Friday, December 15, 2006

Where do pets come from?

A missive from Jess's beloved uncle in South Africa informs us of the following:

A newly discovered chapter in the Book of Genesis has provided the answer to "Where do pets come from?" Adam and Eve said, "Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you any more. We are lonesome here, and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us." And God said, I will create a companion for you that will be with you and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves."
And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail. And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal." And God said, " I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG."

And Dog lived with Adam and Eve and was a companion to them and loved them. And they were comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail. After a while, it came to pass that an angel came to the Lord and said,"Lord, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks and they believe they are worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught them that they are loved, but perhaps too well." And God said, I will create for them a companion who will be with them and who will see them as they are. The companion will remind them of their limitations, so they will know that they are not always worthy of adoration." And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam and Eve.
And Cat would not obey them. And when Adam and Eve gazed into Cat's eyes, they were reminded that they were not the supreme beings.And Adam and Eve learned humility. And they were greatly improved. And God was pleased. And Dog was happy.
And Cat didn't give a shit one way or the other.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Some American cousins

Jess has been making sickening ooh-ahh noises over pictures of OTHER CATS today. What's worse is that they are another music blogger's cats. These gorgeous woozles belong to Alex Ross of The New Yorker and The Rest Is Noise. I hope they don't get into MY garden.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A friend to felines

Peering over Jess's desk today in the hope of biscuit remnants, I sneaked a look at the computer screen. She was hunting for a recording of the Mendelssohn 'Scottish' Symphony, and has an interesting way of selecting its sponsored links. It seems that Herr Mendelssohn was a true friend to cats. mrrow.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The saga of Soltiville

Hi folks. Long absence, I know. All hasn't been well here. There have been, to put it bluntly, some CATastrophes.

While Jess and Tom were away enjoying the limelight at the music festival in St Nazaire, I had my own battles to fight. Namely, the arrival of not one, but two new cats in the immediate complex of gardens that back on to our house. First there was Maurice, who arrived at No.1 (opposite Artie from No.17 - our street has a weird numbering system) fresh from a large country pad in Cambridgeshire. He expected, naturally, to occupy the same space here in the London suburbs. And he is large, grey and nasty. Apparently he's really a British Shorthair, not a Russian Blue, as previously thought. In other words, a double agent. Meanwhile, another ginger cat has moved in, two gardens away in the opposite direction. I told him who's boss, but he didn't listen...and he, too, is bigger than me.

The upshot was that when They got back from France, I had a bloodied ear and was promptly ferried to the Man in the White Coat, up the road in the cat basket. A few days later, another squall, and off we go again. After these visits, small white pills appear in the cat food, which I'm supposed to pretend I don't notice as I crunch them up, and Jess tries to bathe my wounds with pink liquid that tastes appalling when I try to clean it up later. I stayed in for a whole week, and then the window cleaner pitched up and while he was chatting on the front doorstep, I made a break for freedom...

What followed doesn't bear thinking about. I went to see my ginger adversary and make sure he still knew who was boss. We were gearing up... when Jess comes out and starts yelling 'SOLTI?!?!?' at the top of her voice, over the trellis. Ginger and I were at the yowling and scrapping stage, but blow me if our neighbour doesn't come out of No.11 and lend Jess a step ladder and a bottle of water; so she climbs up the former, and squirts the latter over the fence at us. We do what any cats would do: run bloody fast in the opposite direction. I follow my enemy over a fence...and find myself in a street I've never seen before in all my life.

I sat down outside the house there to lick my fresh wounds, and consider my position. Jess finally rolled up, panting, and talked at me for several minutes, but no way was I going to follow her along some strange and weird road. I went back to the garden instead, and listened to her marching up and down shouting 'SOLTI!?!?!' from a safe distance. Then all went quiet for a bit, and I was just starting to wonder how the heck I'd get home for dinner after all when there's a familiar step and there she is again, with cat basket and, in tow, the neighbour from No.11 who's carrying a large blanket and a pair of gardening gloves and remarking "I used to have a cat...". I slunk out from behind the nearest gate to get a better look. Whoosh - back in that dratted basket before you could say Lion King.

