Sometimes, Cat Men who've read Under The Paw send me pictures. Sometimes, these pictures are very good. Very rarely are they as awesome as this...
Tuesday 31 August 2010
Monday 30 August 2010
I love finding old photos that have been mistakenly left in secondhand books. I think my ultimate dream is that one day someone leaves a photo as good as those on www.awkwardfamilypetphotos.com in a copy of Under The Paw or Talk To The Tail.
Saturday 28 August 2010
Tuesday 24 August 2010
As regular readers of this blog might have gleaned, I became a single person last year (I haven't wanted to make too much of this, but since my ex, Dee, was a fairly sizable part of the story in Under The Paw, it would have been an insult to readers not to mention it in Talk To The Tail). As a state of being, it's actually not without its perks – sometimes, I’ll throw a wet towel on the floor and leave it there for a whole four minutes before picking it up - but it’s also been a slightly bewildering phenomenon at times. Of course, I’ve been single before, but since that happened in 1647, I’m not sure my memories of it are at all relevant to the present day. There’s also the fact that, last time I was single, I was not living alone with four cats: a domestic set up that can be a huge drawback in the dating world, or a major plus, depending on who you ask.
I’m told by cat-loving female friends that being a man who owns multiple felines marks me out as "solid boyfriend material", but then they would say that: they like cats, and are being nice to me, because they are my friends, and know I’ve been through a relationship break-up in the not too distant past. Am I really more "sensitive" because I like cats? I suppose I have a sensitive side, but I also probably like beer, big boobs and loud rock music no less than many manly men who wouldn’t allow a feline in the house. I’m also aware that there’s a flipside to the perception: that there are also women, even women who like cats, who will immediately start asking themselves questions about a man living alone with that many sets of paws. Why four moggies, and not just one? On a deeper level, what do the cats “represent”? If he has that many animals, does it mean he can’t relate to humans?
If I were to answer these questions, I would say it’s as simple as this: I like cats, my ex also likes cats, so we ended up getting a lot of cats, then, when we split up, I ended up keeping slightly more cats than her. But as we all know, that kind of explanation might not cut it in the real world. Another single friend recently signed up to one of the more wholesome Internet dating sites and showed me her profile and asked me whether there was anything I thought she should add. “You haven’t mentioned that you like cats, have you?” I said. “No. She replied. That’s because you don’t, if you’re a girl. It’s The Rule.” I noticed that in one of her photos she had cropped out Bob, her chunky tabby. I felt sorry for Bob. Had he had any say in this?
“But you wouldn’t want to go out with someone who doesn’t like cats, though, would you?” I asked. “No!” she replied, horrified.
I’m not sure that single men would worry quite so much about having a moggy slinking in the rear of their shot on a dating site, but Crazy Cat Woman is now so ubiquitous, she is altering the way we all think about our pets, whether we’re male or female. She’s been here forever, yet she seems to be particularly prevalent in modern culture – on The Simpsons, on sitcoms, endlessly referenced in daily conversation. “You want to be careful. You’ll turn into the lady with all the cats and no friends!” “Uh-Oh. You’ve got hair on your jumper. Mad Cat Woman Alert!” Certainly, there are people out there who project too much onto their animals, and start to let their hygiene standards slip as a result of being around them, but they are in the minority, and it seems sad that we are going to quite such lengths to hide our cat love because we’re worried what the world thinks? Surely loving cats says more good things about a person than it does bad ones: that they’re patient, an appreciator of beauty, open to a challenge? There’s the possibility that it might just say plainly that they love cats. Having said that, I will confess that I met a girl recently who talked a lot about how much she loved the smell of cat food, and I found it hard to view it as a plus. But let's face it: that’s just plain weird, isn’t it?
Monday 23 August 2010
Cat with extremely messed up meow was meowing outside the back door today. Felt glad for not having cat with meow like that. Went outside. Was my one of my cats, meowing like that.
The Bear ate the last tin of his special Applaws catfood today. He meeooped all the way through it, as if to confirm just how mandatory it is that I reorder some of it at the earliest opportunity. I have known cats to meow for food before, but he is the first I've known to meow during it.
When I see my cats smelling one another's noses, I can't help wondering: “What exactly is it you think might have changed, since last time?”
Lots of bands "work on a new sound" late in their career. What is more surprising is when your cat starts doing the same thing.
