Boris. Fecking Boris as PM. No wonder I’ve felt a bit unhinged this week. I remember being outraged and bewildered at the Brexit vote; then shocked at Trump. Now, with yer man in, I’m not remotely surprised but certainly saddened and perplexed. I’ve been doing a lot of moaning to LSB and his helpful response, as I descended deep into existential angst was this: ‘Not to worry, we’ll all be dust soon enough.’
‘How in the name of God is that meant to be uplifting?’ I said in disbelief.
‘Well, can you control it?’ he said. (He’s back reading ‘The Stoics’. I hate it when he reads ‘The Stoics’).
‘No, I can’t, but I’m worried that the ones who CAN are just accelerating our demise,’ I retorted.
‘I suppose you have a point,’ he conceded.
I do think we’re in trouble now, with this crackpot elected as grand overlord. It’s dispiriting in the extreme and since I have a tendency to get depressed I’m going to tell you a story about a cat instead.
A few weeks ago, a black cat turned up on our street and made herself known to all the neighbours. My children were thrilled, as she was the sort of cat who would mew loudly and say hello, then purr and roll about inviting them to tickle her tummy. She was quite a hit, this cat. I called her ‘The Roly-Poly Puss’. The Older Child called her ‘Midnight’, and started inviting her in to eat our cat’s food. Since our cat often turns her nose up at her dinners, (especially the duck and tuna flavours) I was delighted to see it being eaten up by at least one grateful feline.
In the way that cats do, she ingratiated herself to other families too, and discovered the perfect shady spots in their gardens to rest herself. The neighbours across the road called her ‘Rocky’, and started feeding her cooked ham and chicken from a small bowl that their daughter had bought her. Three doors down, the family began stocking up on Whiskas and a modest selection of toys. They called her ‘Ollie’. Maybe it was the unusually good weather, or maybe it was the arrival of the cat, but we all spent quite a bit of time chatting in the street, deliberating as to what to do about her. We ruminated as to whether she was male or female. ‘He’s obviously male,’ said my husband. ‘Look at the size of him.’ Given that his deceased mother’s (and therefore now his father’s) cat is the size and shape of a corgi, I couldn’t see his logic on this one. A neighbour shook her head. ‘No, I’m going to say she’s a girl; she’s very fine about the face.’ We tried to look at the cat’s bottom to ascertain the sex, but we didn’t reach any conclusions.
We went off to a wedding and a neighbour insisted that she would come in and feed our cat while we were away. ‘I can go in and play with her if you like, in case she’s lonely,’ said the little girl across the road.
The visiting cat would pop up intermittently. My neighbour came out looking despondent the other morning. I had lent her our cat box to take the cat to the vet to see whether she was microchipped.
‘I’ve been so busy,’ she said, ‘that I never got her to the vet, then she disappeared. I haven’t seen her for 3 days.’
‘Is that not her there?’ I said, as the cat appeared that very moment from under said neighbour’s car.
‘Ah yes, that’s her alright,’ she said in surprise.
Since the arrival of this cat, my kids have been invited over to throw water balloons with the child across the road. I now know the names of the new family three doors down, (who actually aren’t that new as they moved in a year ago) and there has been chat about a BBQ. I hope to God they host it, as BBQs are NOT our forte. Then this morning I rang LSB from Armagh where I’ve come down to go to a few readings at the Hewitt.
‘I’ve news!’ he said excitedly. ‘It’s about the cat!’ The neighbours had finally carted her off to the vet and the mystery was speedily solved. Since she was micro-chipped they were able to contact her owner and find out that she’s a girl cat, and goes by the name of ‘Coco’. She’s quite the adventurer and on her last excursion she turned up in Hollywood, which is quite some distance from where she lives. She’s under lock and key now, but annoyingly I don’t know where because of bloody GDPR. I would have quite liked to visit her, perhaps with a few sachets of the food that our cat rejects from the multi-pack.
He goes on to tell me that two sets of neighbours have decided that they miss having the cat around so acutely that they’re thinking of heading to Cats’ Protection at the weekend to acquire one of their own.
‘How are the girls?’ I asked LSB. I feared they may have taken the news badly, since she appeared to be infinitely more craic than our own cat, who can be, if I’m honest, a bit on the dull side.
‘They wanted to contact the owner and see if we could swap cats,’ he replied.
My children are nothing if not opportunists.
Given that I’m home now and my cat has already scratched me on the hand, I admit that they have a point.
Still, I’m just delighted that one small visiting cat brought about such a feeling of warmth on the street. It warmed me, even more than the soaring temperatures which are only making me feel more apocalyptic about life.