Category Archives: Memory

There’s nothing normal about growing up with dragons in the pantry…

Maturity is something sometimes, some of us have to grow out of—

When growing up is a small price to pay for surviving it…

one way dirtyMost nights I wouldn’t remember falling asleep. A curious state of affairs for such a rare occurrence, but had it been a regular household, I’m quite sure things would have been most different.

On a typical day, and I use the term lightly, I’d be up and about early so as to avoid any unpleasantness, but this particular had come and gone and it was midday before I awoke; almost three before stirring with any conviction. And I was in an horrendous mood because of it. I wouldn’t have even been able to put ‘why’ into words without sounding hyperbolic.

Upon reflection, I merely chalk it up as being one of those things childhood throws at you to give you excuses later in life for underachievement or lack of ambition.

I remember thinking it was a little warm for the time of year until noticing an orange flicker, licking the bottom of the window. I just assumed the house was on fire again and went back to sleep. This would have been fine had it not been for the sound of screaming and the smell of dead babies. Heat is one thing and tolerable to a point, but knowing where to draw lines and when to erase them is a life skill that should be treated with priority. My pen comes out with the stench of death. So I told them.

I’m all for living and let living, but when the latter means nothing of the sort and the the sanctity of life, human or otherwise is being defiled and I’m able to smell it; it makes you feel somewhat responsible, partially. It was why I’d bought them the febreze in the first place.

I didn’t get much of a response beyond the cackling, but deduced it must have been Toebag and not Hag who was responsible for the foul emanations: she’d probably slaughtered the babies she sat for and brought them home for a snack.

Toebag’s more reasonable when it comes to this sort of thing then Hag, who tends to break her victims’ spirits before desecrating their flesh. I never quite understood that at the time, but with advances in science the way they are, it’s quite possible it had something to do with the heterocyclic amines or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons released during the initial stages of absolute terror.

Needless to say I was curious, a state of affairs rarer than lack of sleep— so when I finally found the temerity I was looking for hidden under a stack of witchcraft today and my heat retardant spectacles sitting on them, I decided to investigate. Sure enough, there was Toebag, horns erect and tail swishing, breathing fire and what have you, tucking into a vegetable curry and not the twins from the previous night. That, I thought, was the luncheon of a sick and depraved animal— and I wasted little time in telling her so…

Hag was there too, slouched in a curtain of rasping flames looking fiendishly dull, so I took the opportunity to mention that I was concerned about the effect of excessive heat on my trousers but was forced away by a collective shriek that knocked my specs clean off.

It’s bad enough having to share a house with a couple of demented bat-wings who find it innately pleasurable to torture people and singe them for making reasonable inquiries about the laundry, but there’s just no need for pyrotechnics in the house. I distinctly remember being told as a child not to play with matches, and here were two up-grown blasphemers revelling in Satan’s unholy winds, hurrying me into the kitchen to make my tea before my face dissolved.

I was so on edge I even jumped at my own reflection in the patio doors after popping outside to see the rabbit who was oblivious to whole thing and Autumn was no where to be seen, obviously in fear of wasting one of the nine lives she was saving for more desperate times. Those two always gave me the impression that they’d gladly remain neutral provided their respective body weights in biscuits everyday was satisfied.

As for me, I scowled and cursed a little, which was customary even then, avoided the flaming projectiles that were aimed at me and drank my tea in peace.

Where it seemed to me to be much more quiet—

Must’ve been the tea…

The fewer the thoughts, the greater they weigh. It’s the nature of remembering & the autistic brain…

Moments aren’t for defining; they are to be put to song—

Instrumentals…

IMG_2445I was just lying there, stewing somewhat— having had a Shanghai of a day, cat in toe by my face most of it, swinging-low. She kept me working from the cave today but anywise.

I was flicking through some menus and films thinking; but at the same time, weighing things over and over quite involuntarily— things that weigh more, the fewer of them you have.

One of them was an idea I had some time ago for a clock, that would no doubt cause its owner endless torment with the perverse manner in which it kept time. But it’s in their nature: it just so happens to be what they do— because they’re secretive. It’s also the nature of remembrance, that the only function it serves is to remind us of other things— which is why, as we grow older— we tell each other stories in the hope they will remind us of other stories.

It’s as fitting an analogy as I am prepared to make to the autistic brain today, short of explaining the mechanisms of the clock. Remembrance is not an uncomplicated process. It’s a voluntary act dependant on a series of involuntary recalls. There may be a degree of summons, but like the cat this morning, there is a powerlessness to affect what happens next.

