J’adore le parc

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I’m now over halfway through my post-surgery recovery, and things been quite hard as the fog of the anaesthetic has worn off and the realisation has dawned of what lies ahead: in other words, at least another fortnight of not fully being able to what I want, and being mostly stuck at home with a cat who couldn’t care less whether I live or die.

I’ve had a few dark moments when I have wished Luther were still here, because he was the perfect nursemaid when I was ill: instinctively knowing, caring and not leaving my side. I’ve felt a little sad wondering how I could have gone from that to this, yet also resigned to the fact that there is nothing I can do about it because Luther isn’t here anymore, and Louis Catorze is.

Yesterday afternoon Cat Daddy took me for my daily, medically-prescribed walk to the park across the road from Le Château; we have often talked about how Luther would have claimed it within a few days had we moved here with him, whereas Catorze has shown zero interest during the whole year that we’ve been here. However, this time the little sod shocked us senseless by deciding to come with us.

Although he didn’t vanish off into the farthest corner, as Luther would have done, for a short while it was like having Luther back with us. Louis Catorze hung close to the bench where we sat, yelling and sniffing, retreating home only upon the arrival of a menacing gang (an elderly couple) and their status dog (a tiny but very angry bichon frise). And, when we got back, he even spent some time on my lap, in my favourite pose: with his torso and paws on me, and the less desirable arse end well away from my body.

Luther very often gives his little brother a beyond-the-grave kick up the arse when appropriate, and I really did need this one. I hope Catorze continues to remember that he likes me, even though I will only ever be, at best, his second favourite human.

Sésame, ouvre-toi!

Louis Catorze is spending more time outdoors now that the weather is warmer. He comes and goes freely at The Back but is also showing more interest in The Front, where he is only allowed under supervision, and these supervised sessions usually look like this:

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Yes, the little sod has FINALLY realised that there is a whole world out there and he happily passes time sitting on the window sill, watching people, dogs and birds go by, whilst we keep an eye on him through the window. When he’s had enough he pops back in again – or, if the window is open at the top rather than the bottom, he meows at the door and we let him in.

Yesterday afternoon a couple of passing kids stopped to talk to him. We couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying because it had rained that morning so the windows were shut, although we did catch the gist of a debate about whether he was a boy or a girl. (Much to Cat Daddy’s chagrin, they appeared to settle on the latter.)

Then, after several minutes of happy cooing and cuddling, there was a knock at the door. My heart froze. My first thought was that Louis Catorze might have scratched one of them, although we hadn’t heard a scream, and such behaviour is VERY unlike him because he’s great with kids. Deep down I knew that this probably wasn’t the case, but I’m a little paranoid about passers-by and cat attacks ever since a couple of Halloweens ago, when our previous street’s resident Ginger Impinger sat on our front window sill, convinced everyone that he was part of our Halloween window display, and ended up scratching one of the trick-or-treaters.

Cat Daddy eventually answered the door. It was one of the kids, who cheerfully informed us that our cat wanted to come in. Then her slightly older sister/buddy chimed in, “She looked as if she’d had enough attention and went to the door, so we thought we’d knock and let her in.”

Cat Daddy thanked them, but was mortified beyond words that passers-by would have to stop and let Louis Catorze into his own house. But, if Larry the Downing Street cat can have a designated duty police officer to open the door for him (that’s why that police officer is employed, right?), then why shouldn’t the Sun King call upon random strangers to do the same thing?

I wanted to say that to the kids. But I’m not sure they would have got it.

L’envahisseur

Apologies for the overload of Château news: it’s been more eventful than an omnibus episode of EastEnders lately, with one drama following another.

I had been expecting a peaceful and incident-free weekend and was quietly reading in the living room on Friday, with Louis Catorze fast asleep on a blanket next to me, when who should show his cheeky face but … Oscar the dog, unaccompanied, in our house.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, the perimeters of Le Château had been breached once more. And, puzzlingly, Louis Catorze completely failed to notice. I don’t think I will ever understand how he can be aware of Cat Daddy’s impending return home from work before the key is even in the door, yet not notice a dog a few feet from him, on his own territory.

Before the warring factions had a chance to lock eyes, I escorted Oscar out to The Back and informed Dog Daddy over the fence that we had an unexpected guest. He and Dog Sister were over like a shot and, luckily, the only casualty in this saga was a polystyrene tray that used to contain smoked haddock, which Oscar attacked when he jumped into, and rolled around in, our plastics recycling sack.

Louis Catorze woke up in time to see his sparring partner hauled back home but, apart from that, the whole désastre appeared to pass him by. Oscar, on the other hand, will be riding high on this for some time; when I asked the Dog Parents how the naughty boy was after his adventure, the reply was, “Triumphant.” (Thank you to Dog Daddy for the photo.)

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So, going forward, it seems as if we’re going to have to install one of those blaring, single-note klaxon alarms – you know, like the ones you get in science fiction movies when the alien escapes from confinement or when the deadly contagion leaks from the laboratory.

Or I guess we could just get a new fence.

Je suis marrant comment? Je suis un clown?

The birds are back! And they’ve got Louis Catorze! Mon Dieu!

The terrifying thing is that I can’t see them. However, I can HEAR them having a very animated conversation indeed, with Louis Catorze meowing in between, and I swear I can pick out the voice of a psychotic feathered ringleader who is controlling the proceedings. Imagine a bird version of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas and you will know what I mean.

