Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Some More Recent Excerpts From My Cat Diary

September 16th
Excited, having seen promotional literature for my home town mentioning "the famous ducks". Am now finding myself looking at birdlife around garden and local park in whole new way. That massive muscovy with the magnetic aura and strange sense of entitlement: he's got to be one of them.

Received missing parakeet missive. Parakeet in question answers to the name Charlie, talks and is "very tame". Religious flyers sticking out of my letterbox I can cope with of a morning. This level of emotional turmoil I cannot.

September 17th
I remember those happy, carefree times, seven or eight minutes ago, when there wasn't a slaughtered rabbit on my kitchen floor.

September 18th
Received a review copy of a memoir through the post today, all about a dog and the dog's owner, and the heartwarmingness of the dog-owner thing they had going on. From what I can gather, the main themes of the book are the owner, his dog, and how generally warming the whole thing was, particularly in the heart area. People should publish more of that kind of thing: it's a potentially enormous untapped market.

Still puzzling over dead rabbit. Ralph and Shipley, who are getting too spoilt and lazy to kill anything apart from the odd vole or seven, were sleeping at the time it was brought in, as was The Bear, who is a pacifist when it comes to non-feline animals (presumably it wasn't Bootsy or Pablo either, what with them having moved out a few weeks ago to live with Dee at her new place). I was alerted to its presence on the kitchen floor by the equally pacificist Janet, who was standing next to it, meowing in that special mournful way he only usually does when he's brought in an empty packet of Monster Munch dating from 1987. Was it a rotten rabbit, killed and discarded by a fox with fussy eating habits? Perhaps Janet mistook it for one of the increasingly popular Litter Bunnies being purchased and subsequently junked by spoilt children in the neighbourhood? Anyhow, it is in the bin now: a temporary solution before I decide I can look it in its half-remaining face again and arrange a more organic form of disposal.

September 18th
I wrote my first ever TV comedy sketch today. It is not about cats because that would be f***ing stupid and predictable. I also wrote my second ever TV comedy sketch today. Okay, I admit it: that is about cats.

September 20th
I note with some interest that The Bear is now cultivating his own special "piss meow". I'm not necessarily looking on it as a bad thing, as it serves as more of a warning system than anything. I suppose it's a bit like a smoke alarm. (Except with piss, instead of smoke, obviously.)

September 21st
Given the reputed commonness of the activity, it is surprising more celebrities don't reference their Daily Cat Puke Cleaning Session in The Sunday Times Magazine's A Life In The Day column.

September 22nd
Sometimes, when I stroke my cats, I get an electric shock. I suppose this is the natural result of the static created by the stroking itself, but I also can't help suspecting that they might be plugging themselves in behind my back. A couple of them have, after all, been working on a new sound recently. It's probably inevitable that Going Electric is part of it.

September 23rd
It's amazing how when a person own cats, by simply walking upstairs to do some ironing and finding a stray JML pet mitt on the floor and a nearby sleeping cat (Ralph, for example), they can inadvertently invent a new game. I have decided to call this particular one 'Happy Cat, Sad Cat', having discarded the slightly inferior working titles of 'Confusion!" and 'Dimpled Stroky Thing Good, Big Clanky Thing Bad'. The speed of the fluctuating feline emotions it elicits are nothing short of breathtaking.

September 24th
Went a walk today with my borrowed spaniel, Henry - a creature Dee once referred to as my "alter doggo". The setting was Blythburgh, near the Suffolk coast, where Black Shuck, the demon dog, once legendarily terrorised the local church's congregation. I'd like to say I deliberately chose to walk in Black Dog Country with a black dog, but in truth the symmetry didn't occur to me until I was about seven miles into the walk, and lost amidst river-damaged footpaths, by which point my appreciation of it was dampened, in an unpleasantly literal sort of way, by a shoe full of blister blood. Besides, the likelihood of happy-go-lucky Henry intimidating an entire congregation seems quite unlikely, though he did slightly unsettle a sleeping heron, which promptly shat itself.

