Domestic Goddess

October 30, 2009

One truly glorious aspect of being home all day with The Mushroom and The Baby is watching The Mushroom attempt to be a housewife. She really does try very hard, God love her. She could sit and play with The Baby all day long, that’s not a bother. It’s actually doing anything else other than playing with The Baby all day that flummoxes her so almightily. It’s brilliant to watch.

“What’s for tea?”, asks my Dad, home from work and adopting the care worn expression of a man who has been up since before dawn. I must add, though, that this sounds much more dramatic than it actually is, as dawn up in the Prairies, in winter, is about lunchtime, so any time in the morning is ‘before dawn’. He does, however, get up mighty early. Certainly earlier than The Mushroom and The Baby. And, er, me. Anyhoo…

“Spaghetti and salad.” The Mushroom replies, busying herself with pots whilst The Baby stands and grins, happily attached to The Mushroom’s leg.

“Spaghetti and salad?”, queries my Dad, “Really? They don’t go!”

The Mushroom turns to look at him. “I made perfectly clear when we started going out that I can only cook things made out of mince.” She stirred one of her pots. “And I wasn’t lying.”

No, she wasn’t. There are eight packets of minced beef in the freezer. Yesterday, they had lasagne and salad. The day before, cottage pie and salad. Day before that, burgers and salad. One can spot a theme here.

When The Mushroom worked, before The Baby, she got away with doing next to no housework or cooking on the grounds that she worked longer hours than my Dad and – and this is a direct quote – she ‘always had creative ideas floating about’ which prevented her, apparently from seeing that the rubbish needed emptying. Allegedly, her head was so full of theatre that this just meant she couldn’t do housework. I loved this reasoning. Had it been me, I’d have pushed this as far as I possibly could.

‘Why have you gone to the toilet on the carpet?’

‘Did I? Oh dear! I was far too busy thinking about how to stage Act I of the ‘Duchess of Malfi’ to remember to go to the bathroom! I’m so sorry!’

My Dad, grumblingly, accepted this. I think, however, that he was expecting some sort of Road to Damascus conversion now that The Mushroom’s job is to take care of The Baby and the house. Sometimes, he is gratified to come home to what appears to be an immaculate house, a dinner – albeit a dinner made of ground beef – cooking on the stove and his metaphorical slippers warmed by the radiator etc. What he doesn’t see, of course, is that the dirty dishes are in the cupboard underneath the sink and that the rubbish bags are in the wardrobe, but hey ho.

The Mushroom’s attempts at domestic organisation were, thus, tested by the news that my Dad had invited a colleague and his wife to dinner.

“Shit!”, says The Mushroom, “Why did you do that? We don’t have a dining table!”

“What’s this, then?”, replies my Dad, tapping his hand on the brown, formica square in the kitchen.

“It’s a brown, formica square, honey.”, she replies, “It looks like a prop from a 70’s drama. It isn’t a dining table. And what can I cook?”

“Anything you want.”

“Lasagne?”

“No.”

“Spaghetti?”

“No, love.”

“Meat balls?”

“No, no, you can’t do meat balls.”

“Chilli?”

“Er, maybe. How about chicken?”

There is a pause.

“I don’t cook chicken, love.” The Mushroom replies, looking increasingly frazzled. And a little bit violent.

“I tell you what”, says my Dad, “Why don’t I cook? And we can pretend you did.”

The Mushroom breathes a sigh of relief. “Okay then.”

Peace is resumed and The Mushroom stirs more pots. I count three, which is worrying as spaghetti only takes two, max. I have no idea what’s in the third. My Dad plays happily with The Baby. I lick my belly.

“What are these people like, anyway?”, asks The Mushroom.

“Oh, you’ve met his wife.”, replies my Dad.

“Have I?”

“Yes. Apparently, you’re going to hear an Evangelist speak on Sunday with her. She’s picking you up at twelve.”

My Dad smirks. The Mushroom cannot throw anything at him because he is with The Baby. I continue to lick my belly.

Home and Away

October 29, 2009

“I’m a bit homesick”, murmured The Mushroom.

“Hmm”, replied my Dad, “I’ve been feeling a bit of that this week.”

Oh no you frigging don’t, I thought. I have not travelled all over the frigging place, been jiggled from pillar to post, been shipped in boxes, been fumigated after a month of smoke inhalation, been abused by That Black Dog for us to just go home.

