Les perroquets verts

Cat Daddy and I have decided that we aren’t making the most of living in London, and that we ought to do more London things. To be honest, this is by no means a recent revelation. We have known this for some time, and it became especially apparent last year when I took a French friend on a Thames boat trip: “There’s a nice building. No idea what it is. Look, there’s another nice building. No idea what it is …” and so on. 

We have a book about strange and unusual sights in London, and, to my surprise, when I consulted the “South West London” section for things to do and see, I discovered that the Angry Birds were listed as one of the “attractions”. Yes, THOSE Angry Birds. Or, as Cocoa the babysit cat calls them, “main course”:

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Last year they drove us absolutely insane with rage with their screeching and, on one occasion, when I couldn’t stand the racket anymore, I looked outside to see that the Louis Catorze was winding them up. Now, it seems, not long after discovering the extent of their célébrité, they have started to drift back. Cat Daddy spotted a couple the other day on the telegraph wires behind Le Château, and they may have come back to nest and feed but it’s more likely that they’re looking to lay their vengeance upon Catorze.

Given that birds are able not only to recall the faces of individuals who have wronged them but also to encourage their bird friends to give said individuals some grief, I really hope Sa Maj will mind his own business this time. After all, a small, black cat with vampire teeth and a voice that could strip paint is pretty distinctive, and there’s no mistaking him for some other (nicer) cat or vice versa.

The Angry Birds can be found on page 266 of Graeme Chesters’ “London’s Secrets: Bizarre and Curious”. Their location is listed as Richmond Park although, in reality, they can be found all over West London and, rather like the Aurora Borealis, encountering them is more due to chance than anything else. Should you happen to meet them, it’s probably best to deny that you’ve even heard of Sa Maj.

Here he is, reminding them of who’s king around these parts:

Séparés à la naissance?

Mesdames et Messieurs, I would like to call upon your collective Cat-Shazam skills to identify a miscreant. Is Cat Granny’s new residential home cat, Brook (first picture, taken two weeks ago), the same cat that ruined her 90th birthday party by turning up uninvited and then killing a bird in front of horrified guests (second picture, taken just before the incident last April)? 

The case for the prosecution:

1. They have the same unusual markings and the same wayward eyes (one pupil pointing east and the other west).

2. The new care home is directly next door to the location of the birthday party, which effectively places Brook at the scene of the crime.

The defence:

The defendant and the cat caught at the crime scene differ significantly in, erm, body shape (and this is actually a flattering picture of Brook; in real life he is much, much fatter).

The prosecution again:

Bearing in mind the care home staff’s comments about Brook’s voracious appetite and his ability to source food from unknown locations however much they restrict his diet, it is more than likely that he would have gained some poundage since Cat Granny’s birthday. 

(This isn’t great for Brook, but it makes me feel much better about my own festive chub.) 

I know what *I* think but would love to know your views, members of the jury. Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the crimes of trespassing and avian murder? 

Les oiseaux furieux

Cat Daddy and I have been struggling to sleep since returning from holiday. This is partly down to our post-holiday body clock stuffage, but also because of the Angry Birds, a flock of attractive but maddening bright green parakeets who have nested in the park across the road. Our neighbours hate them, too, and, if we are to hope for any sleep at all, we have no choice but to either keep the windows closed in the heat or to do Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who will be the one to get up and shut the windows once the racket starts at dawn. 

Cocoa the babysit cat is doing his utmost to keep their population down – and has had some success – but he has a way to go before he makes a significant difference. Not that we actually want to see them all killed but, after several consecutive nights of no sleep, we can’t help but cheer on Cocoa just a little bit. 

Sometimes a squawky magpie or two also join in, resulting in a cacophonous chorus of “Screech-screech-screech-screech-screech-screech-screech-screech-cawwwwww-cawwwwww!” It’s quite the most dreadful thing imaginable. 

Not long ago I was forced to get up upon hearing the hellish alarm call, because just lying there would have made me more annoyed. I looked out at The Back and saw about a dozen or so parakeets perched on the telephone wires screeching at something below them. And now I know what has been making the Angry Birds so angry. Most of them flew away when I went outside, but I managed to catch one bird with the object of its enragement:

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Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: what’s making them so cross is a little black sod, pitter-pattering about the garden, stopping occasionally to look up at them and meow back. As I watched, open-mouthed with shock, I observed that the meowing only made the Angry Birds’ screeching worse, which in turn made the meowing worse, and so on, just as it does with Oscar the dog’s barking. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

I have no idea whether the Angry Birds are screeching to alert their comrades of the potential predator danger, or whether they are just shouting insults and swear words (which, frankly, is much more likely). Whatever the reason, we apologise unreservedly to the neighbours who follow Le Blog and, erm, might just keep quiet about this when we bump into the neighbours who don’t. 

Le mal que les chats font

Yesterday I pinged my calf muscle whilst running across the road to catch the bus. (The urban legend is true, Mesdames: ultra-flat ballet pumps really are worse than heels due to their lack of support.) Cat Daddy has been showing his support by cooking for me and bringing me ice packs and cheer-up champagne. Louis Catorze showed his support by bringing me a dead bird at 4:45 this morning.

