Fan Mail

June 29, 2011

Dear zeebling,

I av been a massive fan of your bogg and that for ages. Me an ower lass are always avin a rite laff at it wen we read it in the skooner after we av dropped ower shane and chardoney off at the center. I will tell you wot tho mate. I fink that sum ov wot you say is bang owt of oader. I mean well snipe and that cos we arnt all chavs on ower estate. You are always slaggin us of and sayin ow we are all scum and that right so I think you ow us an appoligy cos we arnt all like that. And we arnt all slags or itillerate or detared either. So fess up man and say sorry and that.

Radged, Ull.

PS them seagull made me mam shit wiv laffin wen she red it!

Dear Radged

I have to be honest, I don’t know what to say. Are you real?  You can’t be real. You might be. Let’s assume you are,  and you are the most lovely man ever, although the fact that you go to the Skooner makes that dubious. Impressed, however, that it has broadband.

I’m very proud of my Hull roots. I hail from the Holderness Road. My first memory is of looking out of my cage in the pet shop and seeing the lights of the Eurasian Pizza and Kebab Emporium. You cannot GET more Hull. I am sorry if I have offended you.  May I suggest that your mother sees a doctor, though.

Dear Zeebling,

Are you dead yet? Ahahahahaha.

Dave.

Dear Dave

You’re a bastard and I’ve always hated you. I planted those mice under your stair case deliberately. Everyone knows you tried to drown me. I’ve heard you’re coming to see my Dad this summer. Hope you like turd in your bed.

Love, Zeebling.

Dear Zeebling,

Jenny has invited you to the event ‘Xbox Live: 4000 points!’

What?

Dear Zeebling,

Just reminding you (subtle like) that some of us are blog deprived…

Emily.

Dear Emily,

You are a loyal reader, and I am truly sorry for the shocking shortage of posts of late. The truth of the matter is quite simple; nothing has happened. Life has been good, and quiet. The spring came, then the summer arrived, and with it came mice and birds and flies and lovely weather, and I have, to be frank, Emily, been basking. ‘Aaaah,’ I have been thinking to myself. ‘Aaaaah. THIS is the life I’ve deserved, here, right here. My own little house, my own little patch of mice and birds, my own little garden, a baby who is now Bigger and is nice to me and doesn’t think that my tail is a handle with which to pick me up, Iams, strange Thai Meat Pouches; I have everything I have ever wanted.’ In all honesty, Emily, I was thinking that so little was happening, so content was I, that I would have to wrap this up. What is there to say? My outlet to the world, begun at a time when the world was strange, and then pursued as if it were a promise of daylight during my time in the cellar of Saskatchewan had become secondary to my desire to sit in the sunshine licking my paws and trying not to worry about the fact that one of my teeth is now considerable longer than the others. I loved my Dad so very much for bringing me here, for giving me this.

Please note the past tense, Emily.

“I got the job!”, my Dad announced one day. He had gone for a promotion. It was all very exciting. I was excited, too; promotions mean cat treats, surely? Maybe an exciting scratch post? Maybe, like, just LOADS of Thai Meat Pouches in a big bucket? No, I’ll tell you what ‘promotions’ mean; they mean moving out of a cottage by the beach and moving into a house with fifty teenage boys in a school where every other teacher who lives there owns a bloody big lolloping labrador. It gets better, though, Emily. The apartment we’ll be living in? Guess where it is. I’ll give you a clue; it isn’t above ground. So this blog will be getting a revival, it would seem. The life of contented bliss that I thought was mine eternally has been snatched away like an E number from the grip of The Baby. I would say ‘shoot me now”, but amongst my facebook messages was also this:

Dear Zeebling

I like shooting things, like gophers. Gophers are smaller than cats.

Taylor.

Dear Taylor,

That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? Is it a statement of two separate facts, or is it a thinly veiled threat? I have no idea what I’m supposed to say in reply. I bet you own a quad, though.

Dear Zeebling

Thankyou for adding me to your friends list! When do we take over the world?

Gaea Mrrfy.

Dear Gaea

I’m not altogether sure who you are, or how to pronounce your name, or how we are friends, but I like you.

And thankyou, Gordon, for sending me clips of kittens. You’re right, they do make me giggle.

One of the biggest sources of entertainment I have is listening to The Mushroom attempt to tell The Baby about the world, about life, about all the things The Baby sees and wonders about and asks question about and none of them, thus far, have been about poetry, the work of Tennessee Williams or how to make lasagne. The Mushroom is screwed.

“Mummy? Mummy, where does the wind come from?” This is a particularly pertinent question, seeing as there was a hurricane on Thursday, and thus Wind is now is seen as a bit more Zeus-y than maybe it was before. The Mushroom and The Baby were on the phone to The Mushroom’s mother at half past nine that morning (‘Yeah, the power’s gone, bit windy outside, mmm, yeah, yeah, we’re off to story time at the library anyway, I’ll skype you tomorrow! Bye-eeee!’), and then they went outside, felt the winds of 124 mph, saw that next-door-but-one’s 80ft fir tree had fallen into the road and glanced up to see a bit of somebody’s roof fly past and decided that story time could wait. Anyhoo, this led The Baby to ask where wind came from.

The Mushroom looked out the window. “Erm, it comes from the sky! See those clouds moving? The wind is doing that. Jeeez, maybe we shouldn’t be so near a window…”

“But where is it FROM? Who made it?”

“The Earth.” She sounded pretty certain.

“The Earth? What is The Earth?”