“It’s not that I want to go back or anything”, The Mushroom continued, as I breathed a kitty sigh of relief, “But I just miss stuff.  I miss my mum. I miss my mates. I miss a bit of culture, you know, galleries, museums, old buildings, stuff like that. I miss being able to jump on a bus and go see some art or pop to a museum.”

My Dad paused in his reading of the paper.

“Never, love, in all the years I have known you, have you done such a thing.”, he stated.

“Yes I have! I have totally gone to museums and galleried! What are you on about?”

“Yes, petal, but you have never ‘popped on a bus’ to one. You have never whimsically gone to a museum. And is this ‘popping’ to museums happening in Hull, sweetness? Did you ‘pop’ on a bus and go to the National Museum of Fish when I was at work and not tell me?”

The Mushroom stubbed her toe in irritation. “No, I miss being able to do things like that. Just because I didn’t, as a rule, do it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy being able to do it. I miss the theatre and restaurants, the BBC, The Sunday Times, Boots the Chemist… what do you miss?”

My Dad paused for a moment to think.

“A decent session down the Beverley Road.”

The Mushroom looked at him.

“And of course all those things you just said”, he quickly continued, obviously remembering the ‘interest in the Arts’ that played such a crucial role in the wooing of The Mushroom.

Humans. They’re never happy. When we were in London, it was all, ‘ooh, crime, ooh, litter, ooh the cost of living, can’t wait to go up North’. When we were in Hull it was all, ‘ooh, crime, ooh, this city is, peculiarly, almost entirely grey, ooh, the accent, can’t wait to go to Canada’. Now, it’s all, ‘oooh. Oooooh. It’s a bit quiet’. Blimey.

I have to admit, it makes absolutely no difference to me that there is a shortage of ‘culture’ available in the locality. I have never considered going to a gallery or a museum and I doubt I would have been allowed in should I have tried. Personally, I am enjoying much more activity than I experienced in our previous residences.

Knock knock knock

All my life, my Dad has refused to answer doors. He rarely answers phones. When we lived in London, nobody ever came round. Nobody ever came round because nobody was ever invited round cos anyone they wanted to see, ever, would be in the pub. In fact, I’m not altogether sure anyone knew where we lived.

Knock knock knock

When we lived in Hull, nobody came round because, it seems, nobody lives in Hull.

Knock knock knock

The Mushroom has the same door policy, but is much better with phones.

Knock knock knock

So, hearing someone knocking is still something The Mushroom is not used to. Someone is at the door. It’s half ten in the morning. She is still in her pyjamas. The Baby has a cheerio stuck to her forehead. The dishes are very much not done. And there is no curtain at the window, so The Mushroom cannot hide.

Knock knock knock

The Mushroom opens the door.

“Oh!”, says Lady We Don’t Recognize, brandishing something that looks suspiciously like tupperware, “Are you just up?”

“Yes.”, says The Mushroom, clearly thinking this is less embarrassing than  the truth, which is that she is lazy and a teeny bit slutty.

“Oh, well!”, says Lady We Don’t Recognize, “May I come in?”

“I – er – well – ”

“I got us tickets!”

“Tickets?”.

“Yes, to hear the Evangelist speak. Next Sunday. I know you haven’t been up to the church yet, and I thought of you, and I know you’ll just love him.”

It did not appear to have dawned on Lady We Don’t Recognize that The Mushroom did not recognize her. I, however, knew she did not, as she had the frozen half smile on her face she only gets when she is very confused and pretending not to be. I perched on the edge of the sofa, curious to find out a) who this lady was, b) how The Mushroom was going to find out who she was, c) how The Mushroom was going to get out of having to hear an Evangelist speak at church next Sunday.

“And-“, Lady We Don’t Recognize held up her tupperware dish, “I brought you some home made Rabbit stew!”

The Mushroom’s expression of confusion changed to confusion mixed with nausea.

“That’s very kind of you.”, she eventually said, gripping hold of The Baby to steady herself, “I’ve never had Rabbit stew before.”

Give it here, I thought. As long as it hasn’t got carrots in it, I’ll have it.

Lady We Don’t Recognize stands, smiling, in the kitchen. The Baby throws some cheerios on the floor. The Mushroom tries to surreptitiously pull her t shirt up from where it had dropped over her shoulder. The room is crowded with the sound of the clock ticking and the washing machine humming.

