The curious tale of the Cornish pasty on the radiator

‘Why is there a Cornish pasty just below the radiator?’ asked Shana, who was sitting on the living room floor, dazed and contused.

A fair question, I thought, noting also her concerns about randomly scattered boiled new potatoes, one or two nestled comfortably by the maze of wires under the computer desk. And sharing her puzzlement at the row of garden peas lodged between the living room wall and the radiator pipework just above the skirting board. It struck me that the peas were lined up rather like a row of green balls ready for a snooker player’s trick shot.

Thankfully, this evening’s meal had included no gravy. (Big phew! there 🙂 )  And the little helpings of butter that had adorned the potatoes had hardly had time to melt before disaster struck, and so were fairly easy to clear up.

If you had just walked in the scene would have been a little like that on the ill-fated Marie Celeste, albeit a Marie Celeste manned by very messy eaters and with two of the scurvy crew (viz. Shana and I) still on board.

It’s a bit like one of those Sherlock Holmes locked-room mysteries, this, isn’t it? I bet you can’t wait to hear how this sorry scene came to be.

Well, it’s all quite prosaic, alas. We had just sat down to a late afternoon/early evening meal, when Shana decided to fetch a cushion from another part of the living room.Unfortunately she tripped over my foot, which had been so inconsiderate as to be on the end of my leg and also directly in Shana’s path. I am now designated as a human trip hazard and shall hand myself in to Health and Safety later this week, to return only when clad entirely in Shana-resistant padding.

Anyway, Shana now has more bruises than a crate of dropped apples, and feels like she’s been cage fighting with a grizzly bear.

I helped by clearing up the food debris and by wiping the floor with antibacterial wipes and doing lots of brushing. Then I checked on how Shana was faring. You may argue that I got my priorities wrong, but I contend that bumps and grazes always improve over time; whereas some of our floor covering was from an end-of-line selection and may very well be irreplaceable.

Anyway, I did make an excellent pot of tea soon afterwards, so I’ll have my gold star and nursing badge back, thanks all the same.

Tomorrow, I shall be wearing a hi-divisibility (sic?) jacket in order to be more noticeable. And Shana will be trundling around with the aid of a pair of those little stabiliser wheels that three-year-olds have on their bicycles.

Because you can never be too careful, can you? 🙂

The Old Grey Kitty Test

Our ten-year-old mackerel tabby, Smoky, enjoys rubbing his jowls on all manner of different surfaces and textures. A lot of cats do this. They can deposit and collect information in this way and it presumably also feels quite nice on their whiskers.

Smoky recently acquired a piece of flexible corrugated cardboard (packaging from a parcel, I think) which measures about 18 by 36 inches. He likes to sit on the corrugated side (it’s smooth on the reverse) and today he also, during one of his bouts of preening, began licking the corrugations.

To my ear, Smoky licking corrugated card with his rough feline tongue sounded like nothing so much as one of those washboard homemade instruments that were popular in the 1950s. I must therefore conclude that Smoky has now invented…

Cat Skiffle!

Battleship Lexicon

Yesterday, in the annals of our regular games of Lexicon, was a red letter day. Not one, but two ten-letter words. This is the highest to which one can aspire in Lexicon, and, frankly, it makes Channel 4’s Countdown and all its mere nine-letter words look somewhat lacking 🙂

First one was mine, although I spotted it only after I had already put out half my letters. If I had shuffled the cards a little longer maybe I would have got there. But as it was, my word TRICOLOURS was, alas,  as anglers would call it, ‘the one that got away’.

Shana was more alert and managed to blow me out of the water in the final game of the evening, by coming up with BATTLESHIP. Yes, she did use what we sometimes call the Joker to stand for one of the T’s, but it was a cracker of a word to end on.

Note to self: Must hide that Joker card…

Who really built the first pyramids?

Shana alerted me to a Sciencemag.org article on cats, and about how long humans have been domesticating them. It seems that, if cats through the ages have been anything like our Smoky, the domestic feline has been pestering its ‘owners’ for a lick of butter off the snack plate (one of Smoky’s absolute faves) and other table scraps for around 9000 years. No wonder they’ve got so good at it. (‘Awww, he has such a cheeky little face. Go on, give him some butter,‘ is how it works in our house. How about yours?)

Impressed by ancient cats’ ability to hoodwink the earliest Egyptians into raising them to the status of gods, Shana suggested some of those Old and Middle Kingdom moggies might also have been responsible for the pyramids. We now believe the original pyramids looked quite different from how they do now. Not because, as is often said, that they started life with a facing of limestone. But because they were originally wrapped in…

…Sisal!

Yes, Shana and I are convinced that the pyramids were the most advanced form of cat scratching toy known to man at that time. Scratchers, even today, come in all shapes and sizes. Cleopatra’s Needle, presented to Britain in the 19th century, was (obviously) simply a scratching post of a more regular shape and would have amused kitties of the time for, oh, minutes, before of course they got bored and went off doing something else. That’s the thing about cats. Short attentions spans, all of them. Probably need another nine millennia of domestication before that will change  🙂

Wagner vs Corrie

Earlier this evening, we were watching BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, a sort of ‘Eurovision song contest for posh people’, as Shana put it 🙂 when Shana, having glanced at the screen for a moment in the middle of a fraught hand of Lexicon,  suddenly remarked (indicating a burly chanteuse) ‘I bet she’d make a good lead singer in one of those Wagnerian epics.’

‘Brunnhilde?’ I suggested. To which Shana immediately agreed.

And then my comedy brain cells sprang to life. ‘Wouldn’t it be amusing,’ I said, ‘to make a Wagnerian Ring cycle style of opera telling the story of a fearless adventurer who set off in search of the perfect pint of ale, and of all the characters and ne’er-do-wells he met during his quest. It could be titled “The Return of the Rover” and the lead female role would be called Brunnhilde Ogden! Obviously, to retain a Teutonic feel to the proceedings, she would have to live on Coronation Strasse, and there would be enigmatic references throughout to a mysterious ‘Muriel’, and a backstory about three ducks pinned to a wall. They probably come alive as Austrian princesses or something in the final act.’

Shana, as usual, looked at me askance.

Then I wished I hadn’t started the plot synopsis at all. I reckon I’d need at least a thousand old envelopes on the back of which I’d need to scribble it all down. Maybe best stick to part-time waffling eh? Apparently it’s what I’m best at 🙂