“Ooh. Erm. It’s the planet we live on.”

“We don’t live on a planet. We live in a bungalow.”

“Yes. Yes we do.  But it’s on a planet.”

The Baby looked confused. “It’s on a street.”

“Which is on a planet. “

“What is a planet?”

“Well, it’s kind of a round thing that floats in Space.”

“Space?”

The Mushroom nodded. “That’s right. Space.”

We all know what question should come next. It didn’t, though. The Baby is clever. She sensed that her mother hadn’t a frigging clue and that no sense would come of this line of questioning, and promptly picked up a book.

“Who made the alphabet, Mummy?”

“The Romans, poppet, although it originated with the Egyptians and the Greeks, of course. “

“What’s it for?”

“To tell stories. Let’s read one.”

Degree in English. Can make lasagne. End of knowledge.

It’s a bit worrying, for 36, which she just turned. Surely, at that age, you should simply know more things.  Everybody, at the moment, is having a birthday, including me, kind of; my Dad, The Mushroom, The Queen, Kofi Annan, Butch Cassidy (apparently), a woman in Lincoln called Lemise and The Baby, sort of, insomuch as it’s a half birthday which counts if you’re an only child and your parents like to have an excuse to buy you More Toys which they can ill afford but for whom the look on her face when presented with a gift, no matter how small and, in some cases, utterly crap, is as addictive as crack cocaine (one time, The Baby found a bit of silver foil on the floor and actually gasped in delight. Why my Dad and The Mushroom haven’t learnt from that is beyond me. Roll of aluminium foil, some sticky tape, a cardboard box and a tambourine and she’d be happy as larry. I’d be hiding in the nearest tree, as I’m still recovering from the My Little Pony sticker incident, but she’d be grand.)

(Oh, point of clarification, after drug reference in this paragraph; the silver foil on the floor was NOT the result of my Dad and The Mushroom testing the theory that their child’s smile is as good as crack cocaine by actually smoking crack cocaine, but the result of the Mushroom’s quite shockingly bad attempts at housekeeping, i.e., ‘shoving-everything-in-the-cupboard-where-the-bin-is-and-worrying-about-it-at-some-undisclosured-later-date’, which on this occasion led to a scrap of silver foil making a bid for freedom.) 

(And as an aside, don’t ever use the phrase, ‘happy as Larry’ if you want anyone Canadian to understand you. ‘Larry? You mean my brother, Larry? Yeah, he’s quite happy. I didn’t know you knew him!’). The Mushroom should know this. The Mushroom should KNOW MORE THINGS.

The Mushroom is aware of this. Her brain is melting, and generally she’s okay with it. She has absorbed herself wholly, contentedly, into a world of  papier mache piñatas and dolls and whilst she could tell you the salt content of any food stuff available in North America and the benefits of wearing a baby-sling, in an adult conversation on politics, she looks down, mumbles, nods when anyone looks at her and then says something about how lovely the table cloth is. I think it only bothers her when she gets questions about wind.

Perhaps this is why full time mothers are often seen as so very low status. I wonder, though; can a person’s worth be measured in terms of what they know? Or what they have the potential to understand? Or what they knew once? Or is there a way of measuring age and knowledge combined and seeing if they equal something decent? I don’t know. I hope not. Cos I’m a cat and I can’t figure out how the bins work, so that would cancel me out.

So perhaps it isn’t so bad that The Mushroom doesn’t know where wind comes from. I have to admit, though, I’m very much looking forward to questions about maths, seeing as The Mushroom was thrown out of her maths lessons at school for refusing to work out the length of the third side of the triangle using Pythagorus’ theorum as she had a ruler, and claimed she could simply measure it.

Happy birthday to us all.

As they say in ‘Spartacus’, apologies, Domina. I have been having a lazy winter. I find winters hard. I know this is NOT Saskatchewan, but it’s still Canada, and it’s cold. Currently, we’re recovering from a snow storm which prompted a plethora of media puns, such as ‘Snowmageddon!’, and ‘Snowpocalypse!’, proving unequivocally that Canadians may be good at the bob-sleigh, but they’re totally shit at puns (If you want further proof, it can be found in all Canadian made greetings cards. This is a great one, bought by The Mushroom for a mate of hers for St Patrick’s Day:

‘Knock Knock!’

‘Who’s there?’

‘Irish!’

‘Irish who?’

(open card)

‘I rish you a happy St Patrick’s Day!’

Fabulous, isn’t it?  At first, I wondered if it might be a bit racist, simply because reading it made me feel quite offended, but then I realised that it wasn’t racist, just very shit. I’d like to find the man who wrote that card, and poo on his pen.). Anyway, when it snows, I stay inside, I sleep, and I watch things on HBO. I’m not sure any of these things make me a better cat.

 I’ve been watching ‘Spartacus’ a lot, it’s surreal. It provides a lot of historical information I was hitherto unaware of. Did you know that in gladiatorial combat, people bled in slow motion? I didn’t. Did you know that the most commonly used Roman swear phrase was, ‘By Jupiter’s Cock!’? I didn’t. Did you know that Roman women spent a lot of their time getting their boobs out? I think I might have known that already. Anyway, I feel ready to sit a degree in History now.

