Turning Over a New Leaf

August 29, 2009

My Dad is currently looking for a job in Canada. There would appear to be only two jobs available in the whole of the country. One is a teaching job, which is good, because my Dad is a teacher. The other is packing chocolates for Ferrero Rocher. At night. For $11 an hour.

“I’ve found a teaching job here!”, says my Dad, excitedly.

“Where is it?”, asks The Mushroom, as she busies herself doing whatever it is she does all day which apparently prevents her from getting a job, but as far as I can see just involves holding The Baby, kissing The Baby and dressing The Baby.

My Dad pauses. “Baffin Island.”, he says.

“Where’s that?”

“Erm”, replies my Dad, “North of here.”

“As in, Quebec?”, asks The Mushroom.

“Bit further north”.

“Newfoundland?”, The Mushroom asks as she approaches the computer where my Dad has up a map of the area.

“Erm, no, a bit further north than that”, replies my Dad.

“There isn’t anything further north of Newfoundland.”, says The Mushroom, staring at the map, “Further north of Newfoundland is called The Moon.”

“It’s here”, he says, pointing to an island suspiciously near Greenland.

“Sod right off “, yelps The Mushroom, “That’s the Arctic. I’m not moving to the frigging Arctic.”

“But I’m a teacher, honey”, my Dad pleads, “Please don’t make me pack chocolates.”

“And we’re from Hull, sweetheart”, replies The Mushroom, “Please don’t make us become Inuits.”

For once, I’m with The Mushroom. I love my Dad, but it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference to me if he packs chocolates. It does, however, make a massive difference to me if I have to move to the Arctic. For one thing, I don’t know a lot about polar bears, but I would hazard a guess, based on the fact that they eat seals, that a short haired domestic cat taking his morning constitutional outside the family igloo would not pose a massive threat to them, food wise. Personally, I’d take my chances with the Ambassador and pack those chocolates.

A potential move is not the only change afoot. The Mushroom appears to be getting into Tupperware.

Now, I don’t strictly know if being into Tupperware is part of the hippy code. My only real experience of hippies is The Hippy and whilst she does love her Tupperware, I suspect that is not, however, a strictly hippy thing to do, what with hippies allegedly being into an alternative lifestyle and free love and recreational pharmaceuticals so thus not caring too much, one would assume, as to the freshness of their tofu. One would have thought they would be far too busy hallucinating and doing rude things with their friends in a field somewhere. Maybe being into Tupperware is just a woman thing to be, as The Cave Troll and my Dad certainly don’t give a frig for its merits, and I doubt That Black Dog or The Baby are arsed about it either. In any case, The Hippy and The Mushroom love the stuff. There would appear to be no end to what can be ‘saved’ and put in Tupperware and labelled. Half a cup of yoghurt. Some salsa. A single olive. All in Tupperware.

The irony of this is that, before The Baby, The Mushroom hardly ever opened the fridge, let alone compartmentalised it into labelled Tupperware containers. I’ve met seagulls that did more housework than she did. She got up, smoked several cigarettes, went to work, came home, drank wine, smoked more cigarettes and went to bed. Now, she is putting three courgette slices into a dish and labelling it, as if whoever picks up the see-through dish won’t recognise the vegetable. Perhaps when she went to work she was this organised, and I just never saw it. Who knows. I know it’s unsettling and I also know that my Dad was non too pleased to find three courgette slices on the plate with his sandwich at lunch time, which he apparently ‘had to eat’ otherwise they would go to waste. Lucky That Black Dog eats courgette.

If that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, this afternoon brought with it a discovery regarding the Power of the Porch. It’s more than just the place where The Hippy smokes her special cigarettes. Whilst sunning myself and keeping an eye out for the mouse that lives in the tree, I noticed, for the first time, one of the bushes growing there.

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I recognise that leaf formation. My Dad had enough tosser friends from university who wore clothes emblazoned with this image. And it – or something very like it – is growing ON THE PORCH. I appear to be living in a den of iniquity. Or, to be precise, near a porch of iniquity.

Sometimes, I look about me, and realise I have come a long way from that pet shop on the Holderness Road.

A History of Violence

August 28, 2009

I am, it would appear, in the doghouse. I wish That Black Dog had a doghouse, and would go in it. It doesn’t appear to matter what he does, the worst that ever happens to him is that he’s sent outside for a nanosecond and then let straight back in. It’s an absolute farce. It goes like this:

1. Everybody sits down to eat.

2. Dog appears and starts to breathe his fishy breath on everyone

3. Dog is told an average of seven times to ‘Sit’.

4. Dog sits.

5. Dog gets up again and breathes fishy breath on everyone again.

6. Dog sent outside where he whines.

7. Dog let back in again.

And repeat.

