La complainte du jeune marin

Football is a big part of my life. So are cats. Sometimes it’s hard to know where one ends and another begins, and it seems that my brain can’t deal with loving both as much as I do.

Me: “There’s a League 2 footballer called Louis, and the commentators on EFL have just called him Louis-boy.” (This is one of Cat Daddy’s more polite nicknames for Louis Catorze, hence why I thought this story would be of interest to him.)

Cat Daddy: “I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t talk about a player like that.”

Me: “THEY DID.”

Him: “Why would they do that? Why wouldn’t they just call him Louis? Or by his surname, like they do with all other footballers?”

Me: “I don’t know. Maybe because he’s only fifteen and so he actually is a boy? I think it’s cute. Louis-boy. Awww.”

Him: “…”

Me: “Google it if you don’t believe me. Type in “footballer Louis Grimsby”.”

[Cat Daddy taps away at his phone whilst muttering indiscernibly ]

Him, looking at his phone: “Louis BOYD. He’s called LOUIS BOYD. They were calling him by his ACTUAL NAME.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Him: “It’s a good thing we found this out before you repeated your idiotic story in front of any Important Footballing People.”

[Stonier silence, more tumbleweed, noisier crickets]

Oh dear.

Ok, so I may have made myself look stupid, but I still think Louis-boy sounds adorable. And suddenly I’m keen to know all the goings-on at Grimsby Town FC in League 2.

Our Louis-boy concurs, although he will always be a Black Cat at heart.

A Mariner? Or the albatross?

La panthère noire vit

At the end of last month, Cat Daddy, Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy and I went on a farewell tour of Griffin Park. Brentford FC’s last season at its iconic stadium should, of course, have ended in celebration, with Brentford winning the play-offs and a huge party, and, sadly, it wasn’t to be. But a tour was the next best thing.

Our group was led by a lovely lady called Sally, and she took us through the section of the stadium displaying fans’ photos on giant banners. If you missed the story about the banners, here it is: https://louiscatorze.com/2020/06/22/un-chat-sur-un-maillot/

As we walked through, Sally stopped mid-sentence, pointed to a face on one section of the banner and said, “Oh my God, look. There’s a cat.”

Me: “Oh. Erm, yeah. That’s … mine.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets from the rest of the tour group, and laughter from Sally]

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Louis Catorze’s picture made it past the censors:

Où est Le Roi?

The only thing is that the stretched, angled nature of the final printed version – presumably to give the best appearance on television from the overhead cameras – has given poor old earless Catorze a somewhat, erm, phallic shape. This is rather more apparent in some photos than in others:

Le Roi est … long.

I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to spot him during any of the televised matches, but how lovely that Brentford FC were such good sports.

The league matches of the new football season start today. Let’s hope that the new stadium brings us good luck, and that it won’t be too long before we’re watching football in person.

Les visiteurs

I have started asking Cat Daddy to write down all the drunken topics of conversation that arise during the Zoom calls with his pub mates. This is mainly so that I don’t have to bother listening and trying to keep up.

Cat Daddy: “Why do I have to do this? You’re only going to blog about it and ridicule us.” Well, obviously, yes. I have never kept that a secret from him/them.

Anyway, these are the highlights from last Friday’s 2-hour (!) session:

1. Pete’s 15-minute Jamie Oliver brown rice recipe (but he didn’t use pre-cooked brown rice so it ended up taking much longer than 15 minutes, making him late for the call)

2. Pre-dinner drinks that start at 4:30pm and go on until 11:30pm (no idea what sort of dinners they go to, but they sound terrible)

3. The worst time they ever got drunk

4. Simon’s cake mix (to which he forgot to add butter, so the cakes ended up like biscuits)

5. Underfloor ventilation and air bricks

6. Lifestyle coaches

7. The website from which Tim has just bought a fancy piece of art, and whether it’s a real website or whether Tim has been scammed

8. Toilet facilities aboard World War II Bombers

9. “Then things descended into drunken nonsense” (Cat Daddy’s very words)

Whilst normality is slowly creeping back for us Londoners, Cat Daddy’s Friday night Zoom meets look set to stay for the time being. However, I think Louis Catorze misses having visitors to Le Château and would far rather see the boys in person.