“So!”, says Lady We Don’t Recognize.

“Yes!”, replies The Mushroom, “Yes, problem is, though, that I’m, er, I’m a Catholic. So I don’t know about the Evangelist. Although that’s very, very kind of you to think of me, and I must thankyou for the stew, that’s terribly, terribly thoughtful, and it’s so, very, very sweet of you to come round!”

That’s it, Mushroom, nicely done. Become Hugh Grant and see if that works.

“Well”, says Lady We Don’t Recognize, “that’s no problem. And let me know if you change your mind about the Evangelist. He’s very good, you know!”

The door shuts, and The Mushroom glances at her reflection in the mirror. Her hair looks interesting. Her t-shirt has butter on it and something that looks a bit like gravy but probably isn’t. Her pyjama bottoms are too long and are frayed at the bottom from having been dragged along the floor. Perhaps it was this general look that helped Lady We Don’t Recognise to take her leave so promptly.

So, I, for one, am delighted to be here. Yes, I don’t get to go out as often. Yes, I am on the lookout for Cougars on the occasions I do. Yes, we live in a Serial Killer’s ‘Basement Suite’. But no-one’s ever brought me rabbit stew before. Result.

I still have no idea who Lady We Don’t Recognize was.

First Words

October 25, 2009

Watching The Baby get bigger is a fascinating process, not unlike, in many respects, watching my Dad sober up after a particularly extravagant drinking session. At first, he cannot walk without falling over, doesn’t know his own name, cannot speak and instead makes a squeaky squawky sound. Then, gradually, he begins to regain balance, can once again focus on things more than three inches in front of him and can just, by eventide, structure a sentence. Well, this is pretty much what The Baby is doing, except far, far more slowly and without the help, as far as I can work out, of bottles of Lucozade and seven bags of salt and vinegar crisps.

Recently, she has been trying out speaking. I am jealous. I can do an array of miaows, but can only just about communicate clearly three things: stroke me, feed me, and seriously, I am going to go to the toilet now, right here, if you don’t let me out. I suppose when you think about it there isn’t much else I need to say. I’d like the option, though.

The fact that The Baby is attempting to speak has not, of course, passed The Mushroom by.

“We’ve absolutely got to stop swearing, love”, she said, again, to my Dad, “She’s going to pick it up and say it back and it will be awful. And you swear all the time.”

“She’s far too young, love.”, replies my Dad, looking, as The Mushroom tends to put it, ‘annoyingly nonchalant’.

“No, she’s not. Before you know it she’ll be talking and reading and writing and all sorts and she’ll pick up what we say and say it back and if you don’t stop swearing she’ll start swearing and how bad would that be that would be really bad stop swearing stop swearing stop swearing. Please.”

The Mushroom,at this point, looks a bit red in the face.

“I hardly ever swear now”, he replies, then spills a bit of his beer by misjudging where the table ends, “Oh, fuck!”

My Dad hangs his head in shame. The Mushroom hangs her head in resignation.

Whilst I completely agree with The Mushroom that maybe my Dad should curb his language a bit, so should she. Whilst ‘Oh, fuck!’ would be a terrible thing for a baby to say, so would many of the phrases The Mushroom utters with great regularity. For example, imagine this scenario at nursery:

“Sweetie, why don’t you try painting the apple red?”, says lovely homely nursery nurse.

“Jesus Wept!”, replies The Baby.

Personally, I think the pair of them should make their language much more child friendly, and should, possibly, maybe – and I know this is a bit ‘out there’ – start to call The Baby BY THE NAME THEY GAVE HER.

Both my Dad and The Mushroom, for reasons that are entirely beyond my feline brain, call The Baby all sorts of things, mostly foodstuffs. Why? Why refer to the person they love most as a food stuff? They call her ‘chicken’. They call her ‘chickpea’. They call her ‘sausage’. They call her ‘biscuit’. And most of all, they call her ‘noodle’.

Guess what her first, uber clear word was? That’s right. ‘Noodle’. The child thinks she is called ‘Noodle’. She believes she is named after the stringy bit of unleavened dough that is the mainstay of Japanese Cuisine. This is not an example of good parenting.