Why is he always so hungry? The Hippy feeds him. He gets his doggy Iams and pasta and rice and meat and all sorts of stuff. Every day – every, single, day – he eats my Iams. Admittedly, my Dad or The Mushroom then puts more Iams in my bowl, but it means my cat food money is being spent on That Black Dog and, and this bit really sticks in my claw, he leaves that fishy smell in my bowl which tarnishes the Iams quite considerably. I work hard for that cat food. Kinda. And do you know what happens to That Black Dog when he does this? Nothing. Nada. Bastard.

Anyhoo, I appear to be in trouble with both my Dad and The Mushroom and I would like to point out that I have done nothing wrong. The Mushroom and The Baby were lying on the bed. Now, the bed is strictly speaking mine during the day, but I have no objections to sharing it. The Mushroom and The Baby were minding their own business, The Mushroom reading and The Baby napping, when The Baby woke up, spun round, crawled towards me, said her version of my name and then yanked my tail. Hard. Three times. All I did was hiss at her. What was I supposed to do, purr? It frigging hurt. And do you know what? The Mushroom saw her do it. She watched her crawl up to me, got all proud when she said ‘Eeebie’ (my name is ‘Zeebling’. Why is this so hard? )and then, to all extents and purposes, let her yank my tail. Five years I’ve known that woman. Five years we’ve lived together, happily. Surely I’m owed enough respect for her to stop The Baby actually hurting me?

Apparently not. And apparently, hissing at The Baby is very much not the done thing. Crumbs, I haven’t seen The Mushroom react like that since the time I accidentally weed in her very expensive new handbag (in my defence; we were living in a flat with no garden at the time, and my litter tray was on the balcony, and it had rained, and it was all soggy. I didn’t want to go to the toilet in a soggy, water-logged litter tray. It would have got my paws wet. And she had left the bag open, on the floor by the balcony door. I assumed she’d left it there for me. I clearly was mistaken). Worse than hissing at The Baby, it would appear, is putting ones claws anywhere near The Baby.

I would like to make absolutely clear here that I DID NOT TOUCH HER. My claws did not – I repeat – DID NOT – make contact with The Baby. And that wasn’t just luck, I absolutely did not intend to scratch her, just to let her know that yanking a sleeping cat’s tail is not on. Despite this, do you know what The Mushroom did? She frigging well hit me on the nose. Cow.

“You did what?”, asked my Dad when The Mushroom told him this. Hooray, I thought. He’ll whack her on the nose and then all will be fair.

“I whacked him on the nose. I didn’t hit him hard.”

“Hang on, you let The Baby yank his tail, and then you whack Zeebs on the nose for reacting? He’s a cat! You can’t teach a cat not to do that by whacking him on the nose!” (Bit annoyed with that, actually. Like being a cat means I can’t understand cause and effect. No evidence for that sweeping statement at all, in my opinion).

Despite his defence of me, my Dad was clearly in a mood for me for not, I don’t know, sitting stoically like some kind of Egyptian statue whilst The Baby went through her litany of games, namely, 1) Pull my tail, 2) Pull my ears and 3) Scream with delight whilst thumping my rib cage. I tried to sulk by sitting in the kitchen but that frigging Black Dog kept appearing, thinking every bit of movement was a cue for more food.

The day ended with a fitting moment of justice, though. The Mushroom was tickling The Baby who ‘accidentally’ then kicked The Mushroom in the mouth, giving her a split lip. Nice one, Baby, I thought to myself. Perhaps she’s on my side after all.

Food for Thought

August 21, 2009

New neighbours have moved in to the house next door but one to ours. I know this, because they called round to introduce themselves. They brought a ‘flan’. It was beige and did not look like anything I would want to eat. It had pears or something on it. Needless to say, That Black Dog spent a huge proportion of the afternoon standing near the flan. Now, what is that about? That Black Dog wants to eat the flan. Not, necessarily, because he particularly likes flan, but because it is food and the dog will eat anything. The flan is in his reach. He just needs to stretch his neck a tiny amount and there, he’s got the flan. But he doesn’t. He just sits there. Looking at the flan. Trust me, if I wanted the flan it would be gone by now.

Anyway, the visit from the Flan People allowed me the opportunity to find out more about The Hippy and The Cave Troll as they, in turn, introduced themselves. The Cave Troll works, he says, in ‘The Music Business’. This has got to be the vaguest job title I have ever heard. The Flan People got very excited about this, and Mr Flan went on to talk about some band he was in in his twenties. The Cave Troll pretended to be interested. This was all very odd. I don’t recall anyone getting excited when, for example, That Bastard Dave told people he worked in ‘The Accountancy Business’, nor did he call it ‘The Accountancy Business’, he just said, ‘I’m an accountant’, nor did people then talk about how, in their teens, they did some maths. I am stumped if I know what the difference is, other than an assumption that ‘The Accountancy Business’ involves less shouty Polish men trying to make a very bad rap record.

