Les feux d’artifice

So now we know why The Day of the Dead is so called: in the days after our Halloween festivities, none of us were fit for anything. Including Louis Catorze:

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Sadly we never managed to get the little sod to pose with a pumpkin for his official Halloween portrait. However, Cat Daddy had a chat with his boy before the merriment started, reminding him that it was his time to shine, and it would appear that some of this actually registered in the dim recesses of the royal non-brain. Seemingly oblivious to Marilyn Manson blasting out behind him through enormous speakers, Louis Catorze relaxed on his chaise longue all evening, purring and slow-blinking away, happily let Cat Daddy scoop him up and present our vampire-fanged Halloween kitty to each group of visitors, then pitter-pattered back to his chaise to wait for the next group. We can’t think of many cats who would have gone along with this.

Bonfire Night will be upon us this weekend, which means more chaos and disruption and a flurry of warnings posted on social media by animal behaviourists and veterinary practices. Louis Catorze has already been put to the test by fireworks on all sides of Le Château, every evening since the weekend before Halloween, and his response has been … to tip his head to one side, listen intently, then go about his regular cat business as if nothing were amiss. Sometimes he even goes out to investigate (at The Back, of course: The Front is still on lockdown as I don’t consider the season to be fully stupid-cat-safe yet).

I know: we are INCREDIBLY lucky that he is so accepting of fireworks, and this is one of those moments when a lack of fear/brains has its benefits.

If your cat is the stressy sort, I genuinely feel for you. Easier said than done, I know, but even the stupid ones pick up on our worry, so try as much as you can not to stress on their behalf. I hope that creating a relaxed atmosphere at home – Feliway, catnip for kitty and a hefty glass of bourbon for yourself – will help to ease things.

Le chat (un poème spécial pour la fête d’Halloween)

B9116EC7-7EFA-4767-9947-6514114EB0AFOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I slumbered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, sweetly dreaming, suddenly I was blaspheming,
As of some one loudly screaming, screaming at my chamber door —
“’Tis some little sod,” I muttered, “screaming at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I was sober, for I know it was October;
And each waft of limey odour chilled me to my very core.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
For my eyes, no sleep, just sorrow – sorrow at the screaming jaws —
Of the loud and rude shitweasel whom the demons name Catorze —
Bugging me for evermore.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Votre Majesté” said I, “truly some silence I implore.
But the fact is I was dreaming, and you caused my wild blaspheming.
And so loudly you came screaming, screaming at my chamber door;
That I know full well I heard you” — here I opened wide the door —
Darkness there and nothing more.

Back into the chamber, learning that my ears were still a-burning,
All at once I heard paws turning, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is how the Sun King pitter-patters;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, this vile din I can’t ignore —
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore —
’Tis Le Roi and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
Pitter-pattered a small Sun King, tail aloft with odious roar;
“Though thy fur be foul and gritty, thou,” I said, “‘tis quite a pity,
Ghastly, grim and noisy kitty, wandering fresh from canine war —
Tell me what the heck you want now, for thy screaming’s quite a bore!” —
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

“Salaud!” said I, “thing of evil! – little sod, if cat or devil!
He’s a fiend that walks among us, fangèd demon with four paws –
Tell my face with mouth a-yawning if, before the new year’s dawning,
I shall see a peaceful morning sans disturbance from Catorze.
Take away this hellish racket, now; begone, thy screaming jaws!”
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, cat or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting.
“Get thee back into le salon, sur la chaise that you adore!
Leave no cat hair as a token of that scream thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my cursèd sleep unbroken! Quit my chamber, out the door! —
Take thy face from out my sight, and take thine arse from off my floor!” —
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

And the Sun King, fangs a-gleaming, still is screaming, still is screaming
By the basking bust of Bastet just beside my chamber door;
And my eyes have not stopped weeping: thanks to him, I am not sleeping,
And the lamp-light o’er him creeping throws his shadow on the floor —
And my peace, ‘cause of that crotte de merde who’s screaming at my door —
Shall be granted — nevermore!

Le portrait officiel du Roi

Our Gothic dining room which, of all the rooms in Le Château, does the most justice to a Halloween kitty with vampire fangs, is taking a little while to decorate fully.

Other rooms have somehow just worked, with us finding the perfect colours and furnishings through sheer good fortune (and the help of a fabulous project manager), but the dining room has, until now, remained with just table and chairs and very little else. I had an idea of what I wanted in terms of wall art – “rock and roll meets creepy Victorian Gothic” was about the best that I managed to articulate myself – but, unsurprisingly, this fabled work never appeared.

And then Cat Daddy found this:

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I kneel humbly at his awe-inspiring art-finding ability; this picture is sinister, humorous, unnerving, quirky … and absolutely perfect.

It may not actually be a picture of Louis Catorze but I am pretty certain it’s what he sees when he looks in the mirror, so, as far as his official Halloween portrait goes, it will have to do. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the portrait were to slowly deteriorate whilst Catorze, despite a hedonistic lifestyle of steroids and party powder, retained his kittenish looks. Oscar Wilde would be très proud.

La salle à manger is now officially open to the Sun King’s pilgrims.

Une image vaut mieux que mille mots

If you have a black cat, creating their official Halloween portrait is easy: you just place a pumpkin next to them, take a photo and that’s it, non?

Not so with Louis Catorze. Firstly, he’s not the most photogenic of cats. And, secondly, he doesn’t do as he’s told. The über-cool factor of a black vampire kitty with protruding fangs is utterly lost if we cannot capture this on camera for Halloween. And, alas, it seems that we cannot.

