So if you’re hoping this blog is about a fit female in leather trousers with cute cat ears, a selection of bullwhips and perfectly rounded bosoms, you’re on the wrong blog. That’s gotta be disappointing, but I am sure you can find a specialist website for your needs.
No, this blog is about my Saturday spent with my sister doing local charity work supporting at a monthly cat re-homing show for a brilliantly run cat charity.
How it works. Once a month we go along set up tables and chairs and unload a big van of cat stuff. We build about 15 large flat pack cages and then amazing volunteers who temporarily foster stray cats and kittens between re-homing shows, bring them in and put them in the cages so members of the public can come in and hopefully permanently adopt one, giving these fascinating, loving though sometimes passive aggressive animals in fur jackets, a home.
If someone wants to re-home a cat or kitten, before they are allowed to take it home, a trained volunteer follows them back to their home, like a pervert, and checks their home is suitable. If it is, they can return and take the cat or kitten home the same day. See no leather trousered, over rounded breasted female super hero here with steel spring-loaded climbing pitons.
Anyway, there are a few characters (many in their late 80s – good on em) and many unwritten rules. One, is that the lady in the kitchen who sells lunches and teas and coffees who appears not to like cats or people, runs the show. You are not allowed into the kitchen (god help you if you do) and if you want a cheese roll it is purely down to her if you get one. You can tell those who are good at influencing as they come away with a piece of carrot cake.
There’s another lady whose chair I accidentally sat in. It was definitely made apparent to me I needed to get out pronto. I’d love to see her go in the kitchen! I’m not sure how that would end but I’m pretty sure it would involve some flying cheese baps!
Anyway. We had these two gorgeous kittens who came in with their mum and the mum’s mum All of them were cuddled together. I immediately took to this little black one, cuddling her and forming an instant bond, confirmed by her pawing gently at my face much to my sheer delight. We formed such a relationship, that even though my husband warned me no more animals, it was worth considering getting her and a divorce. He’d pissed me off in the morning and she was chewing on my hair lovingly, so it seemed the best option for all concerned.
Whilst working through the divorce settlement in my mind, or a cheaper option of murder, it happened. The little kitten was chosen. I eye’d up the people who were going to take her, (instantly understanding how a father feels assessing if a boyfriend is good enough) and wiped tears away from my eyes, I thought somewhat subtly.
Not so. The lady going to take the kitten clocked how upset I was and came over and put her arm gently on me and said, ‘it’s OK. If you fostered her you’re going to be upset. I can give you my mobile number and you can come and see her anytime’. ‘Oh no, I didn’t foster her, I only met her an hour ago’, I said. ‘Oh’ she said, visibly stepping back from me and retracting her arm. I was about to take her number too!
After the kitten left, the poor mum cat, still with one kitten, was pacing up and down her cage mewing profusely. She was so upset. I said to my sister, ‘poor thing, she’s missing her kitten. I wonder how long she will be distressed for?’ ‘Not long, don’t you remember our kittens?’ She replied.
What my sister is referring to is the fact she brought two kittens from one litter a few years back and I brought one too (Walnut, aka Mr Nut, height 20cms, weight 3.5 kilos, skills – running like a pantha, likes – cuffing the dog’s beard, dislikes – everything, particularly dog’s and their beards).
A week after taking our kittens home we felt bad that they were separated, so we agreed I’d take Walnut off in his carrier for a day out at my sisters to she his brother and sister. Good chance for some pictures for the family album we mutually agreed.
When I told Tony what we had planned he said, ‘don’t be a twat’, followed by, ‘blah, blah, blah blah, blah’ and more use of the word twat, peppered with something about cats not viewing family in the same way and it being a fucking stupid idea and would just stress the cats out. His rant ended with him saying he was having no part in it, followed by him jumping in the car and driving with me the half hour journey to my sisters, with little Nut in his carrier in the back. Driving along, I said it would be a good day out and good for Walnut’s development, turning the radio up every time he cried.
We got to my sisters, went inside, put Walnut’s carrier on the floor leaving it closed up and before my sister had even flicked the switch on the kettle, there was lots of hissing followed by furious head shaking from Tony.
My response was, ‘it’s alright honey, they are just getting re-acquainted’. With that, I opened the carrier and took the lid off completely. Immediately the two kittens swung in for Nut, swiping, and hissing and lashing out, an angry little team (kettle still not on).
Then, poor Nut took off and flew under the sofa followed by his furious siblings with their razor like sharp claws fully extended. More head shaking from Tony now complimented with disapproving looks and numerous statements like, ‘I knew this would happen. Call yourself an animal lover!’ resulting in me immediately re-evaluating my life.
