Oh, non, pas moi, je survivrai

Because it’s a bank holiday weekend, my mind drifted to memories of the LAST bank holiday weekend when Cat Daddy gave Disco the dog’s human sister some lessons in musical history and helped her to compile a disco playlist.

I don’t know why I didn’t blog about this at the time, but I imagine it was because the week was already full of Louis Catorze’s nonsense, and not only was there no room for further nonsense but, in fact, there was a backlog of unpublished nonsense. This seems to be quite a recurring pattern for Le Blog.

I tried to help with the playlist but this was the extent of my contribution:

Me: “What about Knock on Wood? Is that disco?”

Cat Daddy, utterly horrified: “What? NOOOO!”

Me: “What is it, then?”

Him, as if that were the stupidest question on earth: “That’s soul!”

Me: “What’s the difference?”

Him: “….”

Me: “???”

Him: “It’s just different.”

[I have since found out that Knock on Wood was one of the tracks on a compilation album called Fetenkult Disco 70. I have no idea what “Fetenkult” means but I’m fairly sure I understand the “Disco” bit.]

Anyway, Dog Sister’s playlist entitled Disco the Party Dog is now a thing, although it’s still a work in progress, and she and Cat Daddy are taking their research very seriously. The most important part involved Dog Sister and Cat Daddy dancing outside to Ottowan’s D-I-S-C-O (younger followers: ask your parents), each holding their respective animal and making him do Saturday Night Fever movements (younger followers: ask your grandparents) with his paws.

Catorze denies everything and says that it never happened (all lies).

Yes, Sir, he can boogie. Whether he wants to or not.

Les anges du nord

We are on the last part of our holiday: a few days in the North East, in a lovely townhouse overlooking a little marina. Once again we appear to be on Dog Territory, and I’m not sure that the Sun King would approve of this:

Non.

Part of our trip included seeing a friend whom I have known online for fifteenish years yet never met in person, until now. During term time I told my students about this meet-up, and they were very concerned indeed.

“Are you going to take someone with you, Miss?”

“And you and your friend have only ever chatted online? What if she isn’t actually a woman at all, but some creepy old man?”

“Or what if she turns out to be a 12-year-old boy?”

At least my lessons about online safety have worked. Anyway, my students needn’t have worried because the meeting went well, and my friend was neither an internet pervert nor an adolescent boy. And she has cats. Look at them!

Magic, who has the most hilarious tail.
Tash, so called because of the, erm, white tache.
Lucky, the bruiser who starts all the fights.
Maggie, the very shy one. This is as close as I was allowed.
Merlyn, the daddy of them all.

Before we left Wales, we drunk-booked our next summer holiday. But, when we woke up the next morning and remembered what we’d done, we realised that it was, in fact, one of our better decisions, and so we sober-paid the non-refundable deposit.

Now, the only thing is what to do with Louis Catorze during this time. I would be very happy to ask our current chat-sitteur if she would like to come and live with him again, but would she want another week of him and his stupid shite? It’s quite stressful being asked to commit to something that you don’t want to do, months and months in advance, because you don’t really have a way out of it. I’ve been in this position a few times, and I’ve found myself lamely stuttering, “Erm, I’m not sure what my plans will be at that time …” when we both know full well that it’s way too far ahead for anyone to have any plans. Yes, it would be so much easier to just be honest in these situations, but that’s not really how life works.

Since our chat-sitteur happens to read Le Blog I know she will see this post, so all I have to do is await a response from her. And, yes, I am aware that no response is still a response.

La carte des chats

Earlier this month, Puppy Mamma gave me this:

London has a CAT HISTORY: who knew?

I know. Isn’t it brilliant? I am very lucky to have her as a friend. And, yes, someone has actually taken the time to make a map of cats! Who would do that? (In actual fact I think most of us probably would, and the only reason we haven’t is because we didn’t think of it.)