The Mushroom and my Dad don’t see it this way, of course. They think it’s frigging marvellous that The Baby is saying Noodle. They think this is further evidence, no doubt, that The Baby is some sort of Genius who will rule the world by the time she is five. I think it’s evidence that my Dad and The Mushroom refer to her as ‘Noodle’ far too much, but that’s just my opinion.

What if she grows up believing she is called ‘Noodle’? What if she introduces herself to people when she starts school as ‘Noodle’? How will she ever be taken seriously in the world of work? ‘Hi, I’m Noodle, and I’m your Line Manager’.

Perhaps I’m overreacting. Maybe she doesn’t actually think her name is Noodle, just likes repeating the sound. She does also, to be fair, say, ‘A dig a dig a dig’ a lot, and I don’t think she believes she’s an archeologist.  We’ll just have to see. In the meantime, I hope that my Dad and The Mushroom take this as a cue to pay closer heed to how they speak.

With this in mind, I counted how many times both my Dad and The Mushroom used the word ‘bollocks’ today. The answer is seventeen. I am wondering, therefore, what The Baby’s second word might be.

Birthday Shopping

October 24, 2009

The Mushroom, The Baby and my Dad are planning a ‘city break’ next weekend. To Saskatoon. I love that for a city name – ‘Sasktatoon’. Canadian town names have an entirely different feel to British ones, in my opinion. Canadian town name: Saskatoon. British town name: Grimsby. Different vibe, I feel. ‘Saskatoon’ conjures up images of happy, skippy people. ‘Grimsby’, less so. It’s not my favourite, though; that used to be ‘Wawa’, but currently, it’s ‘Medicine Hat’. ‘Saskatoon’ actually sounds a bit like the name of a biscuit. ‘Ooh, did you bake those Saskatoons? Lovely!’. So, anyway, that’s where they’re off. Without me.

In all the years I have been with my Dad, he has never taken me on holiday, not even a City Break. I always get left behind and people have to come round to feed me. This is not always a winning situation. For example, when we lived with That Bastard Dave, That Bastard Dave was supposed to feed me when my Dad was away. That Bastard Dave, however, is a bastard and he hates me. He has no reason to hate me. There may have been a small issue with mice when I lived there. There might have been a couple of occasions when I left a gift at the bottom of the stairs. Or in the kitchen. Maybe once by his bedroom door. On those occasions, That Bastard Dave might have stood on aforementioned gift. In his bare feet. They were, however, GIFTS. Just cos That Bastard Dave chose not to eat mice doesn’t make the giving of the gift any less generous. He had no call to be so snooty about it, I’ve seen what’s in the kebabs he eats and it’s not too distant a relation of the mouse, I would wager. It’s certainly no reason to not give me my Iams when my Dad’s away. Bastard. I have to admit, I went on a mice catching frenzy after that, and left them everywhere. I thought maybe he would see the funny side. He did not.

 I do not miss That Bastard Dave. I heard my Dad the other morning on the phone to him. My Dad really likes him. So does The Mushroom. They have no idea. They’d better not invite him here. I did not suffer those hours on planes to be back at the mercy of that cat-hating shite.

Anyhoo…

The Mushroom, my Dad and The Baby are going on this City Break to celebrate The Baby’s first birthday. Let me reitterate this point. For her first birthday, The Baby gets to go on a City Break. What kind of ridiculous precedent is this setting? Now, I know nothing about child-rearing, clearly, and have never had any of my own kittens due to the neutering thingy I had to go through as a young cat, but surely, if she gets to go to on holiday for her first birthday, what in the name of all types of Kitty Crunchy Whiskas Temptations are they going to do for, say, her 10th? The most I have ever got for my birthday is a Dentabye. It gets better, though.

“So”, mumbles The Mushroom, sitting at the desk with a pen and paper and trying to look like she hasn’t forgotten how to write, “I work out we can spend $500 on presents, then.”

My Dad stops, mid slug of tea.

“What?”

“Presents. For The Baby. For her birthday. $500.”

My Dad looks pale.

“How much do you reckon we’ve spent on toys for The Baby so far? In total?”, he asks, whilst observing The Baby playing with a pair of rolled up socks.

“Bootathuzndpnds…mumble…mumble”, said The Mushroom.

“Sorry?”, he asks, watching The Baby move on from the pair of rolled up socks to play with an empty tupperware dish.

“Bootathusznpnds maybe.”

“Love, seriously, what are you saying?”, he asks, as The Baby crawls towards him and starts to play with his feet.