With my terrified kitten trying to make himself invisible in an Amazon box, I had to admit defeat. I scruffed a petrified Nut and put him in his carrier, leaving after a total visit time of about 10 minutes. No cuppa. Didn’t even get chance to open the Wagon Wheels I’d brought.
Back in the car, the journey home went like this (with me not actually saying a word). ‘You’re a fucking twat, who does that, who takes their cat on a day trip to see their brother and sister’…’meow’…’you have totally freaked him out, listen to him’…’meow’…’he is so distressed you absolute twat’…’meow’. Yer, there was no real change in the conversation it was that on repeat other than one additional comment, ‘oh and stop keep turning the radio up to pretend his not crying’. That poor cat cried all the way home.
So, my sister had a point. This mum probably would forget her kittens by the time she caught her next blue tit.
My thoughts were distracted anyway. I am being trained to be a pervert. To follow people back to their homes to see if they are suitable. And my co-worker (one of these brilliant guys in their 80s), told me we had a job on. This time, while he was looking for me to tell me about our visit, and found me contemplating the closeness of animals to their spouses and telling those not yet reserved the universe would re-align to their way soon, the people we were to follow had already headed off.
That meant one thing. An A-Z apparently. I did say to my co-worker, I can use sat nav. But this brilliant and wonderful guy just said, ‘we don’t use that’, and lay his map out on one of the cafe tables where there was an absence of anyone eating cheese baps (no shit). He told me we needed to be in 9D. Jeez, every argument I’ve ever had over a map came back along with that complete inability to understand the information I was looking at.
I did show as much interest as I could in ‘9D’. He needed some help reading it and I was struggling to see the streets. So with my nose pinched like I was about to jump into a pool, I drew in closer to the map. The nose pinching is because I have a condition where my nose drips like a tap in certain conditions, and I suspected 9D might cause a rush of nasal fluid.
Nose pinched and reviewing the map, I still had no idea where we were heading, especially when our journey spanned two separate pages. I suggested again I use sat nav, and it was met with, ‘don’t believe in it. Always used maps, always will. Never an issue for my generation’. In the end, I just gave up, pretended I knew where I was going as co-pilot and off we went.
On the way to the car, I secretly looked up the address on sat nav, turned the sound down on my phone, and when he said, ‘right, where we off to then?’, I answered, with sat nav directing me in my left hand down the side of the seat and the door, whilst I pretended to follow the map, on my lap, with my right finger. When we arrived he said, ‘see, we don’t need sat nav’. I just smiled, a complete fraud! The return journey and our next job worked the same. With him saying, ‘so you can read maps’.
We got back and after re-homing the majority of the cats, started packing up and sweeping up the cat biscuits, including fat bloated ones soaked in water.
I came home and wondered in the car if tonight would be the night I would get to win tickets on the cruise on Ant and Dec. I’ll put matching socks on just in case we’re surprised on our sofa and placed on their screens. I did send an application last week and when it asked for a video I sent one of Tony dancing to ‘Word up’ some years back with just a hat strategically placed.
When I got home, I thought I’d spent too long with cats, so to balance out the love I took Winston (dog) for a long walk. What a lovely spring day. It was a nice walk until I saw a trail of white feathers. More than just from your average bird, and a trail into the bush, I broke through the brambles, getting my feet and arms scratched to buggery, concerned a swan may be in trouble and in need of assistance. After cuts and scratches from the growing blackberry bushes and other angry bushes, I found someone had just gone nuts it seemed ripping a pillow apart! Who does that. Wtf!
Oh and I started reading some diaries from when I was a kid that I’d found as I sort shit out in preparation for new wardrobes. I sat reading them fascinated. I started with the ones aged 11. It seemed in January 1984 I was quite pissed off. After an argument with my sister, I dipped her toilet brush down the toilet and put it back in the holder and annoyed with my mum I put a half cucumber in her work handbag!
Just landed in Gran Canaria, we go through airport security, or a place where a bored guy just waves us through, while I am using my bag to cut off people who don’t appear to understand the concept of queues. How very British.
We have a cab waiting, and meet the guy. He introduces himself as Jo, not very Spanish I think, and I say my name, to which he immediately responds, ‘argh, you’re a woman’, with genuine surprise. There’s lots of laughing and awkward head nodding. Then he shows us to the cab.
