Thursday, 29 January 2009

Who? Me? Completely At Home In The Water. Always Have Been.

The other day The Bear (that's sadly not him pictured above, in otter mode) came home completely drenched, with that eager, faux-affectionate "Get the tissues then - what are you waiting for?" look he favours after being caught in anything more than a mild shower. Nothing out of the ordinary there, then. Except it hadn't been raining for at least twelve hours at the time, and it's not hosepipe season, so there does not seem to be any obvious explanation for the state of his fur. One theory is that he had just got back from a swim across the mere (or "glorified pond" to non-East Anglians) that cuts in at the bottom of my garden. This seems a bit far-fetched - the water is very deep, and about 3-400 yards across at its narrowest point - but on the other hand there are probably plenty of tasty niblets to be found on the other side in the bins of the cafes and pubs abutting the water. It would also explain the time he mysteriously appeared on the opposite bank of the river next to a house I once rented, even though the nearest bridge was more than a mile away. The jury is still out, but this news story from last week and the video below suggest that cats might not be quite as afraid of swimming as we're led to believe.

Postman Pat: "It's All Grounded In Fact" Shocker

In Under The Paw, I wrote about the time that my postman drove off with an intrepid Shipley inside his van by mistake. At the time, I thought this was just another example of Shipley's general nosiness and attention-seeking, but it turns out that he is not alone. Charlie (pictured above) likes nothing better than helping Nick Lock, a Somerset postman, on his round. More amazingly, Nick is not even his owner. Could it be that Charlie and Shipley are special breed of black mongrel cat with a natural affinity for mail? And does this explain why my friend Alison always, bafflingly, insists on calling Shipley "Charles". It is possible. Although it is equally possible that Shipley, who likes nothing better than getting his teeth into a big fat mailer* in the morning, simply cannot help but get overexcited every time he sees that amount of paper and cardboard in one place.

*Jiffy bags not included.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Reality Check For Bootsy

The above pictures show Bootsy, my smallest and most demanding cat, indulging in her latest, most impressive habit: curling up in the wastepaper basket in my bedroom. It doesn't bother Bootsy one iota that she's sitting in what's essentially a slightly upmarket dustbin. And why would it? After all, she lives in a house where random ancient crisp packets and sweet wrappers are often strewn across the carpet, courtesy of Janet. Although she's not asleep in the photographs, she often dozes off in the basket for periods of up to four hours. Admittedly, the first time I saw this I thought it was very sweet. It's also impressive to see the skill with which she manages to nimbly get into the basket without tipping it over. You can see from her face that she's incredibly pleased with herself about it. In her head, she can probably already picture the resulting greeting cards flying of the shelf, the aunts and grandmas making cooing noises.

I see Bootsy in this instance as a little like me, when I won my first local golf tournament the age of 14. I thought I was Seve Ballesteros, but in reality I had simply managed to hole a few more putts than various part-time players from the East Midlands, the most fearsome of which being bloke called Maurice, with a hip problem and a struggling garden landscaping business: there was a big, competitive golfing world out there, and it would soon come to devour my delusions. Because, really, in the grand scheme of things, how cute is Bootsy in this picture? Right now, as we speak, there are cats sleeping in all kinds of unusual and impossibly cute places. Who knows? In the last five minutes - that's right, the last five minutes - a tabby could have curled up on a goat's stomach, or inserted itself knowingly into the family wok. Bootsy, having never been out of East Anglia, is not aware of just how many other cats are in the universe and that many of them are even more deviously adorable and self-consciously "Who? Little me?" in attitude than her. I would be cruel to expect her to be.

