L’écharpe jaune

Since Brentford FC stormed into the Premier League, I have been furiously knitting away to create some scarves that match our new away kit. Yellow isn’t my favourite colour but, having seen some other clubs’ horror show kits – Spurs and Liverpool, I’m looking in your direction – I think we’ve got off quite lightly.

Naturellement, Louis Catorze is going through a phase of being a crud-magnet at the moment (see first photo below), and a light wool colour that shows every speck of crud has made my work utterly irresistible to him. He has interfered with this particular scarf at least 8,489 times, depositing various pieces of what I really hope is plant matter along the way, and now the wool is wound firmly around his foot and I can’t get it off (see second photo below). Any efforts to unravel it have been met with objections, and if I am too clumsy with any further efforts I will either snap the wool (not great) or push it towards his rear end (a cataclysmic disaster).

I don’t even want to know.
Uncomfortably close to you-know-where.

So I am just sitting here, not even daring to breathe in case of it ending up in that unmentionable location, and waiting until the little sod decides to move. And the fact that I want him to move is a sure sign that he will be here for the rest of the day.

Cats: just why?

Au bord de la rivière

On Saturday, Cat Daddy and I watched our beloved Brentford play Middlesbrough away.

Louis Catorze always sits on his daddy’s lap during football matches (no great surprise there). However, Cat Daddy tends to become very animated and over-excited, and Sa Maj doesn’t approve of this. In fact, he doesn’t even approve of mild animation and excitement. Cat Daddy has to be a statue, and anything else is unacceptable.

This was the sequence of events during the match:

1. Middlesbrough goal just a couple of minutes in. Unrepeatable expletives from Cat Daddy, moderate fidgeting from Catorze.

2. Brentford goal. Cat Daddy shouts “Yesssss!” sending Catorze springing off his lap and darting into a corner, meowing disdainfully.

3. Catorze returns but to my lap this time, not quite trusting Cat Daddy after his outburst. However, this only lasts about 0.3 seconds and he’s soon back in his happy place.

4. Start of second half. Spirited conversation from Cat Daddy. Catorze doesn’t like this and twitches and squirms, all the while glaring contemptuously at his papa.

5. Second Brentford goal. Cat Daddy says “Yes!” in a deliberately muted fashion. Catorze is off again, meowing disdainfully.

6. Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable expletives.] I was really careful that time!”

7. Catorze returns, whining like a dog. Cat Daddy picks him up and roughs him up a little, berating him for being such a complainer. In actual fact his complaining voice and his normal voice sound exactly the same.

8. Middlesbrough defender slips on the wet turf – ironic since the home commentators had earlier suggested that we southern wimps wouldn’t be able to cope with the inclement northern weather conditions – resulting in a third Brentford goal. Cat Daddy can’t be bothered to restrain himself on this occasion and goes all out with the cheering. At this point Catorze has had enough and leaves the room, remaining absent for the fourth Brentford goal and the full-time whistle.

9. Catorze returns – freezing cold and damp – in time for Cat Daddy’s post-match FaceTime call with Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy, clearly unable to resist the allure of another male voice. And, when Cat Daddy says goodbye, he takes Catorze’s tail in his fingers and waves it at the camera.

I have always been mildly offended that Catorze never chooses my lap during football. However, if the price to pay is not being allowed to even speak, I think I’m happy to leave the boys to it.

Hoping The Bees don’t score anytime soon. Or ever.

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.