We get in the car and he puts our bags in the boot. It gives me chance to ask Tony, ‘why did he confirm I was a woman’? ‘I don’t know, it shocked him maybe’, ‘Yer that’s not helping’.
Jo comes and gets in the car too and for the first time I actually hear where we are going. Just before you go on holiday people always ask, ‘where are you going’? I can answer as I always know the country, but then they ask, ‘where abouts’? To which my standard reply for all holidays is, ‘not far from the airport’. They must think I like planes. Then its, ‘are you staying in the North or South’? I just pick one. Then its ‘what’s the weather like’? Say a number. The latter, I should have looked into as I am already freezing in my shorts.
We get to the general area of where we will be staying and Jo tells us to stay in the cab and relax while he jumps out to helpfully locate our actual apartment. ‘What’s he want’? I ask suspiciously. He goes down one road and comes back, then down another and comes back, down another and comes back now shaking his head. Tony farts. ‘Great, the poor guy is out there looking for our apartment and you’re in his cab farting. I don’t think he meant relax that much’. Tony’s defence, ‘everyone farts in cabs’, like that’s an inherent virtue of human nature.
Eventually, Jo’s found our apartment. He gets our bags out, tries to stand them up and forces the handle up on mine. Good to see he is having the same issues. Then we start the process of paying. I tip, not knowing whether I have just giving him more money than he will have seen in a life time or have deeply offended him.
He walks us round to the apartment wheeling our cases for us saying, ‘you relax’. The lady who is due to meet us at our apartments isn’t there. Tony calls her. No answer. ‘OMG we’ve been scammed’, you immediately think. Yer that doesn’t go away when he tries another 4,5,6 times with the same result! Eventually he gets through and she says she will be 8 minutes (very precise). Jo laughs at the short time frame we are given and says, ‘haha, Spanish time she will be at least an hour or maybe here tomorrow’.
Jo says he will wait with us for the lady to turn up. I repeat internally, what’s he want and did I just pay his mortgage off with that tip to warrant this interest? He convinces us he will look after our stuff and that we should go and have a beer. Off we go. Not used to a friendly cabbie, we laugh, somewhat nervously at how he is probably riffling our bags or just plain running of with them.
1 hour later, the lady arrives. We say goodbye to Jo and he writes his name and number down so we can get him to take us to the airport when we go back. That’s when we learn his actual name is Panchos. He is lovely and the lady who meets us is lovely. Turns out the island is full of just really nice people, just intent on us having a nice holiday (the two we met anyway)!
Once inside the lady shows us a map and points out all the interesting places to go. We hope our faces politely say can we just skip this part. We are sure your old town is very lovely but we are merely here to drink Sangria.
After she goes I ask Tony if it’s safe to drink from the taps. ‘It’s not 1987 honey’.
We go out to have a nice meal. We sit down and 14 days later the waiter comes to take our drinks order. As he walks off Tony says, ‘jeez what a dream boat’. I laugh my head off. ‘Dream boat, I am a woman and I have never found reason to use that term’. He’s right though, so we just keep ordering loads of tapas just so we can spend time with him and we fight over who will actually place the order. When Tony says, ‘well take one of the small sausages’ please, internally I am dying and want to say, ‘actually, we will take any size sausage, either of us, what ever size sausage you have, will be great. We’ll take one for the team’.
The rest of the meal is spent with me vaguely listening to our conversation while following Dreamboat’s arse around watching like a complete pervert as it bends and straightens gorgeously as he wipes tables. I just want to reach out and stroke it. You have to understand, Tony is my soulmate and my best friend and we just are laughing at this and my interest in him very light-hearted.
Then, Tony spots a man coming along to the tables selling Oakleys, followed immediately behind by a bloke selling roses. ‘They better not come here, I’m not interested’, he says. The Oakley bloke passes by and doesn’t stop, the rose guy passes by and doesn’t stop. ‘Why didn’t they stop’? He asks as suprised as Jo/Panchos learning I was a woman. ‘I dunno, maybe your face telling them not to. You didn’t want them to anyway’. ‘I know, it’s nice to be asked though’. ‘What so you can tell them no’. ‘They’ll probably burn your retinas anyway’. ‘Yer, just like mine’, I say pointing to the hole in my sunglasses. We laugh.
I tell Tony the worst place I visited for people selling stuff was Barbados. When we arrived I was like, I don’t think that’s right that they move people selling Aloe Vera plants on, it’s their livelihood. Then the next day I was like, right, can you take this seller down and put his coconuts up his ass.