The Hippy is, she says, The Cave Troll’s manager. She is also a singer. At this point, I became very confused. Are these jobs? Now, they have a house, and there’s always lots of food and there’s nice furniture and a pool and that, and I have lived for long enough to know that you get these things by having a job, and a job entails you actually leaving the house and doing something for which people see fit to pay you money with which you buy the house and the food and the furniture and the pool. They don’t leave the house. Well, they leave the house to go out and do stuff, but they certainly don’t go out to do jobs. So, how do they get the money to pay for the house and the food and the furniture and the pool? This is a mystery.

Anyhoo, even though the flan looked frigging horrible, I liked the fact that they brought food. Only humans and cats seem to do that. When I like people, I bring them a rodent. Sometimes a bird. You’d be amazed at how people turn their nose up at it. I suppose it’s like me and that flan. But a rodent is a toy and a meal, so even if they didn’t want to eat it, they could have a kick about. They never do, though. Odd.

It is through food, I have decided, that The Mushroom is displaying most of her newly found hippy credentials. My poor Dad. There’s nothing my Dad loves more than pizza. He’s also very partial to a burger. Tonight, however, he was offered this: wild rice with some steamed vegetables and an organic soya sausage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man so very disappointed. Oh yes I have. Today, at breakfast.

“I’m starving!”, says my Dad, yawning and ambling his way to the kitchen. He kisses The Mushroom, whose hair is now getting absurdly long. Perhaps she is growing it in order to save money on a winter coat. “What’s for breakfast?” I remember a time when my Dad got his own breakfast. This was before The Baby. Before long, I reckon he’ll be making his own breakfast again.

“Granola”, replies The Mushroom, pouring what looks very like bird food into two bowls.

“What the frig is granola?”, replies a suddenly much less perky Dad.

“Oats. Rolled oats, pretty much. With skimmed milk. You don’t fancy that?”, replies The Mushroom.

My Dad sighs, with an air of resignation and deepening depression. “No.”, he says, “Of course I don’t.”

“What would you like instead?”, she asks, clearly impervious to his pain.

“Salt. Salt and sugar and lard. And maybe some brown sauce.”

The Mushroom laughed, but I know my Dad, and know he meant it. Hoorah for the pack of six all butter croissants he has stashed in the bedside cabinet, then.

On a brighter note, I got a new flavour of Iams today, and I rather like them. A bit samey samey in terms of texture, but can’t complain. That Black Dog had some, but I weed on his kibble whilst he was asleep, so all’s fair.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

August 14, 2009

For years now, I have been puzzled by the sleeping habits of other creatures, humans in particular. When humans wake up, they walk about like zombies for a bit and mumble things about ‘needing coffee’, which they then make, and drink, and feel better. Why? Why not just sleep for longer, so they don’t need anything to make them feel better? It is a mystery. The Baby doesn’t need coffee. I wonder at what age humans stop sleeping properly and start depending on this ‘coffee’ to help them function? Curious.

More curious than that, though, is the receptacle  The Hippy uses to drink her coffee. Actually, she doesn’t drink coffee, she drinks something called a ‘fruit infusion’.  Anyhoo, since I arrived I have been bemused by the cup she drinks her ‘fruit infusions’ in. I thought she had some sort of trouble with her wrists, as her cup has a strangely long handle.

 

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That’s right. It’s a penis. I can see that now. How does that go? ‘Hmmm, it’s morning. Feel a bit tired. I know what’ll pick me up – some fruit flavoured hot water and the feel of a pottery penis’. What other animal IN THE WORLD would consider starting their day with a pottery penis? I must admit, it’s thrown me a bit.

This realisation, however, was just the first in a line of unneccessary revelations today. And all before lunch.

Today was a hot day, so That Black Dog was really useful and slept. I had a notion that dogs were supposed to fetch papers and sticks and generally run around in a frolicsome fashion, but this one seems to just sleep, eat my Iams, eat his Iams, eat more of my Iams and sleep some more, all the while smelling mildly of haddock.  At least today he managed to go outside with the rest of the family. And sleep.

There was further evidence today of the madness of The Mushroom. They were all outside. It was sunny. It’s nice to lie in the sun. I like it. The Mushroom, however, appears to think lying in the sun is similar to, I don’t know,  pouring flamable liquid on yourself and lighting it. She was sitting with The Baby and my Dad, fiddling with a giant umbrella.

“Move it to the left, love. Her leg is in the sun.”