“ABOUTATHOUSANDPOUNDS.”, The Mushroom shouts.

There is a pause.

“What does she play with the most, do you think?”, my Dad asks.

The Mushroom looks down at her calucations and sighs. “The cupboards, love.”, she replies.

The Baby was, at this point, demonstrating the truth of this statement by happily crawling into a cupboard and sitting in it.

“So, do we really need to spend loads on toys when she spends her time in the cupboards or trying to walk?”, reasons my Dad.

The Mushroom looked icily at my Dad. “She isn’t trying to walk, love”, she hissed, “She is walking.”

Now that is an interesting statement. The Baby can take a maximum of ten steps (I know this, cos The Mushroom counts them. Out loud. Then claps.) before she either, a) falls on her bottom or b) grabs hold of something (a table, The Mushroom, my head) to stop herself from falling. Does this equate to being able to walk? If I jump, I can stay airborne for about the same amount of time that The Baby can stand on two feet. Does this mean I can fly? No. No it doesn’t, although it would be frigging brilliant if I could. It would make bird catching a whole lot easier. In any case, it was clear that my Dad was in a losing battle, and $500 would, indeed, again, get spent on stuff The Baby will use for about a week then get bored of, and then they will go and spend more money and do it all again. Personally, I reckon they could stretch to buying me a bit of catnip. It can’t cost much. I love a bit of catnip, me. Maybe they’ll get me some as a present from Saskatoon.

Settling In

October 18, 2009

The Mushroom returned from her weekly sojourn to the library looking slightly shaken.

“I’ve just seen a moose.”, she said to my Dad, who was lounging on the sofa with the remote control in his hand, still clearly not over the novelty of having 73 channels of shite to choose from.

“Where?”, he said, turning from an infomercial for a ‘Slap Chop’, which apparently comes with a free ‘Graty’, whatever that is,”In the town?”

“In the back of a truck.”

“Someone was just driving round with a Moose in the back of their truck? What, like a dog?”

“No, love, not like a dog. Like a moose. Like a not-very-alive, I’ve-just-been-hunted-with-a-shotgun Moose.”

“Oh. Urghgh. They shoot anything that moves round here.”

My ears prick up. They had already pricked up at the mention of a Moose. Where there’s one Moose, there’s bound to be more Meese and whilst these were the vegetarians on my list of ‘Animals to Avoid in Saskatchewan’, I was quite happy to see none of them. It wasn’t that, though,  that concerned me the most. They ‘shoot anything’? What if someone confuses me with, I don’t know, a beaver or something and shoots me? Crumbs. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about with the giant cats and the Husky/Alsatian hybrids and the constant state of vigilance regarding Coyotes and Cougars.

The Mushroom’s shaky state was also due, in part, to the drama of two nights before. My Dad has always had concerns about her in the kitchen. She gets distracted easily, by, I don’t know, sound and bright colours, which is maybe where The Baby gets it from, and this is not ideal when one is wielding a very sharp knife in one hand and a giant potato in the other.

“I can’t look I can’t look I can’t look!”, she screamed, whilst kneeling on the floor with, I have to admit, a mildly worrying pool of blood next to her. “Have I chopped the end of my finger off?”

My Dad looks at the finger.

“No.”

“Do I need to go to hospital?”

“Why would you need to go to hospital?”

“Do I need stitches? I need stitches. And I need to go to hospital.”

“No, pet. You need, firstly, to stop shouting and then, my love, you need a plaster.”

“Oh.”

What followed was three hours of The Mushroom holding her finger in the air, wrapped in kitchen paper, because it would not actually stop bleeding, asking at two minute intervals whether it was time for her to go to hospital yet. My Dad insisted that it was not, whilst continuing to be mesmerised by the advertisement for the ‘Slap Chop’ and free ‘Graty’. I’ve always known no good could come from those knife things. If you want smaller pieces, people, use your teeth.

The loss of blood seemed to affect her for a good couple of days. She cut her finger on Monday. On Wednesday, she seemed to believe that the tumble drier was singing to her. In French.

‘Rumble Rumble Rumble’, goes the tumble drier.

Alouetta, gentile Alouetta, Alouetta, je te plumerai”, sings The Mushroom. “Can you hear it, Zeebs? Or is it just me?”