Tony says, ‘this place is like Byron Bay’. That’s were we spent our honey moon. It’s in Australia and is a place with a great energy and anything goes. People dress in all sorts of get ups from suits to hippy shit. Here there are people going by in puffer jackets and scarves, shorts, then some fancy heals go by and sparkly tops and then there was the lady in the red skirt (tutu like) and gold lycra top. Me, I’m in the shorts and full on summer get up. I’m freezing but I have no jumpers or jeans, nothing other than 100% cotton dresses. I want to be the lady that goes by in jeans a jumper and knee high boots.
Tony observes that everyone here is either a runner or a smoker. That’s true, loads of runners and loads of smokers. That prompts a game of ‘runner or smoker’, to everyone going by.
We talk about how, today I’d sent a message to Winston (dog’s) wonderful holiday family to tell them he eats shoes, as we forgot to tell them. As if to prove it I sent a picture of the shoes featured earlier in my blog. I was mortified that this didn’t reach them in time and to basically hear back that yes, they know with a picture of a small child’s eaten shoe. So, not knowing the size, we discuss ideas on what gift we can give in exchange for the shoe. The numerous pen knifes, lighters and the eye burning Oakleys just don’t seem right. Nor does the bikini glad ornament with Gran Canaria splayed across the breasts.
At the end of the meal we move the tip around on the table, both wanting to look like we were the one who left it in case he decides to give us a bit of extra sausage. The coins move around like we’re playing chess.
We walk home and I say ‘Ola’ to the dogs we pass but a bit like a Gentlemen’s Club, I have a no touching rule our of respect for Winston. Though he has shown no respect having pinched a crying small kids shoe. The ‘no touching rule’, has nothing to do with the time I surprised a dog with my ‘ola’ in Mexico that basically wanted to chew my face off.
I left our Bradford offices at 1pm to head back to Essex. Apparently into severe wind storms with travel disruptions on the trains. Cheers Doris. So I popped to the shops and got some food and a bag of clementines and headed to the station.
The travel disruption was confirmed when I waited at Leeds for 2 hours on a freezing platform. Bored, I put my hand in my pocket to get my phone. I pulled it out with my train ticket which flew directly into the face of a guy next to me, and after he batted it away like a fly from his face, it blew the fuck away up the platform. I wouldn’t mind but the phone that helped the ticket escape wouldn’t let me on the Internet so it was a pointless pocket reach.
Eventually the train pulled in and we were advised the 2hr 15min journey would be 4 -5 hours. We boarded the train and I took it upon myself to argue on behalf of the entire carriage with a rude French lady who kept telling everyone to move down. Always two camps on a delayed train. The ‘move down you tosser camp’ and the ‘there ain’t no room to move down you tosser’ camp. That said, get stuck on a train with a bunch of Northerners and it’s like a party train. Get stuck down South and no-one speaks to each other but all get their phones out loudly to complain to their mates to let their fellow passengers know just how pissed off they are without the need for direct communication.
I was fortunate, I got a seat. Immediately the guy next to me wanted the loo and I got up from my Isle seat to let him out with a look that said seriously now, right now, you can’t wait, ok, if you’re happy with that’. I probably over exaggerated the inconvenience of getting back out of my seat to let him up the crowded isle because he was ever so apologetic.
While fellow commuter was peeing and his rucksack and coat were on his seat, an able bodied guy boarded the train and spoke to me. I thought he said, ‘can I have your seat’?
Because I was sitting in the give this seat up if someone needs it more than you area. Well, I didn’t think he needed it more than me, he was only in his 50s (about 10 years older and clearly working as he was in a suit). But I didn’t want to just say ‘no’. I thought that was rude. Instead, I thought it better to just lie. So without even thinking I said ‘no, I’m sorry, I’d normally be the first to give up my seat but I can’t because I am pregnant’ (which I’m not). To which he responded, fairly annoyed, ‘I didn’t ask for your seat I’m asking if that seat next to you is taken’, pointing at the premature pee’rs temporarily empty seat. ‘No it’s taken’, I said rubbing my tummy in a motherly way although it was just swollen from gluten and constipation.
Eventually said pee’er came back and he sat back in his seat and everyone settled into the journey and realised there was actually enough room for everyone on the train so both camps stood down and the constant ‘can you move up’ with increasing anger in tone and …’no there’s no room’ equally increasing anger in tone, stopped.
There was a young guy standing next to me in the isle unbeknown to me watching me basically punching buttons on my phone still trying to get onto the Internet to no avail. If in doubt, go in settings, think wtf, and just change shit. I was prepared to do this for the whole 5 hours.