And now I am inside, and have been for three weeks. I've been 'grounded'. I have, horrors, to do stuff in a litter tray. I have a new game called paw-ball - scrunched-up foil which Jess tosses around the lounge for me to chase (great fun, incidentally, until we lose it under the sofa). But oh, the thrill of the outdoors, the scent of the night air, the compelling instincts of full moon, the sun on the garden bench, the apple tree to climb, the mice to kill and the cats to battle...will I ever see them again?

I can't think like that. I just can't. But now I'm too knackered after the latest round of paw-ball to care too much. Goodnight all. Sweet dreams. At least, as Jess and Tom tell each other, Solti is safe.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The perfect purr-booster

I do love THE INDEPENDENT, and not just because Jess writing for it helps to keep me in Science Plan Low Cal kitty food. They have the good sense to run THIS today. Know your readers, know your readers' cats. That's what I say.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Oh, my ears and whiskers, as some rabbit once said. It's HOT. Bloody hot.

Grumbling? Well, just you try wearing a fur coat in this. I wish They would stop teasing me about it.

The other night a fabulous thunderstorm struck Sheen and it rained, hard. I went out in it and got a good, powerful, cooling shower. Tom came down at about 3am to have some muesli and found me thoroughly enjoying cooling off in the wetness. This is ideal, because he then felt it incumbent upon him to dry me vigorously with a tea-towel. Being dried does great things to the fur: it comes out fabulously soft and fluffy and I love it.

Tom says I must be the only cat in the world that likes getting wet. I don't quite believe this. But I do urge caution, dear cat-owners, before you try inflicting this experience upon your own beloved kitties: it's true that certain of my co-furrists are a bit squeamish about water.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A correction

When Jess got back from the Men's Singles Final at Wimbledon the other day, she gently informed me, over extra cat food, that I'd somewhat misrepresented what happens during a match. Apparently it's more like this:


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Still hypnotised...

The mood in the air around us changed abruptly yesterday, when one of those teams that kick the ball around lost their match. Apparently this was a very disappointing thing for the country.

But I've found something better on a different TV channel. It involves one person, or sometimes two, at either end of a big patch of grass, hitting a ball over a net with a big flat round thing, often grunting loudly as they do so. The idea, I think, is to place the ball in such a way that the other person can't get to it. Now and then a man sitting to one side says "Fifteen love". (I know what cupboard love is, but still draw a blank on this one.)

This game is more hypnotic than the other one. The ball makes a lovely light 'pock' sound when the players strike it and it goes back
and forth
and back
and forth
and back
and forth
oops. Fifteen love.

And they start again.
and back
and forth
and back

Monday, June 12, 2006


The thing about felines, as people never seem to understand, is that we can't help ourselves but focus on anything that moves. If it's smaller than we are, so much the better. Tom - and even Jess, who never watches TV - just sit there staring at a clump of men running across a pitch, kicking a ball while crowds roar behind them. And I sit and stare too, hypnotised by that little round Thing that apparently a billion people worldwide are watching with me.

For Tom, this process is accompanied by yummy stuff: a golden liquid which froths white. It comes out of a tin. But it doesn't taste the same when you pour it out before you drink it. It REALLY doesn't. I've been exploring the possibilities of licking round the can's opening once Tom's had his cut, and later knocking it over in the firm expectation that there'll be something left inside. This causes much amusement. Poor old Tom, he just doesn't get it. He tried pouring a sip into a saucer for me and it was vile. How could you?

Jess was overheard remarking that my behaviour in front of the England match the other day made her believe in reincarnation. "Honestly, he watches football, he drinks thing we know he'll be carrying a St George's flag on his tail." Now, that's a good idea, o mistress mine. EN-GE-LA-AND!!!!!