September 26th
Most lovely Under The Paw-related letter of the week: "Just loved discover today that you have a book about cats feelings. Is possible I found this book in Brasil?"

September 27th
Earlier today, I stroked my beard. Not the most riveting anecdote, I grant you. What does make it marginally more interesting is that the beard in question was false, sitting on my bedroom floor, where I'd discarded it after he previous night's fancy dress party, and at the time I had mistaken it for one of my cats.

September 28th
They say that some days you eat The Bear, and some days The Bear eats you. What they fail to add is that some days all that happens is that The Bear eats a tray of Sheba Rabbit And Chicken Tender Terrine, while you sit nearby, attempting to eat a jam sandwich without choking on mechanically recovered meat fumes.

September 29th
Was in kitchen this morning. Most Idiotic Cat was in kitchen too. Most Idiotic Cat nudged drying pillowcase with tail. Pillowcase fell on Most Idiotic Cat, becoming "cat cloak". Confession: felt no immediate impulse to remove pillowcase. Further confession: did not act on non-existent impulse.

Previous excerpts...

Under The Paw...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Some Of The More Unusual Horse Books I Have Been Alerted To Recently

Did I Post This Before? If Not, I Meant To...

Animals I've Not Really Been That Bothered About Stealing Actually: Number One - 'Street" Moorhen

South Norfolk, UK
Moorhen was like, "You wanna piece of me?" And I was like, "No, you're a moorhen." And moorhen was like, "I'm just gonna cross this road, just you watch me." And I was like, "Okay, I'll slow down to 15mph - in many ways North Lopham should be a 20 zone anyway." And moorhen was like, "That's what I'm talking about - how you like me now?" And then we both passed safely on our way, without further incident.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Animals I Have Considered Stealing: Number Three - Dream Heifer

NAME: Ginny The Cow

USPGA Tour Mascot

Florida/The Sleep Netherworld

Since her introduction as "the face of The United States Professional Golf Association" in 2003, Ginny The Cow had become a firm favourite with crowds across America - not just because of her carefree demeanour, cool head in a crisis, but also because of her selflessness in always making sure to keep her pats off the fairways and greens when the tournament leaders were coming through. This all changed during the Players Championship of 2006, at the TPC Stadium Course in Sawgrass, Florida, when a petulant Tiger Woods, having suffered a triple bogey at the par three seventeenth, laid waste to her with a seven-iron. Woods' reputation was tarnished for a while, but quickly recovered, as his PR team wrote the incident - and, by extension, the late, once universally-adored Ginny - out of history. And although when I woke up a few weeks ago I did quickly realise that Ginny's existence was the product of my overactive nocturnal imagination, I was still really, really pissed off about it for the rest of that day, and, even though Tiger Woods wasn't my favourite golfer in the first place, I've never quite felt as warmly towards him since.

I like staring at cows. As a technique to get you into a meditative state, staring at a cow is even better than when a Buddhist recently told to imagine that my nostrils were "like big caves with the wind blowing through them". Cows make me feel peaceful. When you look at a cow, you know it's not thinking, "Am I a good enough cow?", "How can I change myself and be the cow I've always set out to be?" or "Have I reached my cow goals for this week?" It is thinking "Moo". If that.

1. Cow dead.
2, Cow not even corporeal before becoming dead.

(NB: Actual dream heifer much cooler than heifer pictured.)

Under The Paw with 40% off the cover price!

Awkward Cat Photos

A few recent classics from awkwardfamilyphotos.com, though I think I prefer the one beneath them with the dog (that is a dog, isn't it?)...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Some Recent Excerpts From My Cat (And Other Animals) Diary

August 7th
Idea for TV Show: 'The 1980s Cat House'. 6 cats get forced to live for a week without access to camcorders, keyboards, treadmills or metrosexuals.

August 8th
People often think my life is far more cat-themed than it actually is. Nonetheless, the fact remains: I just got some Sheba on my best shirt.

August 9th
A cat with a messed up meow was meowing outside. Felt glad for not having cat who meowed like that. Went outside. Was my cat, meowing like that.