“Oh well,” said my sister, who visited this weekend for our annual Halloweekend tradition. “Maybe you can post those hilarious outtake photos instead?” Erm, those aren’t hilarious outtakes. Those are my best shots to date:

Friends have suggested the following strategies:

1. Place strips of jambon de Bayonne on the pumpkin to get Catorze to linger for longer.
2. Download a photo of a nicely-posed internet cat, paint the fangs on and pass him off as Sa Majesté.
3. Place the pumpkin on the floor and tell him that under no circumstances is he to go near it.

With 31st October gaining on us more quickly than I can say, “Dis ouistiti!” and still no official Halloween portrait in sight, I am starting to feel the pressure …

Le coeur vaillant

It’s a full moon tonight, which means more idiocy from the feline population of the planet. And, because we’re approaching Halloween, black cats, in particular, will be more idiotic than ever.

I got chatting yesterday afternoon to Bert the dog’s mamma, as we were putting out the recycling at The Front.

Now, Louis Catorze’s interactions with Bert are pretty minimal, which is why you haven’t heard much about him so far. Bert’s garden has lots of trees and shrubs against the fence, making it harder for Catorze to access it, and it also helps tremendously that Bert is getting on a bit, so his eyesight and hearing aren’t what they used to be. Not that this stops Catorze from making trouble when he feels like it; a friend who visited us once said, “I can’t believe what I’ve just seen. First Louis went over that fence [pointing to Bert the dog’s side] and pissed off that dog, then he went over THAT fence [pointing to Oscar the dog’s side] and pissed off THAT dog. Now the 2 dogs won’t shut up. Your neighbours must hate him – and you.”

Anyway, during our chat, Bert was happily sniffling and snuffling around his mamma’s feet. Louis Catorze had been asleep on the sofa but woke up, heard Bert and decided to follow me outside and scream at him.

Yes, I realise that normal feline instinct should spur him to run in the opposite direction from a dog. But this is Le Roi we’re talking about.

Bert’s mamma didn’t appear the slightest bit surprised by the screaming. In fact, she revealed that she often opened her front door to find Catorze on the doorstep, screaming away (at times when we knew he was at The Front but thought he was having a nap under our wisteria plant). And, apparently, if Bert was in the vicinity, our little sod would scream even more and sometimes try to shimmy past Dog Mamma and into the house.

Yesterday’s incident could have ended badly, but Le Roi’s royal arse was saved by the fact that Bert, incredibly, didn’t see or hear him. (No, I don’t understand, either, how anyone could fail to hear this whiny, searing meow that scrapes away at your eardrums like fingernails on a blackboard.) Then Bert’s daddy came out and said hello, which distracted Bert even further, allowing Catorze to tire of the screaming and pitter-patter back indoors.

This isn’t good, is it? Whilst I am glad that Catorze is confident and not a nervous, hunger-striking, pooing-and-peeing wreck, running screaming towards dogs isn’t exactly where I want him to be. I have heard of strategies to make a nervous cat more confident, but … making a fearless/stupid cat rein it in a bit? Is this even a thing?

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Attention aux courges butternut

Beware of butternut squash, Mesdames et Messieurs. No, not marauding street ones wearing hockey masks and carrying chain saws, but the innocent-looking seeds that you unsuspectingly toss into the compost heap.

Thanks to the amazing richness of the soil around our compost heap, Cat Daddy and I have managed to grow a butternut squash without even trying. This is good, right? Well, the bonus dinner ingredient is quite a result, but the plant is an absolute beast, sprawling everywhere like a flesh-eating triffid and suffocating everything in its path. And nobody seems to tell you this, but both the stems and the leaves expel tiny, invisible barbs.

I should have guessed that it was a nasty plant when, instead of stepping over it or brushing past it, Louis Catorze would clear it with a massive leap (which won’t be helping his knee one bit). I thought at the time that he was just being dramatic but, if an idiot like Catorze is prepared to take such pains to avoid this plant, there is obviously a reason. Even a cautious cat absentmindedly brushing past could find itself speared but, should your cat have a more gung-ho temperament and be inclined to frolic around in your vegetable patch, this could spell very bad news indeed.

Given all the health issues we already have with Catorze, we really didn’t want to be picking painful barbs out of his skin, too. So Cat Daddy got to work destroying the evil plant and sweeping the barbs off the path (which was quite some feat given that they are invisible), whilst I chopped up the monster tendrils into more manageable pieces for the garden waste bag. All that is left now is the main stem bearing the single fruit.

And Le Roi sat and slow-blinked at us throughout these measures intended for his protection, watching us get painfully skewered and disembowelled. It would appear that he is not as stupid as we thought.

Here he is, snuggling up to the butternut squash and continuing, inexplicably, to remain a barb-free zone. I’m prepared to bet Le Château on the fact that he won’t sit this nicely with the pumpkin I have bought for his official Halloween portrait.

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Le livre d’or

IMG_9957Thanks to our lovely new friend from Mexico, Louis Catorze now has a visitors’ book.

Cat Daddy: “Visitors’ book? Not even we have a visitors’ book!”
Me: “Yeah, but, to have a visitors’ book, you need visitors. Who’s coming to see us in the next couple of weeks?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

The magnificent book is a work of art like no other, with textured letters on the front cover, spiral binding, stylish ribbon closure and photos of the little sod. There are also thick, onyx-black pages for pilgrims to write declarations of devotion to the Sun King, using special white and metallic pens also gifted by our generous guest.

The only problem was how to backdate entries from the throngs of pilgrims who have already been? Luckily, upon learning of the visitors’ book, they have taken matters into their own hands by vowing to return to Le Château to see Catorze again and write messages to him. We already have a provisional booking for 2 people for late September, and I suspect that October will be insane as everyone starts to crave their Halloween vampire kitty fix.

I thought about ending this blog entry with: ‘Book soon to avoid disappointment’. However, Cat Daddy says he would prefer to go with, ‘A small, black portion of disappointment will be served on arrival’.