But, as regular readers of this blog will know, I like to try and keep my cats grounded, so, for fear that Bootsy develops any warped ideas about her talent for narcoleptic cuteness, I have decided to provide the following examples of sleeping cats. These are not meant to discourage her from future experiments - there's nothing I'd like more than to come home this evening and find her wedged happily inside my computer printer or one of Dee's Ugg boots - but to give her a very real sense of the competition out there. I hope that she takes heed, although what seems more probable is that, when I put her in front of the screen of my laptop to face the hard facts, she will ignore them, preferring to chase the cursor for a few moments before jumping down onto the floor and cleaning her bottom in a loud and disinterested manner.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Samson Likes The Panic Mouse

Did I need more proof that I have brought my cats up wrong, made them indolent and complacent in the face of the finer things in life? Quite possibly, I did not. Nonetheless, Daniel and Louise, the new owners of Samson, the gargantuan ginger mog who used to live across the road, have provided such proof in concrete form (squidgy, corpulent concrete, anyway) with this video of the newest furry addition to their household having fun with the pricey toy that my cats so superciliously shunned. Seeing this behaviour coming from a cat so clearly built for comfort, not speed, makes the truth sting all the more. I would make some excuse along the lines of "Oh, we obviously had a duff model!", were it not for the fact that the Panic Mouse in the video is the exact same one that, until last summer, when Dee found out that Louise was a fellow cat lover, was languishing in our broom cupboard*. As you can see, Samson's front end is working well, but the back end possibly needs a bit of encouragement. He's a bit like a reverse cat version of a mullet haircut: party in front, business in the back. It's good that he's getting the exercise. I suppose the only worry is that he becomes the Amazing Thin-Fat Cat: a kind of smaller ginger cross between a giraffe and the lovable fat-bottomed martial arts-trained panda from the film I watched over the weekend. Actually, what am I talking about? That's not a worry at all. That would be awesome.

* Despite having a broom cupboard, I do not actually have a broom, nor do I know anyone who does. Brushes of many shapes and sizes? Yes. Dust busters? Certainly. Mops? Sometimes. Brooms? No. In fact, I'm not entirely sure I know what one is. Is it halfway between a mop and a brush? And will it clean up those hard-to-reach regurgitated Purina One biscuits in the corners of my kitchen? Someone please tell me.

Ralph And Pablo: We're Closing The Mutual Loathing Bureau (For An Hour)

Yesterday morning I got up and padded across the living room to find a heartwarming site before me: Ralph and Pablo sitting beneath the stairs, both in identical, tucked-limb "zen duck" poses, with a mere eight or nine inches of carpet between them. Of all the long-standing battles between my cats, it has been theirs that, over the years, has been played out with most passion and pain. Shipley still baits and stalks Pablo, in his bored attention-seeker way, but Ralph, although the initial troublecauser in days of yore, increasingly seems to attack the ginger simpleton only through fear, if at all. When the two of them slink past each other, it's like watching two heavies in a film very slowly lowering their guns to the floor simultaneously, each never taking an eye of the other. They're obviously still hardwired for aggro in each other's presence, but I'd recently come to the conclusion that both of them had actually decided that all their fighting wasn't worth it and just wanted to be friends, and the only thing standing in their way was that they were both too proud and manly to be the first to admit it. Dee claimed that this was my anthropomorphism once again getting out of hand, and that they were simply two animals who naturally didn't like the way the other one smelled, looked or walked.

I felt, however, that the earlier scene went some way to vindicating my theory. "You should have seen it!" I told Dee, ten minutes later, by which time they had both moved. "It was like they were going to have a massive snog to say sorry to one another!". Ralph and Pablo often sit in the same place, but never at the same time, and only to wind one another up, but the last time they'd sat even four times this close to one another was two years ago, and that was only because Ralph was so doped up from a vet's injection that he probably thought Pablo was a giant furry tangerine.

My smug mood lasted until an hour or so later, when I was signing for a supermarket home delivery and heard a visceral, bone-shuddering war cry coming from the stairs. The lady driver from Tesco heard it too. "Oh, that's just my cats!" I said quickly, before she came to any conclusions that might be more readily associated with such a sound: that I was keeping Chinese prostitutes chained up in my crawl space, for example, or that my house was haunted by a one-legged karate Banshee whose suppertime had arrived early. By the time I got to the scene of the fracas, Pablo had curled into a ball halfway up the stairs, with Shipley arched over him menacingly, his mohican at full mast, and Ralph a couple of steps below, attempting to quickly spit out around forty percent of Pablo's winter coat. Much of the remainder could be found on the floor beneath him, although, examining the ratio of tabby-to-ginger fur, it's clear that Ralph's much-vaunted sideburns came out of the encounter worst.

