storms. When it rains, whilst his more normal feline counterparts are curled up indoors, he is underneath the outdoor table listening to the rain fall around him, or out somewhere conducting the kind of ICB that can only be conducted in the rain. I wouldn’t put it past him to be able to bury a human body in a thunderstorm, unaided and with no tools.
This particular storm started in the early hours of Wednesday morning. I was fully aware of it all the way because Catorze spent several hours going outside, coming in to jump all over me and roll his gross, wet body all over the bed, then going back out again to repeat the cycle.
After pounding down relentlessly all morning, the rain finally stopped mid-afternoon. But Sa Maj wasn’t done. He was still going outside but, this time, gadding about in the still-wet undergrowth and then returning to roll the water onto me/us/the furniture.
I heard Cat Daddy’s voice saying, “Ugh, Louis, look at the STATE of you! You’re drenched!”
Catorze responded with his customary “Mwah!” then promptly went out to gad about in the undergrowth again.
I have given up pondering whether he will turn normal one day, or slow down in his old age. He won’t. And, even though he gives us the creeps, we can’t help but love him for it.
Louis Catorze saw the vet on Tuesday. He’s had a good run this summer, with his last steroid shot being on 30th June, so we are glad we’ve been able to stretch it out until now.
As ever, the appointment couldn’t possibly have been straightforward and had to be a total comedy. (Funny for everyone else, I mean. Certainly not for me.)
This was the sequence of events on that morning:
1. Feed and water Catorze, as usual, then wait for him to join me on sofa.
2. Hear him gadding about in soft plastics recycling box in the dining room and figure that, as long as I can still hear him, I will be able to locate him when it’s time to go.
3. Gadding-about noises slow to a gentle rustle.
4. Check dining room, just to be sure.
5. No Catorze. Assume he has teleported out.
6. Search house and garden. Conscious of time (appointment in thirty minutes’ time) and start to feel anxious.
7. Wake Cat Daddy and ask him to come downstairs and act as bait to flush out Catorze. He is not pleased.
8. Final sweep of dining room, turning every metaphorical stone in ultra-meticulous CSI fashion. Eventually find Catorze asleep in Deliveroo bag.*
9. Cat Daddy is even more furious that I made him get up for nothing.
10. Bag up Catorze and schlep him to the vet.
11. Arrive at vet practice and Catorze emits a particularly long, rasping scream, startling a dog and his human who is paying their bill.
12. To break awkward silence following scream, I say, “Shush, Louis!” Dog pitter-patters over to me.
13. Dog Daddy: “Oh, is your cat called Louis? So is my dog!”
14. Catorze screams some more. Louis the dog rests his chin on my knee as if to offer me support in this excruciating situation.
15. Vet comes into waiting room and calls, “Louis, please?”
16. Louis the dog obediently pitter-patters into the examination room despite having already been seen.
Is this exceptional responsiveness from Louis the dog … or the ultimate in Catorzian mind control, with the little sod commanding his canine counterpart to take a bullet for him?
Anyway, apart from all that, everything is as it should be. I mentioned to the vet that Catorze’s mats were returning (although none were visible at the appointment, having inexplicably vanished the night before), and she said that we needn’t be concerned unless we could see Catorze struggling to groom certain areas (no) or having difficulty running and jumping (HELL, no).
The vet also checked his front right paw, where he’d managed to get a blob of pungent plant sap on himself a few days ago and now it’s left a hole. Again, nothing to worry about.
When we arrived back home, Cat Daddy made his boy do the Chubbing Up Dance when he found out his new, meaty weight of 3.34kg. And, at the time of writing this, they were both enjoying Boys’ Club somewhere.
To scrape some positives from the situation – well, I have to try – at least Le Roi is doing well. Let’s hope that this continues as summer draws to a close and his party season starts.
*Cat Daddy and I have only used Deliveroo once (during that fateful weekend away when he set that kettle on fire), and it was such a shambolic experience that we haven’t used it since. So how we came to have a Deliveroo bag is beyond me.
I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but Royal Mail (non-Brits: ask your British friends) have launched a set of stamps (younger followers: ask your parents) featuring a cat design:
My initial joy at their inclusion of a black cat among their number, soon turned to disappointment when I looked closely and saw that it had white paws. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love black and white cats, and they fully deserve their place in the set of stamps. But come on. Why leave out black cats?
I then noticed that each cat was carrying out a different action, e.g. “Siamese grooming”, “Ginger cat playing” and so on. “Black cat communing with evil spirits” or “Black cat sneering at your patheticness and wishing you would just die” wouldn’t really have been in keeping with the generally upbeat theme of the stamps, which perhaps explains it. This wasn’t an error of omission. The person who created the stamps is probably a black cat survivor and therefore knew exactly what they were doing.
Louis Catorze, however, is not impressed. And he would like to know whether a stamp would still be legal tender if one were to, erm, colour bits with black ink and add white Tipp-Ex fangs.
My very talented sister created this unique lino print of Sa Maj, which I think would be perfect on a stamp. What would you name it, if you could? “Black cat …” doing what exactly?
Louis Catorze had an absolute blast on Thursday night. Not only does he enjoy the company of gentlemen, but he actually seems FEED on it, in the same way that, erm, a demonic entity is made more powerful if you fear it. He spent much of the evening sitting on the back of the sofa listening to the conversation, only leaving once or twice to attempt to escape out at The Front. And, when that failed, he went back to the boys.
And it seems that the boy-love is continuing because, when I took a cup of tea to Cat Daddy in the morning, I walked into this:
Cat Daddy, with his eyes fixed on his boy and without even looking at me: “Just leave the tea and go.”
I ignored him and sat on the bed anyway. Catorze glared at me, mwahhed perniciously and then left the room.
This is the harsh reality of Boys’ Club, Mesdames et Messieurs. Or, rather, just Mesdames.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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:
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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?”
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:
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.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.