What Lies Between Us…

August 14, 2010

The Mushroom keeps secrets.

Secrets are bizarre, human things. Other mammals don’t keep secrets, not deliberately. Whilst I’m not 100% keen on being watched whilst keeping my areas clean, it’s not a secret that I do it. I’m a little embarassed that I seem to constantly get beaten up by every other cat in Christendom, but I don’t try to hide it. It’s nobody’s business but mine that I lick all the gravy from my meat pouches first, but I don’t wear a mask, I don’t hide anything, I don’t keep secrets. Keeping secrets is the willful concealment of one’s true self.  I think.

How one keeps secrets from the people with whom you live is a mystery to me, no pun intended.  But slowly, incrementally, like an onion or, I suppose, like a lychee (‘Oooh, what’s this? A type of conker? A small cake? No, it’s an eyeball!’), her secrets are being peeled away. I wonder how this is perceived by humans; is it seen as a sign of trust when someone can reveal their true self eventually, or is it seen as a sign of earlier fraud that simply can’t be kept up? I wish I could ask.

Secret 1: Curl Creme. Exposure Date: January 2010.  Location: The Prairies.

The Mushroom has naturally curly hair. My Dad loves it. Sometimes, when he’s had a few beers, he gets all wistful and Renaissance-y about it (by that I mean, all poetic and romantic and that. Not that he started drawing helicopters or painting chapels or anything). What he didn’t know, until January of this year when my Dad tidied the bathroom and threw out the innocuous looking tube of goo, is that if The Mushroom doesn’t put about a pound of product on it it looks like candyfloss. Candyfloss that is black and made out of pubes, that is. This he discovered the following morning. He screamed.

Secret 2: Lipstain.  Exposure Date: January 2010.  Location: The Prairies.

January was a bad month for The Mushroom, clearly. Not only did my Dad throw out her curl creme, but he also threw out this weird stuff that smells like table varnish and almonds mixed together. My Dad used to wax lyrical about the redness of The Mushroom’s lips, but how she never wore lipstick. She used to smile, with those red lips of hers, and look down demurely, thanking the heavens for Max Factor. My poor Dad. One day in January, he woke up with a glossy haired, red lipped wife, and the next, a pale lipped poodle.

This incident also led to lots of other things being thrown away (‘I didn’t think you used them!’, ‘Then why would they be in the bathroom?’, ‘Cos you hoard things! And by the way, what in the name of arse has happened to your hair?’), and that in turn has led to the agreement that if my Dad ever throws away ‘anything that looks like it could belong’ to The Mushroom, he gets his gonads kicked.

Secret 3: The Mono-Brow. Exposure Date:  Not yet exposed. 

My Dad knows that The Mushroom uses tweezers. He didn’t throw them out when he was doing his bathroom cull. What he doesn’t know, and I do cos I stayed with her and The Baby when he went to Qatar, is that without tweezers, The Mushroom actually resembles a Spanish waiter. I will name him José. 

My Dad has an inkling about José, as when The Mushroom was pregnant with The Baby she grew a small beard, so logic would have it that anyone that can grow a small beard is probably capable of growing a moustache, some impressive sideburns and a monobrow. I can vouch for the fact that yes, yes she is capable of growing these things, and that it is very much in my Dad’s interests to never throw out her tweezers.

The latest secret, however, was revealed just yesterday. It will take my Dad a while to recover.

My Dad had been for a run.

He staggered in, sat down, closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and looked up at his wife. At first he smiled, and then he jumped.

Peering back at him, sitting on a chair, sewing on a button, was a woman in glasses.

“Hello, Grandma.” he said. “And would you like to tell me how long you’ve had those?”

The Mushroom looked down her nose over the top of her glasses, looking unamused.

“I’ve always had glasses.”

“I have known you for SEVENTEEN YEARS. I have never, in those seventeen years, seen you wear glasses. ”

“Don’t you like them?”

“Whether or not I like them is irrelevant, I’m just curious as to why you’ve apparently always had glasses but I’ve never seen you wear them. What’s wrong with your eyes?”

The Mushroom mumbled and took off her glasses, placing them on the table. My Dad promptly picked them up and put them on.

“Oh my God.” He took them off quickly and rubbed his eyes.

The Mushroom mumbled some more.

“So you don’t actually know what I look like?”

“I have a fair idea…”

“Why have you never told me you wear glasses? Why have you never told me that you CAN’T SEE?”