I've taken a couple of photos below, which I think only go a short way to illustrating just how much cat was deposited on the carpet*. It's not an encouraging site, as you can see, but I am not going to let it get me down. I'm not quite sure what the next move is, but I have half a mind to keep the fur, and use it to construct an entirely new cat, half-tabby, half-ginger. I shall call him Ralphlo, and, with great skill and diplomacy, he will defuse their (okay, Ralph's) racial prejudices and teach them that, contrary to what aeons of hatred tell us, orange and randomly brownish mogs can live in peace. As an added bonus, what with not having any innards, it is unlikely that Ralphlo will deposit anything smelly or problematic in nextdoor's flower beds.

*It also must be taken into consideration that by the time I got the camera out Janet had stopped by to check out the scene, and had eaten some of the hair, as an "experiment" to find out whether it tasted as good as empty crisp packets.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Thumb Cat

Guest Cats Of The Month here at Little Cat Diaries, when asked the question "What would you do to make the world a better place for felines?", are frequently heard to answer, "Give cats opposable thumbs!" (well I don't actually hear them, but presumably their owners do before filling in the questionnaires on their behalf). Personally, I'm not sure that we should be encouraging this sort of behaviour, since it seems like the next dangerous step to a world completely ruled by cats. That said, I can't help being a fan of the Thumb Cat blog, which follows the adventures of Ike, a real life-cat with, er, well, thumbs. Check it out: those things are not photoshopped.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Whole Lotta Cat

A quick pictorial update on Samson, the bereaved cat from across the road, for those of you who read about him here and here. I learn from Louise and Daniel, his new owners, that he's settling in more smoothly at his new home every day, having spent much of the first day behind the sofa. He looks very happy below, and is clearly getting the round-the-clock brush action he demands. After a kiss with his new canine housemate, Rosie, he has also been demonstrating his very special "swimming" skills.

Jonathan, the son of his former owner, Jeanne, had told me that Samson liked to dab his paw in his water dish, but Louise and Daniel didn't realise until yesterday that in this case "dab" is a euphemism for "splash about like a man possessed". Not the most practical activity, when you've just had the big sleep to beat all other big sleeps and are resultantly in need of a drink of accompanying magnitude. But then, from my own experience, neither practicality nor drinking are traditionally the forte of the ginger cat. Just this morning, my four-legged carrotwit, Pablo, coerced me into filling a tall glass of water in the sink for him, which he generally prefers to such other, more staid ingurgitatory methods as Lapping Up The Stagnant Gunk From A Random Outdoor Bucket Or Birdbath and Drinking From A Dish Or A Water Dispenser Like Any Normal Bloody Household Pet With Half A Sense Of Decorum. Everything was going fine until, dramatically, the tap let out three tiny, slow drips, four inches from his left ear. You could see his brain processing this alarming attack on his person: "This water is very nice, but OH MY GOD WHAT'S THAT WET STUFF COMING FROM THE SILENT STEEL BIRD ON THE PORCELAIN THING ON THE WOODEN THING, I DON'T LIKE THAT, IT'S HEAR TO KILL ME ISN'T IT I KNOW IT IT IS." To his credit, he braved it out for another three seconds, before deciding it would be safer for all concerned if he went and hid behind the LP shelves until the trouble had blown over.

Get A Life, Cats!

I've been thinking recently that actually, contrary to what they seem to believe, my cats get a pretty good deal. All right, so I've exploited them for commercial gain by dishing the dirt on their personal lives, but it's not as if they don't like the attention. You only would have had to see two minutes of Bootsy with the photographer from The Times last summer to know that every fleeting moment of her F-list fame more than made up for the fact that I had referred to her as a pewter dictator in a book easily available to a sizable portion of the Western World. It's not just that they get fed, cleaned-up after and provided with a large selection of comfy surfaces to despoil and drape their indolent limbs over in return for doing NOTHING, it's also that, in payment for doing the same big fat sold all, they get written about and admired by complete strangers.

