The day the cat overshadowed the bride!

I cannot remember a time when I have not had a cat. So I thought it was time to blog about my pets and Bendy in particular. As a child there was always a cat running around the house and they became my friends. Better than having an invisible friend I guess, although I think I had them too. Yes, I know, you are not surprised. One cat actually became a replacement dolly for me. We seemed to always have a cat that was in kitten when I was a child and sooner or later those kittens would run around the house too only to slowly disappear as people took them home. Kitty (not the most original name I know) was my favourite cat as a child and I remember dressing her up in bonnets and baby clothes.

 

Yes, you heard me correctly. How the cat put up with it I shall never know. One day I actually took her for a walk in my dolly pram and she just laid there. Another time I put her on the floor with a pillow for her head and covered her with a baby blanket and told her not to move until I came home from school for my lunch. Believe or not, she was still there on my return. Kitty would even lift the knocker on the front door when she wanted to come in. Of course even though cats were a big part of my life then and still are now, I never for one moment thought a cat would upstage me at my wedding… But as usual I digress. Of course, the worst part about owning a cat is when they depart. I have lost several cats and each time I have said I would never get another one but life without a cat is a very lonely one indeed. As an adult I have owned many cats. There was Kelly whom I had for fifteen years and what an adorable cat she was. Of course, I always believed that cats would stay with me for a long time and so after Kelly died I brought home two kittens and named them Saoirse and Roisen and thought they would be with me for fifteen years too. As you can imagine their names caused quite a problem and most people could not pronounce them and that included by then husband. I would phone the vets and say ‘Can I book Saoirse and Roisen in for their jabs’ and the receptionist would put always put them down as Mrs Lynda’s cats. Everywhere I took them they became known as Lynda’s cats. The fact that they were identical confused everyone. Sadly Roisen was knocked down by a car when she was two and Saoirse died six months later from a stroke aged almost three. The vet told us that there had obviously been some kind of interbreeding which had been the reason for the stroke. Both cats were highly strung and it does make me cross that owners do not take more responsibility for their pet’s reproduction habits. When I met my second husband and we bought our dream cottage in the country we decided to buy a dog but somehow this didn’t happen. Instead we heard through a friend that they knew someone whose cat had just had kittens and were we interested. Andrew insisted we only get one and of course I agreed. However as soon as we saw the kittens we just knew we had to have two. Six weeks after choosing them we brought Iris and Bendrix home. Iris named after my favourite author Iris Murdoch. I met Iris Murdoch’s husband just before getting our cats and was thrilled to be shown around her home. The cat we named Iris was so intelligent and human that I felt naming her after Iris Murdoch was the only thing I could do. Bendrix was immediately named after the main character in our favourite book and film ‘The end of the affair’ By Graham Green.

Bendrix and Iris as kittens

Bendrix, of course came to be known as ‘Bendy’ It was Iris, however who became the hit of the village. She would visit the local school in the morning and sit in on the lessons for a short time. The teacher allowed the children to stroke her and she stayed for part of the morning before being thrown out. She would then travel on to the allotment next to the school where everyone came to know her. Whenever we went for a walk in the village we would whistle her and like a dog she toddled along ahead of us and as soon as we whistled again she would turn around and come back.

Two little rascals

Iris was a wonderful hunter while Bendrix just sat in a box in Andrew’s office getting fatter and fatter. We figured he was depressed and though about taking him to the vet. We would watch as Bendrix tried to hunt but Iris always got there first and would drop her cast offs for him to play with and then growl at him.

Iris on the line. One of her favourite places

Bendy would eventually retreat to his box. We finally took him to the vet who said to give him time. Then we realised Iris was in kitten. I have yet to see a cat as happy as Iris was when she was carrying her kittens and even happier when they arrived. She would spend nearly an hour trying to get them outside so they could hunt with her and when we prevented it she would bring in a huge bird and teach them how to eat it…
Iris with her kittens