“Cos I look stupid in glasses.” she replied, and continued trying to sew on the button without them, which resulted in her stabbing her hand with the needle.

Humans. Odd odd odd McOdd. I wonder what would have happened had she introduced herself to my Dad all those years ago by saying, ‘Hello! I have hair like a poodle, normal colour lips, a beard, a moustache and a monobrow and I can’t see very well. Love me anyway.’

I think, by the way he strokes her face at night, that he probably would have.

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Jobs for the Boy(s)

August 6, 2010

Being accidentally left outside at night on the same night as a 100lb Rottweiler escapes from the house over the road is really very shit. I am okay purely because I can climb trees.

Staying up a tree for three hours is also very very shit.

Everyone not realising that I am FRIGGING WELL STILL OUTSIDE until ten in the morning when it’s 35 degrees Celsius is also on the shit scale.

“Have you seen Zeebs? I haven’t seen Zeebs all morning!”

“Haven’t you? He was in last night. I haven’t let him out.”

“I haven’t let him out, so he must be in.”

“Oh. Maybe I let him out. Did you not let him back in?”

“Why would I have let him back in if I had already let him back in and didn’t know that he was out again?”

I could hear this whilst the other side of the balcony door, panting. Just look out the window, you morons. I am HERE. I am VERY HOT. And my nose is a slightly different shape cos of the battering I got running up a tree escaping from a dog only devil worshippers would possibly wish to own.

Anyhoo…

The family are experiencing something of a stumbling block in the setting up of their New Life in Ontario. My Dad is a teacher. There are no teaching jobs. This is a problem, even I can see this. Ontario appears to be full of very, very old teachers who have retired but then go back to their jobs. I can see an easy way of solving this problem: kill them. Go in, slip something in their tea, job done. Or rather, job not done and job being advertised.  I’m not ageist – I’m 12, which is practically geriatric in cat terms – but there is something amiss with people retiring then going, ‘Ermmmm, actually, whilst I’m, like, LOVING the pension payments and the free prescriptions and all that elderly jazz, do you reckon I could pop back in, what, maybe five days a week? Mmm? And keep my full timetable? Okay? Excellent. In fact, I won’t empty my desk. But thanks for the party and the ornamental Polar bear. Appreciate it.’

Surely, if you’re retiring, you are too old to work? No? No, not if you’re in Ontario. It would be okay if it was a bit of supply, or filling a job that can’t be filled, but it’s not like that at all. It’s widespread and called ‘Double Dipping’. I think that sounds rude, but that’s Canadians for you.

If you’re wondering why I’m so bothered about my Dad’s job situation, I can tell you in one word: Iams. They bought me ‘President’s Choice Cat Biscuits’ the other day. I don’t  know what frigging President chose them, but it certainly wasn’t one that liked cats.

I’m nearly out of  kitty treats, too. Canadian kitty treats are lovely, albeit oddly named.

Advertising Man: So, like, hit me with your ideas, man.

Man from Cat Food: Well, my vision is that this Kitty Treat is fun…

Advertising Man: Yeah, yeah, I’m hearing you, I’m hearing you…

Advertising Woman: That’s, like, so random.

Man From Cat Food: What? Oh. Yes. Anyway, it’s fun, it’s light hearted…

Advertising Man: Like, totally. That’s like really emotional.

Advertising Woman: I’m feeling it.

Man From Cat Food: Right.

Advertising Man: What else can you give me?

Man From Cat Food: Erm, ah. Well, that’s it really. It’s a kitty treat. A fun, light hearted kitty treat.

Pause.

Advertising Man: Let’s call it ‘PARTY MIX’.

Advertising Woman: That’s so AWESOME. Cos it’s like, you know, a CD, or like, something from Ministry, when, you know, it’s like, not, cos it’s a kitty treat.

Man From Cat Food: Oh dear Lord.

 I particularly like the ‘Wild West Crunch’ flavour. I like the ‘pause’ in their conversation, too. It makes me feel a bit like Harold Pinter.

Meanwhile, The Hippy appears to have become  a buddhist.

Isn’t it Ironic?

August 2, 2010

Irony is a complicated and oft misunderstood thing. I have deliberately quoted Alanis Morissette, a woman to whom I was musically introduced during one of my Dad’s ‘ I Am Only Listening To Angry Women’ musical phases (Hole are AWFUL. I quite like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Pink I can take or leave. And Shakira isn’t angry at all and sounds a little like a sheep. Perhaps she is an ANGRY sheep, which is how she made it into the list ), and her song about irony is one of the best examples of irony EVER, insomuch as nothing she lists is, in fact, an example of irony, thus making the whole thing ironic. Clever, no? The only place you could, in fact, find yourself amongst ten thousand spoons when you need a knife is in some kind of Absurdist play.  In any case, she’s Canadian, so she deserves a mention.