I’m reminded of an early Latin text— one of the earliest and funniest extant, as it were— written in or around the first century, so I wasn’t around at the time to comment as to the prevalence of what it describes. The truth is, I care only to recall but bits of it, and one of them concerns a water clock in a dining room, with a trumpeter, whose only function was to announce the time, so at any time, the clocks owner would know precisely how much of his life he had lost. Make a note, because I’ll be returning to this observation another time.

In turn, I was reminded of several observations made by friends over the years: that by and large I keep my thoughts about my person, and they are at times saddened I do not, cannot or wiln’t share them. I’ve been criticised for it a number of times; my thoughts it seems, are worth more than dust or my company— and regardless of the humour involved in such comments, they always leave me bound to a curiosity I either do not or cannot explain. You could argue then, that by doing so, you make a case for saying you can measure whatever life you’ve had, you’ve lost— by the measure of whatever life you’ve failed to share.

Rough notes as they are, capsulise the multiple ironies therein: life lost incorporates everything; it’s an imperious semantic field from which, not even thought can escape. It is for all intents and purposes infinite, but yet there was once a man with a leaky pot and a trumpet attempting to measure it; to share the thought: that I don’t readily share my thoughts is awkward to validate in as far as you must do one to do the other— and in order to remember it, I had to think of other things— while lying there— stewing somewhat.

It’s funny; it can take as long as an hour to capture the essence of a moment in order to share it. It’s not something I find displeasing— it just reinforces, on a personal note— how powerful the implications are of such generosity. Most people will never work it out; because it’s not in their nature; they are unfortunately, not enough like clocks.

So the next time you ask yourself, where it was you think that you last saw your glasses and are startled by the response— be sure to take another note, that it’s time to re-examine the events leading up to it. If however the response is along the lines of, I don’t know where they are but I heard them land a moment before catching a satisfied glimmer, only to see them perched exactly where you left them.

Ask yourself this:

What then was it you think, that you heard land?

*tick*

Two fortnights; four weeks; one month or thirty very odd days…

To a month of links and thinking differently;

And a little bit of noise—

I hope it’s been some fun…

coacheswar-crimescricketbreadsticksblogging cats baby-sitting aboutbad-teaching balloons  ettiquette  coffee furniture girl gnomes habits grammar house-sitting immigration golf knitting meltdown marshmallows lost miniamlism nail-clippings onearmed man rules procrastination phone-calls senses shit pockets sick

stuffed-cats superhero syntax

I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained…

Walt Disney

It’s not everyday you can say you answered the call of nature and ended up committing a crime against it…

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time…

Friedrich Nietzsche

942750_10151627526991041_1958403882_nThere a lots of reasons why I started actually writing things down again. One of the isn’ts, was a fear I’d run out of thoughts should I ever to feel the need to just write; granted, I’ve kicked myself from time to time for being so complacent, but when not-actually writing things down is the healthy alternative, you must be philosophical about it; what comes with ease, likewise goes–– and with any luck will do again. I think anyone who’ve ever wanted to go through the motions of transcribing their brains, will agree that it helps to have something in it: a maraca therefore, is preferable to a balloon.

Minds however, regardless of their content will go completely blank from time to time, sometimes in mid-sentence. It can almost feel as though the meadow through which you were just strolling was replaced suddenly by a large carpetless floor with no sky. Sometimes, just sometimes, like all good things and boomerangs, women or elephants; it’ll come back…

It’s realisations like Dorothy Parker’s in The Ballade of Unfortunate Mammals, that makes me smile. I grin only, because it helps me find my place; so at least, when the push comes to shove me to one side and ask me who I think I am, at least I can declare with some certainty, that I am neither woman nor elephant…

I mention this only because it’s more interesting then what inspired the imbecility that followed–– it must be, because for the life of me I can’t imagine whatever possessed me beyond my compulsion to read signs, packaging or anything with writing on for that matter, regardless of what I’m doing–– add to that, a day two bitching %#@&$ing cold.

It was in-part at least, inspired by something I’d read concerning air-fresheners some time back and part, an absurd idea to check out what I reckoned to be an unnecessarily outrageous claim on the back of the packet: one squirt apparently, could keep a bathroom smelling ‘pretty’–– whatever that means–– for thirty minutes.

So upon the utterance of a dismissive twaddle under my breath and in mid-stream, I decided to depress the dispenser not once but thrice–– and it wasn’t long before I was doing my best to recoil from the spot and think of something other than asphyxiation, toxic acidosis or any of a hundred unpronounceably aggressive lung diseases in their most virulent form from overcoming me… and making a mess; right there and then: in mid-stream.