In Roman times, 41 = decrepidly old. My Dad is 41. He runs 10k a day. In Roman terms, then, is he a god? Very grown up but still able to move and be continent? 41 year old men wear suits. They own dressing gowns, and pyjamas, and have rare vinyl versions of the records that make them feel they were once young and subversive, and remind them of the nights they danced till dawn with the  kind of sexual potency that only the young can get away with (NB: I have realised that this is where Dad Dancing comes from. Young men dance because they are either a) lost in the music which represents all the youthful angst they are currently experiencing and/or b) trying to get a female to go home with them. Eventually, one of the females DOES go home with them, they marry, have children, and then start going to darts and pub quizes and do not dance again for about 15 years, when they are invited to a family wedding.

At the Family Wedding, there is a DJ, who once hoped to make it big, but now still has the same hairstyle that looked good on him in 1982 and one small set of flashing lights and a disco ball. ‘London Calling’ starts to play. 41 year old Dad closes his eyes, and is immediately 19 again, in a dingy, sweaty nightclub, veins full of Jack Daniels, angry and confused and ferocious at the world. He gets up, takes hold of his wife’s hand and staggers to the dance floor, and begins to dance. It feels weird. His body has not done this for YEARS. He opens his eyes, and sees his daughter staring at him with a mixture of repulsion and fear. He looks at his wife, who is standing still, unable to move due to the support underwear she now has to wear and the fact that she wear heels so rarely now she can barely walk, let alone dance in them.It is not dark. It is not dingy. They are in a large, brightly lit room full of people and there’s his Aunty Mary-Anne.  His veins are full of nothing more than two glasses of champagne and the after effects of the Steak tartare they served as the Wedding Lunch.  He realises that prowling round his wife like a randy tiger, and then moshing, would be the most humiliating experience of his life so far. He does, however, still love this song, and his wife, and is having a lovely time so it is HERE, ladies and gentlemen, that men of a certain age learn that strange step-to-the-side-and-then-back-again-and-move-my-hands-a-bit dance that has teenagers cringing. It may be cringeworthy, but it’s nowhere near as bad as them jumping up and doing a stage dive, which is what they REALLY want to do).

Anyway, 41 year old men who, if they were alive in Roman times would be a Caesar, do not, I assume, in general, go to bed with a bar of Cadbury’s Caramilk on the pillow which they had been munching whilst reading but then forgot about and went to sleep.

My Dad does.

I sleep on the pillow.

I did not see the Cadbury’s Caramilk bar.

I didn’t even feel it. I just curled up in my usual spot, and went to sleep.

Some time later…

I cannot describe the indignity of waking up to find ones nether regions covered in melted Cadbury’s Caramilk. My first thought was that I had actually not only become incontinent, but that I’d started crapping caramel. I’m not a young cat, so this kind of thing is frightening.

This is what happened:

Wake up. Try and change position. Sticky. STICKY. Find arse is attached to pillow.

‘Miaow!’, I say, loudly, hoping that one of them would wake up. ‘MIAOW?’

Nothing.

Stand up, lie on back and try and examine area. My rear paws, my belly, my shanks and most of my tail are covered in brown sticky goo. My fur is stuck together in chocolately patches.

‘Miaow?’ I cry again. ‘MIAOW!!!!!!’ I stick my head into my Dad’s face and nudge him.

“Mmmm, Zeebies, lovely cat….” he mumbles in his sleep, and strokes me. ‘Stroke my legs!’, I will. ‘Stroke my tail! Then you’ll wake up cos your hand will become stuck and you’ll CLEAN ME UP!’

Normally, a cat would lick itself clean. Cats, though, do not dig sugary shit.

Eventually, what woke him was not my scratching, my nudging or my meowing, but the smell of my breath in his face which, I think we can all admit, has taken a turn for the worse since I began my relationship with Thai catfood.

I was touched by how hysterical everyone seemed to find this misadventure of mine. My Dad had to use The Baby’s babywipes to clean it all off, and at one point was laughing so much he started to cry. I just lay there, humiliated, smelling of a combination of caramel and Johnson’s.

It was not a good night.

It also made my Dad stop buying my special cat food. He said I was beginning to make him feel a bit unwell, what with my overwhelming aroma of tuna and liver, so I’m now just on Iams.

On an entirely different note, if you ever want to see the word ‘mistake’ epitomised in animal form, go to google image and type in the word, ‘Opossum’. Or, alternatively, look below.

Opossums look, absolutely, like a mistake. They look like someone was making an animal, like, let’s say, a rat, then got a bit pissed, watched a couple of post-apocalyptic movies, totally dug the fingerless gloves and then created the Opossum.
I know about Opossums. I know because we have them LIVING IN OUR GARDEN. I wonder what brought them here? Hmm. I think – and I can’t say for sure, what with me only being a cat and all – I think it could be my Dad, leaving out great big whopping wedges of garlic bread at night to see what animals he could attract. We now know that Opossums, the freaky little rat-tailed vermin, really like garlic bread but will only eat the soft bits inside. Next week, we’ll get a frigging bear knocking at the window asking for a sandwich.

 

New Year Resolutions

January 4, 2011

I like this habit in Humans. Drawing a line in the sand. Promising to be better.It shows an awareness of their own weaknesses.  It’s twee.  Cats don’t bother with this. We’re ace. We just continue to be ace, and to lick the area where our testicles used to be semi-smugly. Only semi, mind, as the fact that they have been removed still sticks in our craw somewhat.

The Mushroom has two. Resolutions, that is, not testicles. She has no testicles.

Anyway, her first one is this:

1. Be less concerned with aging.

It is Sunday. The Mushroom is staring at her eyes in a pocket mirror whilst standing by a window. It is making her look insane.

“Love?” asks my Dad. “Love, what are you doing?”