Naturellement, I began thinking how much I would love Louis Catorze to feature on a cat map. Cat Daddy would, no doubt, argue that nobody cared about seeing where the little sod lived, but his guest book packed with photos and messages suggests otherwise. I even checked our location on the tea towel to see if there would be room to add him and, as you can see, there is. The other cats seem to be concentrated in the centre of London, and the borough of Hounslow is suffering something of a cat dearth:

Où sont les chats?

I then recalled that Catorze DOES feature on a U.K. cat map. I have a friend in America who not only created such a map, but has planned a month-long tour of the U.K. later this year to meet all the cats in person/feline, having read about them online. And her final hurrah before returning home will be Hallowe’en weekend here at Le Château with Sa Maj.

Here is my friend’s cat map. Only three months until she will be with us, assuming that Covid doesn’t scupper her plans again.

Cat Tour of the U.K.

Du repos total

Cat Daddy and I are spending a few days in an isolated cottage in North Wales. When we made ourselves a cup of tea on arrival we were met with this, but it did get better from then onwards:

Excusez-moi?

We now know the wonder of waking up to silence every morning. No screaming felines, no parakeets screeching at screaming felines, no planes, no shouty kid* in the park over the road … just silence. It has been some years since we last experienced the joy of waking up to pure, blissful peace.

*The same one turns up every morning with one of his oblivious/unconcerned parents, week days and weekends, from 6:45am onwards, bellowing himself senseless and waking us up. If you mention “the shouty kid” to anyone who lives in our street, most people will know exactly who you mean.

That said, I do miss Louis Catorze. Cat Daddy, however, says he doesn’t.

Our current view, every morning.
Our usual view.

Catorze is, apparently, doing fine, and has not killed and eaten his chat-sitteur as yet. There was, however, a minor incident during which she heard his screaming and, believing him to be trapped somewhere, was opening doors and cupboards in an effort to locate him, but to no avail. Eventually she saw two creepy eyes staring down at her from the roof. Yes, the little sod had decided to climb up there and scream at her through the open skylight. No, we don’t know why.

We have been told that he has not ruined any work Zoom calls so far, which is somewhat surprising. But there’s still time.

Silly sod.

La flamme qui ne s’éteint jamais

Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges: WE ARE ALLOWED OUT. Thank you to everyone who has asked after me, and special thanks to the pub, who delivered our takeaway Christmas dinner when we couldn’t collect, and to Oscar the dog’s folks, who braved the Herculean labour of collecting my meds from the pharmacy.

Being under house arrest in Le Château hasn’t been too much of a hardship, apart from Louis Catorze’s attempts to kill me, of course. We have, however, been missing our scented candles. Usually, during the Yuletide season, the place is filled with the heavenly scent of orange and cinnamon, or a Scandinavian pine forest. This year, of course, we can’t have scented candles because of our mutual friend.

Whilst it’s highly doubtful that they contribute to Catorze’s allergy problem, we don’t want to take any chances during a time when everywhere is shut. We have, however, resumed his daily sessions with an unscented beeswax candle, which are said to have air-purifying, anti-allergenic properties. I don’t have absolute proof that this works – although Catorze’s buddy Tau, a glamorous Bengal who also suffers from skin allergies, has had astonishingly good results with them – but it certainly can’t do any harm, and it makes me feel that I am doing something positive. And, because practice has made me better at candle-making, I am now able to turn out some half-decent ones and they no longer look like a snake that’s swallowed a cow whole.

Until now, Catorze has been pretty trustworthy around candles. I wouldn’t appoint him Fire Safety Warden or anything like that but, generally, if I leave the room to make a quick cup of tea, I can rely on everything to remain exactly as I left them.

However, with this being 2020 an’ all, the little sod decided to throw a little curveball into the mix. You see the burning candle at the bottom left of the photo? And you see the blue blanket atop the sofa on the right? You would imagine they were far enough apart to be safe, right?

The calm before the cat.