And, of course, they are not the only ones: cats are everywhere you look on the Internet these days, and it's perhaps about time we started asking: Do they really deserve such exposure? And: what, when it comes right down to it, have they done for us? This is part of the philosophy behind the blog Fuck You, Penguin, which not only speaks out in a timely manner against the derivative stylings and creative predictability of cats, but penguins, gazelles, and all manner of supposedly cute and fluffy creatures. I'm a little concerned that their wrath has also been directed at capybaras, since I believe them to be above reproach, but I guess I can let that go. I will certainly be making a point from now on of turning to these sage, fluffy bullshit-detecting individuals for solace at those times when I walk out of my bedroom bare-footed and step on a vole spleen or find myself on my hands and knees, cleaning duck crud off the jetty in my garden - times, let's face it, when a visit to only emphasises a sense of being alone and misunderstood in the universe.

And, yes, they're right: all cats DO do the pose below. It's nothing "special" or "quirky". So sort it out, losers. And that includes you, Pablo.

"Play" Houses For Cats

These special DIY edifices for cats don't look particularly sturdy, and I'm sure wouldn't stand up to a full-on fang attack from Shipley, my feline paperhound, but seem popular with the likes of Clint and Sammy. Can't help thinking that the fact that a) they are for felines and b) most of them are war-orientated is no coincidence. I dread to think of the ideas Bootsy might get in her head if I purchased one of the fighter planes for her. I certainly don't think I could have such a thing on my conscience without purchasing a tank for The Bear - and, possibly, for me - to counter it.

If Larry McMurtry Had Been A Cat Man

Monday, 19 January 2009

Samson Update

Readers of Friday's posting will already know about the sad tale of Samson, the giant ginger cat from across the road from me, whose owner, Jeanne, died recently. A few of you have asked for an update, and I'm very pleased to say that, yesterday, Louise, a workmate of Dee's, and her partner, Daniel, came over and collected him from Jeanne's house. He was sitting by the fire when we were shown into the living room by Jeanne's son, Jonathan, and looked a little glum, but was soon up on Daniel's lap, purring and biting him affectionately (if a little painfully): a puddle of cat with a beatific head on top, demanding to be brushed.

"You need to go on a bit of a diet, fella," said Daniel.

"We have been trying to feed him a bit less recently," said Jonathan. "But he does still expect a chicken wing every day."

"Do you want to go away and think about it for a a couple of days?" Dee asked, not wanting Daniel and Louise to feel pressured. But Daniel had the facial expression of a ten year-old who'd just been given the choice of when to open his Christmas present: on Christmas Day, or on December 23rd.

It was obvious that there was only one way this was going to end: Samson was going home with Louise and Daniel there and then. Promptly, Jonathan disappeared from the room, and returned with Samson's toys: one of the biggest scratching posts I've ever seen, all manner of balls, esoteric mats, catnip creatures, brushes and what I can only describe as possibly the world's first cat skateboard. I'd felt certain that that had to be the lot, but another two journeys followed, the final one bringing forth a set of special coasters Jeanne had had custom-made, emblazoned with Samson's face (see below). I only just held back the tears at this point, remembering just how much Samson had been loved, how worried Jeanne had been last year when she lost him for half a day and came over to ask me if I'd seen him (she later found him under - completely under - her duvet), and how she agonised over the thought of him crossing the busy road outside. Somehow, looking into Samson's big dumb happy moonface, "road sense" was not the first phrase that sprung to mind. Often, Dee and I would carry his placid, backbreaking form back across the tarmac when we found him loitering by our bins looking confused, like some geographically-challenged runaway from Feline Fat Camp.

Fortunately, Louise and Daniel live on a very quiet back road. But it must be tough for Samson right now, who, until 3pm yesterday, was probably still wondering when Jeanne was coming back, and how much free range poultry she'd have with her when she did, and is now probably wondering why he's in an unfamiliar house with three new furmates (Louise and Daniel's cats, Ellie and Daisy, and their small dog, Rosie).

