Bah Humbug

December 31, 2009

Christmas is different now. In the days before The Baby, I got left alone with a catnip treat for most of the morning whilst The Mushroom and my Dad drank bubbly alcoholic beverages after opening presents of ridiculous decadence (“What do you want for Christmas, darling?” “Myrrh.”, “Right you are!”), then I got a meaty treat whilst they cooked, slurred and ate dinner, and then I went to bed whilst they fell asleep on the sofa, alcoholic steam oozing off their bodies, watching ‘True Romance’ on DVD. Or something like that.

Not now.

“What do you want for Christmas, honey?”, my Dad asked some weeks ago.

“Creme de la Mer.”

He looked at her.

“Doesn’t that cost about a thousand dollars?”


“Seriously, that’s what you want? ”

“Yes. Yes, that’s what I want. ”

“Even though I couldn’t afford to get you anything other than that?”

“Yes. Yes, that is what I want”, she repeated, in a disturbingly android fashion.

“It’s not magical, you know.”

Oh. Oh dear. Now, I’m a cat, but even I know what an utterly wrong thing that was to say. It is a sentence that shows the staggering difference between man humans and lady humans.

What my Dad meant by, ‘It’s not magical, you know’  is, ‘This cream is a rip off. And anyway, your face is fine.’.

What The Mushroom heard was, ‘There is no point buying this cream, because your crone like features are beyond repair. Whilst I think about it, you actually bear a startling resemblance to my Gran.’

The Mushroom’s eyes began to fill with tears. Her face contorted in a ‘do I cry, do I knee you really hard in the gonads?’ way.

“No, no, no, I meant, oh, bollocks, I didn’t mean, okay, yes, absolutely, if that’s what you want, of course. Of course. I just think it’s a rip off. And that you’re beautiful. I think you’re very beautiful. You’re very beautiful to me.”

Mistake number two. Never, ever say to a lady human that they are beautiful ‘to you’. The implication there is that to everyone else, they look like Yoda. However, The Mushroom let it fly, cos she was getting her 0.5 ounce pot of battered sea weed or whatever it is, and she was thus happy.

So, Christmas came, and The Mushroom got her box of magical cream, my Dad got some things The Mushroom ordered three months ago off the internet in a moment of foresight based on the abject lack of shops within a 100 mile radius, unless you count ‘Walmart’, ‘Canadian Tire’ (which sells more than tires, apparently) and ‘Scrapbook Cottage’, none of which would have supplied gifts my Dad would have appreciated (‘Happy Christmas! Have some bathroom scrubbers, a decorative letter ‘D’ made out of felt, and a hose!’), and The Baby got all the brightly coloured, battery-operated, noise making, singing bits of plastic left in Saskatoon. One of these is a dancing marigold, which seems to have been designed based loosely on someone’s rather dodgy acid trip.

What did you get, Mr Zeebling? Some catnip, perchance? Well, I got two things.  I got a lovely toy mouse from my lovely friend Brian. And I got some tartar control ‘treats’ from my Dad.

TARTAR CONTROL? What the frig is ‘tartar’? And maybe I don’t need my tartar controlling. Maybe I like my tartar. Maybe I am a tartar. It sounds like some kind of warrior.  Does my Dad think I’m a warrior who needs controlling?  Cos seriously, it’s me who’s getting beaten up in this house, what with Fluffy McAnti-Christ hurling himself, claws spread, at my neck. The last thing I want is to control my tartar, then, I want to build my tartar up like a prize pig.

Anyhoo, Christmas revolves a lot less around bubbly booze and much more around plastic. I think this is called evolution. Some traditions, however, stay the same. Christmas dinner. The pulling of crackers. The donning of Christmas hats from aforementioned crackers. The reading of Christmas cracker jokes.

“What does your joke say?”, asked The Mushroom.

My Dad studied it. “Oiste el cuento del perro que se fue al circo de pulgas?”

The Mushroom stared at him, fork hovering above a potato. My Dad continued to look at his joke.

“No, que paso? Se llevo todos los artistas.”

The Mushroom took a bite of potato. “Excellent. Love, why is there pink fluid dripping down your face?”

My Dad looked in the mirror. “It appears my party hat is leaking.”

“Where in the name of arse did you get these crackers?”

My Dad looked sheepish. “Walmart.”

“I think next year, get them from M&S and ship them over. What’s your toy?”

My Dad studied a cardboard square. “A mystery calculator. Yours?”

“A plastic deer.”

So, did the small number of gifts for The Mushroom and my Dad, the lack of booze, the shite and perhaps toxic crackers ruin Christmas? Oddly, they seemed to have a great time. The Baby squealed and clapped and ran and did all sorts of things which continue to prove her status as the Messiah, and my Dad and The Mushroom just kind of stared and cuddled and smiled and muttered things about her being the Messiah.