Whilst I’m talking about Canadian music, which I am, kind of, let me mention this: Justin Beiber. And then let me ask this: why?

Here is a bone fide example of irony:

“Do you think we’ve done the right thing, moving?” says The Mushroom, as they begin Month 2 of Post-Prairie living.

“I don’t know.” replies my Dad, diplomatically not mentioning the fact that she pretty much threatened to leave him if they didn’t.

I have no problem with having left the Prairies. Lovely Brian, Enthusiastic Teacher and his Lovely Fiancée, amusing Seagulls and general friendliness aside, the Prairies were a little bit rubbish (note to Prairie readers: before you bristle and think, ‘Cheeky English cat! Slating our lovely Prairies! What does he know?’, let me ask you this: Do you have a truck the size of Slovakia? Do you live in a big lovely house with a big roaring fire? Do you get to go to Mexico or Hawaii in the winter? I bet the answer to all three of these is ‘yes’. I lived in a basement and didn’t go out for seven months. Ergo, to me, the Prairies are rubbish ). Moving into a house next door to Mallet Cat is, however, beginning to PISS ME RIGHT OFF.

Picture the scene;

Me, basking on a rock by the stream at the end of the garden, languidly.

‘Tweet tweet tweets’ go the birds. I can’t even be naffed to chase them, I am that content. Any Moose? Nope. Any cougars? Not one. Any hawks/eagles/big flappy flying things? No no no. No hybrid dogs, no Volvo Cats, no massive blizzard or anything to temper my relaxation.

But what’s this? A fly in the ointment? Yes, in the shape of a FRIGGING MALLET with BIG TEETH sinking them INTO MY BACK for, like, TOTALLY NO REASON, then running off with a sizeable piece of my fur in his MALLET SHAPED MOUTH.

‘Oh!’ says his clearly myopic owner, ‘Have you caught a mouse, Baby?’

If you are a black cat, the thing you have above all things, in theory, is beauty and grace. We’re gorgeous. So he obviously has such huge issues about being such an ugly little bastard that he wants to defile my coat. I get it. I could even feel sorry for him, if I didn’t look like an extra from ‘Jaws’ at the moment.

So there, my friends, is irony. Ten months in the land of the cougar, the moose, birds the size of a boat, hybrid dogs and Volvo cats – not a scratch. People were literally wandering around with shot guns during the spring and absolutely nobody tried to shoot me.  Five weeks in Ontario and I have a jaw shaped wound from a domestic cat.

I nearly let next door’s cat in this morning!” says The Cave Troll. “He looks almost exactly like Zee, doesn’t he? ”

Frigg OFF.

Summer Haze

July 20, 2010

It is hot. It is very, very hot in Ontario. In fact, it was at one point yesterday  NINETY ONE degrees warmer than it was at one point during the Winter in Saskatchewan. That is so many degrees, I feel the need to repeat it for emphasis. NINETY ONE.

The Mushroom has had to buy sandals. The Mushroom has never worn sandals. The Mushroom wears converse in the summer, and Doc Martens in the winter. This is due to  The Mushrooms Famous Fear of Feet. She is, however, on the fast track to 40, so it is high time she considered a form of shoe that is not designed for a teenager – specifically, a teenager in 1992, which is when she actually was one.

They – the sandals – are those weird types that have a sticky bit in between your toes. I imagine these to be incredibly uncomfortable, unless you are, of course, a goat, and then they would work perfectly. Otherwise, surely, the wearer just spends all their time going, ‘Aaagh. I’ve got something…in between…my toes… Oh, it’s my shoe.’, in much the same way as anyone wearing a thong must spend their day going, ‘Aaagh. I’ve got something…up…my arse.’ Apparently, thongs are designed so that people can’t see your underwear. In my view, if you’re wearing clothes that show your underwear, you might as well go the whole hog and go commando.

They are very pretty, and have a black flowery pattern that snakes up the foot like a tattoo. They were not cheap. They also fly off her feet the moment she tries to walk in them.

“How do you walk in flip flops?” she asked my Dad.

“You start wearing them before you are 35.” he replied.

