Je suis heureux, j’espère que vous l’êtes aussi

I have completed a whole fortnight of teaching from home and survived to tell the tale.

It was someone else’s cat – a lovely plushy ginge called Simba, belonging to one of my students – who brought my video lessons to a standstill by gatecrashing, meowing to the class and then settling on the desk to watch his small human work.

Louis Catorze, however, saved his star turn for my online staff meeting, climbing across the keyboard, screaming. Then, when I kicked him off, he ran riot with a noisy bell toy that he had hidden behind the sofa, most likely for this very purpose.

Apart from that, Catorze more or less left me alone and either slept through my work or annoyed the merde out of Cat Daddy instead of me. I later discovered that the sleepiness was because Cat Daddy has been wearing him out at extended Boys’ Club which starts at around 9pm and goes on long into the night/morning.

Being at home all day means I have been able to take a cheeky peek into the once-mysterious ways of Le Club, and I can report that Cat Daddy and Catorze have been enjoying lengthy late-night music sessions together. This is mostly old-school prog rock, but they’ve been going through a new wave phase recently. Sa Maj bounces up and down on his daddy’s knees to Elvis Costello’s “Welcome to the working week” in an ironic nod to the fact that neither of them know what one is, whilst I still slave away like a chump. That said, I am very much aware of how lucky I am to still have a job.

Cat Daddy recently announced – after a few too many sloe gins, I might add – that he wanted to create a cat-themed playlist for their music club. This is excellent news as it saves me doing the same job for Catorze’s birthday.

The songs that we already know are as follows:

1. Lovecats (The Cure)

2. Cool for Cats (Squeeze)

3. What’s New Pussycat (Tom Jones)

4. Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats), although the bit about the lady cats, of course, doesn’t apply

5. Louie Louie (The Kingsmen)

6. Sun King (The Cult)

Six songs aren’t much of a playlist, but never fear: Cat Daddy and Catorze are on the case, and I am confident that the list will be complete by 30th April. And Cat Daddy has trained his boy so well that he sits happily in a room with loud, blasting music and doesn’t even blink (see photo below for proof), so they will probably work on the list together.

Me: “Does Louis prefer vinyl or streaming?” (It’s important to get this right for the party, after all, even though the party will end up being just the four* of us.)

[*Cat Daddy, me, Catorze and the mouse whom I know is still at large, even though I can’t prove it.]

Cat Daddy, firmly and without hesitation: “Streaming.”

Me: “You seem very sure about that.”

Cat Daddy: “Yes. Because vinyl means I have to get up and change the record, and that disturbs him.”

Of course.

Here is Catorze in his happy place. Would you believe, the little sod actually got up and moved closer to the speaker when David Bowie came on:

“Je n’ai jamais fait rien de bien …”

Le maître de la scène

Cat Daddy and I invited That Neighbour and his wife for dinner the other night. Yes, THAT Neighbour; the one who is always having to escort Louis Catorze home when he escapes at The Front and causes carnage in the street.

To be honest we had been putting it off because, although they are thoroughly lovely people, we’ve been so embarrassed by Sa Maj and his behaviour that we haven’t been able to face them. We were going to wait until the little sod started to behave himself but, of course, that jour de gloire never came and, before we knew it, 4 years had passed.

Anyway, after the greetings, the hors d’œuvres and our initial shock at the generous amount of alcohol they’d brought with them (although we all know the reason why they need it), the topic of conversation inevitably got to the small, black, toothy elephant in the room. Mind you, this was unavoidable because said elephant presented himself as loudly as possible, screaming, purring and nuzzling That Neighbour’s legs (although, rudely, he ignored Wife of That Neighbour). Luckily they are animal lovers and they have been taking all his shenanigans with good humour. For now, at least.

During dinner Catorze disappeared. Then the howling started. The longer it went on, the less cat-like it sounded and, pretty soon, it was more like something you’d hear in the haunted Transylvanian woods outside Castle Dracula.

Wife of That Neighbour: “Is that … MEOWING?”

That Neighbour: “Yes. Is it Louis?”

Cat Daddy, hurriedly opening more wine: “No, it’s definitely not him. It must be some other cat. Here, let me top you up.”

The conversation turned to Brexit, then to my and Puppy Mamma’s knitting woes, then to Wife of That Neighbour’s absolutely brilliant true story about the time she knitted the pink jumper worn by a household-name pop star in an iconic music video*. Throughout all this, the howling continued and Cat Daddy poured more and more wine. By the time we got onto climate change, so much wine was flowing that nobody noticed or cared about the howling anymore. And, when Sa Maj reappeared (and, coincidentally, the howling stopped), That Neighbour sang that “Louie Louie” song to him and gave him a big cuddle.

It’s hard to know whether this means that he’s forgiven him his trespasses, or whether it was just the wine. Probably a better indicator is That Neighbour’s choice of musical links posted on social media, which, consciously nor not, often seem to channel Catorze. This one was posted just before our dinner. It got better after that:

*Can you guess the pop star and the music video? Think of a charismatic, cat-loving British frontman – in fact, he’s known for having had quite a few cats, and my mum knows all their names – and the song is most likely the rousing anthem Catorze hears in his head every time he escapes at The Front.

L’oiseau

image

Yesterday I was having a bit of an off day, mainly due to frustration that my recovery is so slow. Cat Daddy had sent me a text to cheer me up, which read, “You just have to be patient. You have a lovely house in which to recover, summer weather, TV and wifi, a huge bed in which to stretch out and, of course, the most amazing cat in the world.” (I pretended not to notice that that last bit was sarcastic.)

Then it happened: my beautiful little bubble of convalescence was cruelly broken by the sight of Louis Catorze walking casually past me with a dead bird in his mouth. And, before I could stop him, he had trotted under the coffee table and dumped the bird on top of Cat Daddy’s apocalyptically-expensive new wireless headphones. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Getting a 3.2kg cat to leave a place that he really doesn’t want to leave, when you are not meant to be lifting weights of more than 2kg, is much more of a challenge than one might imagine. But, after a brief skirmish, I managed to separate Sa Majesté from his loot, kick his arse out of the room, ignore his unearthly screams to be let back in again (see photo) and call Cat Daddy to dispose of poor birdy. He was surprisingly good about it, with “That’s what cats do” falling from his lips not just once but several times. Before I could say “Sennheiser Momentum”, the headphones were disinfected and back on his head as he relaxed on the patio with Louis Catorze on his lap.

It later transpired that Cat Daddy had mentally claimed the bird as a gift to him, given that it was left on his headphones, and was actually secretly pleased that his boy had been so thoughtful.

I, however, am starting to see that being the second favourite human has its benefits.