I think it’s moments like these that compel the weak to overcome insurmountable obstacles, like lift buses single-handedly, charge a fortified enemy with nothing but a battle-cry, or survive an asphyxiating atmosphere for thirty seconds longer than need be. I could even be in contravention of the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases. It’s not everyday you can say you answered the call of nature and ended up committing a crime against it! Is it?

Besides, If I die young I want it t be something heroic involving thin-ice or a runaway train and not because I became over-come by a raspberry smelling wonder-mist in a toilet. It was a very near thing for sure and must have had something to do with the brain-leak, it’s just gotta…

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again—

L. Frank Baum

Easier said than done Mr Wizard…

By all means, you’re welcome to eat any way you see fit; I’ll just use the spoon…

Neither electricity nor pomposity is the silent servant; it is manners—

Recalled with the assistance of Conrad, The Wine Wanker

nouvelle_cuisine_cartoonThere are people who mean what they think, then say what they mean; and some are just mean and don’t think, then say whatever they damn-well please.

I am not renown for being pompous. It is however a useful tool to have in your armoury, particularly when it needs to be pointed out in others. As a communication method, it is practically impossible to take seriously, thereby lending its itself perfectly to other more declarative forms of expression. But under no circumstances would I advise for, the pompous rhetorical question: that would be in shockingly poor taste. Especially when it involves food.

When used for bringing volume to one’s airs in a manner more supercilious than enlightening however, I find the very register of immediate comic effect. It can sound so aloof and so lofty that I’d have little trouble receiving the positions of cannibals, revolutionaries, reactionaries, nuisance-callers, even vegans owing to the very towering nature of their argument. This is something I fail to see as bad thing, because in the end gravity always wins.

It’s actually a style I like to frequent from time to time, as it puts me in mind of a more civilised time and affords me the use of a lexicon that would otherwise look out of place and silly. Add to that an inwardly facing superiority, whereby rendering only myself as little foolish and it makes the business of remembering things a somewhat pleasant jolly. So with that throw-back in mind, I’d like to cast back some twenty years to Rheims, the world’s champagne capitol.

Rheims was hosting a week long, sister-city ceremony with the Germans, Austrians and Italians and of course the Britainnians for sporting events, drama, frivolity, art and food, with the intention to bring together the very best of our national and cultural identities and celebrating our differences. The Maastrict treaty was in its infancy, so it was a all a bit of a to-do.

Anyway, I had been selected for Canterbury’s cricket team and we had been selected to travel with the rugby squad— a term I use lightly: not before nor since have I ever witnessed beer-swilling quite like it in a bus, nor the heckling; as not a single lady escaped the collective cheers of Nicole Papa along the route, as our burly continent appropriated the same side of the bus to suck the windows. The driver was certainly nonplussed, harvesting fears, as some of us were, that we might at any moment capsize; fears, in no way allied by my impression that rugby was supposed to be a game played by gentleman. My dad however, was just praying they didn’t burst into the chicken song.

Upon arrival, we checked in to our hotels then made our way to the town-centre to be entertained by a gathering of troupes from our respective homelands. It was magnificent, the costumes, mediaeval weaponry, assorted acrobatics, the costumes and colour. It was pageantry at it’s very finest, all meticulously choreographed and splendid— until we found the British.

For all of the rich and vibrant history we boast, our contribution to this culturally dynamic affair, was Morris dancing: a side of black-faced, befeathered men and women in boiler-suits trying to brain each other with big sticks and bells. I cringed. There wasn’t a canon or spadroon in sight, just Morris dancing— and not even the type I mind least. Not only did it have an improvised feel to it, but when the mascot attempted to juggle with one ball, he dropped it.

To describe it as as a bit of a let down would be gross, but with the banquet at the mayor’s residence to look forward to, not to mention the cricket, the gala and evening laser-show— there was plenty potential to wipe the disappointment bare and salvage the experience. That was the hope anyway. Actual hope, and then the dinner happened…

You’ll have to imagine the dining hall for yourselves: hundreds of years old, a vast ceiling laden with gold leaf and quite the most exquisite carpentry. The tables were round and we were seated randomly for the most part— I found space for our group so we could dine as one and alighted with genuine excitement. It just so happened we ended up sharing a table with the chairman of one of the Arts Committees— no doubt the chap responsible for the fiasco earlier; and it wasn’t long before all the hopes and joy began to seep away.