During our pre-Covid life, people would visit us all the time. Most of them, as you know, came to see Catorze. And, on football days, when friends would come over for pre-match hot dogs and drinks, Catorze would assume they had also come to see him and would happily pitter-patter from guest to guest (favouring the males, of course).

Now, of course, we haven’t had anyone over since March, and I genuinely think Catorze wonders what’s happened to everyone. Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy captured this beautifully in this lovely card for Cat Daddy’s birthday last week (see below).

Hopefully it won’t be too long until we’re allowed to see people properly. And we will be sure to let you know when Sa Maj dusts off his guest book and starts taking bookings again.

Un chat sur un maillot

Cat Daddy and I are thrilled that the football is back. Louis Catorze would have preferred it if we were able to invite the boys* round to watch it, bien sûr, but I think even he accepts that compromised football is better than none at all.

*Catorze is, however, still able to get his virtual boy-fix through Cat Daddy’s Friday night Zoom meet with his pub mates. Last week’s topics of conversation were as follows:

1. Moles (at the time I misheard and thought it was “Mould”, but I have since been corrected and I am sure you will all agree that “Moles” is a far more interesting topic)

2. Who slept with whom in their youth (and finding out that they had women in common)

3. Gin

4. Hot TV presenters from the 70s and 80s, and which ones are still hot

5. Hoarding/finding food items in the cupboard with ancient expiry dates

6. Ice Road Truckers, and which ones have haemorrhoids

7. Pensions

8. Simon’s fruit loaf, and whether or not he should ice it

As we aren’t able to attend matches, our beloved Brentford Football Club have offered season ticket holders the chance to have photos of themselves printed onto a giant banner. (Again, an implied presence at Griffin Park is better than none at all.) And I thought it might be rather fun to, erm, PhotoShop Catorze’s face onto my body and submit that, instead of submitting a photo of myself.

Cat Daddy, when I suggested the idea: “…”

I don’t have the skills to do such a thing but, luckily, Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy does. So I sent him a photo of myself in my Brentford shirt, plus a selection of Catorze head shots, and let him work his magic. And this is what he created:

“Allez les Abeilles!”

Cat Daddy, when he saw the above image: “…”

The only possible glitch that I can foresee is that the club supplied a humanoid-shaped template into which supporters have to somehow make our photos fit, and of course this doesn’t allow for Sa Maj’s ears. So, in the very unlikely event of him slipping past the censors, his image will probably be earless. This will make the end result creepier but also much, much funnier.

Here is Catorze in the template:

“Où sont mes oreilles?”

So now we wait. The possible outcomes are as follows:

A. Brentford Football Club accept the photo and Catorze is shown on TV, with or without ears.

B. They send me a politely-worded rejection email.

C. We never find out whether I have been accepted or rejected.

Obviously option C would be very disappointing indeed, and I hope beyond hope that it’s option A. But I’d settle for the moderate comedy value of option B.

Thank you so much to Cocoa and Chanel’s Cat Daddy for his magnificent work.

Le Spécial

It’s rather ironic that, after panicking that Louis Catorze’s skin flare-up might be an allergic reaction to The Special One (my merino wool scarf), and after shutting myself away and panic-speed-knitting like an absolute demon to finish the darned thing quickly, there is now no football due to the Covid 19 virus.

I finished the scarf quite some time ago, but it’s now sitting in the under-stairs cupboard, out of reach of curious pitter-pattering paws. The plan was to take it out on match days only, handling it very gently both to keep it from unravelling – because I accidentally cut off two stray ends of wool before I had knotted them, and now they are too short to knot – and to stop too many stray fibres from being dislodged and transferred onto La Personne Royale. But now, of course, with no football and with the weather turning unscarfworthy, it lives permanently in its dark prison, having barely seen the light of day.

After researching merino wool, I have discovered that it’s actually LESS likely to trigger a reaction than many other fabrics. But, since we will probably never know the cause of Sa Maj’s irritation, we intend to keep treating the scarf in the way one would handle an unexploded World War II bomb. And, knowing Catorze, it would be typical of him to be allergic to a hypoallergenic substance just to be difficult.

They say that the football is only on hold until 3rd April, but this seems like an eternity. And the thought of having to fill in the time by making actual conversation, with actual people, about things that aren’t football, makes me shudder.