My Dad sighed. “Only an inch of her leg is in the sun. And she’s wearing sun block. And in any case, as soon as you let go of her she’ll move anyway.”

“That’s not the point.” [I need to point out, here, that the phrase, ‘That’s not the point’ is, in a lovely twist of irony, the MOST POINTLESS phrase I have ever heard humans say. They use it to mean, as far as I can work out, either ‘Don’t argue with me’, or, ‘Give me my own way’. It has nothing to do with ‘points’.]”We can’t have her in the sun. She needs to be in the shade.”

Now, here’s a novel idea. If The Baby needs to be in the shade, why doesn’t The Mushroom take her INSIDE? It’s properly shady there. In fact, it’s a house full of shade. Perplexing.

Also perplexing is The Mushroom’s use of the word, ‘Shush.’. It’s an annoying word. It is, I would say, the word she uses the most in conversation with my Dad. For example,

My Dad: “Love, do you want to…

The Mushroom:”Shshhhhhhh!!! The Baby!”

or,

My Dad: “Love, would you like to…

The Mushroom: “Shshhhhhhhshh! Don’t wake The Baby!”

and,

My Dad: “Sweetheart, do you fancy going….

The Mushroom: “Shssssssssssssssshshs! Just SHSHSHSHHHSHHH!”

All of which leads me to ponder: what’s so wrong with waking The Baby? No one shows me this consideration. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’m hoofed off the bed/armchair/jumper when I’m having a snooze. My Dad doesn’t wander around telling everyone to ‘Shush’ so as not to wake the cat.

I’m rambling, slightly, but this is to take my mind off what I saw today. I will be having kitty versions of nightmares about this, I feel, for years to come.

The Hippy and The Cave Troll spent the morning in the pool. Basking on inflatable lilos. That’s fine. I did find it odd, before I saw them in the pool, that my Dad, The Mushroom and The Baby were the opposite side of the garden, but I didn’t think that much of it. Now, I’m a cat. I don’t wear clothes. But my areas are modestly covered by fur. Were they not, I – although I cannot speak for other cats – would happily sport some sort of trouser or pantaloon, simply to prevent my areas from being flashed to all and sundry. I like a bit of dignity. It’s the way I was raised. I was, thus, not expecting as I slinked down the porch to be confronted with the sight of both The Hippy and The Cave Troll afloat, reading their respective books, completely and utterly naked.

I have to admit, I feel a little sullied.

On the plus side, what with That Black Dog sleeping most of the day, my stock of Iams remains intact and I discovered a new game. I run up to the dog, hiss, wake him up and run off. Hysterical. Well, hysterical whilst it’s too hot for him to be arsed to get up and chase me, anyway.

While the cat’s away…

August 13, 2009

One of the worst plans I have ever had was to urinate whenever The Mushroom showed signs of hippiedom. I simply didn’t think it through. There were two major flaws in this plan. Firstly, the signs of hippiedom are now manifold and I simply do not have enough wee in me to do an effective job. Secondly, I only had to wee somewhere that wasn’t my litter tray once for my Dad and The Mushroom to think that all of a sudden I’m incontinent and whoosh me down to my litter tray and point at it for a ridiculous amount of time, as if introducing me to it and its purpose. I am eleven. I have done a lot of toilet trips in those years. Yes, Dad, I know what it’s for. Sheesh. If only he knew that I only weed on the book to save him from a life of being married to a hippy – albeit a non-smoking, non-stoned hippy, but a hippy nonetheless. Well, I tried. This time next week The Mushroom will have him eating tofu burgers, and we’ll see how he likes that. The smell will not be disimiliar to that of the tray I was made to sniff this afternoon.

The Hippy was away today, visiting friends. Her absence resulted in both my Dad and The Mushroom, at different times, standing at the row of recycling bins, tin or bottle in hand, with a look of bemusement and confusion.

“Bottles!”, shouts my Dad, “Which one do bottles go into?”

The Mushroom, with The Baby attached to hip, emerges from the kitchen, “Shit, I don’t know. What kind of bottle?”

“What kind of bottle?”, repeats my Dad, “It’s a bottle! It’s just a bottle! Where does it go?”

“There are different bins for different types of bottles. What number does it have on the back?”

My Dad looks, for a moment, terrified. “There are different bins for different bottles depending on the number it has written on it?”

“Yes.”, she replies.

“It was ‘7’. Which bin do bottles with the number ‘7’ go in?”

My Dad and The Mushroom pause and share a look of panic.

“Just hide it, love, till she gets back.”

“Okay.”

