What did you do today? I lay on the floor in a home for anxious cats, listening to disturbed moggies playing table tennis in an adjacent room. Ha! I win.
I realised that now - while the cats were busy thrashing the living daylights out of a harmless ping pong ball - was the perfect time for me to skulk about the place looking for evidence of my sandwich. Trouble was, I was awfully comfortable. Not that the floor was a particularly pleasant place to be, it's just that there are moments of stillness like that when you just want to lie back and let it all wash over you. Especially if you'd had a hard time of it lately, which is what I'd had.
All the same, I couldn't stay there forever, so I got to my feet, put my trousers back on and went to the door. Good, the coast was clear. The previous night I had heard plinky grobulating sounds coming from somewhere down below, so I found a staircase that was heading in a downwards direction and I descended. I went down it on my bottom because that is more fun - you've got to make the most of these moments of pleasure when you find them. When I got to the bottom - the bottom of the staircase, that is, not my own bottom - I entered a dark, windowless room. So I put the light on, obviously. There was a long table and along the far wall was an illuminated map of the world, with various sites of strategic military importance marked on it.
A chair at the far end of the room spun around and Mr Scratcher was sitting there, stroking a cat on his lap. "Ah, I see you have discovered our little secret," he said. It would have been quite a chilling moment, had the cat not jumped off his lap and sat on the table licking its bum hole.
I spent the night in a shivery funk, sitting in the corner of my spartan room in the cats' home. Strange sounds happened in my ears: the noise of walloping and crinkling, all sorts of splatty poundings. It was when the stringy fallooping started that I really sat up and took notice. I don't know what kind of horrid nonsense was going on in other parts of the building, but it didn't sound decent.
In the morning, Felix Scratcher brought me some breakfast. It was a book. He said it was food for the mind, which was all very well, but it was my tummy that was hungry. Nevertheless, I ate it. Some of the chapters were a bit tough, but most of it went down a treat.
I was then invited to take part in one of the cats' group sessions. There were about two dozen cats there when I arrived, licking themselves, tearing at the furniture and showing various levels of disinterest. Mr Scratcher said that we would start with a trust exercise. He told me to cross my arms, close my eyes and fall backwards, and the cats would catch me. I did so and hit the floor with a wump. Mr Scratcher seemed satisfied with this and asked me to do it again. I did it again and hit the floor with a crack. Again, Mr Scratcher was rather pleased, and asked me to do it a third time. I did it a third time and hit the floor with a horrible splintering sound. I didn't know if it was me or the floor.
At this point I thought it was time to get smart, so I strained my brains, and decided to stay on the floor, since it was safer. I said to Mr Scratcher that I thought the cats were going to catch me. He said that he thought they were going to catch me as well, and that this should be a lesson for me. Then they all went off to play table tennis, but I stayed where I was because the way they played it sounded lethal.
The man from the cats' home is a mad plonky nutter called Felix Scratcher, but thankfully he didn't suspect that I had an ulterior motive in being there. He decided to show me around his establishment for the rehabilitation of his feline friends and I was astonished at the levels of squalor and wretchedness - by which I mean there wasn't any. Squalor and wretchedness, that is. These animals ought to be living like animals, but they were better off than I was. Each pussy cat had its own room, with en suite bathroom, TV and video games consoles. Meals were served three times a day and consisted of only the very best fresh fish, prepared in the home's own extensive kitchen. The chef, Anatole, told me that each dish was prepared with an award-winning sauce of his own invention, which I thought was an unnecessary extravagance for creatures that habitually lick their own bottoms.
Felix then showed me to a room where all the cats would meet for group therapy sessions. It was a safe environment where they would sit in a circle and discuss their problems, their fears and share their hopes and dreams. When I said that I didn't know that cats could talk, Felix told me that they could say one word, 'miaow', but that the way they said it could express a multitude of different meanings to the trained ear. Which apparently was what he had: a trained ear.
He also showed me the gymnasium, where I saw cats leaping over vaulting horses, climbing ropes, doing push-ups and all sorts of other jigging about. He told me that physical exercise was an important part of their rehabilitation. "It's also important for... other reasons," he added, not at all suspiciously.
He then showed me to the guest bedroom, where I could stay while my cat was receiving treatment. It was bare and unfurnished except for a plank on which I would sleep, and a bucket in the corner for the purpose of night-time widdling. It was quite scary, so I backed myself into the corner of the room, where I shivered and blew hot bubbles out of my nose.
I am inside the cats' home with my expertly pre-stressed agitated cat in a box. The ginger beard man seems much friendlier now that he thinks I am a fellow cat lover. I, of course, am ambivalent about cats in boxes. I can take up or leave them. Sometimes both at the same time.
The ginger beard man started to tell me all about...
By the way, that was a bit of a joke I did back there. The cat-in-the-box/both-at-the-same-time thing. It didn't really work, did it, but you can see what I was reaching for.
Anyroad, the ginger beard man started to tell me all about his love for cats, and how cats were his only real friends and how cats were different to people. Well, I knew that cats were different to people. Blimey, I'd be silly if I didn't know that. They smell different and they have a leg at each corner and, by and large, they are several degrees furrier than most people I know.
The ginger beard man told me that his name was Felix Scratcher and that he had been a very lonely orphan when he was growing up, and had been locked in a basement by his evil guardians, along with their many many cats. The cats had raised him and cared for him and taught them all their weird cat ways, and he vowed that when he grew up he would work to protect and promote the cat way of life.
I didn't ask him to tell me any of this, you understand. He just volunteered the information, and I stood there mutely, occasionally nodding, as this mad plonky nutter rambled on. Every instinct told me to get out of there right away, but I knew I had to stay if I wanted to find out what had happened to my sandwich, so I just smiled politely and let him talk rubbish.
What's happening dudes? A gentleman just said that to me in the street. He said, "What's happening dude?" and so I told him all about my attempt to inveigle myself into the Fennimore Home for Agitated Cats in order to track down my absent sandwich. I then gave him a brief rundown of the latest national and international news, related a heart-warming story of a skateboarding duck with a broken leg and then finished with tomorrow's weather. The man seemed anxious to get away, but I grabbed hold of his coat and hung on to him until I'd finished. Then he ran off. Anyway, if you're interested, tomorrow the forecast is that the sky will be full of filthy dribbles and there will be a chill wind from the north that will whistle round the back of the Co-op and may bring snow showers. Have you got all that written down? Good, then we'll continue.
I have got an agitated cat in a box, which is the best place to put a cat when it is agitated. It's for their own good. I am now standing at the door of the aforementioned Fennimore Home for Agitated Cats and I am about to knock. Let's continue this in the past tense, it's more comfortable.
I knocked on the aforementioned door. Knock-knock-knocky-knock, I went. The aforementioned man with the aforementioned ginger beard opened it. "Whadya want?" he growled. He had chips in his beard. I think I had interrupted him while he was having his tea. Either that, or he was pioneering a daring new fashion in beard accessories that had so far failed to catch on.
I held up the cat in the box. "I have got a cat in this box," I enunciated clearly. "It is agitated. Can I come in?"
The ginger beard man looked in the box. The cat had pushed itself into the corner and was shivering and blowing hot bubbles out of its nose. "Blimey," said ginger beard. "That looks proper crackers. You'd better step inside."
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All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2021, and may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author. All characters, companies and organisations are fictitious, and any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
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