If you’ll permit me, I must impress upon you how noisy his style was. He spoke loudly, his word choices thunderous. I think without labouring the point, you’ll know the type: he wanted to be in charge of the dinner table; in fact, left to his own devices, I’m sure he would’ve eaten our meals for us too. Unfortunately for us, he made it so we could hear everything he said, and the next table and quite possibly the table next to that.

I have mellowed a lot since then in a number of ways— I have become more tolerant of things others may say to me, about me or even near me— now whether or not these things are in the best of intentions or otherwise, what I do object to, now, just as I did then, is having manners thrust upon me. I deplore rudeness you see: it takes the same amount of time and effort to be pleasant as it does to be a dick; it never ceases to amaze me why certain fellows would choose the latter?

So, long before even the starters had been served, it had been impossible— quite impossible to ignore all the chat about etiquette. It was etiquette this and etiquette that and etiquette, etiquette, etiquette. To be fair to him, I had considered he may have been overcome by the splendour, but as long as he kept himself to himself. I may have been young, but I certainly knew not to eat from the inside out.

Suffice to say, I was taking an ever increasing dislike to him and his nose. When they are decidedly upturned, endearing yourself to another is quite the gift, and nostril-hair is the last thing you want to be thinking about before tucking into a posh meal. So when this chap leaned over, obviously mistaking us for riff-raff and reminded us exactly where we were and not to forget our etiquette, I turned to him and smiled and with as rounded and precise a smile as I’ve ever made, and told him ‘bollocks!’.

Then proceeded to eat my entire meal with a spoon..

Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential

True story…

Image: Royston Cartoons

What does Casper, Head & Shoulders & fingernails have in common?

Really, honestly, truly?

Probably nothing— but this is all a bit of a rush-job!

And kind of how I actually sound in real-life…

goalExcept that the friendly ghost actually was the prime-shaker responsible for my non-participation this evening. The soiree I was invited to didn’t really appeal to me that much, it never does. The parent’s godchildren were going to be there and because someone with no brain whatsoever decided to take my advice, they now have kids with 90% of their bodies without so much as an ounce of bejesus in them. However, after actually watching Scream they did comment— much to my amusement— how much they were enjoying it until Casper started killing everyone— thereby laying their own stepping-stones for years of future therapy. I decided it was in my best interests to leave them to their baked potatoes and Transylvanian Stew.

I can then vaguely recall having an important revelation whilst tearing off my fingernails so I had something to give to the trick or treatersabout something or other but alas, as with most things today, my mind has just turned the other way in embarrassment— shunning me like a giant turd…

I am aware of course that turds do not shun or be shunned; are merely flushed away without a second thought. It’s just I found the idea of a giant shunning turd, particularly on Hallowe’en, an amusing concept. If for no other reason, because it would be the last thing I’d ever expect to come get me; just like Casper with disco-hips and a twelve inch tempered-steel blade. I mean, come on! It’s not a kids film, stop taking anything I say seriously!

One thing I do remember though, was a little ditty I had whilst flicking through hundreds of thousands of television channels, attempting to find some gore for this evening and failing miserably. Anywise, between the profanity I was hurling at every unsuccessful attempt, was born a new cure for food poisoning. If Head and Shoulders could wipe out the microbes that cause unsightly bonce-flakes after a few applications, imagine the speedy recovery from the pain of a dodgy barbecue you could make from downing just a few shots of the ammoniun laureth sulfate rich formula. Naturally, some form of long-glass milk based cocktail could probably be developed to take the edge off the really bad cases, but I reckon that, even if I’m wrong, I could still be on to a winner.

The rubbish that occupies my mind sometimes is just, well! Dangerous, if you’re stupid enough to take it overtly literally. Whatever, I want a snack.

So now this post has been taken care of, I need some rest and a cup of tea— and owing to an unexpectedly busy day and no sleep last night, I haven’t had time to bring together in a glorious arc, the relevance of my recent brain-foraging. There’s a plan to it all I’m sure and something about today’s about to harbour a severe rattling fit if I ignore the popcorn for a second longer, so-no more ado:

Happy Hallowe’en; and should you find yourself my way and don’t fancy eating a bowl of nail clippings

I’d knock very carefully…

The Art of Babysitting: the lowest paid high-risk job in the world…

Spare the rod, spoil the child—

Boys will be boys. And so will men…

This could have been possible without the help of a few like minded individuals, but it would not have been nearly as fun to put together. I just hope that that enjoyment shows on the page. It’s also nice to have the blame for conjuring up such rotten behaviour shared. What was omitted of course, will stay that way.