Nope, Mushroom, just you. And you haven’t said anything that bonkers since you were eight and half months pregnant and you accused my Dad of having an affair with your Mum, I thought.

Anyhoo, things have been busy. For one, I have a new friend. His name is Brian. He pops round quite regularly and sits on the sofa, talks to my Dad, plays with The Baby and strokes my ears. I was a bit concerned when he said that his cat, Hilton, ‘would squash me’, but I’m guessing that was a hypothetical statement based on the fact that maybe Hilton is a fat bastard and not a statement of intent.

“So,” asks Brian of my Dad, “What to you think of Saskatchewan so far?”

“Well, it is incredibly flat.”, my Dad replies.

“Yes”, pipes up The Mushroom who, thankfully, appears to be over her cutting-finger-off drama and is now back to having vaguely normal conversations, “I thought you’d be able to see the Rockies from here.”

“Oh, they’re not far”, replies Brian, “It’s only a six hour drive to Jasper.”

There is a pause, as my Dad and The Mushroom think about what Brian has just said.

“Why would anyone drive for six hours, Brian?”, The Mushroom eventually asks.

“You wouldn’t drive for six hours back in England?”, he asks.

“No, Brian.”, replies my Dad, “If you drove for six hours in England, you would end up in France.”

Don’t give my Dad ideas, I thought. Before you know it, my Dad will think it’s okay to drive to Toronto for Christmas with me in the back, a drive that would, apparently take two and half days. I think I might, just, prefer to fly. As long as the tight gits buy a different kind of carrier and pay the extra $50 to have me travel in the cabin with them.

Sask-Cat-Chewan

October 17, 2009

“Doogie?”, asks the man who has just walked into our kitchen, removing his Stetson and standing two metres away from a more than slightly perturbed looking Mushroom.

The Mushroom picks up The Baby. “No. No, I am not Doogie.”

“Does Doogie live here?”, enquires Man With Stetson.

“No.”, replies The Mushroom.

“Hmm.”, says Man With Stetson. “Does Doogie live upstairs?”

“No.”, replies The Mushroom, “I don’t know anyone called Doogie. Nor, may I add, do I know you. And you’re in my kitchen.”

“Yeah”, drawls Man with Stetson, “Did Doogie used to live here?”

“I’m terribly sorry”, says The Mushroom, stepping towards Man With Stetson, “But I have never met a ‘Doogie’. I have, before this moment, never heard of anyone called ‘Doogie’ except for ‘Doogie Howser MD’ who I’m fairly certain is a fictional character. Furthermore, you’re freaking me out a bit because you are still very much in my kitchen.”

Too right, he was freaking her out. Not only was there a stranger in the kitchen, but he was sporting full on cowboy regalia including a toothpick in his mouth. Why would anyone chew a toothpick? For a start, all it would taste of is wood. I’ve tasted wood. It’s a bit bland. Secondly, it’s pointy and could hurt your tongue. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s a mark of a real cowboy to play Russian Roulette with your tongue by chewing a toothpick. It looks fairly stupid, though, but I guess The Mushroom wasn’t going to tell the Doogie hunter that because he was in her kitchen and could well be hiding a gun somewhere.

“Sorry, Ma’am”, he said, backing out, “I guess I must have the wrong house.”

In your own time, cowboy. It might have been possible to work that out on entry, really.

Well, we are here, in Saskatchewan, in what appears to be the World’s Biggest Field and the people sure are friendly. So friendly, that they don’t even think to knock, if Man With Stetson is anything to go by. Also, much to my relief and, it would appear, the relief of The Mushroom, we are online. This has taken three weeks, one trip to somewhere called Battleford and fifteen phone calls to ‘Sasktel’.

“If you manage to get me online today”, The Mushroom said to the ‘Sasktel’ man who came to the house today – or, as it seems to be known, ‘The Basement Suite’, but more of this later –  “I may leave him” , nodding in the direction of my Dad, “for you.”

The Sasktel man looked frightened.

“I asked for directions at the school”, he stammered, “and they told me you were a bit frisky.”

The Mushroom has had three weeks offline living in The World’s Biggest Field and I think has been missing contact with the outside world. So have I, as all attempts at going outside have been hampered by a) the Arctic conditions that I don’t feel anyone warned me about, b) the two giant cats who live next door and c) the vast number of Huskies, Alsatians and Husky/Alsatian hybrids who live, tethered, outside every second house around here. You might be thinking that they shouldn’t bother me, as they are tethered, but it’s a tad disconcerting when one is attempting a meander around one’s locality to be barked at as if one is the frigging Anti-Christ so, indoors, inside ‘The Basement Suite’ I remain.

