Neighbours! Well, there’s a subject! Some years ago I moved into a place called Newton le-Willows. A nice enough friendly place, I thought, but it was a black cat that caused the end of our neighbourhood harmony.
Okay, here’s how it started; My neighbour was a guy called Tony and he and his wife were going on holiday and he asked me to look after his cat Blackie. It needed to be fed once a day, in the morning, for a week. OK, not a big deal and it put me right where I wanted to be with my neighbour: him owing me a big favour so ‘no problem’ I told him.
I’m up and showered and all ready for work and so I nip into next door’s and sort out the cat food. Tony has shown me where it’s all kept, which bowl to use and so on. I sort it all out, set it down on the mat and who is there waiting and purring? Not one but two cats. I thought there was only supposed to be one so do I do two bowls? No, he specified the cat food and showed me the bowl (the one bowl) so OK it’s sharing time for the cats and I’m off to work.
I jump in my van and I’m off and as I drive away there are the cats giving me a little catty wave from the kitchen window. Happy days.
I mention sort of randomly as I’m off to work that there were two cats in next door’s house and my wife (now my former wife) says, ‘What!’ in a big sort of screamy, scary way and I’m thinking, ‘here we go, what have I done?’ The thing is there is only one cat living next door so I’m tasked to throw out the intruder cat and just to feed the main cat. So, in I goes and I don’t really know which is the proper cat and which is the cheeky intruder cat. Neither of them seemed to respond to the name ‘Blackie’ so sod it I thought. Cat food sorted -I’m off.
Once again as I drive off there are the two cats happily washing themselves in the kitchen window and as I passed by a revolutionary thought occurred to me. One of the cats was actually a black cat so it could be (sound of penny dropping) that he was Blackie and the other cat, the ginger cat was the cat interloper.
Feeling a little bit like Sherlock Holmes and armed with this new deduction about ‘Blackie’ I popped into next door and chucked out ‘Ginger’, sorted out the cat food and then left for work. Was I dreaming or did I really see the two cats once again at the kitchen window? Did Ginger have a sort of ‘you’ll have to do better than that’ look on his face? Surely not!
According to my (former) wife it was a major criminal offence to have a strange cat enter your neighbours’ house and scoff half the cat food, so once again I chucked out the ginger cat. I did think about locking the cat flap but feeling this could have repercussions in case Blackie wanted to exit the property I left it open. Driving off as usual I spied the two cats smiling happily from the kitchen window engaged in their morning feline ritual of washing themselves, only this time they seemed to have been joined by a third cat! Christ, I thought, hope the neighbours get back soon before a cat colony starts up in their house!
Our neighbours returned from their break in foreign climes. I wasn’t sure about mentioning the intruding cat but what the heck; I told them anyway and they said not to bother, ‘that cat comes in all the time anyway. We’re sure its owners don’t feed it properly.’
I was outside washing my van and had a chat with my neighbour Elaine, the lady who ran our neighbourhood watch group. I told her about the cat caper thinking it was a pretty funny story but she seemed rather shocked by it all. Well, humour wasn’t one of her strong points I thought as she marched off to see Stella, another neighbour from further up the avenue who I have to admit I wasn’t too fond off. As the afternoon wore on I noticed Stella storm past me and knock on next door’s and have something of a minor row with the occupants. She stormed off fuming and gave me a pretty black look when I offered a cheery “afternoon!”
Day 9, later.
Tony gave me something of a black look too and didn’t respond to my friendly wave. I did wonder if this was vaguely connected to the cat saga. No, surely not I thought. Later, Tony’s wife came round and told me through a veil of tears that Stella had knocked on their door and accused her and Tony of being ‘A pair of f**king catnappers!‘ It turned out that Stella owned the ginger cat and Tony’s wife wanted to know why I had even mentioned it to Stella. Well, I don’t even really know Stella I said, the only person I mentioned it to was Elaine. “What!’ fumed Tony’s wife. (Wish I could remember her name!) The next thing you know she storms across the road, bangs on the door and appears to be having it out with Elaine. I couldn’t hear what was said but there was a lot of finger pointing, some at my house, some at Blackie wandering innocently along the avenue, some at her house and some, in fact quite a lot now I think of it, at Stella’s house.
A chance encounter at Tesco’s with Elaine. I’m scooting through the store, not really looking where I’m going as shopping is not high on my list of favourite activities and as I scoot along I’m throwing bread and milk and all sorts of stuff in my trolley when who should I bump into but Elaine.
“It wasn’t my fu**ing fault you know!” she said.
“That’s OK,” I told her, “I never look where I’m going with a shopping trolley!”
“I meant about the cat!” Elaine gave me a mean look and was gone, never to speak to me again.
Good job I didn’t mention that the third cat I saw in next door’s was hers!
If you liked this post why not check out my book ‘Floating In Space’? Click the links at the top of the page for more information, or click the picture below to go to my amazon page.