August 10th
Overheard locally: "Behave! Or I'll take that bear right back to the bear shop." Instant reaction: Must find Norwich grizzly emporium NOW!

August 11th
Watched Whistle Down The Wind. Saw the scene with the kittens in the cardboard box, which reminded me of the time when I was 9, and watched Whistle Down The Wind, and saw the scene with the kittens in the cardboard box. Missed next 3 scenes as was pondering fact that kitten actors now dead.

August 12th
Many people might think it impossible for a grown feline to burst into tears. None of these people, uncoincidentally, have met my cats.

August 13th
Lots of flies in the house today, and Bootsy is not doing her usual, reliable thing of chewing them up with a distasteful, confused look on her face. In her absence, I tried to find fly spray. Couldn't. Found Crabtree And Evelyn Nantucket Briar room spray. Used that instead. Didn't work. Not sure why I thought I'd find fly spray. I last bought some in 1991. And by "bought" I mean "found in my parents' house near some etchings".

Question: Do flies refer to flying as "ing"? E.g. "Bob waited til the exact last moment, when this week's Grazia was coming towards him, before ing off."

August 16th
Last golf major of the year, the USPGA, this weekend. Tuned in late. Asked friends if anything exciting had happened. They texted back to say "no" but cameras had been lingering on a stray turtle for twenty minutes by that point, so had taken this as a definitive answer in itself.

August 17th
You know your cat's got a lot of Facebook friends when he knows four cats called Chairman Meow.

August 21st
Off to Cattersea - aka Battersea Dogs and Cats Home - today to interview some homeless cats for the Times. I am taking a big bag with me. This is because I am reading a hardback book. THAT IS THE ONLY REASON.

August 22nd
Managed to resist temptation at Cattersea. Was particularly taken with black and white Thomas, who shows just how close you can take the shave in and still be a Cat That Looks Like Hitler. Also Malteser, on whose run was written "Love me, love my cheeks!". Sadly, before I met the latter, a four year-old child had loved his cheeks a little bit much, leaving me to deal with the concomitant hissing: a bit like the opposite of when you feel really good after opening a tight jar, because the person who tried to open it has "loosened it" for you. But with cats, instead of jars.

August 24th
It's always a bit of a shock when a band starts "working on a new sound" late in their career, but lots of groups do it. What is much more surprising, I've found, is when one of your cats starts doing the same thing.

August 25th
Some big worries this week. Regardless: disheartened to see that M&S 'Fantastically Fizzy Fish' have been rebranded as mere 'Fizzy Fish'.

August 26th
Odd: Could swear I set a Google alert for "cat" but it seems I must have actually set one for "all the bad news about cats imaginable".

Starting to regret jeering at Janet for falling off banister earlier. Just spotted him walking towards golf bag, with distinct "wee face".

August 27th
Very behind on the sequel to Under The Paw. Have been reliably informed by friend that I'm putting my energy in wrong places. Think I understood. Made note: "Spend less time in Ipswich."

August 28th
I'm still not sure I can believe it myself, but I really did just use the term "flailing paws" in a warning note to my cleaner.

August 29th
The man who shouts "f***in come on then" at the local ducks hasn't sworn at ducks once this week. Have also noticed that the woman who works in the local Somerfield who looks like John Kerry no longer works in Somerfield. Admittedly, it took me a while to notice, but it's a blow, nonetheless. Is everyone who makes this town this town leaving? Next week: Bald David Crosbyish Tramp Who Stares At Lake departs for "new media post".

August 30th
Signs that another market town summer is ending: 1. The air is suddenly fresh. 2. Apples are falling. 3. The Bear is spending more time indoors. 4. Nobody kicked my car in last night.

September 1st
Just went to take a Nurofen. It's no exaggeration to say Janet's hyperthyroid pill was 2/3 of way to my mouth before I realised I had made a schoolboy error. In other cat news, a position seems to have been reached by committee on the new cat biscuits I bought on offer at Pets At Home yesterday. Committee tongue is alien, but position seems to be: "new cat biscuits taste like pig sp***"

Just realised must to go like the clappers to finish book by deadline. First of many obstacles: have no idea what "clappers" are.