When Mr premature pee’er got off at the next stop the young guy wanted his seat so I budged over to the window seat. He asked if I minded moving along and I said no but I would want the loo in a bit. Clearly thinking it’s important to set out expectations early.
About 10 mins into young guy sitting next to me, he turned to me and said, ‘do you want the hotspot’? Yes please, I said lifting myself out of the seat thinking he was offering me exit to the loo. It turns out hotspot wasn’t some reference to the toilet but he was offering me to get onto the Internet via his phone having clearly watched me trying for some time.
Naturally use of his hotspot resulted in us talking the rest of the 5 hours about, well anything. It started with a quick chat about dementia and the likelihood of getting it, and quickly progressed to do aliens exist? To which, when I asked him this very question he said, ‘course they do otherwise it’s just a fucking big waste of space’. Eating a clementine I pissed myself.
From here we went to 911, favourite biscuits (his were pink wafers and I’m partial to the old Garibaldi) and how he recently found that the hedgehogs in his garden liked cooked sweet rice. So I got telling him about my friend who has a hedgehog hospital and how I was part of a local badger group promoting badgers but now I trap and neuter feral cats with the cat’s protection league.
We eventually limped into King’s Cross and he got out, shook my hand and told me his name. Then he said. ‘Right, well no doubt when I get dementia this will be the memory I keep telling my family about. I’ll randomly repeat about badger woman, her passion for hedgehogs and how she trapped cats’. Then he wished me good luck with ‘the little one’ and I thought, ‘oh yer, fuck’. I wanted to say, ‘it’s ok, that was just a lie so I didn’t have to give my seat up to that bloke’, but realised that was a very shit reason! We said goodbye and there was that awkward moment of, ‘do we change FB addresses, do I ask him over for Sunday lunch’ but he just fucked off. We parted and went our separate ways.
I headed to Liverpool Street and watched as my phone battery started dying from 32%. It was like watching the countdown clock. Fucking hate tech. Got to Liverpool Street, no trains and my battery now dead so I couldn’t update Tony. Eventually I got a train. Got to my station, went to get cash out, the cashpoint had been locked behind the station doors, clearly for fear it would blow away. I headed to the BP garage. I changed my position ready to bear the storm. I expected tumble weeds to go by, and birds at double speed but nothing. My hair didn’t even tousle. 9 hours to do a 4 hour journey by this point and for seemingly no reason! I wanted carnage. Oh and then BP cashpoint wasn’t working.
I got in a cab with Mr chatty. Was called Darling about 15 times in the 5 minute journey before he dropped me off and I still tipped him. Got out, got in.
First thing I noticed was a hotchpotch of items around the fire place including Tony’s Ipad, which seemed to be stacked up making some sort of makeshift fireguard. The dog standing next to it was wagging his tail. My first words after seeing my husband Tony for 2 days was, ‘What the fuck’? ‘Yer, we’ve got another mouse’. I didn’t like the use of the word ‘another’. Trapped in a small space I said, ‘has it eaten’? ‘I don’t fucking know, it’s a mouse’. ‘Yer but it’s got no water or nothing’.
As I tried to peer in at our lodger, I knocked down all the shit holding it in. The dog launched himself towards the intruder. ‘For fuck sake, you’re back two minutes and you wreck everything. He’s been there 2 days and his been fine but you come in with your fat fingers and knock everything over’. ‘Honey, I was only checking on him’…actually I should have been arguing at the ‘fat finger comment’.
Tony, clearly annoyed said, ‘right, I’m off to bed’. ‘Honey, be nice to me, I have travelled all day and I am knackered’. ‘Er, you sat on your arse for 9 hours talking about aliens to a random stranger’.
Tony went to bed. I went and got my PJs on, and then came back downstairs to tend to the mouse. I went and got a spoon and an empty plastic quality street jar. I banged with the spoon on the fireplace and stood in a scrum like position with the jar thinking the sound might make him come out. Yer, it didn’t. I banged some more and gave up. Instead, I got the lid off of a bottle of water, filled it up and left it for him in his enclosure with a Jacobs’s cracker. I sat down to have a clementine and realised I’d left the remaining fuckers on the train!
Upsettingly, when I woke up in the morning, the dog was throwing the mouse (now dead), up in the air like a Frisbee and the cracker was gone.
The dog refused to go out with the mouse and wanted to bury it down the back of the sofa. So I had to poke him with the rubbish grabber until he dropped it and use it to grab the mouse. It was like trying to grab a cuddly toy with a claw hand at an arcade.