My Christmas treat, even better than the toy mouse, was Fluffy Usurper’s little mishap. If you’re going to jump around the bathroom, little fur ball, check the toilet lid is down. He spent the day trying to lick the pine fresh smell off his fur. This was an absolute result. If I could laugh, I think I might have had a little mishap. As it is, I spent the day reclining and accidentally nibbling the tartar control treats left on the edge of the sofa for me.

These tartar control things are delicious. Maybe I can allow my tartar to be controlled a little bit then.



December 13, 2009

Chicken goujons are The Mushroom’s Everest.

It seems such a simple meal. Get some chicken. Cut said chicken into finger size strips. Coat them in breadcrumbs, cook at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, and job done. And I’m sure that had The Mushroom done this, they would have turned out fine. Instead, she:

1. Coated them in a strange cheesy breadcrumb mixture to which she added cinnamon. She did not mean to add cinnamon, she meant to add cumin, but they, and I quote, ‘look the same’. They don’t smell the same, though, do they? Or have the same name on the jar? No. No matter, she still tried to make them again, this time:

2. She mixed apple and pear in with the chicken, which this time was minced, then coated them in a non-cheesy breadcrumb mixture with about 250g of cumin. She didn’t mean to add cumin. She meant to add cinnamon. See above.

3. This didn’t stop her trying to make them again. This time she didn’t add any cumin or cinnamon. She did, however, just like the first two times, cook them for fifty minutes instead of twenty because ‘chicken makes her nervous’. So there were not so much chicken goujons, as chicken rocks.

On all three occasions my Dad ate them. By the third, though, the writing was on the wall.

“Why have you got so much salsa on your plate?” The Mushroom asked my Dad, who had coated the chickeny-spears with a mixture of HP sauce and salsa dip.

He swallowed. ” I really like salsa.”

“Do you not like your dinner?”, The Mushroom stared, wide-eyed, unable to believe that she might have cocked up chicken frigging goujons. Again.

My Dad quickly ate a couple more goujons. Well, quickly-ish. They really did seem to be very hard.

“It’s lovely.”

The Mushroom bit into one. She put it down.

“They’re shit again.”

My Dad put down his knife and fork.

“Yes, love. Yes, they are shit. But it’s the effort that counts and I think that’s lovely. Here, do you want some salsa?”

The Mushroom looked close to tears. This had been a record for attempting something new, apart from the knitting adventure she went on, which is, strictly speaking, still in progress as she has to finish the scarf for her friend that she promised her 18 months ago. It’s not so much an adventure, then, as she can only knit in lines, hence can only make scarves. However, she has never cried about the knitting, she just got a bit bored of knitting lines.

“I can’t cook. I hate cooking. It’s shit.  I hate doing housework and I hate doing laundry and I hate cooking and it’s shit.”

“But you said you liked making dinner!”

“When did I say that?”

My Dad paused to think.

“Maybe last March.”

“Well, maybe I liked it then. I don’t like it now.”

“Can I cook, then? I like cooking.”

The Mushroom looked at him with a kind of raw adoration.

“I love you. You make really nice food. Can I throw this shite away now, and can you make us fajitas?”

My Dad smiled the smile of a man who is appreciated. The Baby continued to drum what sounded very much like the beat of ‘I feel love’ by Bronski Beat with her chicken goujon. The natural order of things began to be resumed.

“I still have to do the housework and the laundry though?”, asked The Mushroom.

“Erm, well, that would be nice, as I’m at work.”

The Mushroom looked downcast.

“Hey, that sounds like ‘I feel love’ by Bronski Beat! Wow!”, said my Dad, in a bid to distract The Mushroom.

Yes, my Dad has joined The Mushroom in her ‘My Baby is the Messiah!’ approach to parenthood. I can’t put my paw on when this happened, but one day, he was saying no, The Baby had not said ‘Bath’, she had said ‘Baa!’ and was clearly impersonating a sheep, to saying yes, yes indeedy, The Baby had said ‘Bath’ and this was clearly a sign that she was Christ. How this ties in with my Dad’s atheism I don’t know. Does this make him God? I don’t think he’d be very good at being God. I think he drinks too much beer. I simply can’t imagine that God is a big drinker, or all Friday and Saturday night prayers would be redundant and, traditionally, weekends are big prayer days.

I’m amazed they haven’t yet seen the down side of the talking business. You can bet any money you like that in any social situation like, for example, the school Christmas carol concert, it won’t be ‘Bath’, or ‘Book’  The Baby will be shouting out in the pause between verses of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’. Nope. It will be ‘Boobie!’, said whilst trying to hoist one out of The Mushroom’s jumper.

No good comes from being a hippy.

The Ice Man Cometh

December 9, 2009

‘So how was it?’, asked my Dad, as The Mushroom returned from her evening with The Evangelist, postponed to last Sunday due to a double booking.

The Mushroom began to unpeel herself. On Sunday, it was -33. She had eighteen layers on.

“Hang on.”, she muffled from under her ski mask.

“You look nice.”