"It's more tense here than a Gaza negotiating table. We're teetering on the brink of peace with a unilateral cease-claw from Ellie and Daisy," said Daniel last night. But from what I know of him, Samson is a maker of love, not war - although not, thankfully, in any literal sense - and he should settle in after the inevitable period of setting out the ground rules. Daniel and Louise recently formed a strong bond with Garvey, a cat they took in when Daniel found him at the college where he works - until, finally, heart-wrenchingly, after many, many weeks, Garvey's owner came forward and claimed him. The signs were, particularly when Samson was stretched out on Daniel's lap, that he will amply fill the gap left by his predecessor.

Samson: more of a Mac person, really.

If Only Michael Fish Had Had One Of These

Cat Walking: The Craze Sweeping The Western World?

I wrote a little about the often often undervalued art of cat-walking in the prologue of Under The Paw, but I think I would have struggled to fill out an entire book about it. Steven Jacobson and Jean Miller, however, have done. Walk Your Cat could easily be mistaken for a humour title, the kind of concept the creators of the brilliant Dancing With Cats and Why Cats Paint might have come up with, but it does actually appear to be a serious guide, and even comes complete with a harness and leash. Much as I'd like a companion for my low-level adventures in the East Anglian countryside, I don't think I'll be purchasing and following up my ill-fated rambling experiment with Shipley circa 2004.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Do Not Try This At Home

Why I (Probably) Won't Soon Become The Owner Of Seven Cats

I've always had a special fondness for fat cats. That's not to say I don't like skinny cats, just that there's something wonderfully, admirably smug about a roly-poly mog looking as well-upholstered as the sofa it's asleep on. Such a sight is one of the hallmarks of a classic winter living room, right up there with an open fire, a half-open book of MR James ghost stories and an elderly relative snoring on an armchair with a string of Werther's Original-flavoured dribble protruding from their mouth. Strangely, when I picture my perfect fat cat, it's always ginger. Perhaps this is because of Thatcher, the boundlessly welcoming, rotund ginge owned by the stepdad of my primary school friend Daniel (a staunch Tory), or perhaps it's because of Samson, the even bigger redbody who currently lives across the road, or maybe it's just that there's something particularly plush and aesthetically pleasing about flame-furred obesity.

When Dee and I got him in spring 2005, there wasn't anything particularly fleshy about Pablo. In fact, he was, to put it bluntly, a bit of a sorry wretch. He'd been living wild, in a large derelict house, with numerous friends and casual life partners, some of whom also happened to be his siblings: a kind of feline equivalent to those slightly backward human neighbourhoods about which people joke that the definition of a virgin is "a girl who can run faster than her brother". Skinny, bony and missing much of his fur, he stayed almost permanently under the bed for the first week he lived with us, and only really started to fill out - both in personality and appearance - a month or two later.

Pablo has never returned to his "Grapes Of Wrath-meets-junkie chic" look of that time - see below - but we've become accustomed to a certain amount of fluctuation in his weight. He's a cat with an enormous appetite - still convinced, perhaps, in his eternally feral way, that every meal could be his last - but his appearance seems to have more to do with the seasons than the amount of meaty slop he crams down his throat. Quite simply, in summer he is lean (although not, in even the vaguest sense, mean), in winter he is chunky, and in spring and autumn he is somewhere in between, but steadfastly heading in one direction or the other. This winter, he's perhaps at his most corpulent ever. And I'm obviously not the only one who's noticed. Shipley and Ralph have always given Pablo a hard time. Their relationship with him is analogous to the kind that two puffed-up, not-quite-as-streetwise-as-they-think city yobs might sustain with a dumb-yet-happy bumpkin. But in the winter they seem more threatened by him - and never more so than this winter. Knowing Pablo's placid nature, the logic at the root of their thinking escapes me somewhat - are they scared that if he grows any bigger he might sit on them? - but it seems that, in cat world, adipose tissue is considered a potentially lethal weapon. Had Grange Hill revolved primarily around characters with whiskers, it seems the school's main bully figure would not have been Norman "Gripper" Stebson but Roland Browning, or anyone else who consumed more than three Mars Bars per breaktime.