19171_281714681040_1679334_nThere is no such thing as a perfect mother or a perfect father for that matter. So it stands to reason that babysitting, as an art form is impossible to master. This doesn’t mean that an attempt to do so is futile, it just means the odds of success aren’t exactly weighed in your favour. We do live in the age where man has voyaged to beyond the unquestionable fathoms of the deep; leapt from the edge space; we do have Usain Bolt, and children are being born at a much younger age, year after year, but like the babysitter, parents are doomed from the start it’s an insurmountable mountain that must be negotiated from the moment they arrive to bring joy, warmth and happiness to them, and it is their responsibility alone to confuse and disturb them. The humble babysitter however, has no enduring claim, other than to provide little-more than a form of cheap entertainment; a gift if you like, from the parent to child, as a pay off for abandoning them to seek out entertainment of their own.

So, what follows is rule number one, of one, in multiple parts: not exactly the key to being a good babysitter so much as it is the key to surviving babysitting…

You see, the problem that most of us encounter whilst looking after a couple of mitching-snipes, is that we still think of them as children. This is not the case, it is a basic thought-error and wild under-estimation from which trap, should you fall into it, a lifetime of therapy could be necessitated. Children, under the supervision of a babysitter must be thought of as miniature-creatures, since they regard us at best as pretend people. We don’t really exist in the sense that we have powers to anything but occupy space or heaven-forbid we actually tell them to do anything they ought be or not be to-do and this is something a miniature-creature can work out by simply exchanging looks with a sibling, or ogling us.

Within a moment of surmising we harbour weakness, they will begin to determine inappropriate actions amongst themselves and begin to divide the bibs they intend to plant on us whilst nabbing the regulars of acceptable behaviour in the bud, one nip at a time: they truly believe that anything goes. You may as well resort to pirate talk straight away; but arrghhs and it meb’ees will only hold them at planks-length for so long, because they are scheming little terriers who love nothing more than to leave you sunk and drowned whilst they strip your quarter decks and fetch you a kop of the unfortunate variety across the cheek, up the bracket or if you’re really unlucky, right in the mouse-trap leaving you shivering up and down whatever timber you have remaining…

This is where your counter-planning must begin if you’re foolish enough to enter Amityville without any. You must muzz, before being muzzed, because you are vulnerable within seconds of being seen. The rule starts here. You must be sure to keep your movements to a minimum. A for limp example, will be noticed uncannily, because while you are hanging up your coat, items of furniture will be being moved with the express purpose of clipping it, regardless of the room you enter and they somehow manage this without uttering a single syllable. Therefore, if you do have a limp pretend the affliction bothers the other leg, or both, or if that’s too much, a pair of baggy trousers will suffice.

Naturally, if you manage to navigate the obstacles without so must as an inconvenience to your balance, never put it past a creature to shimmy in with a nudge or two of your own. Sometimes as a defensive strategy, an accidental clip round the ankles of your own works wonders to keep them on the other foot. I knew of one brood strategically placing roller-skates around the house when breaking in a new babysitter, so it’s important to remain focused.

Any successful completion of a booby-trapped path can earn you respect, but you have to be quick to register any sleight nods of approval this fetches you because it’s as stealthy as their next move…

If they can’t topple you through material mischief alone, they will be forced to barter with you and ask you seemingly innocuous questions that you freely submit to answering. This can be dangerous, as they use this information to be beastly. Remember, these are not children. And you my dears, are not real.

So when they ask you if you’d like a cup of tea, return the compliment and suggest that you will make it; being careful not to trip over the rocking horse that has by magic appeared by your right foot and the marbles by your left and proceed to the kitchen, whenever possible, alone— but should that be impossible— by making positively sure that you lead whether you know the way or not. Knives and other stabbing instruments have the unlikely habit of becoming unhinged and accidentally lethal at this point. You should make sure there is nothing suspicious about the kettle, and make doubly sure you don’t find yourself standing in a small puddle of water before engaging it.

Just in case you’re still a little apprehensive, I’d recommend a startled leap away from the counter. This is a cunning ploy. Not only does it grant certain observations to be made, it give you a chance to draw your own conclusions as to the motives of your creatures. If they launch themselves back and hurt themselves, so much the better, you can inform the injured party that it was in fact their sibling that caused the wounds, so by creating a diversion whilst finishing up with the tea. If they merely stand firm with a look of excited wonderment on their faces, you know you’re in for the long haul. Not only do they have their code to protect, but they are, in all actuality, going to make pretty certain that you never leave the house alive.