In her column in the Mail On Sunday's You Magazine, the infamously divorced, infamously childless, infamously cat-loving Liz Jones observes that her old English sheepdog has begun to misbehave. "He jumps at me all the time," she complains, "even when I am wearing my Dries van Noten jacket, which I have just had dry-cleaned." This is an intriguing sentence on a couple of levels, but in the end it's the use of the word "even" that really does it for me. One would have thought dogs would know a top designer jacket from normal daywear, but no. Cultural cretins! It's a bit bitchy to say it, but between you and me I wouldn't be surprised if that sheepdog hadn't even read the September issue of Vogue.
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.
Signs that another market town summer is ending: 1. The air is suddenly fresh. 2. Apples are falling. 3. The Bear is not wandering so far from home. 4. Summer Pablo is beginning to bulk up. 5. Nobody kicked my car in last night.
2 cats now "working on new sound". House starting to resemble Iggy Pop and David Bowie's 70s Berlin, but with less clawing.
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.
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.
I love my cats, and I guess they think I’m okay. But I do sometimes get a very strong sense that they are purring at me, not with me.
Received missing parakeet missive through letterbox. Immediately went to check cats’ muzzles for feathers. Seemed clean. 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.
Starting to regret jeering at Janet for falling off the banister earlier. Just spotted him walking towards golf bag, with distinct "wee face".
You know your cat's got a lot of Facebook friends when he knows four cats called Chairman Meow.
Have been smelling the downstairs of my house and checking for dead things for last few days. Has been a bit of a mystery. Ended up thinking "only explanation is that there's a dead fish, being eaten by maggots, in the catflap tunnel." Turned out there was a dead fish, being eaten by maggots, in the catflap tunnel.
Favourite cat name of the month: F Cat Fitzgerald (from Garrison Keillor's novel, Pontoon).
Walked across kitchen. Accidentally knocked pillowcase off radiator. Pillowcase fell onto most dignified cat, giving appearance of superheroesque "bumcape". Most dignified cat walked across kitchen, visibly less dignified. Confession: did not rush to retrieve pillowcase.
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.
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.
Friend of a friend at the Latitude music festival, in Suffolk, today: "Oh you're the cat bloke!". Me (hurt): "Well, not JUST that." Logo on umbrella above my head at the time: "PURINA ONE - FOR FELINE NUTRITION!".
Have bought job lot of Felix As Good As It Looks - aka As Bad As It Smells - cat food by mistake. In bulk. Cats looking like they might call the RSPCA.
To manufacturers of Felix As Good As It Looks – aka As Bad As It Smells - cat food: I sense you tell no word of a lie (and not in a good way).
Think I have just invented new foodstuff: the scromelette. Like most culinary revelations, it’s hard to think why it hasn't been invented before. NB: I will not accept "because it's just like rubbish burned scrambled eggs with one single cat hair in them" as valid reason.
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".
Ralph bit me quite hard today, when I made the unforgivable error of only using the pet mitt on him for seven minutes, instead of the twenty presumably stated as required in The Big Book Of Spoilt Oversensitive Feline Idiot Therapy. More effective than a brush, the pet mitt elicits very different responses from all my cats, but each has the common factor of being extreme. Janet mewls helplessly at its merest touch, before lying on his back and trying to bite it. The Bear runs away from it in a manner that, even for him, is notable for its campness. Bootsy and Pablo seem to simultaneously like and hate it, scarpering from it but also returning to ask for more of its sweet embrace. Ralph and Shipley just want to be mauled by it on a round-the-clock basis. I haven't tried it on myself, since I'm a bit worried about the results. In every way aside from the fact that it cost more, this current pet-mitt is a cheap imitation of my original one, which was two-sided (one side tough and dimpled, the other soft and felty) and which Dee made me throw away because it had got "too skanky". I can see that it's effective, but I could live without the puncture wounds. When I looked down at the two small but surprisingly deep holes in my finger, I pictured a couple of furry ears and a small-twitching nose above them, and was able to feel new empathy with the wretched hand that the south Norfolk vole is so often dealt in life.
Many people might think it impossible for a grown feline to burst into tears. None of these people, uncoincidentally, have met my cats.