The Mushroom sighs. “I’m seeing if I have more wrinkles. I think I do. Look. LOOK!”

My Dad knows better than this.

“I can’t see any wrinkles.” he lies.

“Look. LOOK AT ME. Look at my eyes! MY EYES!”

My Dad shakes his head. “Come sit down. Let’s talk about this.”

The Mushroom slumps onto the sofa. She is keeping her face very still.

“What’s wrong with your face?” asks my Dad.

“I’m trying not to move it. It’s moving it that causes wrinkles.”

“So you’re just not going to move it?”

“I don’t know. I think that might be quite hard. I’m moving it now, to talk. Maybe if I just don’t move it much.”

“Right,” begins my Dad. “I think that we need to talk about this properly.”  The Mushroom mumbles in agreement, trying not to move her face.  My Dad takes a deep breath, takes her hand and strokes it. “You do know, don’t you, that you are a living organism?”

The Mushroom looks stoney. “Yes, darling. Of course I know that I’m a living organism. What’s your point? And please stop making me talk.”

My Dad leans forward, as if talking to a very confused child. “Living organisms get older. The only way they would not is if they were not living organisms, but were instead, let’s say, a chair. Do you want to be a chair?”

The Mushroom glowered. “No. I do not want to a chair. Don’t mock me. “

“My love, my beloved one, light of my life, I am not mocking you. You are, however, a woman who is trying not to talk on the grounds that she might get wrinkles.  Let’s recap, then. You are a living organism. You know that living organisms get older. You do not want to be an inanimate object like a chair. Do we agree on all of this?”

The Mushroom hissed something that sounded like a profanity.

“Excellent! So now put that mirror away and shut the bollocks up about your eyes, you insane crazy haired baboon woman.”

He was doing really well.  He perhaps was onto a winner right up to the point where he called her a ‘baboon’. You should never call a woman who was nicknamed ‘Gorilla Baby’ at primary school a ‘baboon’. Apparently, when a youngster, The Mushroom sported a monobrow and an interesting line of black hair down her spine, a look, incidentally,  she revived during pregnancy. According to legend there was a moment circa 1983 when she was getting changed for PE at school, the rest of her class saw the line of black hair down her spine, and ‘Gorilla Baby!’ was spawned.

She does not find any reference to this amusing.

Humans are insane. Of course she has lines round her eyes. She’s the wrong side of 35. I am puzzled as to why this bothers her so, when as a direct result of having The Baby she is left with a stomach that resembles Zoidberg from ‘Futurama’. If I were her, I’d be much more concerned about that. I guess you pick your battles.

So, after three days of not talking to my Dad and looking in mirrors for any sign of her beard returning, she did admit that yes, deciding to not move one’s face to prevent wrinkles was perhaps a tad self-obsessed, and she would try to let it go.

Her second resolution is this:

2. To read more to ensure her brain didn’t actually turn to mush.

The Mushroom was at the fridge.

“What beer do you want, love?” she asked my Dad.

“One of the European ones, please.”

“A Corona?”

There was a pause. “Whereabouts in Europe is Mexico, sweetness?”

There was another pause. “Get your own frigging beer.”

Later that week…

The Mushroom was looking over my Dad’s shoulder at an essay he was marking.

“Where’s that name from? Japan?” she asked, looking at the student’s name.

“No, he’s Korean.” he replied. “He boards at the school.”

“Korea?” she said. “North or South?”

My Dad looked at her incredulously. “South, love. Definitely the south.”

“Oh.” she said. “Right you are.”

My Dad has one resolution.

1. Stop being patronising when your wife is having a crisis of confidence or an entire lapse in Geographical knowledge, otherwise she will actually hit you with the snow shovel.

The Baby doesn’t have any resolutions, obviously, because she is a Baby. Kind of.  If I were to suggest one, it would be to grow more hair.

My resolution is to write more, and to stop simply sitting by the heater in between bouts of eating ‘Meow Mix’, my new and exciting catfood which comes in individual yellow bowls and is avant-garde in its flavour choices. Liver and crab? Hello. Tuna and beef? Intoxicating. I can’t get enough of it. Some days, I eat three of them.

Should I be worried that it’s made in Thailand?

Tell Me About Your Father

November 26, 2010

I never knew my real father. I don’t think my mother did either. If I were a human, I suppose I would make my mother go on TV and name all the Toms she thought could be my father, make them all have DNA tests and then have their moment speaking to camera, saying how my mother was ‘nothing but a ho!’, and that there was no way I was their kitten because I didn’t even look like them (‘I’m a ginger! I ain’t got no black fur! That cat is BLACK!’, etc). Then, when the DNA tests were announced (‘Marmalade? You ARE the father!’), my mother would do a dance round the stage screaming, ‘I want my money! I WANT my MONEY!’, and then we would all go back stage and be offered counselling and Marmalade would cry and say he would be there for me.

These are the kinds of thought landscapes I conjure up if I sit for too long next to the heater.

Anyhoo…

My Dad is the only Dad I’ve ever known. He’s a lovely Dad. Even when he’s tried to make me eat mushrooms and eggs, he’s still a fabulous Dad. When he was at university and didn’t have enough money to feed him AND me, I still had cat food and he still kept up my pet insurance. And that’s what being a parent is, I think; putting your own wants, your own needs, after those of the person of whom you take care and not begrudging it one bit;  that, and facilitating demands for episodes of ‘Peppa Pig’ and requests for new toys (how I am KICKING MYSELF at my inability to speak. I would be asking, day in, day out, for those hilarious youtube clips of cats trying to jump through closed windows and falling asleep on people’s heads and such like).

