L’appel du réveil

Apparently U.K. pubs may open in April, but without alcohol. I KNOW. I’m not even drinking at the moment (because we’re doing Dry February) and I still think it’s a stupid idea.

When I am drinking, I far prefer to do it at home; I can have the wine that I want instead of being forced to have Compromise Prosecco, I always get a seat and there’s no queue for the bathroom. Yet Cat Daddy and I often reminisce about pubs and wonder when we will be allowed to go back. (I am talking about Covid, by the way; we haven’t been barred.)

A few nights ago, we remembered one particular occasion which was most certainly blogworthy but, for whatever reason, I didn’t write about it at the time (most likely because Louis Catorze had already done 652 stupid things that week and there wasn’t time/space). That night I returned home from the pub early, leaving Cat Daddy out on the rampage with our friends (and, more worryingly, with my debit card).

Unfortunately we had only taken one key with us and I had brought it home, so Cat Daddy was keyless. Not only that, but I forgot to leave him a spare one in our secret safe place. By the time he came home and realised that he couldn’t get in, my phone had switched to night time setting so all his calls went straight to my voicemail. Not even his knocking at the door woke me up, which was very unusual.

Merci à Dieu, then, for Catorze. For where our lack of organisation, our technology malfunction – even though it was, in actual fact, functioning as it should – and my uncharacteristic sleep-deafness let us down, his ear-imploding screaming saved the day. I came downstairs in the early hours to investigate the God-awful sound and found him sitting by the front door, psycho-eyed and puffed-chested, alerting me to his daddy’s predicament with all his might.

Cat Daddy later: “I don’t understand why he sat by the front door and screamed at me. Why didn’t he go upstairs and scream at you?”

I don’t suppose he needed to. I heard him. And so, I would imagine, did most of the street.

Yes, neighbours, THAT’S what that noise was. Sorry about that.

“Au secours!”

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.

Le Roi Soleil, c’est un chat mystère

Not long ago we had a cat-loving male friend come to Le Château for dinner. Louis Catorze loves all visitors but cat-loving men are, naturellement, the best kind. 

When he arrived Catorze was all over him, up-tailed and purring. As our music grew louder and we grew drunker we didn’t notice until too late that, at some point during the proceedings, Sa Maj had disappeared. We did think it unusual for him not to partake in such an evening – predominantly-male soirées of loud rock music are very much his thing – but we weren’t concerned enough to halt our music and drinking to search for the little sod. 

When our friend’s cab arrived and he opened the door to leave, in dashed Catorze from The Front where, presumably, he had been all evening. 

How the flamin’ flip did he get there? (And why didn’t he use the same method to come back in again?)

We initially thought that, perhaps, he had pitter-pattered out when our friend arrived, but then we remembered the purring and flirting and the comments about how Catorze’s permanent up-tail revealed, erm, a larger-than-desirable expanse of rear end. So he definitely teleported AFTER our friend’s arrival, not during. Cat Daddy even thought I may have opened the front door during the evening to put bottles into the recycling box, but I am far too lazy to do this bottle by bottle and would much rather wait until the end of the night and take out all eight three bottles in one go. 

However Le Roi may have managed to pull off this trick, our greater concern is that, because of our music, we wouldn’t have heard him screaming to get back in, nor would we have heard an irate neighbour losing his/her shit and knocking at our door to return him to us. This is bad. VERY bad. 

I really, really need to find out how Sa Maj did this. But I probably need to apologise to our neighbours first.

Nos compagnons à quatre pattes

Cat Daddy and I have just spent Christmas Day with Louis Catorze’s Cat Uncle and Cat-Cousin Alfie, and we also met up with Nala the dog and her mamma a few days previously. (Gosh, that was a lot of the word “cat” in one sentence.) Nala is lucky enough to live opposite a lovely dog park and, as a result of her time spent there, she has made more same-species friends in the last two months than Sa Maj has made in his entire life. On Sunday there was even a dogs’ Christmas party in the park, with one of the dog mammas distributing home-made, dog-shaped biscuits to all canine guests.  

“How was the party?” I asked Puppy Mamma. 

“Oh, y’know: much like an office Christmas party,” she replied. “Too much noise, a couple of fights, that kind of thing.”

Oh dear. 

This kind of event would NEVER have worked for cat owners. But I do wonder what it might be like if there were such things as cat parks and we were able to meet in the same way that dog people do.  

Imagine, if you will, rows of park benches filled with ladies, some with bandaged hands due to pilling incidents that turned bad, all discussing the latest device to remove cat hair from furniture and clothes. There would be empty cat carriers at their feet as all the cats happily gambolled about in the park, chasing bugs and chewing grass. Then, when it was time to go home, the ladies would call their cats back and the cats would ignore them. 

Puppy Mamma added that she finally understood what I meant when I talked about my cat friends, as she now has dog friends. She explained how dog owners chat in the park about how their dogs have been, vet visits, the most recent embarrassing escapade etc. and generally bond through their mutual love of dogs. I get it – after all, this is what cat owners do, the only difference being that the internet is our “park”. 

“I guess it must be easier to suss people out as you’re meeting them in person and not online,” I said to Puppy Mamma, “but how do you avoid the freaks?” 

There have to be SOME freaks in Dogsville, right? The whole world knows, of course, about the 60% or so of cat people who are total weirdos, not always in a good way, and I suppose that, as someone who tells people that my cat is French and has his own visitors’ book, I am one of their merry number.

“Easy,” Puppy Mamma told me. “You get to know what time the undesirable people or the undesirable dogs are going to be in the park, and you just avoid going at that time.”

If only it were that easy in the cat world; how wonderful to be able to avoid one particular attention-seeking, punctuation-dodging nutjob – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE – simply by refraining from logging on at certain times. That said, what a pity if the human were pleasant but one had to steer clear of them because they had an undesirable dog. This is utterly unheard of in cats. Whatever their issue, however naughty or stroppy or psycho they may be, undesirable cats are simply not a thing. 

Cat Daddy: “Really? I can think of one.”

If a genie were to grant me three wishes, I would wish for that cat park – yes, even before wishing for a lottery win, world peace or more wishes. And, should you ever see cats pitter-pattering about your local green space and a group of slightly harassed-looking ladies in jaunty scarves, helping themselves from a free Crémant fountain, you will KNOW. 

Papa s’énerve

image

I came downstairs this morning to find the living room looking like this, and my initial thought was, “How cute: Cat Daddy has set up a viewing platform for his boy to watch the world go by.”

However, the truth was somewhat different; it turned out that, late last night, after I had gone to bed, Cat Daddy had heard a commotion outside and gone to investigate. And, as soon as the front door was open, Louis Catorze had bolted off into The Forbidden Front and refused to come back.

The shutters were open so that Cat Daddy could keep a lookout for Catorze’s pathetic face meowing to be let in again. The Fortnum and Mason box thing was where Cat Daddy spent ages sitting, because he couldn’t see out properly from the sofa, and the stool was in place not as a viewing platform but as a resting place for the bottle of wine he needed to fuel his vigil.

“Can you believe it?” Cat Daddy sighed. “I didn’t dare go to bed leaving him outside at The Front. Yet, every time I tried to catch him, he’d run away, then stop and scream for a bit, then run further away. So I had to sit there until really late and wait for him to decide to come back.”

“At least we’ve learned that he comes back,” I said.

“Yeah,” Cat Daddy countered, “but we’ve also learned that he’s a little shit.”

Oh dear. Maybe Louis Catorze needs to be told that, if he keeps up this kind of behaviour, Papa Noël won’t be stopping by …