This is when you must plan pre-emptive revenge if you’d been in a rush and had forgotten to before accepting the appointment. For my guarantee, comprehensive enlightenment is always sought, and I employ the services of a master. Her insight into the ways of the sneak are beyond reproach, therefore her advice, beyond question:

  • Turning one child against the other by favouring them; preferably the older child…

  • Threats and bribes…

  • Feeding them huge amounts of tryptophan to induce sedation

  • Winning them over by allowing them to do things expressly forbidden by their parents under the guise of deal-making and secrets; staying up late and watching TV…

If however you do not have the heart to drug your tiny adversary, and you just want them to know who’s boss make their tea the Mongolian way and use salt instead of sugar. This is when you can start to turn the tables back on them; regardless of its shape. Reverse psychology on a creature is a powerful tool. Not only will they seek personal compensation for damaging their palate, they will also chuck a little hurry-durry your way. Combine this with a sneaky aside to the untainted sibling by suggesting his brother, or sister is a wimp and you’ll be granted an honorary high-five on the spot. If you play your cards right the brothers, or sisters will spend the next little while exchanging names and daring each other to drink the tea at which point, one of them will, have rush to the toilet, and be sick…

With one down it’s easier to work on the other one. This can be achieved by suggesting he is beastly, and he should apologise immediately, and keep him company if that fails, you should use the ‘golden ticket’ method:

  • Show them a horror film or ghost story; anything that deals with keeping all limbs on the bed, under the covers and keeping quiet so ‘it’ will not find their next victim…

I remember to always keep a copy of Scream handy, and simply tell them it is the new Casper film. They will be horrified by the antics of the unfriendly ghost; and go to bed.

With the job done, it is important to reflect on what has passed. I tend to believe that in order to be a good babysitter, you must think in the language of kiddish monsitous if this means you have to put your self to bed early for being naughty so be it: for it is quite possibly the lowest paying high-risk job in the world.

With the ultimate goal of ensuring that everyone is alive and the house is intact when the parents return; even when the odds are stacked against you, it’s not entirely unfair to know the rules for playing a little hard-ball now is it?

‘Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter.’

Francis Bacon: ‘Of Parents and Children’

Nothing’s changed much in 500 years has it?

The Art of Kitty Maintenance…

Such temperate palms doth pitter like rain—

Our misery is their entertainment…

I’ll forgo the usual introduction and instead reproduce a cartoon I found in the hope that it will at least seem to justify my labours as much to you, as it does to me. And of course, make them appear all the more sane: kitty maintainanceWith the exception of a few pursuits I could be pressed to lay a hand on without overly taxing myself, I can honestly say that owning a cat is one of the trickiest. The word itself: pursuit, perhaps sums up the very relationship we have with our feline friends better than any other. Let me assure you, I’m in no way making allusions to that sound they make when they’d like to make us think we are causing them botherations I am deadly serious. The word pursuit is perfect; implies a chase and more often than not, it is we who are doing the chasing.

I like to think they prefer it this way, because no matter which way you look at it, there is an inevitable run around that occurs from day to day which can leave you wondering where your next breath will come from. This is something cats consider beneath themselves, for they are animals which have indifference hard-wired into them; they are the same creatures which can sleep for three days then fall forty feet onto solid ground and land gracefully: panting therefore is something they gaze upon with a kind of indignation reserved for the owners of lesser pets. I’ve little doubt that in their minds, such behaviour would no doubt spoil their whole aesthetic. It inevitably comes down to the simple question: who owns whom? For it’s a simple truth that, as much as we would like to believe otherwise: it’s thems which does the owning which unnaturally brings us full circle to the original point of pursuit

Cats need to be tackled— something easier written than done, but there you have it. There is no other way of putting it: their outward gaze may be one of calm, knightly almost but underneath beats an epicentre of cruelty and uncompromise. This is something I have noticed over the years and despite the odd exceptions— tackling gets you respect. It also allows you to retain a little dignity, once you realise any hope of clinging onto all of it is sadly unrealistic.

Cats operate on an entirely different biological clock you see, but this is all part of their tactic to confuse and befuddle their owners. They’re the peace-time equivalent of P.O.W.s wanting to get home by first irritating their captors. Autumn, since she is my case-study, has long since been banned from watching anything that might encourage behaviour of an overly irritating manner, because like many of her kind, she doesn’t need any.