So, I love him, and he loves me, but that doesn’t stop him being a ridiculous  human being.

Example No 1: ‘Spartacus’.

My Dad and The Mushroom are watching a bizarre programme on the TV about a gladiator who, it appears, is semi-naked a lot and surrounded by people who do a lot of shagging and then they fight and there’s spurty blood and Spartacus, the main one, always wins. They are watching a scene where people are blindfolded and having swords thrown at them. Good times.

“Arghg”, moans my Dad. “I hate that. That feels awful, that does.”

The Mushroom looks at him. “What?”

“That”, he says, nodding in the direction of the TV. “That’s a really awful feeling. I get my boys to do that in football training.”

The Mushroom looks at him some more.

“You get your boys to blindfold each other and throw swords? Really? I think that might be frowned upon.”

“No. I get them to close their eyes when practising throw-ins. It’s the same kind of thing.”

The Mushroom then laughs so hard she makes no sound.

Example No 2: Werewolves.

My Dad is an atheist. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, or spirits, or vampires, or an afterlife, or ghouls, or goblins. He is short and snide about these beliefs. ‘I just can’t see’, he always says, ‘how an intelligent person can believe it.’  And off he’ll walk, head held high, feeling a bit smug.

My Dad is frightened of nothing. He’s a big bloke. He’s strong, mentally and physically. He knows a bit about martial arts. He’s a bit of a Viking. People tend not to argue with him.

He walks tall.

And then he’ll see a forest. And it will be getting dark. And he’ll start to shake a bit.

Because there might be werewolves in that forest.

I’m not even joking.

It is bizarre in the extreme that someone who cannot accept the idea of a God can totally buy that there are half dog/half man creatures baying in the park. I remember once he and The Mushroom had left the pub the other side of Greenwich Park a bit later then they had planned, and got locked in the park until the warden heard them shouting and let them out. The Mushroom was giggly about it. My Dad opened a bottle of Jack Daniels, took a glug, and waited for the puce colour to go from his cheeks.

‘That’s not so bad’, you might be thinking. ‘Forests ARE scary.’ Yes, they are. I wouldn’t go in one, for fear of real things like wolves and cougars and giant cat-eating Moose (I know I’m out of the Prairies, but they haunt me in my dreams). I wouldn’t, however, insist that I sleep by the wall in case there’s a werewolf under my bed.  If there was, I might add, I doubt sleeping by the wall would offer much protection.

Example No 3:  Hair-cuts.

You get what you pay for, I feel.

“I just got my haircut for THREE DOLLARS!” exclaimed my Dad, grinning wildly at this bargain, as he came in the house one Saturday afternoon. He walked past The Mushroom and The Baby, who had stopped what they were doing to look at him, and went straight into the bathroom. Where he saw himself in the mirror. Out he came.

“And they appear to have made me look like a President.”  He wasn’t grinning so much.

None of this matters, of course. He can believe himself to be some sort of Lanista, can dream fearful dreams of terrifying dog/man hybrids and get as many side-partings as he likes; he’s still my Dad. I have to share him now, first with The Mushroom and then with The Baby, whose claims on him appear to be even greater and more powerful than mine (and who, although I know it’s not strictly relevant here, has started shouting really random things in her sleep. Last night, at about 3 am, it was, ‘I really want the number ten!’), but he is still my favourite person in the world. It doesn’t matter that he’s not my real father. My real father is probably a right chav cat, anyway, and cats aren’t brilliant at doing important stuff, like finding nice houses to live in and going into shops to buy kitty treats and tickling under chins.

And, importantly, he has started, once again, buying me Iams.

Running On Empty

October 21, 2010

If I ran a dating agency, I think I would have as one of my provisos that two deeply competitive people should probably not get married and then live together forever.

“Right, can you help me lift this bed?” said my Dad to The Mushroom.  The bed was in the middle of the room, pretty much where a bed should be. My Dad doesn’t like beds in the middle of the room. When pressed, he stutters something about ‘just liking the wall, that’s all’. I think it’s more to do with his Achilles heel – werewolves.  More of this another time.

“Course,” replies The Mushroom in a kind of grunt, maybe to make her seem stronger and more manly (note to The Mushroom; don’t try to make yourself seem more manly. I don’t think as a rule husbands like it, especially not husbands who witnessed the ‘pregnancy beard’ and thus have slight – but nonetheless deep rooted – doubts as to your gender at birth). “No problem.”

The Mushroom does, admittedly, have strangely big arm muscles.

“1-2-3; LIFT!”

“I…can’t….it’s…..too…..heavy!” groaned The Mushroom.

She put the bed down. My Dad looked at her. She was hyperventilating a bit.  “You’re not very fit, are you? For someone who claims to be very fit.”

Hello, Bull. How are you? Are you well? Here’s a red rag. Would you like it? Excellent.

“I frigging AM fit. I’m fitter than you!”

My Dad – not even remotely affected by the bed lifting – put his hands on his hips and looked at her. “I run thirty miles a week. I train a football team of five days a week. I train cadets once a week. No, love, you are not fitter than me. You are thinner than me, which is a different thing, and a good thing, because you are four foot eleven inches tall and if you weighed the same as me you would be the exact shape of an egg.”

(She did weigh the same as him once. When she was very pregnant. She did, actually, look EXACTLY like an egg.)

The Mushroom thinks she’s fit because she does Pilates. PILATES. I can frigging do Pilates; it’s just stretching, presumably in the manner of the Roman who crucified Jesus. It’s not a sport.