I was jolted awake by the sound of his screaming, in particular because it didn’t sound like his usual voice. I thought he might be hurt, especially as I had heard noises yesterday afternoon which sounded just like gunshots. (We don’t live in that kind of neighbourhood, but Cat Daddy said that he could very well imagine one of our neighbours finally snapping and losing it with Catorze.) However, it soon became apparent that the screaming was different because the little sod had something stuffed in his mouth. 

Our previous cat, Luther, was able to purr even with a mouse in his mouth, my hands around his throat and my knee digging into his back. But Catorze’s ability to scream through a mouthful of dead animal has shocked me to the core.

I bounded out of bed to wrestle whatever it was from him, forgetting completely about my calf muscle. As I toppled, winced and steadied myself, Catorze dropped his prey and I was able to lurch towards him and drag him away. I then saw that it was a tiny baby bird and, thanks to the bastard cat, I now know what baby bird ribs look like. This is not something I ever thought I would know, nor do I ever wish to see such a thing again. 

Cat Daddy rolled over sleepily and asked if he could help. I told him that I was fine but, in the time it took me to hobble to the bathroom for some tissue in which to wrap the bird, bad Catorze had picked it up again and chewed off the little remaining flesh. I then realised that I wouldn’t be able to manage this on my own, so Cat Daddy had to don his dressing gown and deposit the poor bird in the park bin opposite our house.

This bin has become the final resting place for many of Catorze’s victims, and I hope it’s not the same person who empties it each time and who wonders why someone is throwing away so much wildlife.

Cat Daddy was able to fall asleep not long after returning from the park. I, however, am still awake, and have written off all thoughts of sleep. Somehow it seems more productive to sit in front of the TV and document this tragic incident than to lie in bed, clock-watching and cursing this horrid cat.

And the little sod is curled up on my lap without a care in the world. 

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Un oiseau en main

I don’t know whether I feel less alone, or more appalled, to learn that other cats ruin things, too. 

The occasion was Cat Granny’s 90th birthday party, held at Cat Auntie and Cat Uncle’s beautiful house in Somerset, and the culprit was this attractive, slightly boss-eyed chap.

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I spotted him in the garden, called him over for a cuddle and he happily obliged, shouting himself silly throughout. When the rest of the party guests joined us outside, he pitter-pattered off to explore other parts of the huge, sprawling garden. 

Moments later there was a huge commotion and we saw the little sod leaping and pouncing at a flock of angry, shrieking blackbirds. Cat Auntie went to investigate, then announced that he had managed to catch one of the birds and asked for a volunteer to do the honourable deed. I think that, at this point, I might have looked down into my cup of tea and muttered something about it being a man’s job but, before any of the men had a chance to intervene, the poor bird flutter-limped to its nest deep inside a thick, impenetrable shrub where nobody could reach it. 

Cat Granny continued to enjoy her champagne and remained happily oblivious to what was going on. And Cat Daddy, whilst a bit cross with me for encouraging the cat with cuddles, was relieved that, for once, it was someone else’s cat and not ours that had made an embarrassing spectacle of himself. 

That said, we have a number of social events planned at Le Château over the next few weeks and months. So, if Catorze decides he fancies creating havoc and showing us up in front of our friends, there’s still time. 

Les escargots

Some cats catch birds, others catch mice and a few catch rats. Louis Catorze has managed all of the above, and more, but his latest thing is to bring teeny-tiny snails into Le Château.

Cat Daddy is quite embarrassed by it and feels that there is more prestige in rodents, with the manliness of the cat being directly proportional to the size of the rodent caught. “Snails are just a joke!” he declared. “Only he could be so slow that a SNAIL is capable of catching up with him and hitching a ride on his fur. I hope you chucked them out in the park at the front. If you chuck them out in the garden, they’ll eat all the kale.”

Oh. Oops. Luckily I remembered where I’d put them and was able to retrieve them because, being snails, they hadn’t got very far.

Here are two of our boy’s gifts, brought one after the other on the same night, pictured with a 20p coin to get a true sense of their teeny-tininess. It seems you can take Le Chat out of France, but you can’t take France out of Le Chat.

Le vilain petit canard

I didn’t want to say this until I was sure I wasn’t imagining it, but … Louis Catorze has been doing the bird-chatter noise at his tail. I must admit that, from some angles, the shaved bits make it look like the head of a duckling or a baby emu, but surely nobody is THAT daft?

And he has discovered that, if he curls up into a ball, he can reach the tip of his tail to bite it. So the soft Cône, being wider than the plastic one, is back.

Because the little sod managed to wriggle out of it the last time, we have had to become very inventive with our knotting and create something at the more severe end of the knot spectrum. I experimented with the few knots that I could recall from my Girl Guides days until my mum tutted impatiently, snatched Le Cône from my hands and whipped up a hangman’s noose-style Knot of Death that, frankly, terrified me. Had we known about this knot as kids, we would never have played up.

Obviously the danger of Catorze strangling himself is very much on our minds so not only is he under house arrest, but he is also under room arrest and under round-the-clock accidental-suicide watch. Like a dangerous inmate in a maximum security penitentiary, he goes nowhere unaccompanied.

The good thing is that he is much happier with the soft Cône. He would be happier still with no Cône at all but, alas, it’s never going to happen: he has proven, time and time again, that he cannot be trusted during Cône-free breaks, however short. So, although it might not seem that way, it’s easier and kinder to give him the drastic death-knot around the neck and assign him a 24-hour guard.

And, between us, Cat Daddy, Houseguest Matt and I are on it.

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