(Later) Have now found out that clappers refers to the clappers on bells during the early 1940s. It seems there was rationing on not only food but similes during World War II.

September 3rd
Have cats "wholesome" catnip mouse, with no fur. Has been thoroughly rejected. Echoes of the time my mum tried to convince me halva was "as nice as chocolate". But with tables turned.

Sep 5th
Just reviewed Joanna Lumley's Northern Lights DVD. Hard not to warm to a celeb who a) loves cats and b) willingly lets you see her going to bed in a hat.

Found a note in my notebook saying, "Mouse. Local Conservative Club. Second wang!" Have absolutely no idea what it means.

Sep 6th
Out for a walk today in North Suffolk. Turned in opposite direction from sign saying 'Beccles Giant Duck Art Trail'. Have to confess: that took some discipline.

Sep 7th
Getting a very strong sense, once again, that my cats are not purring with me, but purring at me.

Sep 8th
Think there has been a significant household misunderstanding today. When I said "cats can be tw**s" I wasn't giving official permission.

Sep 9th
When trying to stop letting a cat in through doors, does going out to "tell him it's ok" to use the catflap still count as letting him in?

Sep 13th
Two cats now "working on new sound". House starting to resemble Iggy Pop and David Bowie's 70s Berlin, but with less clawing. Have to confess: seriously worried about the inevitable moment when Lou Reed joins the party.

Sep 15th
Dear My Cats: when I enter a house, I do so with decorum and humility, not expecting congratulations. Out of respect for the fact that I let you live here, and conspire with you in the illusion that you own the place, you should do your best to follow my example. Wet paws and safe passage through a miniature door are not, and will not ever be, cause for fanfare.

Recent I Can Has Cheezburger Favourite

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Friday, 4 September 2009

EXTRA Guest Celebrity Cat Of The Month For September: Mangus

Mangus Halls

Mangoomoo, Mangus Muppetroid, Miss M, Princess Mangus, Ginger Whinger, Sid James, ET, Skeletor in a wimple

12 (64 but very good for my age compared to some)

Vicky Halls


Favourite habits?
Boring rats to death in the wood shed, happy slapping grass snakes, tripping over when I run (bad knees), sticking my foot in my ear and regretting it afterwards.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
Sitting on Vicky's chest while she sings along to a DVD of West Side Story (this generally clears a room but there's something about the sound that appeals), staring lovingly at her while accompanying her on the shirt piano.

Favourite food?
Fillet steak (medium rare).

Defining moment of your life?
Three really: Meeting Vicky during a phase when I had a bit of an addiction to eating leather (not a good time in my life), my subsequent adoption and catching my first mouse at the age of 10.

Any enemies?
Probably the cats I used to live with before meeting Vicky although I'm not sure they know where I live now. Maybe all those cats who always say "when I come back I want to be owned by Vicky Halls". I expect they are jealous although it's not all that living with her...

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines what would it be?
Ban cars or worming tablets - can't decide which.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
Magnus Magnusson. I'd like to ask him if people get his name mixed up and call him Mangus.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
The Bear - Vicky says he's probably hot for a little ginger loving... you never know.

I was adopted by Vicky when I was about six - don't want to talk about life BV as it wasn't much fun. I'm really a single sort of cat who doesn't embrace the concept of sharing humans with anyone. Ok, in all fairness, I'm a wimp and other cats pick on me. Vicky's very busy but I get to go to the office with her so it isn't like I don't get to see her much. I do a lot of showbiz stuff, I do radio interviews a lot and I'm a director's dream - give me a camera, lights, 'action'.... I'm a born performer. I spend my days working, testing cat toys, activity centres, puzzle feeders etc. Night time is quality time for Vicky and me. A little shirt piano, food and bed. Not a bad life.

Order Mangus' - sorry, I mean Vicky's - latest book here.

Do Not Watch If Tearful

Japan: Officially More Mad On Cats Than Anywhere Else

As you can see, cats are absolutely ecstatic about these new feline earthquake protection kits made by a Japanese manufacturer....