 The Mushroom decided to prove him wrong, and so she went for a run.

Here are a few key things she probably should have thought of:

1. Trainers. I think they’re more than a desirous thing for effective running. I think if you’re just running for a bus, or running after a dog, or any kind of momentary running, you’re okay without them. But if you’re ‘going for a run’, I think you need them. Hiking boots were probably not designed with running in mind, hence the name.

2. Warming up. Generally considered a good thing, too.

3. Waiting a bit after you’ve eaten.

Anyway, off she went, ten minutes after dinner, in her hiking boots and returned five minutes later, looking purple and limping. She has been walking like she’s developed rickets ever since.

I must therefore conclude, as an objective observer, that my Dad is fitter than The Mushroom.

The bed is still in the middle of the room.

How Now, Brown Cow?

October 3, 2010

“The rains in Spain fall mainly on the Plains.” said The Mushroom. “Now, Baby, your turn!”

The Baby was sitting on a cushion looking up happily at her mother. “The wains in Spain….hello, Daddy!”

“What you doing?” asked my Dad as he came in from work, wondering if The Mushroom was attempting to turn The Baby into some sort of mini, female, bald Olivier.

The Mushroom pointed angrily at him. “That’s IT! Don’t ever, ever, say that again. It’s YOUR FAULT!”

See, this is what happened earlier:

The Mushroom and The Baby were playing with their new set of Crayola Felt Markers (a purchasing choice The Mushroom regretted about eight minutes after this incident when she read the back bit where it mentioned ‘staining’ and looked at The Baby’s hands and chin, the rug and her jeans). The Mushroom was drawing a flower (allegedly).

“Wot yer doo-wen?” asked The Baby.

The Mushroom looked at her. “What?”

The Baby giggled. “I said, ‘Wot yer doo-wen?'”

“What am I doing? Well, for a start, I’m speaking in my normal accent. What are you doing?”

The Baby giggled again. “I’m speaking like Daddy.”

At this, The Mushroom had a kind of small seizure and fell over.

Daddy, you see, is from Hull.

This reaction from her is unfair and also probably racist. Somehow. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Hull accent.

Honestly.

(For those unfamiliar with the Hull accent, it can be found here, as can lots of interesting information about the Preston Road as told by some articulate Hull youngsters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le-Y_LY2ZkE)

The Mushroom is on a losing battle. For a start, she’s outnumbered. Everyone else in our household was born in Hull. Me? Holderness Road. My Dad? Hessle Road. The Baby? Anlaby Road. The Mushroom was born in Montreal. That pretty much makes her French. Nobody French has any call to start having a go at people for their English accent.

My Dad walked into the kitchen, non-plussed.

“Daddy? Daddy?” asked The Baby.

“Yes, love?”

“Daddy, where yer go-wen? Luv?” she giggled.

“Right,” said The Mushroom to my Dad. “You must simply stop speaking.”

“Love, you cannot control who she is,” said my Dad, lifting The Baby onto his knee. “She is from Hull. She is a Hull girl. Now, darling,  say, ‘fern curl’.”

“Fern Curl.”

I sidled up to them to show my Hull solidarity against the French woman.

“Say, ‘Bugger off Zeebies’.”

“Bugger off Zeebies.”

My Dad’s eyes welled up. “My Dad will be so proud.”

The Mushroom looked like she could do with some smelling salts. 

I wonder if it is a primal thing;  if mothers need their children to speak like them. I suppose in the Days Of Yore it didn’t feature as a topic of consideration cos nobody moved anywhere. Surely, though, eventually The Baby will speak like a Canadian, and say ‘oot’ and ‘aboot’ and ‘eh?’ and stuff and spend a sizeable proportion of her adult life telling people that no, she is not American, so does it matter that she currently impersonating her Daddy? It isn’t as if we live in Hull. She’s never going to really take out her mobile phone and ask to be excused whilst she takes this ‘fern curl’.

The praise from my Dad encouraged The Baby. Clearly, ‘speaking like Daddy’ is a wonderful thing that is both funny and gets her extra cuddles. This resulted in The Baby doing it more, and doing it bigger, so by the end of the evening she was sounding very like she was in ‘Kes’.

“Alright, sweetheart,” said my Dad, in response to The Baby’s request for a ‘mer strew-bair – rays’, “Don’t take the piss, now.”

“Don’t swear!” hissed The Mushroom.

“Ner! Ner Ner! Ner whey!” exclaimed The Baby. “I luv ma whippet!”*

*I made this bit up. But she might as well have said it.

My Dad looked at The Mushroom in a powerless state of panic. “But she’s turning into Brian Glover. It needs to stop.”

The baldness probably doesn’t help The Baby any on this one.

So back to the cushion it was, with The Baby happily repeating that Peter Piper did indeed pick a peck of pickled peppers, and The Baby is back speaking like The Mushroom, whose accent is completely fake anyway because, as I have already mentioned, she is blatantly French.

September 23, 2010

Today, I ate five prawns. This is a record.

I think it is a sign of contentment.

The Mushroom is happy. Properly, singing-in-the-shower happy. I’d forgotten she could do that, be happy.  Who’d have thought that all she needed was a) a house that has windows, b) people and c) a dishwasher.

I like the window bit too. I’m indifferent to the dishwasher. I’m well pissed off about the people.

People keep coming round. And these people have children. It’s as much as I can manage with the one we have living in our house all the time, and even my Dad took ages to acclimatize, as this conversation from the Early Days demonstrates:

 “I can’t sleep.”