She didn’t. She had so many coats on she was almost as wide as she is tall. She had borrowed one of The Baby’s hats, was wearing a ‘Go Canada!’ ski mask and the only indication that she was actually a human was the vague shape of legs at the bottom end of her weird square shape.

“Thuck off.”

“So”, he  asked again as the last of her coats came off, “tell all. How was it?”


“Surreal? How so?”

Apparently, it started off fairly normally. A preacher. A congregation. The preacher talking about God and Christmas. Some songs. A bit of a tambourine. Some hand waving. Much talk about salvation. All above board. And then the puppet show began.

“A what?”

A puppet show, claimed The Mushroom. Purple puppets with plastic guitars miming to a Christ-ified version of Kenny Loggins’s ‘Danger Zone’ from that classic 80’s film,  ‘Top Gun’.

“‘Danger Zone’? That’s a weird choice.Doesn’t really work for church.”

“It did work, because it had been changed.It was called ‘Manger Zone'”

My Dad fell off the sofa.

“‘There were Angels at the Manger Zone. Wise Men at the Manger Zone’. But nobody else was laughing so I had to make out I was having some sort of seizure. ”

“And then what happened?”

“Well, then the Evangelist started talking a lot about looking out for the enemies of God. But I kind of stopped listening then cos I was mesmerized by his beard.”

“Enemies of God? Like, who?”

“I think we’re supposed to be on the look out for the anti-Christ.”

They both turned to look at the innocent looking ball of white fur curled up on the sofa, one gimletty eye open.

Fluffy Usurper.

Evidence that Fluffy Usurper is the anti-Christ:

1. He is violent. I mean, really violent. He chases me around the flat. I am about five times his size. He either doesn’t know this, or he doesn’t care. Even when I whack him one, he chases after me again and then jumps onto my neck. Not. Keen.

2. He’s a sneaky little bastard. He chases me. He leaps onto my neck. I slap him. He rolls onto his back and cranes his neck back, and pulls his, ‘Oooh, look at me, I’m a fluffy white kitten, don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me!’ face and, just as I think, oh, bollocks to this, he’s just a fluffy white kitten, the shit jumps on my neck again.

3. He attacks inanimate objects.

4. His miaow does not sound like a cat. He sounds like a frigging wolf. The Mushroom has to lock him in the bathroom sometimes when he’s ‘getting a bit feral’, and he howls like something out of ‘Dracula’.

5. He thinks The Mushroom’s hair is his mother. I don’t think Nostradamus mentioned this specifically as a trait of the anti-christ, but it’s not normal, is it? This is where he chooses to sleep. On/in The Mushroom’s hair. If she’s sitting on the sofa the freak climbs up to nest there. I have to say, I just don’t like it. There’s something disconcerting about looking across the room at a woman with a big mane of black hair and a kitten asleep on top of it. It’s all a bit too McQueen for my liking.

6. He just is. The End.

“He’s ever so cute when he’s sleepy, though!”, attempts The Mushroom in Fluffy Usurper’s defence, as my Dad, once again,  gingerly removes him from the side of his face.

“I’m sure Pol Pot was a love when he was tired too, but I wouldn’t want him for a pet.” He puts Fluffy Usurper in the bathroom. “He’ll be better when he gets his bits clipped.” The howling begins. “I hope.”

Aha! Ahahahaha! Oh, Fluffy, I know what’s a-coming. Or, rather, I know what’s a-going. Your gonads, my friend.

Fluffy Usurper, at this point, starts to make some headway in his bid to scratch his way through the door. Perhaps he heard.

“We could always let him outside.”, my Dad joked. Half joked, anyway.

Aah, the outside. We don’t really go there anymore. My Dad has to, but he dresses up as a bear to do it. The Mushroom was driven the 15 metres or so it is to the church for her evening of anti-Christ-spotting puppetry, and it took her nearly ten minutes to get out of all the layers she had to put on just to get to the car. All we do is watch the wonderful Canadian TV phenomenon that is the Weather Network and put jumpers on. On the map of Canada today on the Weather Network, it just had a big blue bit with the word ‘COLD’ written across it for Saskatchewan. It is, currently,  -35. That is not ‘COLD’. That is ARCTIC. When my Dad got back from work today, he had an icicle hanging from one of his nostrils.

The Mushroom is transfixed by the Weather Network. She doesn’t get out much. She doesn’t really get out at all, it’s -35.

“Look! Look! It’s going to be -38 tomorrow!”, she exclaimed, excitedly.

“Sweetheart, if you’re going to tell me every time the numbers on the Weather Network change, it’s going to be a long, long winter.”, he replied.

“My beloved, we live in a frigging basement, we have five hours of daylight  that we don’t see because we only have one window, it’s colder, officially, then the North Pole and it doesn’t start to warm up until March. So yes, yes, regardless of my weather updates, it is going to be a long winter.”

My Dad picks up The Baby and strokes her head. She grins and tries to pull off his nose. He glances in the direction of The Mushroom, who is staring yearningly at the small square of glass by the ceiling that is our window.

“Oh dear.”, he mumbles.