There have been occasions in the last couple of months when I've wondered if another, larger ginger cat has eaten Pablo and taken up residence in his place, but I've dismissed this theory on the basis that it would be just too much of a coincidence for that ginger cat to also have a vacant, idiotic stare, a penchant for headbutting people's wrists, and an inability to properly put his tongue away. Another theory is that Samson from across the road has surreptitiously taken his place. However, I know this is not true because in the last few days I have spoken to Jonathan, Samson's current caretaker, who has informed me that he is currently moping about in the large Georgian house opposite us, sapped of his archetypal, jiggly lust for life.

A fortnight ago, Samson's owner, Jeanne, died of cancer, and now Jonathan, who's Jeanne son, is trying to find him a new home. Jeanne was a lovely, well-read woman whose New Year parties brought the neighbourhood together and who, into her late eighties, still seemed amazingly intellectually sharp, and lit from within by unused energy. When I close my eyes and think of the phrase "ideal neighbours", I essentially picture a dozen versions of her, surrounding my house in every possible direction.

With this in mind, there is nothing I would like better right now than to take Samson in, but I have to look at the situation practically (still very much a learning process for me, when the subject is cats). Just this morning, Shipley was in one of those obnoxious moods that always seem to overtake him when he's been out in a rainstorm and looking for someone to blame for his misfortune. His first act upon entering the house was to step up onto the rungs of the weird, rubbery unaccountably cat-friendly stool we inherited from Dee's grandma*, where Pablo was sitting, and start shouting all sorts of abuse in his face for the mere crime of existing. What would happen if there was a heavier rainstorm, and Shipley came in to find an even larger, less easily intimidated ginger cat on the same stool? What if Ralph came up the stairs one day to be confronted by a ginger cat possessing three, rather than two, times the quantity his own backfat? A few years ago, before he got too big and lazy, Samson used to come into our house and help himself to the contents of our biscuit dispenser**, and the reaction to his presence amongst my cats was not favourable (Shipley's famous mohican was only higher the time that Dee attached a lead to his collar as an "experiment"). Then there's the fact that we have only just about got a small territory-marking problem - a kind of waz relay involving The Bear, Janet and Pablo - under control. As Dee sagely pointed out, were we to take Samson in, the answer to the question "How much cat piss will be in our house?" will probably be best answered by another question. Namely: "How much cat piss is in our cats?"

After a bit of word-spreading at Dee's workplace, we've managed to find a couple of cat-lovers who might want to add Samson to their animal family. We are hoping to take them over to meet him this weekend. Until now, I've deliberately avoided going to pay my respects to Samson, knowing the dangers it could lead to. I hope Louise and Daniel might be able to find a place for Big Ginge in their home. If not, there is one other person who might be able to take him in. Failing that, I might be facing my biggest feline-related test of willpower since I visited the Celia Hammond Animal Trust in Canning Town four years ago. (A day when I looked into my own soul and asked it some searching things. Most pertinent of them perhaps being: "How many cats can a person reasonably take with them on the 5.30 train from Liverpool Street to Norwich?".)

* Not currently available from high street pet shops.
** Our cats' biscuit dispenser, that is - not ours; that only usually contains crackers and the odd neglected Jacob's Club, and I hear on the grapevine that Samson is strictly a HobNobs man.

Summer Pablo:

Winter Pablo:

Robo Cats

Am I wrong to find this a bit creepy?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Angels? Quite possibly. From Hell? Very doubtful!

Gnarly old tattooed bikers rescuing tiny weeny kittens: less than two weeks in, and could this be 2009's most unlikely feelgood cat story?

Rescue Ink are a a group of scary lookin' road warriors who battle animal abuse - I would imagine a Bravo reality series isn't far away...