The Cave Troll has also been out every day for about a week. Apparently, he is somewhere doing more things with the Polish man, Man With Missing Hair. He does not like the Polish man. Or, more to the point, he does not like the sound the Polish man makes when he is trying to make ‘music’. In fact, The Cave Troll appears to not like ‘rap’, which, I have since gathered, is the genre of music the Polish man is making. I am thus utterly stupified as to why The Cave Troll is going out every day to help him if he is hating every aspect of what the Polish man is doing.

“How was today? How many tracks did you finish?”, asks The Mushroom over dinner.

[Tracks? What the frig are ‘tracks’? Up to now, I’ve been very proud of my vocabularly, especially considering I’m a cat and all, but I now am looking up stuff on frigging Wikipedia every day.]

“He’s shit. His stuff is shit. We’ve done five. They’re all shit.”

“Oh.”, says The Mushroom. “How many more have you left to do?”

“Seven.”

“Are they shit too?”

“Yes. They’re even shitter.”

“Ah.”

 I can sympathize, however; Man With Missing Hair did seem terribly angry and shouty. I am almost beginning to feel sorry for The Cave Troll who, incidentally, is still calling me ‘Zee’.

So, my Dad and The Mushroom have had the house to themselves. And what did they do with this luxury? Walk about naked eating grapes? Cook a five course meal and eat it lit by candles? Build a bonfire and toast marshmellows? No, they did none of these things. They crawled about on the floor following The Baby and watched ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ on TV. Humans are odd.

A Tale of Two Hippies

August 9, 2009

“Hey, Zee”, growled The Cave Troll, “How’s it going, girl?”

Zee? ZEE? Since when have I been a Hell’s Angel? And whilst yes, I am indeed a very pretty cat, I am, for the last time, Troll Boy, a frigging HE! I do not know how I am supposed to get this fact across, short of grooming my areas right in front of him and, frankly, dignity prevents me from such crude measures.

The Cave Troll was not the only human in the house talking nonsense today.

“Shit, man!”, said The Mushroom as she looked around the bedroom for her shoes, “Where are they?”

“‘Shit, man’?”, asks my Dad, “That’s the third time today you’ve used this expression. And, my love, it makes you sound a little bit like a tosser.”

The Mushroom pauses and glares. “I wasn’t aware I was using it. And I seem to recall a period when you worked at that dodgy school in Kidbrooke when you were using the word ‘man’ all the time.”

My Dad looks mildly embarrassed. “That was different.”

“Why?”, asks The Mushroom, “Because you is a gangsta?”

“Anyway, don’t you go turning into The Hippy now.”

And that’s the thing. She is.

Before The Baby, I wouldn’t say that The Mushroom showed any signs of hippiedom at all. But it would appear that some sort of gradual metamorphisis is taking place. Very long hair? Check. Floaty clothes? Check. Unemployed? Check. Hanging about with your child all the time and doing stuff like sitting in the garden with aforementioned child making daisy chains and singing? CHECK CHECK CHECK! The only ways in which The Mushroom is different from The Hippy is that The Mushroom makes these exaggerated coughing sounds whenever anyone who has stood next to a cigarette in the past week comes anywhere near her (oh, the hypocricy. I distinctly remember a time when The Mushroom smoked so many cigarettes the air in our house was permenantly blue), and she is also mighty fussy about eating food that is clearly off, which The Hippy is not. Otherwise, though, it’s frightening. Perhaps I was too hasty in ruling out the use of magic in this house. Perhaps it is The Hippy after all who is up to some sort of trickery, although I find it hard to imagine her capable of concentrating long enough to actually hatch any sort of dastardly plan but, you know, I’ve been wrong before.

They’re hanging around together a fair bit too, The Hippy and The Mushroom. I reckon they’re only a day or so away from holding hands, lighting incense sticks and swaying together to Joni Mitchell. My poor Dad. He will not be happy. Only yesterday I found he had a stash of 24 mini-donuts under the bed, hidden there in quiet protest at the split bean salads he is being forced to eat.

“I need dirty food, Zeebs”, he murmured as he stealthily rammed three into his mouth, “I need salt and sugar and saturated fats.” I attempted a look of sympathy but I’ve been eating nothing but Iams since we got here so frankly I think he’s got a bit of a cheek.

So, a plan needs to be hatched to prevent The Mushroom going headlong into hippiedom. I have limited powers, but here’s what I intend to do:

1. Whenever I see a book by bed with any kind of hippy title (examples include, ‘The Green Baby’, ‘Baby Led Weaning’, ‘Attachment Parenting’), wee on it.  

2. Whenever The Mushroom uses the word ‘man’ in a context that is unacceptable (so for example, she can say, ‘I saw this man at a shop’ but cannot say, ‘Good morning, man’), wee on her handbag.