All I hear is: "Oh do stop miaowing, you silly pusskin..."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How do they sell books?

A lot of conversations over my head these days concern books and sales thereof. One can't help wondering how publishers go about selling their product.

But of course, it's very simple.

How do they do it?
They have a catalogue.


Thursday, May 04, 2006


Prrrrrr prrrrrrr prrrrrrr prrrrrrrr prrrrrrrr

Monday, May 01, 2006

He's back

Those words I'd hoped never to hear again: "Vincent's back!" Above, see Vincent. Tom named him after the president of Mexico, and each year, as soon as the sun comes out for long enough to produce a nice patch of warmth under the apple tree, there he is, sunning himself like a dog. Our garden is the only toddler-free stretch of grass in our group of houses, so it's comparatively peaceful, no doubt adding to the attraction. Vincent and I don't talk, but maintain a wary respect for one another, from a safe distance.

Yesterday I got my revenge on Vincent, though, courtesy of Jess's smallest nephew, who was brought round to lunch with his mum, dad and Italian grandmother, Nonna. He is, naturally, a toddler. You couldn't see that sharp-eared canine for dust when they headed outside to play. OK, I can't deny that I, too, went into hiding, but not until I'd put in enough of an appearance for Nonna to give me a new name: "Il gattone". My Italian is a little rusty, but Jess told me later, over extra cat food, that an '-one' is the opposite of an '-ino': the latter indicates a cute little thing, the former a great big magisterial specimen...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The point of mice

Having seen the look on Jess's face when she opened the kitchen door this morning, I'm reduced to philosophical speculation upon the POINT of mice.

What do they actually do? What are they there for?

Mice don't work for their living: unlike us cats who destress humans with our soft fur and our supposed antics, and keep the house clear of vermin; and unlike beastly dogs, who make a lot of noise if anyone tries to come in who shouldn't. Mice don't eat insects, unlike birds. They don't look particularly cute, at least not to me. All they do is knaw through things, leave a mess of droppings and occasionally make a home owner scream. So what is the point of them?

Mice are good for two things: a) food for owls, hawks and cats who are not fortunate enough to be fed Science Plan Reduced Calorie Formula; b) fun for cats, and a way of proving our usefulness to our owners.

Oh yes, Jess, you may have taken one look at the kitchen floor today, then turned round and yelled "TOM! HELP!" - as you often do. But I'd have liked to see your expression if that mouse had been alive. Oh yes.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Bad news. Bill the fictional ginger mog cannot be based on me at all - because, I am reliably informed, he does laps. As I have explained, I will not stoop to such things. But in that book, Adam is discovered one night, unable to sleep, sitting in his armchair sipping a drink, with Bill the Ginger Cat on his knee, being cuddled. The pity of it, Iago. The pity of it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Literary fame is mine

The owners of Artie-at-No-17 went to Jess's author evening the other day, apparently. At the end of the readings came question time. Mrs-Artie's-Owner put up her hand and asked whether there were any cats in the book. I couldn't believe that Jess had actually selected passages to read that did NOT contain the feline stars of the story, but...

The good news, however, is that there are cats and they are crucial. Sasha, Adam and their children - the family on which the book centres - have two, named Bill and Ben (a certain generation of British adults collapse in fits of laughter when hearing those names together. I can't work it out.) Bill is ginger, Ben is black. Lisa, Sasha's lonely sister, has a black and white cat named Igor, after Stravinsky. Igor plays a particularly vital role, but my favourite, of course, is Bill. He comforts Sasha when she is upset, so he's a hero. But as he is a ginger cat living on a cul-de-sac in East Sheen, there can be no doubt that he is based on ME. Were he unduly fluffy, I'd worry that he might have been based on Artie, but no: Bill is a good, plain ginger mog of the very best kind.