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Janet's Latest Art Installation: Throwaway Sky

Regular readers of this blog will know that my cats are all very ambitious artists, never happier than when pushing the boundaries of the negative space around an object, and stretching the meanings of that negative space. They're also very fond of a mysterious, sinister furry toy that arrived, unbidden, through the post a year or so ago, which I refer to only as The Thing. In Janet's latest work - which he painstakingly installed at the bottom of our stairs last week, watched by Bootsy - he combines both interests seemlessly, then, just to confound the critics, references his recent habit of wombling for rubbish at the bottom of my garden.

Janet on Throwaway Sky: "I think of Throwaway Sky as not only a tribute to the power of ephemeral, discarded artefacts, but also to fur, and how that fur can shield us, not only from the cold, but, on a deeper level, from ourselves. A few people have called it "post-Damien Hirst", but, while I acknowledge Hirst's influence, I think it's a mistake to say a work like this is "before" or "after" another artist. It is not beyond Hirst, or behind him. Rather, it is off to the side of him: to be exact, about three feet, at a kind of diagonal angle, with a pleasant southerly view, overlooking some trees. Who's to say that it has any more in common with Hirst than it does with the red clay figurines of Antony Gormley? Not me, and not the many, many people (almost seven, at last count) who have looked at it over the last week or so. As you can see, the angle at which I have placed the now-anonymous and faded plastic wrapper means that The Thing is covered, but not completely, suggesting that its protection from whatever happens to be above - in this case, an unseen spotlamp from B&Q, but, in theory, the eternal unseen anything - is not complete. The "rubbish" in this case makes us think not of rubbish as we imagine it in bins, but the stuff of the dustbin of history: our culture, once fiercely clung to, soon forgotten. Soon, Plastic Sky, like so many other things, will be gone (it's vacuuming day tomorrow), but that is part of its very beauty. Unlike the way the wrapper is to The Thing, it is not stuck physically to our heads, but it may as well be, as it constantly hangs over us, reminding us of our transience on this planet. The biggest question raised by Throwaway Sky being perhaps: "Thing or wrapper - which is the real load of old crap?".

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Six Cats Revived After House Fire

A rather sad but also quite uplifting newspaper report - along with a rather sad, sweet photograph - that caught my attention the other day, and tapped into one of my biggest fears: What would happen if I was out and my house caught fire - would my cats know to get out of the cat flap quickly, before the smoke overwhelmed them? Does anyone else spend far too long agonising about this kind of thing, or is it just me that finds himself rushing to disengage the nearest multiplug adaptor after reading this?

An Amazing Big Cat Video

Guest Cats Of The Month For January: Oscar And Molly

Oscar & Molly (brother & sister).

Him & Her.

3 years old last September.

Phil & Denise think they are!

Move over I'm coming through.

Favourite habits?
Molly; hunting anything that moves
Oscar; Watching molly hunt anything that moves!

What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
Oscar: curled up on the comfiest chair in the house
Molly: hunting anything that moves.

Favourite food?
Hill's Science plan, chicken or rabbit, just moved onto the light stuff as the waistline is expanding.

Defining moment of your life?
Moving to rural Oxfordshire where shrew's and voles abound aplenty.

Any enemies?
Nobody big enough. And we are British Blues don't you know.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines, what would it be?
Rid the world of dogs!

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
Tom & Dee Cox, 'cos they seem like really nice people with their feet on the ground.

Which one of the cats in Under the Paw would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
Probably Janet, you sound very entertaining.

British Blues. Oscar is growing into a giant, weighs a ton, Molly is more dainty with very large amber eyes, she is an avid hunter and always brings home the bacon. Oscar lazes about with his big grumpy face and looks at her latest conquest as if to say "What have you been up to now and where is my tea"! We live in a bungalow that backs onto fields 12 miles south of Oxford. They seem to be in cat heaven and aware of their pedigree status, they look at other cats as if to say "Don't you know who I am".

Over the last 38 years we have had a number of cats, our last British Blue (Henry) survived about 16 years, for the first time in our married lives we had a 2 year break but could not stand it any longer and 3 years ago we bought each other Molly & Oscar as a Christmas present to each other. We have 3 sons all grown up now but all have cats, I think men like cats but keep it quiet.