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.