My owner has preserved me on paper for all time. I shall be immortal, in the form of Bill. How many cats can say the same? Prrrrr prrrrrrrrrrr prrrrrrrrr prrrrrrrrrrrr...

Friday, March 31, 2006

O my paws and whiskers...

...I just caught Jess reading this and made the mistake of having a quick peer up from the floor with my razor-sharp eyesight.


Monday, March 20, 2006

How dare they?

Tom is on tour with his noisy box and the house is delightfully peaceful. That is, until Jess gets on the phone to him... As far as I can gather, he is in America, travelling around, making a lot of noise with 99 other people who also make a lot of noise. But it's not the noise that's currently alarming me.

Jess has cousins over there and it seems they invited Tom to dinner. He had a great time...playing with their cats. A white one and a black one - Maine Coot, no less, those great fuzzy monsters that must have left genes somewhere in the dreaded Artie at No.17. Apparently they do laps.

Laps are not written into my contract. I do purrs. I do stretch-schmoozes. I even occasionally deign to let Jess or Tom stroke the white fur on my tummy (not many others dare to try, except for one pianist who knows what to do with his fingers and has an alarmingly soothing effect). But LAPS? How demeaning can you get?

Unfortunately people want cats who do laps. So Tom says to Jess, "Maybe we should get another cat."

Excuse me???

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A little cattiness

Have you noticed that women, when they get together, talk about men and children? Presumably when men get together, they talk about women (and sometimes children, though not as often). And when children get together, they talk about cats.

Jess had a friend round to tea yesterday. They sat in the kitchen and ate chocolate cake (did I get any? did I hell) and talked and children. I tried to join in. Why should I be left out? I am a member of this family. But what happened? What always happens. The minute there are humans around, The Cat suddenly loses status and becomes merely The Household Pet. My plentiful contributions to the conversation produced nothing more significant than the occasional pat on the head and the comment from Jess's friend, "Aah, it's almost as if he's talking!" Jess kindly pointed out, "He IS talking..."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Something in the air...

What is it? I can't tell. Something fresh. Something new. Something growing. It wafts in from the garden and I have to follow it. The air is cold, but it doesn't seem to matter. Plants are appearing in the flowerbeds that I haven't seen for some time. I heard Jess expounding to Tom about the wonders of things called witch hazel and winter-flowering daphne and daffodils. Humans do love to label things; we cats prefer to get down to business and spray them.

I went out for a walk this morning and tried my sense of balance on the garden fence - yes, even after vegetating all winter, I can still walk along it adequately enough to make the little girls next door watch me apparently in some fascination. It's not so difficult, because there's energy in the breeze and something in the sun which actually feels like sunshine. At such times, a cat feels he could do anything...

...oh...except, that is, to convince Jess to give me my supper at 1.15pm.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Yikes, it's cold here. I'm told that the wind is blowing straight from Siberia. My priority at the moment is to keep warm and find suitable spots in the house in which to do so.

Tips for finding the best spot in the house:

1. Know your pipelines. Beneath the floor runs a convenient hot water system and in combination with the softer patches of carpet, the rising warm air can be most soothing to the stomach.

2. Balance this with avoiding draughts. These come from doorways, cat flaps, people going in and out through the front door...

3. Naturally the music room is a no-no. Why Jess and Tom feel it necessary to make so much NOISE is beyond me. That squeaky thing Tom plays is the worst, even though it is so much smaller than the piano. The high frequencies do horrible things to my sharp feline ears. Therefore a spot must be found on the first floor, well away from source of sound.

4. One wants quiet, but equally one does not wish to miss out on the chance of extra food. If the spot is too secluded, They may forget about you, and you don't want that.

5. And finally, having exhausted the possibility of the bed, the blanket box, the kitchen chair and mouse-watching in the bathroom (still no sign of it, by the way), I have hit upon the perfect compromise: half way up the stairs. They can't understand this. But They wouldn't, would they?