3. Whenever I see The Mushroom go anywhere near an insence stick,  wee to distract her.

Admittedly, there is little variation in my methods, but I don’t have much of an arsenal at my disposal so this will just have to do. The Mushroom’s Howard Hughes-esque attitudes to cleanliness should ensure some modicum of success, anyhoo, although I’m not altogether sure she’ll be able to work out the correlation between saying ‘man’ and me weeing on her handbag. Worth a shot, though.

Next job, persuade The Cave Troll that I am a boy and my name is Zeebling. Humph.

A Good Stoning

August 6, 2009

I have by now accepted that there is no magical spell, that the porch is not in itself ‘magical’, and that The Hippy is, truth by told, what my Dad would call a ‘stoner’. I’ve never encountered a ‘stoner’ before, unless you count that bloke called Matt The Stoner who used to come to my Dad’s parties when we lived in London, but I only met him two or three times and quite frankly I spent most of those parties hidden behind the TV, so this is all new to me. All I really noticed about Matt The Stoner is that at a certain point in the evening, he started to eat anything. Ergo, I have deduced that being a ‘stoner’ means, amongst other things, being weird about food.

 I think I may have already mentioned the fact that The Hippy throws nothing away. Not even if it is off.

“Do we have any fruit salad left?”, asks The Mushroom.

“Sure, man, one bowl”, replies The Hippy.

The Mushroom removes the fruit salad from the fridge, sniffs it, retches and moves to throw the salad in the bin. At this point, The Hippy looks as if she has just been shot and in a dash that would have made a professional hockey player proud, saves the fruit salad.

“Shit, man!”, says The Hippy. Based on the stillness of The Mushroom, she does not comply with this command. “You can’t throw food away!”

“But it has things growing on it.”, replies The Mushroom, “And I think if I ate it I might actually be killed.”

The Hippy looks at the salad, looks at the bin, and looks at The Mushroom. “Well, I’ll eat it then.”

What I find odd is that The Hippy will not allow humans to waste food, but nonetheless feeds That Black Dog proper, real, minced beef once a week, which is clearly a waste because That Black Dog eats anything. Minced beef? Yeah, I’ll eat it. Crisps? Why not. A big load of stale bread with bird droppings on it? Probably. He hangs around The Baby during her meal times and eats whatever she drops, which is hysterical because a lot of what she eats is fruit and That Black Dog is allergic to fruit, so he eats it and is then promptly sick. You’d think at fourteen years of age he’d have learnt that he’s allergic to fruit. I’m only eleven but I know I can’t, for example, eat a cous cous salad.  Maybe he’s stoned too.

Speaking of odd eating habits, I overheard The Cave Troll say that apparently the raccoons had got into the bins last night and ate the contents of The Baby’s dirty nappies. There is no way now I’m going to try and eat one of those rank little rodents now.

I would, however, say that the biggest difference between The Hippy and, say, the rest of the human race is that she appears to do exactly what she feels like doing exactly when she feels like doing it. Take yesterday, for instance. My Dad was doing the tidying up after their dinner, and asked The Hippy is she could put on some music. I think my Dad had some rock music in mind, but before you could say, ‘roll us a fat one’, The Hippy had on something that undoubtedly predated my Dad and was dancing in the living room with her eyes closed and her arms in the air. It was like something out of ‘The Wicker Man’. Although it did look a lot more fun than doing the dishes. I was torn between looking disdainful and waving my paws in the air along with her.

The most disturbing thing about this is the fact that neither my Dad nor The Mushroom reacted at all to this. They just went about their business as if this was completely normal. Now, I know that dancing in the living room is not normal. I know, because I have never seen it done before. Not at my Dad’s when he was a bachelor, not when he lived with That Bastard Dave, not in all the time my Dad’s been with The Mushroom, not at Smokey Joe’s – people simply do not do it. So, have the realms of normalcy completely changed and no one’s let me know? Or – and this is even more disturbing – are my Dad and The Mushroom becoming hippies too?

The Mushroom’s showing signs, to be sure. But more about her later.

Busy, Busy, Busy.

August 5, 2009

“Are you busy, love?”, says The Mushroom, as she does something involving clothes and The Baby, “Can you help me?”

My Dad, who is at this moment in the midst of ‘Big Russian Tanks Fire Big Blasts of Flame At Things’, turns to her. “Sorry, sweetheart, I’m right in the middle of something.”

“You’re in the middle of ‘Big Russian Tanks Fire Big Blasts of Flame At Things’, my love. That is not ‘busy’.”, The Mushroom replies.

“Aah, yes it is. It is ‘busy’. It just is not ‘busy doing something you would consider valid’, but ‘busy’ it still is.” My Dad then pulls his special ‘I am very clever and funny’ face. The Mushroom pulls her ‘I’m about to kick you in the gonads’ face.