Have received message from my uncle Paul and auntie Jayne, who woke up yesterday to find their bath-loving black demon cat Eddie sitting upright in the bed between them, his head on the pillow and the duvet pulled up to his shoulders, “like a little bloke”. This is perhaps as impressive as the time Paul was gardening and got a face full of nextdoor’s hose spray, only to realise the liquid in question came from Eddie, who was on the other side of the bush Paul was weeding around, marking his territory. It is, however, arguably not as impressive as the time Paul woke up to find the family hamster had escaped from its cage, crawled into bed with him and gone to sleep in his armpit.
Tomorrow's Times newspaper includes a piece by me on corrupt ex-Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian. Actually, that's not true. It's about cats.
Watched Whistle Down The Wind. Saw scene with kittens in a box. Missed next 3 scenes as was pondering fact that kitten actors now dead.
I remember those heady, footloose times, 13 to 14 minutes ago, when my kitchen floor wasn't completely caked in cat puke.
Received letter from Italy, where my book Under The Paw has just been published. "I buy your book THE MAN WITH 24 PAWS... come soon in Italy... Thank you to love all cats like us". I think I would like to move to Italy.
The Bear just got absolutely battered by a dog in his dream. Hard to tell, but I’m sensing Yorkshire Terrier.
Woke up to find a damp, halfheartedly chewed dead mouse outside my bedroom door this morning. From this, I can deduce that today is a day of the week.
Bought cats wholesome, “natural-looking” catnip mouse. Cats rejected wholeseome, “natural-looking” catnip mouse. Echoes of mum trying to convince me halva "as nice as chocolate" but with tables turned.
Dear my cats: Purring? Good. Padding? Also kind of okay, in the right circumstances. Getting all up in my face and shit when I'm trying to watch the red-haired one off of Mad Men? Not so good.
Think there has been a significant household misunderstanding in my house today. When I said "cats can be gits sometimes" I wasn't granting official permission.
Cats have been leaving perfectly severed vole faces and entrails outside the spare room again. Have warned my forthcoming houseguests to wear slippers. Houseguests: “Why’s that then?” Me: “It’s just very cold and I worry about you.”
Noting the scenes inside and directly outside my house today, I cannot help but be reminded of that well-known Nordic proverb "Show me a dusting of snow, and I will show you a bunch of cats acting like complete and utter tools."
Saw ornamental egg on living room carpet. Thought, “Those bloody cats have knocked that ornamental egg off the shelf again.” Picked egg up. Was real egg. Washed egg off hands.
Found a note in my cat notebook which says, "Mouse. Local Conservative Club. Second wang!" Have absolutely no idea what it means.
Just rescued a duckling. I say "rescued". I actually lifted it off the carpet away from 4 bored, hot cats. It then fly-waddled into a bush.
Buy Under The Paw at amazon with 40% off!
Buy Talk To The Tail with 43% off!
Sunday 22 August 2010
I very much like this picture of me in my six cat days (Bootsy and Pablo now not living with me any more), which was drawn by Helene Weston, an illustrator who follows me on Twitter, though I think the look is perhaps a little more "Man At Gap" than the reality (I don't think I've been this knowing underflared for about a decade and a half).
Check out more of Helene's work here: www.helenetheillustrator.co.uk.
Thursday 19 August 2010
Tuesday 17 August 2010
Saturday 14 August 2010
Wednesday 4 August 2010
Tuesday 3 August 2010
1. Clear space on kitchen work surface. Scan surface for sharp or burning objects, keeping in mind The Time Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend Set Fire To His Tail By Walking Too Close To A Candle. Arrange food dishes and remove two pills from jar priced erroneously and unfairly excitingly on Internet at “50p for 30!” (actual price: 50p each).
2. Call cats, using special patented Tomwhistle.
3. Place pouches of meaty slop on kitchen counter, carefully avoiding three year-old packets of Felix As Good As It Looks (aka As Bad As It Smells) at rear of food drawer. Dispense meaty slop.
4. Throw Intellectually Challenged Cat Resembling TV Food Enthusiast Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall off kitchen counter with one hand, whilst using other hand to carefully place two pink pills inside one dish of meaty slop. If possible, try to insert pills into meaty chunks themselves, rather than just into jelly. Whilst doing this, try not to dwell overly on substance concerned. Think of it this way: yes, it smells, but if you really thought about an egg or some milk, you probably wouldn’t want to go near that either.