What a good thing there are still cats.

“Où est le football?”

Dieu doit penser que je suis un chat génial

A further addendum to Little Sods’ Law is now in place: a black cat’s attraction to a ball of wool is directly proportional to the cost of the wool.

Louis Catorze showed moderate interest when I was knitting cotton scarves at £2.50 per ball but, now that I have made a start on The Special One (my scarf made of merino wool at £783.99 per ball), his “Urge To Kill” switch has been well and truly activated.

I have learned the hard way that knitting with merino wool is complicated if you are a novice and not following a pattern. It takes several goes with different sizes of needle and various numbers of stitches to get it right. And drink-knitting is an absolute no-no: just a couple of glasses of Crémant give me the dangerous false confidence that I can fix anything that goes wrong, which invariably leads to making everything worse. And there are only so many times that I can message Wife of That Neighbour with Knitting SOS distress signals before she and her husband become even angrier with us than they already are because of Catorze’s disturbances.

In short, my task is arduous enough and I could really do without him attacking both the wool and the needles every few seconds and generally being a shite.

I have to wind the wool around the table leg as I work to stop it from twisting and, as you can see, this is like an injured seal to Catorze’s great white shark. In the last picture he decided to actually SIT ON MY WORK to take a break from his tomfoolery, and I am very unhappy indeed with the position of that needle.

Écharpe 2,0

I have finally finished knitting Cat Daddy’s Brentford FC scarf, just in time for today’s match against Huddersfield. The knitting experience has taught me a number of things:

1. Drink-knitting is a thing and, like drink-driving, it should be avoided at all costs.

2. No matter how many times you unpick and redo the bits that you drink-knitted, it will still look shite.

The sober-knitted and drink-knitted parts of the scarf are so utterly distinct that anyone can spot the difference, even from far away. This scarf is not just a garment for winter warmth and an emblem of our beloved football team; its stitches tell a tale of resolute concentration followed by “Oh, sod this” followed by more concentration followed by more “Oh, sod this” and so on, from end to end.

I have started knitting another scarf, this time for someone else, and I was feeling a little bad that, having now learned all the pitfalls, the second scarf would be much nicer than the one I made for Cat Daddy.

Cat Daddy: “Well, mine is the original, and you can never beat an original. Plus, no offence, but I think it’s highly likely you’ll mess up the second one, too.”

Great. Thanks.

Anyway, Louis Catorze approves, even though he is a Sunderland fan. Here he is, giving his final quality control check – and, yes, it seems that the tongue is a crucial part of this:

Où le chat et le loup jouent

Some time ago I posted about Little Sods’ Law, a black cat charter which dictates, amongst other things, the following: 

  1. If you see a black cat misbehaving in public, the chances are that it’s your cat.
  2. The likelihood of it being your cat is directly proportional to the embarrassingness of the misbehaviour. 

I am shocked to report that, on Saturday, the Law was disproven and, for once, it was not Louis Catorze causing the mayhem. But my phone still buzzed all weekend with messages asking me to check and be sure:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/47104907

When I became a member of the Chat Noir club, whose founding member was Le Roi’s big brother Luther, I was concerned that I would not be able to tell my cat apart from others. (With hindsight, I can’t think of a situation that would require such a skill. Perhaps if twenty black cats suddenly appeared in my house at once, it would be handy to know mine so that I could then kick out the impingers. Or I guess I could just keep all twenty.) But we know our own cats, don’t we, black cat owners? And the Everton cat’s hellraising shenanigans have demonstrated, if anything, just how different and distinct black cats are from one another.

This cat has a much fatter, rounder face than Catorze and no chin of which to speak (imagine a large grapefruit compared to a small lemon). And he has a thick, solid physique more reminiscent of Cocoa the babysit cat than of Catorze. That said, both causing trouble and large crowds of men are highly irresistible to Sa Maj, and we know only too well of his teleportation skills, so pitter-pattering to a stadium and invading the pitch are just the sort of things he would do. 

I do hope that this beautiful chap finds his way back to wherever he is supposed to be. If he turned up at Le Château I would be sorely tempted to keep him, and, despite everything I have said about the uniqueness of each individual black cat, I would ensure that he and Catorze were never seen together, in an effort to convince Cat Daddy that we still had just one cat. 

