I'm falling backwards through the darkness. My attempt to infiltrate the cats' home has gone horribly wrong. The furry monsters leapt at me, tumbling me back into the void, scratching and tearing and ripping at my flesh as I plummeted to my inevitable doom. Golly wotsit, this is a right old pickle.
I don't know what goes through your head whenever you are falling from a second-floor window with a face full of murderous moggies, in the sure and certain knowledge that you will inevitably come to grief on something hard and/or sharp on the ground below, but whenever it happens to me I can't help but think about my Uncle Cyril. It's unlikely that you would know my Uncle Cyril, so I expect you think about something else whenever you are in this situation, but for me it's Uncle Cyril all the time.
The reason I think of Uncle Cyril is that he had a dread fear of falling to his death, and so he wore a parachute wherever he went. My Uncle Cyril never travelled by air, lived in a bungalow, never rode on the top deck of a bus and managed to avoid staircases his entire life. He died when he fell down a manhole and his chute failed to open, and I can't help but think that whatever precautions you take, the brutal truth is that once your number's up, that's it sonny.
What would be really nice, I thought as I fell, would be if I landed on a mattress, and as luck would have it, I didn't. I landed on the next best thing, which was a compost heap, and I'm not sure who was more surprised - me, the cats or the small community of slugs that had been happily munching their way through a rotting lettuce leaf prior to my unexpected arrival.
I've come up with a plan to get into the cat's home. I told you I'd be able to come up with something, just as long as I was left alone to think it through. Well, I did: I sat down on the pavement and had a real good ponder. When I had finished, I felt all sticky because I had sat in the remains of a discarded pizza. Pepperoni and radish, if you're interested. But I had the answer - I would wait until the dead of night, and then I would stealthily shin up a drainpipe and gain entry via an unsecured window. Ha ha! I am a master bugler!
Darkness came. I knew it would. I dressed up in black clothing, smeared muck on my face and bought a jemmy from a man called Jimmy who ran a special burglar's supplies place that only people like me know about. Then I crept round to the Fennimore Home for Agitated Cats. Performing a quick recce of the premises, I heard the faint sound of purring coming from an open window on the second floor and decided that this would be my point of entry. There was a fire escape that would give me easy access in a matter of minutes, but I had spent lots and lots of time perfecting my drainpipe climbing technique, so I opted for that route.
Climbing drainpipes can be quite difficult for a novice, especially if it is plastic, because these don't offer much purchase. Luckily I am quite an experienced drainpiper, and this was an old cast iron pipe that was quite corroded and offered plenty of handholds, so in no time I had reached the first floor. I pitched camp here and fired up my Primus stove to cook a humble but energy-packed meal of sausages in baked beans. After resting for a couple of hours, I pressed on. The route became tougher now, and at one point I slipped and nearly tumbled into a crevasse. However, before long I reached the open window and paused on the sill to peer in.
What I saw was a chilling sight: about forty furry feline faces turned towards me. The leader hissed and suddenly flew at me, clawing at my face. He was quickly joined by the others, squealing and wailing and leaping at me. I lost my grip, fell back into the midnight void and...
Ooh, exciting, a cliff-hanger!
Here is my dilemma: the guest house where my sandwich was staying is now a home for weird cats. However, because my spidey-sense is tingling, I feel sure that if only I could get inside I might find some clue as to where it has gone. Unfortunately, the man in charge has a ginger beard and is very cross, and won't let me in. Life is really much more complicated than it needs to be.
I'm not suggesting that it is the ginger beard that is making the man so cross, although I suppose it could be. I don't know about such things because I have never had a ginger beard. I did once have 1975 Datsun Cherry, but that is not the same thing at all, really. As far as I know, you cannot drive a ginger beard to the shops and buy four triple-A batteries, a bag of sprouts and a copy of Woman's Weekly. Not that I was ever able to do that with the Datsun Cherry, either, since it was already twenty-five years old by the time I got it, and the only thing that worked on it was the left indicator - which was pretty useless since the ruddy thing couldn't go anywhere. It just sat in my back garden, where moss grew over it. There was a badger called Mr Goebbels who lived in it for some time, but he came into some money and moved into a Mark V Ford Cortina down the road. Eventually I swapped it with my friend Kevin for some liquorice allsorts.
Why am I telling you this? I need to sit down and have a think about how I'm going to get into this cats' home. Go away and come back tomorrow.
Right, I am returning to Mrs McGonagall's to ask her about my sandwich and this time I'm not going to take a sideboard for an answer. I knocked on the door, knock-knock-knocketty-knock. A big man answered the door in a ginger beard. "I am not going to buy a sideboard," I told him. "Good for you," he said, and closed the door in my face.
Fair enough. Well, that's established the ground rules. I knocked again, knock-knock-knocky-knocky-knock. The man opened the door in his ginger beard again. "I want to know where my sandwich is," I said. "No sandwiches, just cats," said the ginger beard man, and closed the door again.
Hmm, we were making progress, but it was slow. Perhaps this time we could have a sustained conversation. I knocked again, knock-knocky-knock-knock, knock-knock. "Hello," I said, jamming my foot in the door. "Please tell me at length what you meant by the phrase 'just cats', using diagrams and illustrations, if necessary." The man explained that he didn't know nothing about no sandwiches, and that this building was under new management, and was now the Fennimore Home for Agitated Cats, and that unless I had an agitated cat that needed treatment, I should leave immediately. He then pushed me out into the street and slammed the door. I walked around the building and came back to the front, and that's when I noticed that there was indeed a sign saying that it was a home for jittery pussy cats. I knocked on the door again, but he just shouted "Piss off" through the letter box. This was very naughty of him, but in the absence of any better ideas, I did as I was told.
I feel sick. I have had a big shaky milk from the milkshake shop, but it is now going all gurgle-gurgle though my tummy, and I am about to start having big regrets. What makes it worse is that it was my best favourite kind of milkshake, strawberry milkshake, and I have often wondered how they make it. I think they must stuff the cows full of strawberries before they milk it, but I have a friend called Susan who disagrees with me. Actually, she's not really a friend of mine, she's just some woman I met at the chiropodist. Anyway, Susan from the chiropodist reckons it is the other way round: she thinks that they get the strawberries and stuff them full of cows. Well, that's mental when you think about it - it would mean that you would then have to milk the strawberry. Have you every tried to milk a strawberry? I have. Even though I squozed it very carefully, I ended up with juice down my shirt and pips in my eye. It was a flipping nightmare, and I am never going to do that again.
I think Susan from the chiropodists must be a proper nutter to believe that, and considering the state of her feet I am not at all surprised.
Anyway, shortly after leaving the shaky milk shop, I was sick on a small dog, after which I felt a whole lot better. I looked down at the puddle of vomit with the sticky little dog in the middle of it and I said, "Crikey, I don't remember eating that." It was a joke, of course, because I would easily have remembered eating a dog. However, the dog didn't seem to think it was funny and bit me, so if you see a small dog covered in pink sick wandering around, steer well clear of it because it has no sense of humour.
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of the Bleeding Obvious
All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2021, and may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author. All characters, companies and organisations are fictitious, and any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
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