5. Wash hands, thoroughly.
6. Dive across kitchen, just in time to remove face of Intellectually Challenged Cat Resembling TV Food Enthusiast Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall from pilled dish of meaty slop.
7. Whilst looking the other way and pretending to be occupied, quickly swoop down and pick up Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend. Pick up pilled dish of meaty slop, and place cat and slop in adjacent room.
8. Remove face of Intellectually Challenged Cat Resembling TV Food Enthusiast Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from bottom of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend, and close door, firmly.
9. Feed remaining five cats. For full instructions on feeding, refer to How To Feed Six Sodding Cats: Instructions For Housesitters (Under The Paw, Simon And Schuster, 2008).
10. Open door of adjacent room, and release Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend back into kitchen. Collect leftover pills from Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend’s now otherwise empty bowl, and place on kitchen counter.
11. Chase Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend downstairs, maintaining enough speed not to lose sight of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend, but not so much speed that Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend runs out of catflap in fear.
12. Carefully circle Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend, feigning great interest in object in entirely opposite direction from Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend.
13. At the count of three (please note: counting should be done purely in own head), dive at Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend.
14. Pick self up off floor, ignoring disdainful looks of suddenly appearing Sensitive Artistic Secret Warlord Cat. Sit down in Formerly Sumptuously Restored 1970s Armchair Now Permanently Jealously Overseen By Attention Seeking Grey Dwarf Cat. Relax and clear mind of feline-related thoughts, being sure to avail self of film collection on adjacent shelf. Please note: for purposes of continued mind-clearing, best to avoid ‘The Complete Bagpuss’ DVD.
15. Wait ten minutes, then return upstairs. Call cats, using special patented Tomwhistle.
16. Throw Intellectually Challenged Cat Resembling TV Food Enthusiast Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall off kitchen counter.
17. Gingerly creep downstairs, gently calling Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend.
18. Pick Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend’s claw out of back, having not realised that, while you were heading downstairs, looking for Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend, Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend was above you, playing a game of “Prison” (aka ‘Use Bars Of Balustrade As Protection Whilst Violently Batting Soft Parts Of Passing Unsuspecting Humans’).
19. Open fridge, and retrieve Tesco Finest Honey Roast Ham from minus one drawer. Place on kitchen counter.
20. Open cat food drawer, and keep Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend’s interest by rustling sachet of meaty slop.
21. Take Tesco Finest Honey Roast Ham to pills. Realise “pills” is now in fact “pill”.
22. Pick up Intellectually Challenged Cat Resembling TV Food Enthusiast Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall and notice telltale pink smear around mouth of Intellectually Challenged Cat Resembling TV Food Enthusiast Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall.
23. Wash hands, thoroughly.
24. Secrete remaining pill inside sheet of Tesco Finest Honey Roast Ham, creating pill sandwich. Step boldly towards Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend and sweep Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend off floor, then feed pill sandwich to Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend.
25. Witness small, girlish meow, and realise that, in attempting to follow How To Feed Six Sodding Cats instructions, one cat, Prettyboy Tabby Cat, was omitted from melee.
26. Place Prettyboy Tabby Cat on Strange Plastic Grandma Stool, with dish of meaty slop.
27. Watch Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend begin to convulse in corner of room.
28. Grab kitchen roll and dive, belatedly, in direction of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend.
29. Cautiously examine effluence of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend, finding no pink pill.
30. Double bag effluence of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend and place in dustbin.
31. Sigh, and wash hands, thoroughly. Spot pink pill – now quarter of former size - stuck to trouser leg.
32. Repair to fridge, retrieve butter, and firmly cut off thumb-sized knob. Place pill inside knob.
33. Repair to bathroom, and grab clean towel from rack.
34. Sweep Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend off floor, harshly curtailing second game of “Prison” in ten minutes, and swaddle Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend in towel.
35. Insert buttered pill between Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend’s mouth, and gently but firmly clamp shut.
36. Wait ninety seconds, gently rubbing throat of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend.
37. Watch as pink and yellow liquid oozes from mouth of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend.
38. Place Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend on floor.
39. Open fridge, retrieving remainder of Tesco Finest Honey Roast Ham, chicken curry leftovers, spare ribs and kabano sausages (six pack). Open all packaging, and place on floor.
40. Pick up coat and bag. Wipe hands on corduroy jacket belonging to male owner of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend.