“Why not?”

 “The light. THE LIGHT!”

“It’s a frigging star night light from Ikea. It’s 5 watts. Shut up.”

 “It’s like trying to rest under the Eye of Sauron.”

“I can’t turn it off. If I turn it off I can’t see the baby.” 

My Dad gets out of bed, stomps about in the kitchen opening cupboards and closing them, then returns brandishing something for The Mushroom.

“When you want to see The Baby, just shine this torch on her.”

“SHINE A TORCH ON HER? We’re not paramilitaries.”

Anyhoo, the house is being invaded. By Talking Small People.

“Could you just close the door for me, please? I’m scared of cats.” said  Talking Small Person as she entered my house. She’s two and a half. TWO AND A HALF. I’m pretty certain you’re just supposed to be able to make mooing sounds or something at two and a half, not ask for the door to be shut.

“Oh, it’s only Zeebies.”, said The Baby.

This reply, I take issue with on MANY LEVELS.

Firstly, Baby, let me point out to you that you have no hair.  People with no hair have no business using the word ‘only’ (by this I mean people who have not yet grown hair, not the prematurely balding or the just maturely balding. They can use the word ‘only’ as much as they like, and probably do, as in, ‘If only I had hair.’). You may be freakishly tall and have giant, puppy feet, but you have no hair.

Secondly, ‘it’s only Zeebies?’ ONLY Zeebies? So Talking Small Person may be scared of cats, but she has no need to be scared of me?  Do I not count as a cat, or I am such a pathetic specimen that I simply don’t cause fear in the young? Cos I’ll have you know, baldy, that I’m FEROCIOUS and also black and black cats are well scary.

And thirdly, why do I get locked out of my house by Small People? The fact that I had voluntarily gone outside and was sitting in the garden is irrelevant. I’m pretty certain you wouldn’t like it if I invited a load of my cat mates round and then turned to you and said, ‘Oh, sorry, Baby – we’re scared of children. They make a lot of noise, are unpredictable and then make a load of fuss when we scratch them. Just sit outside for a bit whilst we talk about Purina Party Mix, would you? There’s a love.’

They shut the door. I snuck back in through the window. IN YOUR FACE.

And this is why I ate five prawns today. I may be indifferent to the dishwasher, and pissed off about the people, but I properly, hugely, love windows.

Welcome to the Neighbourhood

September 17, 2010

We have moved.

One week, there we all are, living with The Hippy and The Cave Troll, with no money, no job and a broken jeep. The next, we are house-hunting and moving to the shores of Lake Ontario and we have some money, a job and a less broken jeep.

Exciting times.

I don’t get to go house hunting. Moreover, they tend to pretend I don’t exist when house hunting and then, if landlords ever come round and see that I do, indeed, exist, I suddenly belong to somebody called ‘Uncle Dave’* who has gone on holiday.

*Everyone my Dad ever makes up is called ‘Dave’. He knows a fair few real Daves, too. Dave who ran The Morden and dribbled a bit when he talked, Dave who worked behind the bar at The Morden and was obsessed with boobs, Dave From The Prairies who had seventeen children and once tried to kiss my Dad because The Mushroom dared him to and That Bastard Dave, who tried to kill me and Is Evil.

House-hunting – Day 1:

The Mushroom: I really liked that third house.

My Dad: That third house was painted puce.

The Mushroom: But we could repaint it…

My Dad: And it had a giant slide in the living room.

The Mushroom: It wasn’t a ‘giant slide’. It was a staircase cover.

My Dad: Yes. A giant slide. I don’t want to sit and watch TV in a room that is painted puce with a giant novelty slide in it.

Pause.

The Mushroom: What about the second one?

My Dad: It was in the middle of an industrial estate.

Pause.

The Mushroom: And you really didn’t like the first, either? Cos of the uneven floor?

My Dad: It was sideways. It was like being on a frigging ship.

House-hunting – Day 2:

My Dad: I think we should state, as a rule, that we do not wish to live anywhere again that smells of urine.

The Mushroom: (sighing) Okay.

My Dad: Or where the landlord says he will ‘pop by’ every day to empty the dehumidifier.

The Mushroom: Alright.

My Dad: And I think it’s probably best not to ring back the woman who wanted to do our birth charts.

The Mushroom: Gotcha.

House-hunting: Day 3.

They come back all happy. They have found a house. The Baby loves it. We’re moving in two days.

Moving Day:

If I were to give my Dad a bit of advice, it would be this: when saying yes to strangers who stop and ask if you want a hand moving boxes, keep an eye out to see if they steal your wallet from where you’d left it as they place said box in your house.

Oh, and your sunglasses.

But anyway, we have now MOVED.

There is a part of me which quite likes moving around a lot. It’s interesting, more interesting than just staying on the Holderness Road or what have you. You meet a lot of people, you see how different folk in different climates live, their mores, their strategies for coping. It widens your perspective on what it is to be alive and maybe, more than anything else, that’s what life is about – a making sense of your own existence, and then validating it in some way by doing something useful or good or both.

I like it, though, only in theory. In reality, I want a corner of somewhere that is warm and smells of me and is mine.

So far, I really like this corner.

 Apart from Jumper Wearing Unsmiling Neighbour.