She has just the three settings:

  • Sleep

  • Play

  • Eat

Sleep time for cats is a curious affair. They can be in a vegetative state for hours, be curled still and dreaming of catching sparrows and offering them as gifts and still become alive at a moments notice to create havoc and make us cry. This is where they differ from us. We wake up and generally plod about and walk into things for a few minutes, whilst spending the next few hours trying to remember who we are.

It’s also the time they boast the ability to operate in all three states simultaneously. When they sleep they dream; when they dream, they are invariably thinking about food. When they want food they think it’s cute to get our attention; firstly by playing and then by making the most unremitting sound imaginable: some of them not dissimilar to a crying baby. This is where they differ from dogs, who haven’t the ability to produce more than a half dozen utterances; whereas cats have a resonating chamber granting the them powers of production over something in the region of a hundred-odd noises designed to register a frown, wake the dead or put you off whatever it was you were doing at any time of the day or night.

Luckily, cats will sleep on average, a full twenty hours a day if for no other reason, so they can be fresh to disturb their ‘owners’ whenever they damn well please. When they are not however, they are hunting lap and don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an act of love. Altruism and cats do not mix: it’s because your lap is warmer than the floor, or invariably the chair or bed it was sleeping on. You only have to ask yourself how many times you’ve left your chair only to return and find a cat’s curled up or contorted on it sporting a big grin as though born there… It’s all part of cats’ sleep time.

Play time is next, and there is only one lesson here to be learnt. Cats play when they want to play: Period… There are no exceptions. Autumn for instance barely moves. She does occasionally stretch and sigh; looks good doing it too; and though she’d never dream of doing the two simultaneously in case it affected her balance, she rarely plays. A couple of times a day though, usually at about the time she feels she deserves to be rewarded with food, she goes a little do-lally-tat. This is the only time she really ever shows herself up: as much as I worship her little paws, she is perhaps the most ungraceful creature alive. She’s got the art of lazing about and extending her little legs down to a tee; and looking beautiful goes without saying; but her landing, leaping, running and methods of evasion leave a lot to be desired.

So when she’s tear-assing up and down the stairs because a video tape has just tried to bite her; or she’s mistaken the central heating for something unfriendly with that startled look of abject horror in her eyes: she flies— which is all the more remarkable because she’s a bit of a waddler at the best of time; speed her up and her back legs resemble those dwarfed-horses. But when she’s calmed down and realised there is nothing to fear from the crisp packet in the corner, she becomes far more sociable: at least this is what she’ll have you believe.

Being cute means give me attention, and it’s all part of their ‘not to be messed with’ policy. Yes— they play mind-games too. The spasming out they do is an ulterior act, made out for their own ‘peace of mind’ just to have you chase them around the house and just to convince themselves they’re still the ones running the show. When on the face of it, it’s the only running they ever intend to do. This is one of the few times we are in accordance with them why run, when we could be eating. And with hunger, comes the most familiar cry in the cats arsenal. It is easily the most disturbing:

Take me to your feeder

It’s as close a translation as I can manage but yes it’s there to inform us that it’s time to eat: the final piece in the great triumvirate of the kitty universe. It’s also their favourite time of the day, and quite possibly the only time of day they truly make you feel as though all their love is a bit of a sham.

There’s little you can really do to null the emotional trauma they inflict upon us at feeding time, besides preparing a little; and the easiest way to do that, is to be your pet. As hard as it may be; when you hear the thud of a cats’ imperfect landing at three in the morning and wide awake, beckoning you for strokes and companionship to brace the outdoors it’s best to turn the other cheek and instruct it back to bed…

Your success in this instance will be nil and your cat will never tire of repeating herself. She will do her best to trip you up so you fall down the stairs and hurt yourself, and run away feigning fright at the tumultuous racket that ensues but she’ll be back; just about the time you want to hit the sack again pretending she hadn’t just tried to kill you and that she really is your best friend.

She’ll wriggle about and purr and lick and yelp a little if she can be bothered, but deep down she’s thinking only one thing, and that is that ‘you’re an imbecile!’ And when she’s had enough and you’re just about ready to nod off on the downstairs carpet she’ll hop onto all fours, give her head a flick, and ignore you.

This is not letting them know who’s boss. Not that I can really speak I get up two or three times a night when hear Autumn’s ungainly thud on the floor and every time give her exactly what she wants.

But this is where I am taking the sports to a much higher level. I am using her own tactics against her; I play to her strengths at least I believe it to be that way. If she wants love when it’s inhuman to expect it: I won’t play ball when she gets her ‘munching’ face on…

You must be cruel to be kind. Or in the case of felines in general cruel to avoid having misery thrust upon you, since it is their main goal in life.