“No, seriously,” she said, as she hopped to the other side of the garden to retrieve them. “Are you supposed to, like, grip them with your toes? Cos then you’d just walk like you were constipated. You can’t walk nicely and be gripping your footwear with your toes.”

My Dad was bored by now.

It was very very hot.

Now, I’ve never taken any drugs (apart from the time I allegedly pretended to have cancer when in fact I’d eaten one of my Dad’s arthritis pills which looked almost exactly like a Whiskas Dentabit(https://zeebling.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/hearing-things/), so I would be grateful if any ‘edgy’ readers could enlighten me on to what might have been the chemical catalyst for this:

 It is a Monday morning.

 It is sunny.

 There is a lady holding two silk scarves and wearing only her underwear dancing on the balcony and singing a song that goes a bit like this:

“Oh SUN! I love you SUN! You are very BRILLIANT! Like a SUN!” 

It might not have gone like this. But it was about the sun, anyway.

Is it:

a) A lot of marijuana

b) Acid

c) Sunstroke

Or is it none of the above, but just good ol’ fashioned sun worship, and I should stop being such a stick-in-the-mud and get on up there and wave my paws about like it’s Woodstock all over again? Because if so, it’s too hot, and I can’t be arsed.

The Pedigree Returns

July 17, 2010

“Hey! HEY! It’s Zee! Looking good, girl!”

Fucking Cave Troll.

It is always interesting, after an absence of a year, to return and discover whether or not a place, or people, have changed. A lot can happen in a year. One can find oneself. One can have an epiphany. One could forsake all earthly goods and become a Buddhist monk just outside Nottingham. One can move to Saskatchewan. And one could spend a whole year not realising that I am NOT CALLED ZEE and I AM A BOY.

We are back with The Mushroom and The Baby and also The Cave Troll and The Hippy. They live in a different house. I think The Hippy has started taking acid. But more of this later.

The ROAD TRIP only took five days, but I feel many years older, hence the radio silence. Quite frankly, I needed at least a week just to stop shaking and to lick my coat seventy two times each day just to rid myself of the smell of stale KFC. My Dad, when away from the watchful, loving, gimletty eyed glare of the Food Nazi, adopts the dietary habits of a rather fat 17 year old boy, and by Day 4 just the sight of that benign bespectacled gentleman with his red apron made me feel a bit poorly.

“I’m off to buy a Bucket, Zeebs. Back in a bit.”

A bucket? A BUCKET? Personally, I would argue that one should never buy a ‘bucket’ of food. It can only go ill. 

Unless one is a horse.

Anyhoo…

Northern Ontario is interesting. I’m not being sarcastic, either; you cross the border from Saskatchewan into Manitoba,and it goes: land land land sky sky sky, ooh, a tractor; then, about two days later, you cross the border from Manitoba into Ontario, and it goes land land land sky sky sky, oooooh, trees and hills and lakes and STUFF. I’m a fan.

 Tell you what I’m not a fan of, though.  Bears.

All through Northern Ontario, there are signs up by the roads about the bears. ‘Beware of the Bears’, one says. Fair enough. I will. Thankyou. I will, indeed, beware of the bear.  ‘Please do not feed the Bears’ says another. This I take issue with; as a sign, not as a sentiment; because feeding the bears is clearly INSANE.

Who in their right mind would willingly feed a bear? What are they thinking? ‘Oh, hello! There’s a bear. A big old brown grizzly bear. Excellent. He looks almost exactly like my stuffed toy bear at home. Ergo, I will give him this sandwich and all will be well and he will not, based on his resemblance to my stuffed toy bear at home, eat off my arm at all. ‘

I cannot think of any other type of toy that gets people confused like this when they encounter the real thing. I have yet to witness, for example, anyone trying to pick up a real life cement mixer and making a ‘vroom VROOOM’ sound, or trying to feed a house, or give a cup of tea to an octopus or any of the other things The Baby tends to do, presumably because they know to do so REALLY would be a) weird and b) dangerous. Yet the people who drive through Northern Ontario seem to need to be reminded, approximately every hundred yards, NOT to give the bears bits of their cheese cake.

Nonetheless, I liked Northern Ontario, so much so I popped out of the motel room in Kenora to have a little look. I didn’t go far, just the hotel car park. I enjoyed stretching my legs.  My Dad was less impressed, especially as he was in the bath when he spotted me out of the window and had to leg it to the carpark to fetch me, but I don’t think anyone noticed the naked Yorkshireman with a cat under his arm. If they did, they didn’t say anything.