Meanwhile, Bendy got more depressed. Iris sadly died shortly after having her litter. A fly landed on her and hatched his eggs. We had no option but to have her put down when the vet explained the damage the maggots would do to her. We buried her at the allotment and were very touched at the number of people who knocked to say how sorry they were that we had lost her. Amazingly while we were sad and missing her dreadfully, Bendy’s spirits lifted. He started hunting and very much came into his own. He became such a great hunter that Andrew grew tired of getting up in the mornings only to step on dead corpses as he walked into the living room. Bendy had birds, mice, rats and has been known to catch Bats. One day tried to get a pigeon through the flap. It was when he started bringing home bunnies that Andrew put his foot down. At night he was to stay in the kitchen. At least that way the carnage didn’t enter the lounge. Sometimes our garden looks like a war zone. Okay a slight exaggeration. He has been the source of many problems since finding his personality. He gets into numerous fights and lost the tip of his ear in one. Another day we came home from the shops to find him nice and snug on Andrew’s computer while all around him there was blood. It was all over the floor, splattered up the wall and all over Andrew’s desk. I screamed and fled from the room not wanting to see the carnage when Andrew found it. After not finding any carnage, we checked Bendy over only to find a cyst on his neck had burst and we had not even noticed it was there.

A bandaged neck until the collar was put on.

One other thing that Bendy likes is the camera. As soon as we point it at him he begins to pose. It was with this thought in mind that the day before our wedding we bought a bow tie with the intention of putting it on him. Of course, on the morning he disappeared. He however reappeared as all the guests were settling and I was about to make my entrance into our garden where I was to walk to Andrew. At that moment Bendy jumped onto the garden wall and Andrew quickly popped on the tie. Bendy loved it and when people started photographing him he began to pose. He was the centre of attention with all the paparazzi around him. I had to wait until his photo call was over.

The best cat
He then disappeared, only to return later that night with bow tie all askew, like a cat who had been on the tiles. He later won a competition with the photos we took of him. For a cat who was once lived in the shadow of Iris he had now proved himself. Everyone who meets him, loves him and I very much hope he is with us for a long time.

Life in the country. A pictorial memory.

“It’s beautiful,” we both enthuse on first seeing the country cottage we had always dreamt of. We had driven through a wooded lane and crossed an attractive bridge, the river shimmering in the sunlight as we drove towards the village. At an almost giveaway price we manage to romantically overlook the cobwebs which seem to cover the entire house (the spiders I would terrifyingly encounter) and the large damp patch on the lounge floor.
“We can make this room look great,” we said, with the evident pride of owners. Of course our experience of builders and insect poison was quite limited at that point but would later become extensive. Again we ignored the creaking doors, never imagining that at some time in the future our magical home would have the power to lock us in at will. We never for one moment saw our cottage as a miniature Amityville horror. How easily we deceive ourselves. Friendly village folk smiled and greeted us warmly as we walked across the village green and had a drink in what we already regarded as our local. We thought how quaint and peaceful it was to have no shops, or street lights. Oh, the pleasure of seeing the stars at night. The primary school, next door wouldn’t be a problem we decided, in fact the sound of children’s laughter would bring us much joy. However, three months on and sticky finger marks on our fence coupled with tiny heads stuck through our railings changed our view somewhat and now, some days I am inclined to favour the idea of our predecessor, which was to chop off their little fingers but I digress and should go back. At that moment we fell in

love, even though we knew the whole house needed damp proofing, and dry rot had to be treated, we were not perturbed. The survey report should have swayed us but it didn’t. We would get everything done, it might take some time but in the end it would look wonderful and as we browsed through house and home magazines every night our confidence grew.

Eventually we would be able to rent it as a holiday home, paying for our own summer holiday. Ah, that was ten years ago. We moved in as partners and married eight years later. Our wedding was held in the garden and the reception on the village green, moving a bit later into the local. But it was not always like this!
We moved in on New Year’s Eve amidst a screaming match. We couldn’t move for furniture as Andrew had chosen to use a ‘man and van’ (who dumped all our belongings into one room and abandoned us to rush to his next job) I could see no end in sight, in fact I couldn’t even see the blooming front door at that moment and stressed as much to Andrew in just a few four letter words. He stressed me more by remaining calm, of course. We finally ambled across to the local pub for a calming drink to find, an invitation only, New Year’s Eve party in full swing. More tears followed before we ambled back, shivering and depressed. A few days later we began working on the house. The first hurdle was the floorboards in the bedroom. No matter how hard we tried the boards would not be sanded. They were too old and badly damaged and the sander kept breaking
‘A hundred pounds wasted on hiring a sander’ I shouted and another row followed as I demanded carpets and he argued to keep the original floorboards. I hate to admit he was right after all. Eventually we got down on our hands and knees to scrub and varnish them ourselves. Of course it would be at these times that the friendly village folk would choose to visit.

