I was just going out after lunch when I met a neighbour. She can be quite loud, and Not Cat loves her. After we had discussed various issues affecting life in the block – people putting plastic bags in the recycling and chicken bones in the compost – she told me that the ginger ninja had visited another neighbour’s ground floor flat, gaining entry via an open window.
He wasn’t actually seen, but he left a trail of muddy paw prints across the newly changed bed linen.
What am I going to do with him?
Here he is wreaking havoc at home earlier today.
The Ginger Ninja
From the window I can see something on top of the wall. It is small, barrel shaped and brown. It reminds me of a Kiwi fruit. In the garden, I peer up at it. It is a Kiwi fruit, incongruous on a garden wall in south London. I have my camera. I look at the fruit through the lens and see teeth marks. A fox has bitten into it and left it. Maybe the taste was too sharp for his sweet tooth.
Six thirty, Friday night and the News Quiz is on. I’m listening, laughing a little, smiling a lot, as I carry out an ordinary domestic task. Then Jeremy Hardy tells a story about meeting Donald Sutherland in a public loo, and I have to stop stuffing the quilt into the clean cover because I am laughing so hard.
It was so good, I am going to listen to it again on BBC iPlayer.
As soon as I open the door I smell them. I grow hyacinths indoors every year, but these have to be some of the strongest scented ones I have ever had. They are pungent, and I feel like a sommelier enjoying the first sweet impact they make. Then, following through, like a drifting refrain after the first soaring trumpet blast, the lower notes fill my head; peppery, green, earthy. It’s a surround-sound of perfume, edging each day to crescendo; a ripe cheese of a smell, and, already,there’s the hint of death and decay.
It’s a grey damp day. Mid-afternoon, and I still don’t feel awake. All I want to do is curl up with a book and cuddle the cat. Roll on spring.
I’ve worn the pedometer all day. I was given it as part of the short course I started yesterday; a nice blend of Pilates and walking. I’ve been on my feet most of the day. There’s been some cycling; lots of going up and down stairs; general walking back and forth; a short but brisk walk this evening. The top doesn’t open at first. I look at the face expectantly, then frown and look again: one hundred and twelve recorded steps.
The photographers stood at the south end of the Millennium Bridge like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse; silent, shrouded in black, their tripods in front of them, staring across the night blue river to where St Paul’s dome dominated the sky.
St Paul's from Bankside at Night
I’m dreaming that I am sliding down a hill, lying on my back. It is quite slow and gentle, but sufficiently disorientating and real to wake me. The cat is pulling the blanket from the bottom of the bed onto the floor. He reaches for my feet under the quilt as I open my eyes, then, delicate as ballet dancer, pads up the bed for a good morning cuddle. This is a new development; something he started a few days ago. Cat used to wake me by lying beside me and purring, provoking me to rub his head and stroke him. A morning ritual exchange of affection. I am curious that this cat, though using different tactics, seems to be displaying similar behaviours. Not for the first time, I wonder if Cat compiled a guide to managing me that Not Cat has discovered and is interpreting in his own way.
I smiled hello at the girl when I saw her, but she looked straight through me. She’s about eleven-years-old; year 7 I’d say from her still tidy school uniform. I see her in the mornings when I am trying to get Not Cat to come in. She has started to ask me about him. Maybe it’s because she has red hair and feels kinship.
Today, being Saturday, she was wearing jeans and a pink jumper; not the best colour for her hair. And I saw her on the main road, just by the big supermarket and the pedestrian crossing. Not Cat was in the garden. Without him I meant nothing to her; I was another invisible, uninteresting adult.
Early evening and I need to bring the washing in. The cat gambols around me. As I unpeg my pyjamas he leaps from the tree onto the wall. I call him. I whistle. I walk away. He ignores me, intent on his high exploration. Resigned, I go indoors and busy myself, giving him time. I shall not be an anxious owner. Except I am. When I go back outside it is dark. Fortunately we have lights, but there is no sign of him. I call. I rattle my keys. I walk the garden looking up at the surrounding walls. Five minutes pass, then, a miaow. He is on the highest wall. I call again. He jumps down to the lower wall, still twice my height and cries. Come on, I say, walking round to where the wall is lowest, maybe twelve feet. He seems to be listening, but ignores the spot I have chosen and leaps up to another higher wall. He looks down at me, cries again. Continue reading →