Kenora is beautiful. Thunder Bay, our next stop, was, however, to quote my Dad, ‘ a bit pikey’. I didn’t get to to look around the carpark there, though, although I did manage to jump out of the holdall I was being carried into the hotel in just as my Dad was walking through reception, but he frigging caught me mid leap and stuffed me up his t-shirt, so no adventures in Thunder Bay for me.  Just for the record, I do not like being put in a holdall. By Day 3, the holdall was also beginning to smell of KFC. It was a damaging experience for me.

I need, thus, to work through some issues as a result of the journey, and I feel the best way for me to do this is to do some lying down. In the sun. By a pond. This is not the time to discover that The Cave Troll and The Hippy’s new neighbour have a cat. He is black too. He has a head shaped almost exactly like a mallet. He is called ‘Baby’.

If one gets a cat, a cat with a head shaped exactly like a mallet, one would think to oneself, hmm, what shall I call him? ‘Reggie’, after the Kray brother? ‘Jaws’? No, I shall call him ‘Baby’ cos that is what springs to mind when one sees a black, mallet-headed cat.

He is not nice. I would go as far as to say that he is, in fact, a bit of a bastard.

He doesn’t like the heat, though, so whilst it’s 27 degrees I think I might just have a little rest on the grass. I think I deserve that…

In my excitement about my ROAD TRIP, I completely forgot two notable factors:

a) I have never ridden in a car before for longer than three hours and…

b) …I frigging HATE IT.

I probably would have hated it less had the Jeep not been so comically full of the bits of plastic crap that belong to The Baby. It’s not nice when you’re trying to get comfy and have a nap amidst the noise a frigging Cherokee* makes to find yourself squashed up against a Circus Train, or to find that a wrongly placed paw pressed on any one of its myriad of buttons will begin one of its many different up-tempo Circus Style tunes. Oh, and there’s no off button on it. I’ve been told to ‘Roll up, ROOOOLLLL UUUUPP!’ all the way to Manitoba.  Fun times.

 *”NNNNNRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.’ There aren’t even any gear changes cos it’s an automatic and the road is just one big straight line anyway (Oh, need to clarify; Cherokee as in, Jeep Cherokee, not Cherokee as in, First Nations. I don’t know if the latter like to make a specific noise, but if they do, it’s probably not ‘NNNNRRRRR’ ).

We left The Basement Suite at dawn. It was quite moving, actually, to leave Saskatchewan as the sun was rising. It was the Prairies at its most beautiful. And it got me thinking; this wasn’t a bad year. An odd year, a challenging one, an interesting one, but not a bad one.

I had more time to think about this in the car, as I couldn’t sleep, obviously, and looking out the window got a bit old because on Leg One of ROAD TRIP, it is, just, Prairie. For nine hours.

 I realised that there were quite a few things about the year that warranted a mention, and their own farewell.

The land. It never ends. The sky goes on forever.

The fields upon fields of wheat (could be barley. Could be corn. Could be granola. Don’t know. Am a cat), with rough lines of dirt drawn through them as roads.

The seven months of winter, the brutality that it is and the fact that generations of people have coped with it, year after year after year, and continue to make the Prairie their home.

Goodbye to the Moose, the Buffalo, the Cougars, the Owls, the Eagles, the gophers, the big yappity Hybrid dogs and Volvo Cat (Discovery: Volvo Cat is two cats. They look exactly the same, but there are either two of them or my Dad has been putting something funny in my Iams).

The dust.

The tap water that is so full of salt it actually looks like milk.

Lovely Brian, one of my favourite folk ever, his giant cats and the nice micey toys he brings.

Enthusiastic Teacher, his penchant for gangsta rap and his lovely fiancée who tickled my ears.

The Seagulls, and I hope they realize where they are and bugger off back to Grimsby quite soon.

The sound of snow mobiles and quads, and random neighbours asking my Dad to go hunting, or curling, or ice-skating.

The people who know their own history; who know who their ancestors were, and when they came here, and why.

The Evangelists.

The Basement, with its one, small window and its permanent aroma of cat wee.

 Wayne FM, its love for Men At Work and its claim that you can buy ‘anything you want’ at the Lloyd Mall.

Lovely, lovely Mr Wilson, who reminded me what it is to play.

And with that I breathe a long, feline, introspective sigh. It’s odd how you feel a sense of loyalty to a place only once you’re leaving it.

