Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Dear Smudge

Dear Smudge,

I write on behalf of 'De Management' who wish to call attention to some recent, and flagrant, disregard of 'the household rules'. It is incumbent upon me to outline that said rules are to ensure the mutual enjoyment of our surroundings and/or each other's company. I therefore, draw your attention to the following matters and ask you for your support in making our family life one of mutual respect and admiration:

1. 5am is NOT breakfast time. No amount of licking of faces, pouncing on a noisy toy or jumping up and down on the bed will induce the mother and father to get up and provide you with nourishment at this ungodly hour.
2. Underneath the duvet is NOT a place for pussy-cats. You sleep ON TOP of the duvet.
3. Yes, we are aware that the bedside lights can be turned on or off by touching them. There is no need for a nighly demonstration of such effects, particularly before 6am.
4. The four poster bed is not a climbing frame for pussy-cats. There is no need therefore, for you to climb the curtains, launch yourself onto the top of the frame and run around it as if it were the Formula 1 race track.
5. Pussy-cats go OUTSIDE in the daytime: ones natural processes can be best served in someone else's garden rather than the litter tray which 'De Management' have to clean out.
6. Toys which squeak, groan, whir or include attachments with bells do NOT need to be ignored all evening and then become an object of fascination once everyone has gone to bed.
7. Anything that goes into the litter tray, STAYS in the litter tray and does not need to be removed from said tray and played with on the kitchen floor.
8. It is with regret that we must confirm, after the recent munching of bread items on top of the toaster, that the breakfast bar is out of bounds.
9. Persons walking around the house with no socks or shoes on are not inviting you to bite their ankles.
10. Finally, what goes up, must come down and therefore, if you manage to climb into next door's garden you must ensure that you are able to climb back. Step ladders, the fire brigade or the RSPCA will no longer be deployed in rescuing adventurous pussy-cats.

I thank you in advance for your careful observance of these rules from now on.


De Management.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Peeping Tom

My neighbours think that I'm a peeping tom. Well, I have been peering over the wall into their garden of late but I have a genuine reason. Really I do.

Smudge, previously mentioned kitten of magnanimous cuteness, has recently discovered how to climb onto the six foot wall that divides our garden from next door's. And so he has ventured into their garden. This however, is where his genius fails him. You see, from our side of the garden he can jump onto the window sill, then onto one part of the wall and meander, at his leisurely pace, onto the dividing wall and jump down into next door's garden. Unfortunately, in true pussy cat style he has not sussed out his escape route. He cannot jump high enough to get back onto the wall and get out of their garden and into ours.

So, this morning saw witness to my husband employing a step ladder (after some diligent ringing of next door's doorbell to ask permission, to no avail) and climbing over said wall to rescue cute and naughty kitten. To say the kitten was ungrateful would be an understatement.

So, I have just let said naughty kitten into the garden again and guess where I can hear him crying from now? Well, tough love is called for and he will be applying his masterly precision in acrobatics and figuring out how to get back over that wall before I get arrested for being a peeping tom!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


‎I came across this quotation recently:

 'The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next' (The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin).

I was reading the book for my reading group - well, when I say reading, I mean wading through it as one would wade through a swimming pool full of chicken soup: you might like chicken soup but immersing yourself in it is another thing altogether. The English language I love, science fiction, not so much.

Anyway, is that really true, that it's the uncertainty that keeps us going? We surround ourselves with routine and habit: is this our attempt to make sense or create some order out of the uncertainty? I have had a week of goodbyes, and I can tell you that all of that comes with just about as much uncertainty as I can take. The first goodbye was to a member of staff at work, who, for personal reasons decided it was time to go. It was, in my opinion, just a crying shame. Will I see her again? And then, Jimmy Saville died. I mean, aren't your childhood heroes supposed to live forever. No uncertainty about that, surely. Who will be next - Rolf Harris? That just doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

And then my parents, who had been staying with me for a week, returned home. Goodbye, again. Dickens was right about goodbyes:

'Why is it that we can better bear to part in spirit than in body, and whilst we have the fortitude to act farewell, have not the nerve to say it? (The Old Curiosity Shop, Charles Dickens)

Those routines, going through the motions, that's what he means. We can act it out, but to say it removes the uncertainty and makes it permanent. Goodbye not au revoir. So, what comes from the uncertainty, Le Guin, is hope. Hope that, yes, we will see these people again, the only uncertain part, the difficult bit, is when, but the hope is what makes the uncertainty tolerable.