So just remember: cats are not your friends. Why do you think that they are not mentioned once in the bible? They are sharp and cunning even the thick ones! So play the game by their rules and the two of you can live harmoniously,

If you give them an inch

They’ll own you…

And they say there’s no rest for the wicked…

Reflecting on laziness, Hungarian commanders, an author’s middle name & a one armed man…

Those familiar, would know Montmorency:

And those not, should be; a dog born with more than his fair share of original sin…

527026_10151214972026041_54942606_nI was a familiar stranger once in a city of few lights past the open fridges in Electrical Appliance Retail, which glowed as cigarettes do in darkened rooms. These are reflections which inevitably lead to what I describe as: Klapka moments.

I was a student at the time— a status which allowed a certain degree of latitude with tardiness, which is all well and good since my time spend horizontal was more circumferential than to a certain degree. Sometimes it overlapped and sometimes it crossed; sometimes into a whole new day and sometimes I didn’t have to move a single muscle. This was speculative posturing, tailor-made for study, especially in front of the television: it was all about the visual learning experience.

I remember discussing the prospects of sharing such moments— a moment shared is a moment halved after all— and a bonus surely, since the other half could clearly be made up elsewhere. The idea however was dismissed as foolish— in fact the very notion was rejected so effortlessly; done so with nothing but an unimpressed twitch: I’ve seen shuffles and glances last longer. Unperturbed, I proudly informed her— the effortless shuffler— that I could sit for days without moving, but again, was greeted with another sideways look that this-time almost breached the perpendicular.

It was a subtlety that was again to be misplaced, although this time only everso briefly. I can only describe it as a moment of empathic clumsiness on my part. I made the mistake of offering to ‘lend a hand’ to a man who was struggling to retrieve a dropped wallet. It was a comment that wouldn’t have been quite so Caligulan had the man— on closer inspection, been in possession of both his arms. I don’t blame him for the stern expression he imparted, but its implying wish to take from me, that what he was sadly lacking was unmistakable. Personally, I don’t blame him.

It wasn’t an intentional blaze of cruelty— I actually felt for the chap despite feeling amused by my own lack of tact…

It was wonderfully surreal accompaniment: a side platter:

A salad bar on a day of free pizza…

I can’t decide sometimes, whether or not my mother thinks she’s living in a sitcom…

The secret to humour is surprise.

Aristotle

27977_450287781040_191932_nA moot point perhaps, but oblivious in this case to the signifiers that make the ‘everyday’ flow seamlessly from one interaction to the other; if they weren’t, you’d find yourself hopping madly all day. Whatever it may be, obvious, deliberate, debatable, moot? A couple of years ago my mother discovered a reservoir of previously untapped ‘ridiculous’. It’d become, after a fractious few years— a pleasure spending time with her, if not for the first time— but the first time in a long time. She’d seemed to be a little more understanding and accepting of my foibles, and I of them, which makes all the difference in the world. It helps relieve a little of the ‘complicated’. The fact that my mother’d discovered comedy and was making me snort on a regular basis was merely a bonus.

But this is irrelevant, a long-winded introduction and steady build up leading to a crescendo of noise— which is not entirely bunkum as it happens. It’s a story involving balloons…

My nephew loves balloons, especially the kind that when released, fly around exulting a harrowing scream, flitter then drop excitedly with one good spasm before expiring. Louis and I had been synchronising the take-offs of them all morning, much to the delight of the little man and thought what a wonderful idea it would be to release even more. Amz was on her laptop, but my mother was hands-free…

So Louis and I filled some balloons, gave them to her and instructed her that under no circumstances was she to release them. Even now, I feel as though I should’ve added something.

Anyway, Louis and I expended what little breath we had left into the remaining balloons and poised at the ready. The scene was to be spectacular; six whirling tubes of shrill screech, dancing unpredictably towards an enthusiastic death-knell. However, I failed to entertain the one element of unpredictability.

‘Ready,’ I said, ‘on one . Three… two… one… release…release…release!’

Louis and I had a successful launches. But my mother held firm. Even upon the final release! Even though the room was filled with the sound of screaming babies Even though the launch command had become a desperate, personal plea for her to relinquish her grip…

‘Why the bloody hell didn’t you launch? We’ve just done this ten times … at what point did you not think I was talking to you?’ A reasonable question in the circumstances I thought.

‘Because,’ she said, ‘you told me that under no circumstances was I to release them.’

Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled…

Horace

Not unlike those sodding balloons!