“Just say if you need anything?” they would offer as I struggled to rub the paint from my face and hide behind my paint streaked, oversized, holey jumper.

Exhausted!!

“It’s nice to have some young people in the village” they said struggling not to grimace at the sight of our cottage, which resembled a holocaust inside and a building site outside. The realisation that we were the ‘young people’ sent warning bells about our future social life. Never the less we battled on. I had a near breakdown during a wood lice invasion and it somehow erupted in me throwing a glass of water over Andrew. The memory of this eludes me now… For days our lounge was inundated with loft insulation and I waged a constant daily battle with dust but dust eventually won. Finally, one day, something positive. Our sleigh bed was to be delivered at nine on a Friday morning. It actually arrived at five in the afternoon but I was so excited I overlooked the long wait. At last, our long-awaited comfortable night was here, but we were wrong again. The delivery men looked at our stairs made one half-hearted effort to carry the headboard up and then declared in a bored tone.
“That bed won’t go up there.’
We stared at one another. Oh for pity’s sake.
‘What about the mattress?’ I asked. Our lovely comfortable and very expensive temper mattress.

‘I know all about these things, that mattress will never go up them stairs.” he said knowingly.
‘But if you heat it with a hair dryer it will bend in half,’ said my knowledgeable Andrew.
‘Excuse me mate, what makes you think I carry a hairdryer on the van?’ retorted the other delivery man.
The next thing we knew they had driven off in a cloud of dust with us looking on despondently. I could cry, two thousand pounds down the drain.
“You can choose something else,” the manager of the furniture shop said, but we didn’t want anything else. Therefore, he informed us, we would get our money back minus six hundred pounds for restocking.
“Six hundred pounds! They can bring it back then and I’ll saw the headboard off if I have to. But they will get it up the stairs.” my loving partner declared. I was close to tears, my beautiful bed driven back to the warehouse and next it seemed it was to be sawn to bits. How much could a woman take? Our cottage looked like it had been desecrated, with carpets torn from floors and rubble piling up in my lounge as a fireplace was demolished.

“It will be great when we get back to the original two hundred year old fireplace” Andrew would enthuse. I would nod and think, oh, to live in a normal house.

But there were good moments and still are. Like when we actually did get the bed in. And yes, some neighbours are friendly. The professors next door seems to live in a cloud of smoke, all literary and romantic and seem to permanently sip whisky and find it very decadent to recline in their night-clothes all day. The milkman delivers milk and anything else we need, and oh yes, blessed of all things, the mobile library comes to the village green every Wednesday but I always miss it.

Then, of course, there is the story of Mick, our first builder and the missing plums bag. How I spent a good fifteen minutes looking for a bag of plums when in fact he had lost a Plumbs bag. Something very different indeed and nothing whatsoever to do with fruit. But Mick was the discoverer of our inglenook, so I quickly forgave him. Then of course there was the day we dramatically crossed off our new home list the entry, ‘Buy a dog’ This all came about after one of our neighbours invited us for drinks and their dog almost snapped our hands off when we went to enjoy the nuts that were presumably for us. Not to mention much crotch sniffing which put me off dogs for life.

Bendy and Iris
Bendy

We, instead, opted for two kittens. Bendy is still with us. Sadly Iris we lost after her first litter.I run a mile whenever I see this particular neighbour and her dog. Also of course there was the day I got locked in my own bathroom due to the decrepit state of the door and had to scream from the window for someone to help me.

But we are still together? Is life in a village as friendly as one imagines? Is everyone popping into everyone else’s house? Well, we are still together, apart from the odd storming out of the house episodes. As we speak, the war on ants and wood lice continues, although at times I think the poison is killing me. But overall, life in a village is great.