41. Exit house, posting spare keys through letterbox.
42. Receive phone call from owners of Intellectually Challenged Fluffy Cat Resembling Rock Musician Pete Townshend. Answer in high-pitched voice of elderly lady called Joan, from Fife, and profess ignorance of any subject mentioned. When subject of cats comes up, begin to talk about son’s upcoming rowing final. Please note: if actually called Joan, elderly, with rowing champion son, and from Fife in real life, choose different identity.
43. Call phone company and request new numbers.
44. Write note to self on hand: “Locksmith?”.
45. Pour large glass of wine, and run bath.
46. Rummage in bottom of bag, and find bath bomb, bought from popular natural cosmetic company and summarily forgotten about two weeks previously.
47. Gently crumble and add bath bomb to warm, flowing water, savouring aroma.
48. Light candle.
49. Relax into suds, feeling physically and spiritually cleansed, and looking boldly towards future.
Buy Under The Paw at amazon with 40% off!
Pre-order Talk To The Tail!
Monday 2 August 2010
Soft, Softie, Captain, Little Ghost, Bobo
Nearly 2. Yeah!
Die sleeping owners toes! Die! Die!
What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
I like it when Katia gets back late because it means I’ve already had my 13th nap of the day. Generally when this happens she feeds me twice out of guilt. She's so Jewish!
After my first dinner I like to have a plastic bag rustled for me so I can rush into it really quickly and then be spun in a circle. I would probably maul Katia’s arm for a little while until she gave me my second dinner in an attempt to distract me.
This would have to be a balmy summer night so there are a few flies on the balcony. Sometimes I try and eat them but if they’re out of reach I just stare up at them making creepy teradactyl noises until they fly away. After Katia gets into bed I’ll snuggle with her for about 2minutes and 30 seconds and then bite her and jump off the bed. I’ll hide until she starts dozing off because then I can really start to fuck with her. I do this by randomly digging my claws into the soft bit between her toes and the pads of her feet. I’m lucky because she sleeps on her back like a starfish so sometimes I can walk up her back and bite her head. That is freaking hilarious. She hates it so much! When she finally gets to sleep I love going out on the rooftops where me and my buddies fight each other in one of the derelict flats on the estate. It’s kind of like that film Fight Club but without Meatloaf jiggling around.
A round of Applaws if you will. Ocean Fish is my poison.
Defining moment of your life?
Killing my first pigeon. That was awesome. And it was tasty.
Flies. And also anything else that flies.
If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines, what would it be?
I would give us all wings, making us the ultimate predators
If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
I think I would have a fair amount in common with The Marquis De Sade
Which one of the cats in Under The Paw would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
Janet, I think there’s a good discussion to be had around feline gender identity.
I was born in a cafe in Lower Marsh Street called Scooterworks in October 2008. My dad is also my brother. Looking back my I didn’t even realise our family situation wasn’t ‘normal’. It wasn’t until I read a copy of Chat where a woman found out her older brother was actually her father that I realised families weren’t supposed to have sex with each other..
They used to call me ‘The Black and White One’ to distinguish me from ‘The Grey One’ I found out ‘The Grey One’ tried to kill himself by jumping out of a window one day. Maybe he read the same magazine I did and had a bad reaction to it. Apparently he’s okay now but he had two of his legs in casts for a while. I miss The Grey One sometimes.
On Christmas Eve Katia came and got me and she changed my name to ‘Captain SuperGreat’. I had my very first Christmas in my new house and Katia made me my very own mini chicken that I was allowed to climb all over and eat.
My name didn’t last long and one night she noticed that I had a really soft face and that’s the name that stuck. I’ve lived in South London all my life and I’m happy here. I did have a scare recently when I got trapped in a wall cavity in one of the derelict flats I mentioned earlier. I’d been there ALL DAY and was starting to get a little freaked out. I could hear Katia asking the neighbours if they’d seen me so I managed to get her attention by meowling as loud as I could and sticking my hands down a tiny hole in the roof.
I tried to crawl through it to get to her but my head nearly got stuck which was really upsetting. Katia called the firemen. When they arrived they started bashing holes in all over the estate trying to figure out how to get to me. In the end they made a MASSIVE hole in the roof outside her neighbours flat and I managed to escape. That’s probably the most exciting thing that’s happened to me so far, but then I’m still young. Maybe I’ll be in Chat magazine one day.