“And as my wife”, he continues, “you should really take an interest in my hobbies.” Now, even I know when he’s taken things too far, and thankfully he did too before The Mushroom began to throw things at him, and, pausing ‘Big Russian Tanks Fire Big Blasts of Flame At Things’,  got up to help with whatever bizarre ritual she was trying to complete.

This is what I am noticing more and more in this house. Humans are always doing something. Even when what they are doing is utterly pointless, they still make a point of doing it. Why – seriously, why –  is an intelligent man spending time sat on a chair, looking at a screen, pretending to be a Russian soldier in a quite frankly entirely unrealistic-looking tank shooting at a fairly poor simulated version of what I can only imagine is supposed to be Berlin? I can understand a lot of what humans do – cooking, cleaning, even watching TV seems fair enough – but that Russian tank thing is lost on me. If you have time on your hands, why don’t you go and catch that frigging raccoon that lives in the tree? It’s what I would do.

I wouldn’t, actually. I’ve rethought my intentions regarding that raccoon. This is because what I initially thought was a raccon was actually a reasonably large squirrel. I actually saw the raccoon yesterday morning. And it’s the size of a spaniel. So I’ve decided it’s best to let it be.

There are lots of other things the humans here do that make no sense to me at all. For example:

1. Putting bits of material on the table, and then putting plates, and then putting food. Why? I can see no practical reason why this should be done.

2. Putting bits of material around The Baby so that, I assume,  her litter goes there, as opposed to getting her her own litter tray.

3. Shaving.

4. Putting creamy things from jars onto their fur. Then, the next day, washing it off. Then putting it on again.

5. Make up. My Dad knows what The Mushroom looks like. I am at a complete loss as to why she, in front of him, puts paint on her face to make herself look a bit different. What does she expect will happen as a result? ‘My, you looked rough before but now you’ve put some beige stuff on your face and made your eyes look a bit bigger, you’re okay, so everything’s fine’? The difference pre-paint and post-paint is infinitesimal. I’m not altogether sure he notices whether she’s put it on or not.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg regarding what humans do that is ridiculous. My Dad, years ago, used to live with one of his friends, That Bastard Dave. I hated him. It was almost worth going through the torment of twenty hours next to Dolly the German Shepard to ensure I’ve got away from him. About a year and a half of my life was spent from under a set of ‘nesting’ tables watching him looking at a screen pretending to sail a ship in a room that was decorated entirely in different hues of brown. There is nothing in that set up that made sense.

As you can tell, not a lot happened today. And do you know why? Because That Black Dog slept most of the day. Outside my bedroom door. I managed a quick litter tray trip around 6 when he got his dinner but otherwise, trapped. Moreover, his suspiciously fishy breath left a distinct odour. Why is his breath fishy? Where is the fish? I’m certainly not getting any.

But tomorrow, I have plans. I’m going to follow She-Devil cat and see where she’s getting her voles, and I’m going to go and get me one which is, one has to admit, a much more logical way to spend one’s time then pretending to drive a tank.

The Truth Will Oot

August 3, 2009

Enough of this tomfoolery, I thought to myself as I awoke this morning, I cannot live in fear of The Cave Troll any longer. Having realised that following The Hippy does not shine any light on the mysterious happenings in the basement, I decided to overcome my fears of having, as The Troll himself put it, my ‘kitty ass kicked’, and watch him like the proverbial hawk all day. That was, however, until I became sidetracked.

Canadians are, I have decided, weird. They go about their human conversations in an entirely different way. The man who lives next door to us, the owner of a nasty she-devil grey cat who is half my size but well scrappy, is a key example.  I was licking myself outside when I overheard this conversation between him, Owner of She-Devil, and The Mushroom:

Owner of She-Devil: You sure carry your baby aboot a lot!

(As an aside, I’d like to point out that yes, yes she does. Like, loads. This has been going on for months. I’m sure by the time I was as old as The Baby I was out catching my own mice and that. Must investigate that more. One thing at a time, though.)

The Mushroom: You should see my arms. I look like some sort of pre-Glasnost Russian shot putter from carrying her so much.

(Pause)

Owner of She-Devil: A pre-Glasnost Russian shot putter?

The Mushroom: Yeah, you know. One of those big Russian Olympians. A bit like I’ve been necking the steroids.

(Owner of She-Devil appears to be examining the shape of The Mushroom’s  upper arm from across the porch)

Owner of She Devil: Have you ever considered, you know, speaking to someone? Cos it seems to me you have very low self esteem. You do not at all look like you’ve been taking steroids.

The Mushroom: Sorry, sorry, I was being facetious. I don’t really think I look like a pre-Glasnost Russian shot putter.