Officially we are, of course, still on the Prairies, just somewhere else on the Prairies. The Prairies are frigging big. And samey. The place we left looks like this:

The place we arrived in, nine hours later, looks like this:

Uncanny, isn’t it? This place, though, has a Wheat and Beef festival, but that’s in October. I’m sorry I’ll miss that.

Tomorrow, we drive to Ontario. Ontario is where we will be living. Ontario is, however, about the size of Europe. It might be bigger, actually. Don’t know. Anyhoo, it’s a long drive – longer, if you’re stuck next to a musical, plastic circus truck.

New Beginnings

June 28, 2010

The Mushroom and The Baby have flown off to Toronto, leaving me and my Dad to get everything ready for the move. This mostly involves cleaning up the hairs The Mushroom has left in the corner of every room due to her Annual Malting,  picking up the random plastic spoons and bits of megablock that come with living with a toddler, and then putting everything else in the Jeep and driving for five days.

It has not taken me long to work out who has got the better end of this deal.

(Although I must also admit that my part in the cleaning and packing is pretty minimal.)

‘So, how’s it going?’ asked my Dad on the Wonderful Skype Machine.

The Mushroom looked a bit like she’d taken speed. ‘Look! LOOK WHAT I HAVE!’ she held up a muffin, a bag of carrots and some moisturizer.

My Dad looked confused.

‘That’s an odd lunch,’ he said.

‘I went into a SHOP and I BOUGHT THINGS. LOOOOOOK!’

There is a store here on the Prairies, I have to add. I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned before. I’ve never been in it, obviously, but apparently it’s an excellent place to go if what you’re really after is some grain. Or cigarettes.

‘Aah,’ said my Dad. ‘You’ve been shopping, then.’

The Mushroom’s pupils were dilated. The Baby was playing with a new toy. They are, very clearly, happy to be back in the city.

‘I miss you.’ said my Dad.

Hmm.

What The Mushroom and The Baby probably don’t know, of course, is that my Dad has woken up not just this morning, and not just this morning and yesterday morning, but for the past three days lying, fully dressed – including his shoes – on the sofa, a half drunk can of lager next to him and with a mouth covered a little in bits of pizza. They also probably don’t know that last night he and Enthusiastic Teacher went to a cowboy/oilrigger club, drank whisky and danced to Nickelback. What The Mushroom most definitely does not know is that since they left, the nearest thing my Dad has come to a vegetable is the mushroom on the pizzas he has been eating every night. In effect, my Dad has been main-lining alcohol and salt for SEVEN DAYS STRAIGHT.

She’ll smell it off him, I bet you. She will probably have some sort of salt swab tests waiting for him as he gets out of the car in Toronto.

In only three days, my Dad and I will set off on our Epic Road Trip. It will not be as I expected it, as there will be no Fluffy Usurper in the back getting over excited. He was a prairie cat, Mr Wilson – a little Prairie lion, in fact – and on the Prairies he will remain.

I am, as my Dad makes progress in packing boxes and hauling them into a pile by the door, getting a tad worried, though, about where I’m going to sit. The Jeep’s at the garage getting a once over and I think he may have forgotten that it’s not actually an articulated lorry.  I hope he’s not planning to put me on the roof. 

I’m also mildly concerned about out motel stops.

“Three out of four are pet friendly,” says my Dad.  That’s brilliant, I thought. And what am I supposed to do on night 3? I’m not sleeping in the frigging car.

“For the one that isn’t,” he continues, “I’m going to have to carry you in in my rucksack.”

Oh, for pissing sake.

I do have a bandana, though. I tried it on last night. It took me ages to tie it on, what with my claws and generally not knowing what a knot is.

I looked like a twat in it.

No bandana, then. Still up for the Johnny Walker, though.

Ode to Fluffy Usurper

June 8, 2010

Fluffy Usurper was run over and killed on Saturday. It was very sudden, he wouldn’t have known anything, and everyone here is very sad.

I don’t know what I’m most shocked about; him suddenly going, or how I feel about him suddenly going.

You see, I’m a fraud. Admittedly, the first few weeks he was here he was a monumental pain in the arse, what with his jumping, and scratching, and humping, and general kitteny ways. But then he grew up a bit. I’ve never had a playmate. Always been a solitary cat. I’ve never socialized with the other cats no matter where I’ve lived. But eventually, when he stopped trying to eat my ears, I realised that in actual fact, he was alright.

I used to wait for him to eat first cos he was growing and outrageously greedy. I didn’t mind.

On more than one occasion we were caught sleeping curled up nose to tail.