I don’t trust jumpers. It’s like a pathetic attempt at being a proper mammal. Quite frankly, since you started that Walking Upright business and making wheels and dishwashers and things, your fur has gotten less and less until now you just have these weird patches of the stuff (pregnant Mushroom notwithstanding) and I think, personally, that that is nature’s pay off. You want labour saving devices and a telephone? Excellent. Fill your boots. But I’ll be having your fur back, thankyou. So when I see a man wearing a jumper, I think, amongst other things: twat. You’ve got no fur. Stop pretending.

 Don’t start me on people wearing actual fur. It’s like watching somebody wandering about wearing somebody else’s ears.

Hello!” says my Dad, raising his hand to Jumper Wearing Unsmiling Neighbour as the latter got into this car one morning.

Nothing.

“Good morning!” called The Mushroom, as Jumper Wearing Unsmiling Neighbour got out of his car one afternoon.

Nothing.

“Hello!” said The Baby, as Jumper Wearing Unsmiling Neighbour took stuff out of his car one evening.

Nothing.

These are my theories regarding Jumper Wearing Unsmiling Neighbour:

1. He is blind. If so, he probably should be driving less.

2. He is scared of English people.

3. He hates English people.

4. He’s really shy.

5. He’s a mentalist.

Personally, based on how hot it’s been, I’m going to go for 5 because even when it was so hot all I could do was sit very still and hope that someone  let me in and put the air conditioning on, he was still wearing a jumper.

We shall see.

Lake Ontario is so very big that it is really a sea. Lots of seagulls here. If anyone can think of a way of letting the boys back in Saskatchewan know, give us a shout.

Every Cloud…

September 1, 2010

If any of you have been wondering why I haven’t written for a while, then I’d like to say it’s because a lot has been happening here. This is kind of true. A lot has been happening here. But an awful lot has to happen before ‘things happening’ affect me in any shape, way or form, as, to be fair, I mostly spend my time a) sitting and b) licking my feet,  so the hiatus has been mostly due to me being too hot.

But things, indeed, have been happening.

One such happening is the discovery that a sure-fire way of pissing off my Dad is to steal his Jeep from the driveway in the middle of the night, take all its contents, including The Baby’s carseat and toys, drive it so badly that all that remains of the two week old fan belt is a two millimetre wide scrap of rubber then leave it, engine smoking, with the doors open, in the middle of an Indian Reservation.

Whilst I could have hazarded a guess that this would annoy him, it’s good to know these things for sure.

Make this happen just two weeks after he spent $3000 on repairs, and he’ll be more pissed off.

Ensure this happens on the night he forgot to lock it so that it’s not covered by insurance, and he’ll rapidly lose the ability to speak.

 “We have no car, no job and no money.” said my Dad to The Mushroom.

Things were looking quite bleak.

I really fancied some Iams.

It’s difficult in the animal kingdom for any of us to ‘steal’, being as we kind of make like the Carmelites and don’t own anything. However, if I saw another cat with a mouse, I’d think, hello, you’ve caught a mouse; well done you! and then I’d go about my business. Going and trying to steal the mouse from him would be a bit weird. It’s his mouse. It would just start a fight. Nobody’s going to fight over a mouse, unless you’re another mouse. The probable consequences of trying to take the other cat’s mouse would take far more energy than going and catching my own. No cat would ever be arsed.

This probably isn’t a brilliant analogy.

In any case, naïve though it might be, I  am utterly bemused as to why anybody would want to steal my Dad’s jeep. They didn’t even want to keep it. They just wanted to drive it about a bit, nick The Baby’s stuff then break it. Perhaps their parents never took them gocarting or something.

And who would want ANOTHER CHILD’S carseat? ‘Oh, what’s this you have for me? A car seat? Covered in crayon? With raisins and little bits of stale croissant in the corner? Oh, that is lovely. Thankyou so much!’

Anyhoo…

My Dad got his car back, albeit mostly broken, courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who found it, towed it to Canadian Tire, charged my Dad All The Money He Had Left for the privilege, and tried to make small talk whilst showing him the paperwork.

“So, I see here the vehicle was bought in Saskatchewan?” asked Chipper Copper, at 3.45 am to a shell-shocked Dad dressed only in his lounge pants.

“Erm, yes, yes I bought it there.”

“Long way to go for a vehicle.” says Chipper Copper, suspiciously. I skulked in a corner trying to work out if there was any kind of crime scenario which would necessitate buying a car in Saskatchewan. I couldn’t.

“I used to live there.” replied my Dad.

“Oh!” said Chipper Copper, “I have family out there! So how did you find Saskatchewan?”

My Dad  looked at him. “I just drove West.”

Chipper Copper nodded. He didn’t smile. “Right.” he said.

There was a pause.

“So, you’re English then?” continues Chipper Copper. My Dad couldn’t be less in the mood for this. He nodded, almost imperceptibly.

“I have a friend from England.” My Dad looked at him. “From Glasgow.”

My Dad continued to look at him.

“Right.” he said. “Now, about my Jeep…”

“Yeah,” said Chipper Copper. “You really should have locked it.”

For six days, my Dad licked his wounds. For six days, he hardly spoke, hardly slept, hardly ate and spent a lot of time staring at walls. No job, no money, no car. The Mushroom hovered around him, suggesting solutions which couldn’t work, offering him morsels to eat, worrying.

“Should we just go home?” she suggested.

“We are home.” he growled. “I’ll sort it. I promise.”

The Mushroom stroked his head, and worried some more.

And on the seventh day, he got a job. A really really really lovely, well paid teaching job.

And everything changed.

And now we’re moving again.

Please let there be no other cats please let there be no other cats please let there be no other cats…

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