Neighbour: Facetious. Is that an English thing?

The Mushroom: (by this time The Mushroom is looking a tad awkward. Have also never before witnessed  a conversation where the phrase ‘Pre-Glasnost Russian shot putter’ has been uttered at all, let alone with so much frequency). Yes. Yes it is. Sorry.

See? Now, I’m not completely familiar with what a ‘Pre-Glasnost Russian shot putter’ might look like, but even I could spot from the very opening of that conversation that The Mushroom was just ‘being funny’, as she would put it. She uses that phrase all the time, for example, to my Dad; “I’m not being funny but – “, and then has a go at him about something. I don’t know why she has to tell him that she is not ‘being funny’, because it’s apparent and obvious from what she says immediately afterwards that it’s about as funny as a turd in my water bowl, but I suppose this is by the by.

Anyhoo, I was still determined to find out the truth, so down to the basement I went, eventually. Having heard the following noises emanating from the subterranean depths, “Boom Boom BOOOOOOM, Boom Boom BOOOOOOOM”, I realised that whatever magic he was concocting down there was happening right now. So, off I crept like a, erm, cat, and perched in a corner.

The Cave Troll was seated before an immense desk which was semi-circular. The desk was slanted towards him and was covered in lights and knobs and buttons and things. When he touched a switch, the big “Boom Boom BOOOOOOOM” sound came again. He kept doing this, and looking at the screens which were placed at eye level on a separate desk next to the one with lights and stuff, and then pressing the button again and fiddling with something which slightly changed the sound of the ‘booms’. And then, the truth dawned on me.

The Cave Troll is not a ‘magician’. He’s a frigging  ‘musician’.

Feel a bit stupid, to be honest.

Next thing, I’ll find out that The Hippy is not under any sort of spell at all, but is just permanently really, really stoned.

The Hippy Trail

August 2, 2009

I have come to the conclusion that The Hippy is kept in a drugged, borderline comatose state by The Cave Troll. She sort of drifts about, smiling amiably, singing to herself, nibbling food and referring to ‘shit’. From time to time, her movements get quicker and she seems able to focus, and then she goes outside to the Magical Porch and returns, even more drifty than before.  So, The Cave Troll has something out on the porch to keep her in this state. Why? Is she a prisoner? Is she in cahoots with him?

She also has an obsession with a past-time called Recycling. She does not like to throw things away. So she simply doesn’t. At all.  

“Garbage is garbage, man”, she said to my Dad who was chopping up mushrooms, hopefully not for me.

“What?”, replied my Dad as he watched her retrieve mushroom stalks from the bin.

“Garbage is garbage. You waste too much.”, and she placed the stalks in one of her three hundred Tupperware dishes for just such an eventuality.

“Seriously, what are you going to do with those? Build a house?”, he asked, but by this time her attention was diverted, and she had drifted off to look at some loopins.

I like Tupperware. My Iams are kept in a Tupperware dish. It’s brilliant. It keeps them all crunchy and keeps that thieving Black Dog with his suspiciously fishy breath away from them. The Hippy, however, has what I think may amount to a Museum of Tupperware. Imagine every shape and size of Tupperware dish. She has them all. Even ones the size of those little sauce pots that come with Dominos Pizzas that look like cream but, as I have found to my extreme displeasure, are not. She has two of them.

I have, today, discovered other things about The Hippy.

1. She is in love with That Black Dog. She refers to him as her ‘Tootsie Roll’. I do not know what one is. It sounds horrible. It also proves that she is most definitely not in full use of her senses, because That Black Dog is not a ‘tootsie roll’, unless ‘tootsie roll’ means ‘a thieving little bullying bastard’, which I suspect it doesn’t.

2. She will retrieve uneaten food from peoples’ plates, make it into something else when they’re not looking and feed it to them the next day.

3. She is, without a shadow of a doubt, in thrall to The Cave Troll. When he comes upstairs from his lair, she gets all chuffed about it, whilst I hide under the sofa.

I am, however, annoyingly little the wiser about The Cave Troll’s magic. I do, however, know that the ‘rapper’  and the torture thereof is only one aspect of his ‘work’. Today, nice sounds were coming from the basement and Man With Missing Hair was nowhere to be seen. That does not stop me being wary.

“Here, Kitty!”, Cave Troll said to me whilst they were having dinner, “Here, Kitty Kitty!”  Don’t be ridiculous, Cave Troll, I thought. I’m not a frigging cartoon cat. I’m not going anywhere near you. “You know, me and that cat”, he continued through his giant beard, “she and I haven’t really bonded.”  Too right, you big tree, too right. And if you call me ‘she’ again, I’ll wee on your giant troll hoof.