We used to sunbathe together on the windowsill.

He was fearless. Me, I avoid all things that look even remotely hazardous.  He didn’t know that there was anything out there that could hurt him. He used to chase the stray dogs away, or at least try to, and then run up a tree. He would happily take on Volvo cat next door, and win.

He had golden ears and a stripey golden tail.

I didn’t see it happen, none of us did. A neighbour took him away and buried him out on the Prairie. Perhaps this is why I can’t stop sitting on the step outside, just keeping an eye out.  I know he’s not coming home, really. But I can’t stop waiting anyway.

He was not called Fluffy Usurper, of course. His name was Mr Wilson.

He was a good boy.

The Countdown

June 3, 2010

The Seagulls are still here. They are traumatized.  I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere for a while, at least not until they’ve had access to counselling.

I think it’s one thing to get lost flying across Canada. I think that may happen  a lot. I think maybe, in Prairie communities across this land, little clusters of Seagulls settle down every Summer because they got sidetracked flying over Nova Scotia and now their wings hurt.

It’s another thing, however, to find yourself, at the end of May, after a week of blissful heat, in the middle of a frigging blizzard.

Seagull 1: [Shivering] Mate, I can’t feel my beak.

Seagull 2: [Hopping from one claw to the other] This is not fucking funny. Is that hail? Is that fucking HAIL?

[Both birds hop up and down on the roof to avoid the hail]

Seagull 1: Has this ever happened before?

Seagull 2: [Covering his head with his wings] I don’t know, mate. I always go to Mexico. It’s that Bernard’s fault I ended up here.

[Both Seagulls stare at Bernard, who is sitting alone on the next roof, ducking to avoid the hail pellets.]

Seagull 2: Told me I had to see Newfoundland. I always fly south of it, y’see, and across America, but he said, no, mate, you got to see it, it’s like Scarborough.

[Pause]

Seagull 1: Is it?

[Pause]

Seagull 2: A bit.

[Pause]

Seagull 1: I like Scarborough.

[Pause}

Seagull 2: Yeah, it’s alright. But then I lost my sense of direction and just kept flying, see, and now I’m here. [He turns in the direction of Bernard. Shouting] I fucking hate you, Bernard.

[The hail subsides. It continues to snow]

Seagull 2: They don’t even do decent chips here.

Seagull 1: [Looking crestfallen] Really?

Seagull 2: What I’d give for a portion of chips and gravy from Golden Fry right now.

[Bernard looks up]

Seagull 2: [Shouting]  Bugger off, Bernard! I’m  not letting you have any of my chips! [Pause] NOT EVEN IMAGINARY ONES!

If you ever needed proof of a traumatized Seagull, there you have it.

I caught a seagull once. Years ago. I brought it in through the kitchen window and left it under the bed for my Dad.

Anyhoo, the countdown has begun and, in two weeks’ time, The Mushroom and The Baby head off back to The Cave Troll and the Hippy, and my Dad is following a week after. I thought I would be bundled into that box again and sent on a plane, but no. This time, it would appear, I’m going on a ROAD TRIP.

I am WELL EXCITED.

I’ve seen films about road trips. They look AMAZING. Quite a lot needs to organized before I can go, though. I need:

a) a gun,

b) a bottle of some hard liquor. I was thinking bourbon, believing it to be a Hard Man’s tipple, until I realised that Southern Comfort was bourbon, and that is drunk mostly by old ladies and teenage girls who mix it with coke, so I don’t want that.  Then I thought Jack Daniels, but all I really know about Jack Daniels is that it turns people into twats and I don’t want to be a twat on a roadtrip. I think, maybe Johnny Walker then. Have no idea what it is.

c) some kind of hat,

d) a leather jacket, with studs on the back spelling out something cool and a bit menacing. Like, I don’t know, ‘Bad Cat’. Yeah.

e) Ooh, a bandana!

e) a motorbike.

Is this all going a bit ‘Easy Rider’?

I am not sure, upon reflection, that all this would work. I don’t think I could ride a motorbike on my own, and I don’t think my Dad would be able to ride it with me AND Fluffy Usurper, and cart all our worldly goods across Canada. Right, then, I’ll just settle for sitting in the front of the Jeep with my Dad (Fluffy Usurper is TOTALLY going in the back), swigging my Johnny Walker and wearing my leather jacket and my bandana and my hat and AVIATORS, I need those too. I am going to look BRILLIANT.