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Instead of hugging me, for the last 24 hours Jess has been hugging a book that was brought yesterday by a hairy man on a motorbike. What's the big deal with this book? I mean, you can't eat it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


My 'owner' tells me there's a song called 'I don't like Mondays'. Well, I can't bear Tuesdays. A girl comes every week, takes out the dragon and goes all over the house with it roaring its blue head off. The dragon doesn't like my cat scents and does its best to suck them all away. All I can do is pad from room to room in the hope that the blasted thing will let me get some rest.

I've now taken refuge in Jess's study, but she's got a pile of CDs to work through and it's bloody noisy in here. For the last hour we've been listening to some guy bawling his head off in a foreign language, with a piano going alongside and people clapping from time to time. Jess was sitting there with her hanky, snuffling and saying stupid things to me like, "Don't you love Schubert, poochface?" Wretched woman. I shall be demanding extra dinner later on as my retaliation.


This is the disc, by the way...

Saturday, February 11, 2006


There's a cat in California that has taken my idea. At least he/she/it can't type very well. The owner writes rather nice music so I'm told I have to forgive them. Hmph.

It's extraordinary what human beings will do for the sake of music.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hazards in the house

I often have the feeling that They don't know how much danger They are in, living in what seems to be a pretty, suburban houselet. I am smaller than Them, and my eyesight is considerably finer (every time Tom goes out he asks Jess where his keys/mobile phone/wallet/business cards/vioin are, and she has no more clue than he has).

Therefore I am closer to the action they miss. For example:

There's a fox that comes into our back garden in the summer. As soon as the sun rises above a certain height and pleasant sunny patches appear under the pergola, there he is, sunning himself like a bloody dog, lying on his back with his paws up as if he owns the place. They purr over the way he and I 'tolerate' one another, but you won't catch me within ten feet of that thing. You want a fox in your garden? Did anybody ask me? They were afraid he'd try to eat me (as if! those animals know all about claws) - but reflect, I pray, upon what else I have to put up with from foxes. They carry fleas. They spray horrible scents on MY terriroty. And they raid the leftovers in the recycling bin before I can. None of this is acceptable.

Then there's the hole in the wall. In the bathroom, behind the loo. There's a mouse in there. I know there is. You want mice in your house? OK, I bring them in as gifts, but generally they are dead by then. Should I detect an untreated mouse alive and kicking in my own house, there'd be serious trouble. I'm not going to allow VERMIN to attack my bag of Science Plan Cat Food. Mice. Ugh. Everything has its place. And so, although I've not caught him yet, I stand sentry by the hole in the wall, motionless, waiting. Sooner or later, that mouse will emerge. And I will be there to get him. You wait and see. For now, all I hear is: "What are you doing in the bathroom, you silly pussycat?" Grrr.

Birds are another case in point. You don't want them in the house either. Not that they normally come in, but some day they might. The more of them I can put them off before they try to, the better. Can you imagine the mess? Feathers everywhere. All that tweeting. Droppings (we cats are extremely particular about such matters, but birds just do it anywhere). Birds, too, have a place, and it is outside, in the air. I am considered brutal should I kill one, but I promise, there is a reason.

There is always a reason. It's just that you have to be a cat to understand it. Humans never understand anything: they're too busy thinking.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Honestly. People.

Meow? Meow! Meow. Mriaeow. Mraoaoaow. MEAAAAOOOUWWW. MEw. Prr prrrrrrr prr. Mrow? Prrreow. Maow? MAAAAAAAOOOOOWWWWW. Mowow? MAOWAWAWAOW? Prrt? Meow? MEOW???? MIIIIAAAAAAAAOOOUUUWWWWW!!!

[kerplunk]. "Here you are, then, you grumbly cat. It's nowhere near your suppertime yet, but..."