‘The Basement Suite’ is a term visitors – and there have been many – use to refer to the really quite remarkably dark homestead we find ourselves in.  Think back to every American horror film you have ever seen. Think of the kind of home the Serial Killer normally lives in. Well, we’re in the basement. According to one of our visitors, it ‘hasn’t been lived in for a while’. Hmm.

The journey here was even more fun than the journey to Toronto. Firstly, we were late to the airport, for reasons that are utterly beyond me because we got up at 3.45 in the frigging morning. We were meant to leave at 5.15. I refuse to accept that one woman and one baby need an hour and half to put clothes on and get out of the door, but this is by the by.

We were made even later by a little accident I had. I was nervous. I make light of it, but I do not like flying. Anyhoo, the smell of my little turdy mishap meant they had to stop the car and remove said item. Which was very good of them. They were less obliging fifteen minutes later when I did another one.

Secondly, I, apparently, was in ‘the wrong kind of carrier’.

“You may not be able to travel with your pet today.”, said a lady in a uniform once we had arrived, pre-dawn, at the airport, “I have to check with my supervisor.”

“Whaddya mean?”, asked The Cave Troll who, very unexpectedly, had suddenly become Al Pacino, “Look at this case! It says ‘Jets for Pets’! Itsa made for pets on a plane! ‘Jets for Pets’!”

After about fifteen minutes of haggling, the case is permitted. I am carried to ‘Outsize Baggage’. I may have just done another turd.

“Could you take your cat out whilst we check the case, Madam?”, The Mushroom, looking increasingly frazzled (literally, by the way. In the hour and half it took her to get ready she failed to sort out her hair. Putting in a pony tail and hoping for the best doesn’t count. Incidentally, I later found out that once she had dropped me off and had to go through customs with The Baby she set off the alarm thingy. After taking off her belt, her earrings and her watch, the alarm still went off so, apparently, they had to search her hair. A curby grip had been lost in it, and this was what was setting off the alarm. I shouldn’t laugh.) is asked by another lady in a uniform. Check my case for what? Turds? Cos there’s a couple of those, lady, if that’s what you’re hunting. The case goes on a conveyor belt and turned upside down. So now my water, my food and my turds are all mixed up and are all over the cage. At this point, I begin to feel very sorry for myself, and also quite sorry for everyone else, as The Cave Troll runs off to get me some more water, The Hippy holds me and wonders aloud whether I would consider eating a Granola energy bar ( ‘No’) and The Mushroom desperately tries to remove turd and dry my cage with one hand whilst holding The Baby in the other. By this stage, a crowd has surrounded us. Aware that I have an audience, I try desperately hard not to wee on The Hippy. Eventually, I am tucked back into the cage and carried away by someone.

Turbulence when you’re in a cage in the luggage hold of a plane is a lot of fun. It’s a lot like, I would imagine, a fair ground ride. Note how often one would see a cat on a fairground ride. Never. This is because cats do not like them. Actually, if we’re being realistic, it’s also because it would be very tricky for a cat to hand over legal tender to a man in a kiosk which I believe is needed in order to get on one of these rides but the point remains, being thrown from side to side and up and down is not a hobby I wish to take up.

Mercifully, there were no other animals on this flight, so I was spared the endurance exercise of being barked at by Dolly the German Shepard who clearly hadn’t worked out after, say, the first five hours that barking did not achieve anything, and carried it on for fourteen. Nevertheless, it was a NIGHTMARE. But we’re here now. In the Serial Killer Basement. In the World’s Biggest Field. In the snow. Surrounded by Husky/Alsatian hybrids. It’s all good.

It IS pretty good, actually. I am back with my Dad, the Mushroom is back with my Dad and The Baby is back with my Dad and – and this bit is brilliant – no Black Dog is eating any of my food.  The Mushroom and my Dad seem to like it, anyhoo, and The Baby is happy as long as The Mushroom and my Dad are around and clap whenever she does anything. Am still on the look out for Coyotes and Cougars, mind, but so far, so good.

The Cave Troll was right, though. It is REALLY really flat.