Well …

Just add one psycho vampire kitty high on steroids and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. Cat Daddy and I watched, frozen in shock, as the little sod burrowed into the folds of the blanket and rolled BOTH IT AND HIMSELF off the top of the sofa and towards the candle.

Q: How do you make a sausage roll? A: Push it.

Luckily he didn’t burn down the house (this time), but we consider ourselves well and truly warned.

Here he is having another go, although this time he decided not to make himself part of the incendiary sausage roll (non-Brits, ask your British friends) and, instead, just pushed the flammable object in the direction of the naked flame:

“Ça a l’air rigolo!”
“Ce n’était pas moi.”

Cats, candles and flammable objects: just be careful out there, everyone. 2020 isn’t quite over, and it could yet have a sting in its tail.

Aucun séjour à Paris

Cat Daddy and I had planned a short break in Paris to celebrate his retirement, and we should be there right now. But, because I have wrecked my bad shoulder whilst attempting to restrain Louis Catorze for his spot-on flea treatment, we have had to cancel.

Now, I don’t suppose I can fully blame Catorze for this as it was probably too soon after my surgery to book a holiday anyway; I am still struggling to do most of the things required/desired during a city break (walking, carrying a bag, taking public transport, sitting at a table to eat, etc.). Plus we know how awful Catorze is when given medication, so I should have asked Cat Daddy to do it instead of doing it myself. I suppose there are worse places to spend time than Le Château, but it’s annoying beyond belief to see how remorseless Sa Maj is for his part in making things worse: after the incident he pitter-pattered to his bowl, had a light amuse-bouche of Lily’s Kitchen, then napped in the flowerbed all afternoon (facing away from us rather than towards us, with the spot-on stain very much visible on the back of his neck as if to taunt us).

Luckily for me Cat Daddy has been very understanding indeed, and he has assured me that he is happy for us to relax at home this week. He even made me chateaubriand* with smoked Stilton and creamy mushroom sauce to cheer me up (and I told him that it half-worked so he’s making it again tonight). Catorze, on the other hand, couldn’t care less what we do. Here he is in what is now his own private garden on the sedum roof, like some evil warlord planning his next missile strike:

*With the â or without? I have agonised over this and spent countless hours researching, yet the internet appears to be telling me that both are possible. Which, frankly, is as lame as a competition in which “everybody wins”.

On est de retour!

We British “sit” everything, from pets to houses to plants. And, apparently, the only things that the French “sit” are babies. Yet this hasn’t stopped me from referring to Équipe Une and Équipe Deux as “les chat-sitteurs”, with “chat-sitteur”, rather like “professeur”, being an invariable noun, as “chat-sitteuse” sounds somewhat absurd despite both Équipes being female. (This was the basis of my conversation with Cat Daddy on the flight back from Belfast, until he put on his headphones a few minutes in and pretended to be asleep.)

We are back from holiday and, whilst it didn’t go entirely to plan, with both lost luggage and injuries preventing us from doing all that we wanted to do, it was a relief to escape the heatwave that has only just relinquished its hold on London. And it was nothing short of delightful to be able to sleep in without being jolted awake by screaming, rodent deliveries and suchlike.

That said, we did miss Louis Catorze, although he has had an absolute ball over the last couple of weeks and probably didn’t even notice/care that we had gone. Apart from bringing Équipe Une a rat* on their very first morning, he seems to have been the perfect host.

*Oui, Équipe Une: I may have given the impression that it was a mouse, but only because I didn’t want to scare you with the awful truth. When I saw the long, rangy limbs in your photo, I KNEW. Je suis désolée. Cat Daddy and I are still wondering how on earth Catorze managed to haul a beast half his body weight through the cat flap, and we are just grateful that it didn’t end up on your bed. Erm, see you again next summer? 