I must admit to being mildly concerned as to how my Dad is going to sneak us into his Trans-Canada motels. Is he going to pretend to be pregnant? Are we going to be stuffed into his holdall? Are we going to have to sleep in the car? But it’s all okay, though, cos I’m going to have a GUN.

Right. Off to work out how a cat can get a gun in Saskatchewan. I’m reckoning it won’t be too hard…

May 17, 2010

“Toronto?” queried Neighbour Who is Always Inexplicably Holding a Spanner, as he passed the time of day with The Mushroom. “It will be the worst thing you ever do, moving there.” He nodded knowingly.

“Really?” replied The Mushroom, “Really? REALLY?” She was being sarcastic, I think.

“Concrete jungle, down there.” continued Neighbour Who is Always Inexplicably Holding a Spanner. “And they want to be American. They’re not really Canadians, those folks in Toronto.”

The Mushroom nodded. “Right.” she said.

“And it’s fulla foreigners.”

“Ah,” she said.

What Neighbour Who is Always Inexplicably Holding a Spanner didn’t know, of course, is that all of these things are, to The Mushroom, pretty good, but that’s by the by. In a twist of gorgeous, Mushroom-esque irony, now that the decision has been made to leave, she is getting all wistful about the Prairies.  This is due, in no small part I would reckon, to the weather.

Saskatchewan has appeared to entirely bypass Spring and go straight to Summer. ‘Hoorah!’ thought everyone in the Basement Suite. Blazing sun; endless blue skies; birds a-tweeting; big, yappity, hybrid dogs a-yapping; stray cats a-urinating, and a rather speedy transformation from brown to green.

“This is excellent!’ exclaimed The Mushroom. She looked happy. It made a massive difference to her face, this looking happy lark. The Baby, who is permanently happy because she’s a baby and possibly because she gets everything she wants, looked even happier. My Dad looked suspicious.

Saskatchewan is a significantly less crap place to be when it’s no longer Winter. It’s pretty. There are flowers and that. Lots of birds who presumably heard about this winter business and buggered off for seven months are now perched, merrily, in trees. Little scurrying chipmunks scurry.

And, every now again, a group of Seagulls arrive, perch for a while, look confused, then fly away again.

Seagulls. SEAgulls. The clue’s in the name, boys. LOOK AT A MAP. There were two on our roof the other day.

Seagull 1: Alright, mate.[ Pecks casually at a feather.] Where you from?’

Seagull 2: ‘Hull. [Pause]  You?

Seagull 1: Cleethorpes. I’ve got a sister in Hull.

Seagull 2: Ooh, whereabouts?

Pause.

Seagull 1: By the river.

Seagull 2 [looking embarrassed]: Yeah, yeah, of course.

Pause.

Seagull 2: Where the fuck are we?*

Seagull 1: No idea.

*Seagulls swear. They hang around Hessle Foreshore and Hull city centre, stealing people’s chips and swearing. Fact.

But it’s Summer, and everyone here was a-smiling, apart from possible the lost Seagulls.  My Dad and The Mushroom are getting tans, The Baby is learning to apply her own sunblock, Fluffy Usurper has decided he likes climbing trees more than he likes having sex and I’m getting out and about. It’s all pretty blissful.

“She’s loving it here at the moment!” exclaimed The Mushroom to my Dad, “I think it’s really good for her to be able to explore nature! And…”

“The winter is seven months long…” began my Dad.

“…in a city, The Baby simply wouldn’t be able to run around hugging trees, would she, because…”

“…and I used to come home and you were rocking silently in a corner…”

“…you couldn’t let her out of your sight for a second, but in the fields here of course you…”

“…muttering single, unconnected words like sheep, glue, marzipan…”

‘…can, and she’s learning all about the trees and the flowers and today we saw a woodpecker…”

“…and I’ve resigned from my job now because you basically said if I didn’t…”

“…and some moose prints and we fed the geese by the creek…”

“…you would actually go insane.”

The Mushroom looked at my Dad. “Don’t worry. There are still no restaurants or theatres or bars.”

“There is a bar.”

“That bar scares me.”

“I’m just saying.”

 It got me thinking, though. Is there a BEST place to live? If one took away the fact that The Mushroom can’t drive and the seven month winter, is a city actually better?  Or does is simply have more stuff? I can’t really see the benefits myself; the cities I’ve lived in are just noisier than here, and I don’t get to go to the theatre much regardless of where I live.

 I wonder what The Mushroom feels she’s missing, from the city. I wonder if it’s important.