Cat Daddy, whilst watching the Everton v Wolves game: “Bloody ridiculous. First an Anfield cat, and now this. Why do Liverpudlians take their cats with them to football matches? Not even YOU do that.”

True. But only because I didn’t think of it. 

Je braille, donc je suis

What a wild few weeks it has been at Le Château. La belle France have come out on top, with even Oscar the dog’s daddy putting money on them. Louis Catorze has had an unrelenting whirlwind of attention from visiting football fans. And, best of all, he has displayed some razor-sharp match predictions, which has been a poke in the eye for cynical, doubting Cat Daddy.

Sa Majesté has even correctly indicated some of the finer details of matches which were not apparent during the prediction, but which later became clear as they played out; after agonising for ages about the butterfly (see previous entry) and what it could possibly signify, and even wondering if it could be a streaker, I now see that this was the pitch invasion by the aptly-named Pussy Riot.

Now that the excitement of the football is over, Louis Catorze is back to screaming. He just won’t shut up, and Cat Daddy said the other day that it was “getting him down”. 

He screams before we get up. He screams when we get up. He screams when we’re just watching TV and minding our own business. And, not long ago, when we arrived home from work (and he had escaped out at The Front), he greeted us in the street with such gut-wrenching screaming that we hid in the car because we were so embarrassed. Yes, it was mortifying beyond belief. And, yes, we got it on video (available on request, and screen shots of which are shown here). 

Nothing whatsoever is wrong; the little sod just likes screaming. We don’t, but then he has never concerned himself with what we like or want, and I don’t suppose he is going to start now. 

As a child, when I did a first aid course, I recall the teacher telling me that silent casualties were to be dealt with more urgently than screaming ones, because “if they’re screaming, it means they’re alive and breathing”. Le Roi certainly is. And, given the sad little thing he was when he first came to live here (sleeping all the time, barely interacting with us), I guess this is a good thing. 

So we’re just going to let him enjoy being healthy and happy. And possibly also buy earplugs. 

Le roi conjuré

Someone is feeling très pleased with himself after a fabulous demi-finale. But, because he doesn’t want to upset the grieving England supporters by being too smug, he has chosen the modest, discreet pose that you see below, for today’s entry of Le Blog.

Louis Catorze’s last prediction was right, his beloved France are through to la finale, and he spent la demi-finale being cuddled by a group of French and Francophile cat ladies who came to drink crémant and watch the match with us. He would, of course, have preferred boys, and he did pop next door to look for some, but soon returned and was perfectly cordial and gentlemanly towards his guests.

Today sees the very last of l’Assiette de Prophétie and Catorze is, once again, representing his country. His opposite number is Graham Poll, an English referee who famously gave a Croatian player THREE yellow cards before finally issuing a red in the 2002 World Cup. Sa Majesté hopes that, somehow, the use of Mr Poll’s picture will gently nudge the universe into righting the refereeing wrong that was done 16 years ago, preferably in the form of abundant Croatian sendings-off and a French win.

Prior to the prediction we had a situation d’urgence: NO JAMBON DE BAYONNE (apart from a few old scraps which we knew Sa Majesté would refuse). I wanted to slip him some supermarket prosciutto di Parma and hope he wouldn’t notice but Cat Daddy was having none of it and, luckily, when we went to the cheese shop, we were saved by its jambon sec de pays. Unfortunately we weren’t able to be so authentic with Croatia, and their food is a sliver of pâté (chosen by Cat Daddy) from the World Food aisle in Morrisons, which is perfectly nice but which is probably about as Croatian as La Marseillaise. I think he has done it on purpose to make his boy’s countrymen win.

  1. Sa Majesté stuck his nose into the pâté, enough to leave an imprint, but did not consume any
  2. Sa Majesté licked the jambon twice, but did not consume any
  3. A butterfly came along and he pitter-pattered after it, screaming 

The one positive that has come from England’s loss is that it has gained la France some unexpected support. With the exception of one friend who called Catorze “smug” and declared that he would “never support France” (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), everyone wants to see the team that clobbered England in turn be clobbered in la finale. 

There’s nothing like a healthy bit of eye-for-an-eye vengeance to unite the country, n’est-ce pas?