So life has resumed as normal. Cat Daddy and I are facing the mammoth task of undoing all the damage caused by eating our weight in potatoes for a fortnight (which will be a challenge, as my leg and his back are still done in). And Le Roi, no doubt, will go back to doing whatever it is that he does, although Cat Daddy’s too-rude-to-publish remark suggests that perhaps the little sod doesn’t contribute an enormous amount to the planet.

This image shows one of the places that we visited, whose name had a certain air of familiarity: 

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Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, Mon Roi

Cat Daddy and I are going on holiday today, so Le Blog will be taking a bit of a break. And, naturellement, we will be leaving Louis Catorze in very capable hands during our absence. 

Équipe Une, who will be living with Sa Majesté during the first half of our break, will be the same French friend who took care of the little sod last year (and who, inexplicably, is happy to come back). Équipe Deux, for the second half, will be another friend who is an excellent, experienced cat-sitter but who has occasionally been run ragged by her charges with hunting incidents, veterinary emergencies, cheeky feral impingers who sneak in and pretend to be part of the household, and suchlike. So we are hoping and praying that Le Roi will behave and not add himself to her blacklist of problem cats. 

And, yes: the moment I typed those words, I suddenly had a feeling of dread. Darkening skies, circling ravens, the distant rumble of thunder, and so on. 

He will be good, won’t he? 

Qui a peur du Roi Soleil?

My friend, with whom I stayed last weekend: “Our cats never give us the cold shoulder when we get back from holiday. They’re really good.”
Me: “Yes, Louis Catorze is the same.”

What a pile of merde. This was our welcome back from Sa Majesté on Sunday:

16h00: Ear-splitting screaming
16h10: Little sod goes out to sit by himself in the rain (and, odd though this is, frankly we are relieved)
16h30: Little sod comes in when I go upstairs for a shower and rolls his gross, wet body all over Cat Daddy (ha!)
16h50: Little sod goes out again the minute I return from my shower
17h10: Little sod comes back in when Cat Daddy’s (male) friend stops by, and screams incessantly at the pair of them
17h15: I go and hide in the living room, and the screaming continues
17h30: I shout from the living room, “What the hell is wrong with him?” but nobody can hear me because of the screaming
18h00: Cat Daddy sees his friend out, then comes to hide with me in the living room and complain about the screaming
18h01: Little sod finds us
18h05: Boys’ Club – and silence – for the rest of the evening

Cat Daddy is already planning our next weekend away, to get some peace. But not before we invest in some sedatives (for us as well as for Catorze).

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En vacances, l’esprit libre

Whilst Cat Daddy and I struggle with the drudgery that is January, Louis Catorze has been dealing with it by being as annoying as is felinely possible. I don’t know where he finds the energy – after all, we certainly can’t – but his psycho levels appear to have spiked lately, and we can’t keep up with his nonsense.

This is a small selection of the undesirable behaviour that we have had to endure:

1. Nocturnal scampering and whining (which doesn’t sound that bad, but trying to teach teenagers on a night of interrupted sleep is the worst pain there is)
2. Sitting statue-still and creepily staring at us (and, yes, we do wish he’d do this at night and the scampering and whining during the day)
3. Following us around the house trilling, chirping and trying to trip us up
4. Screaming at the party wall surveyor and drowning out his attempts to make audio notes on his dictaphone
5. Knocking all my students’ assessments onto the floor and rolling on them

Here he is, having just done numéro 5. The deranged stare and toothy gawp don’t really say “Remorse”, do they?

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Cat Daddy: “We should just pack our bags and leave. Let him become someone else’s problem for a change.”

So we did. We have just had a lovely weekend with some great friends and their more photogenic, better-behaved cats, and are on our way back right now. No doubt Sa Majesté will have been impeccably good for those taking care of him, as always. And, whilst the brief break from his bad behaviour has done us some good, I am sure it will resume again the minute we set foot across the Château threshold.

Cat Daddy will never admit this, but I think he is secretly looking forward to seeing his boy again. And I, too, can’t wait to scoop him up in my arms and have him yowl, kick and struggle to get free.