I actually don’t know what to do, given that I have no idea where they are. Le Château backs onto a school and I expect the war council is taking place behind the fence, in the playground, but the fence is impenetrable to humans. I am powerless to help my poor boy.

Update: Catorze has just trotted in showing no signs of injury or distress, although he is covered in some sort of plant seeds which I have had to pick off one by one (a small selection of which is pictured below, along with strands of cat hair – you’re welcome). It is not known whether he rolled in them, or whether he was pelted with them by la mafia aviaire.

This is not going to go away, is it?

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Tel est pris qui croyait prendre

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Meteorological hot snaps and convalescence: not a good combination. However, one very flimsy silver lining is that Cat Daddy and I like to sit outside in the evenings and gaze up at the sunset through the telegraph wires at the back of Le Château, with Louis Catorze pitter-pattering about our feet. We used to find the wires a bit of an eyesore but now, somehow, we have fallen in love with their retro charm, and we adore watching the clouds glide and the colours melt hypnotically through their stark lines.

Not so yesterday. One moment they looked just as they do in this photo, and the next – no more than a second or two later – they were filled with starling-type birds, all eyeing us disdainfully. The whole flock had suddenly risen like a cloud of black vapour from behind the fence and alighted on the wires, then, as quickly as they had appeared and before either of us could reach for our phones, they vanished.

I have always found birds creepy, long before seeing THAT Hitchcock film – something about the combination of fluffy bodies and scaly, dinosaur feet makes me feel funny – but this was just too much. And Cat Daddy didn’t help when he remarked that these particular birds looked exactly like the one that Louis Catorze killed recently.

Saint Jésus: we are being hunted. The birds want to avenge the death of their fallen comrade, and they know where we live.

Louis Catorze also observed the feathered army’s sinister vigil and didn’t appear to be in the slightest bit intimidated – but I was. Under normal circumstances I would lay down my life to protect my boy but, faced with the prospect of a 100-strong throng of terrifying, vengeful birds, cowardice has prevailed and I’m more inclined to fling Le Roi in their direction and beg them to take him instead of me. (Well, he is to blame for this, after all.)

What should we do if they come back? What if this encounter was just the beginning of a campaign of terror and intimidation? If Louis Catorze, Cat Daddy and/or I are ever found dead in mysterious circumstances, possibly face-down in a pile of feathers and covered in what look like puncture marks, please show the police this blog entry and tell them that the starlings did it.

L’oiseau

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Yesterday I was having a bit of an off day, mainly due to frustration that my recovery is so slow. Cat Daddy had sent me a text to cheer me up, which read, “You just have to be patient. You have a lovely house in which to recover, summer weather, TV and wifi, a huge bed in which to stretch out and, of course, the most amazing cat in the world.” (I pretended not to notice that that last bit was sarcastic.)

Then it happened: my beautiful little bubble of convalescence was cruelly broken by the sight of Louis Catorze walking casually past me with a dead bird in his mouth. And, before I could stop him, he had trotted under the coffee table and dumped the bird on top of Cat Daddy’s apocalyptically-expensive new wireless headphones. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Getting a 3.2kg cat to leave a place that he really doesn’t want to leave, when you are not meant to be lifting weights of more than 2kg, is much more of a challenge than one might imagine. But, after a brief skirmish, I managed to separate Sa Majesté from his loot, kick his arse out of the room, ignore his unearthly screams to be let back in again (see photo) and call Cat Daddy to dispose of poor birdy. He was surprisingly good about it, with “That’s what cats do” falling from his lips not just once but several times. Before I could say “Sennheiser Momentum”, the headphones were disinfected and back on his head as he relaxed on the patio with Louis Catorze on his lap.

It later transpired that Cat Daddy had mentally claimed the bird as a gift to him, given that it was left on his headphones, and was actually secretly pleased that his boy had been so thoughtful.

I, however, am starting to see that being the second favourite human has its benefits.

Vive l’indifférence

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It’s been just over a week since my surgery, and what a week it’s been. We’ve had some British Wimbledon wins, a French football failure, and Louis Catorze is still fiercely waging his campaign of apathy towards me.

He’s not unhappy, nor is he descending into his allergic state (quite the opposite, in fact: it’s been over 2 months since his last steroid shot and he’s still riding high on it). He and I have the odd moment at bedtime when he naps at my feet but, during the day, he steers clear of me. Then, when Cat Daddy comes home, he races to the door to greet him, as if to say, “Merci à Dieu!”

A friend mentioned the fact that he might object to my hospitally smell, in the same way that some cats reject their kittens/buddies when they return from the vet and smell vetty. But, surely, even with my mess of Medusa-like tendrils of hospital hair, he can see that it’s me and not some impostor?

Another friend suggested that Louis Catorze might be so intelligent that he’d figured out that I can’t pick him up or bend to stroke him, so he was thoughtfully saving me the strain of trying by avoiding me. Believe me, it’s not that.

Cat Daddy’s response, when I complained about Catorze’s treachery: “But he’s always liked me better. He isn’t doing anything different now and therefore, technically, hasn’t betrayed you.”

Silence, tumbleweed, crickets. I get the feeling that will be the theme of the next few weeks.