take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...
Thursday, February 02, 2006
We first met him when we visited the house which we were in the process of buying, back in January last year. He was sitting on top of a washing machine in the utility room, looking very chilled and only too glad to receive the unsolicited attention from the two tall strangers who wandered slowly around the house.
"Does the cat come with the house?" I joked to the estate agent at the time, not realising quite how prophetic that question would be.
He next came into our lives through the open bedroom window one sultry night in August.
"Why is there a cat in our bedroom?" asked Big. At first, I thought this was one of his nocturnal somniloquies which usually turn out to be red herrings. On hearing the "miaouw", however, I realised that there was, indeed, a cat in the bedroom. Being "cat people", we were delighted (if a little bewildered) by his presence, but felt that he should probably be returned from whence he came. The patio door was opened, the cat despatched onto the decking and the bedroom window reluctantly closed.
"Do you know, I think that's the cat who used to live here. Remember, the one who was sitting on the washing machine when we looked around?"
"Hmmm, you could be right..."
I was right. It wasn't long before we realised that our neighbours were the people who used to live in our house. The cat was as confused as us by this turn of events, but was only too pleased to now have at least two welcoming homes.
From then on, barely a day went by without our seeing (or hearing from) him. Throughout the summer, as we sat down to eat on the patio, he would trot happily down the garden to greet us and spend the evening asleep next to one or other of us on the sofa. Soon, as he got to know us better, he would venture onto our laps, tramping us with his sharp claws before settling down to a long, peaceful slumber. As autumn and winter set in, and the back door was left closed, he made his presence felt by crying at the back door. Some nights he would come to our bedroom window and howl; some nights, we would relent and let him in for a cuddle.
We enjoyed tempting him away from his "real" owners. Usually it would be enough to jangle the keys of the patio door lock to send him scrabbling over the fence from their garden to ours. Other times, we would open the kitchen window and make a sucking sound (you know, the standard "cat beckoning" noise) and would hear him land gracefully on the decking, staring hopefully up at the window and miaowing ferociously.
He made us laugh every time we saw him.
- He made us laugh when he "kissed" each piece of furniture in the room before settling down to sleep.
- He made us laugh when he mewed pathetically at the bedroom window, volume and intensity increasing with each utterance.
- He made us laugh when he went through his invariable flowerpot drinking ritual (first try the saucer under the big pot, realise that your head doesn't fit, try to poke it with your paw, give up, try the next pot, realise that it has a hole in the bottom and thus all the water has drained away, finally approach the small saucer and drink stagnant, muddy water to your heart's content...)
- He made us laugh when he maintained his curled up sleeping position without batting an eyelid, even though we'd just manhandled him from one sleeping location to another (usually to restore circulation to a limb or to facilitate making a cup of tea).
- He made us laugh when he stood on his hind legs on the window sill, trying to work out how to get into a window which wasn't open quite far enough.
- He made us laugh even when he had a pee in the hole in our dining room floor.
But today he made us cry.
Our little ray of sunshine, the only positive thing to come out of living next door to our selfish, deceitful, contemptible neighbours, has died.
It will take me a while to get out of the habit of looking out for him every morning from our bedroom window...
Rest in peace, George the cat. The very silly, very loving but really rather smelly cat.