Jess, why the heck didn't you just give me my food in the first place? Then I wouldn't need to grumble. Simple, n'est-ce pas?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The trouble with Artie

Artie lives in the house on the corner. He's ginger too, but long-haired. What's worse is that he is bigger than me. This means that should he and I find ourselves facing an unfortunate altercation, guess who comes off best? I try time and again to get Them to feed me larger helpings so that I can catch up with Artie. But They will not be told. They say I will get fat if I eat more. Wretched humans. They don't understand anything. The fact is that for a cat, size matters. It's the law of the jungle. People around here distinguish us from one another by calling me the 'little' ginger cat. Hunh.

To compound matters, Artie was here first. I hear on the catvine that before I arrived, They were best mates with Mr Ginger Bruiser, King Arthur, and he used to go into the house and keep them company. Then I turned up. Artie was duly banished and sent home to no.17. He's neither forgotten nor forgiven this insult. I've done nothing, but he blames me.

And so I live opposite a creature who thinks I'm on his patch and can beat me up whenever he can be bothered to come out of his house. Most of the time I cut my losses and try to keep clear of him, but one can't be a shrinking violet (well, ginger) forever. The other day I decided I'd had enough. I tried to teach him a lesson. When it all went wrong, I used my biggest asset - my loud voice, which I've worked on so that it can be heard through the violin and piano being played together - and They kindly came charging out to break it up. Now I'm nursing a torn ear. But I will show him who's boss, one day.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dignity. Always dignity.

I wouldn't want to give the impression that I was overly delighted to see Jess and Tom when They came home the other day. In case anybody thought the way I described Them picking me up (ugh!) displayed some measure of actual affection on my part, or that my ironic reference to Them as my 'owners' was not as ironic as it is, I should add one well-worn remark that remains as true today as it was the moment it was coined:

Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's a cat's life

Just my luck. I get my blog up and running and They promptly vanish for two weeks, leaving me powerless at the pooter. Our paws are designed not for typing on pooter keyboards, but for killing.

So now They're back. While They've been away, the nice people next door have popped in twice a day to deliver the meals. I've yet to find a way into their house, however - no flap, and as it's winter the windows are closed - so I couldn't get in to demand extra food. Therefore I decided to take the law into my own paws - well, what would you do if you were a hungry animal and your "owners" had buggered off to Brazil?

It's not so difficult. Here is the Solti method of self-feeding:

1. Leap on to kitchen island surface.
2. Push bag of cat biscuits off surface with several hefty nose shoves.
3. Attack. Those paws were made for killing. That's what they were going to do to the plastic bag. It was quite tough, but the food was inside and it had to come out. If the kitchen scissors could do it, so could my teeth and claws.
4. The hole successfully made, push bag over on to side so that food pours on to floor.
5. Gorge to heart's content.

They came back early yesterday morning, looking like They hadn't had much sleep on the plane. And can you believe it, They complain, upon picking me up, that I am fatter than I was when they left. Huh. They should just see themselves. They've been feasting on coconut cocktails on Copacabana Beach and it would appear that dancing the tango in Buenos bloody Aires doesn't burn up commensurate calories.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Their fault, not mine

It's all their fault, of course. How can you name a cat after a fierce Hungarian conductor and expect him not to resemble his namesake? How, indeed, can you expect any cat not to assume the role of head of the household? It's how we're programmed. We were sacred in Ancient Egypt and everyone had to do what we wanted. We kind of liked that.

I do wonder, as I settle on the bed for the morning, whether I'd have turned out differently if they'd called me Tigger or Gingie or something else equally daft. As things are, it is my role to conduct the house in an appropriate manner. And just now, it takes some doing. With the noises that emanate from that black thing with three legs in the front room, the way the blue-tube dragon takes over the house every Tuesday morning, occasional invasions from Artie who lives in the corner house and is bigger than me, not to mention the manic excitement over the apparent thrill of Jess having a book published (why does she bother? The house is full of the bloody things already), there's far too much going on here to permit the quiet, regular, cat's life that it's my mission to create.