The Day the Cat War started.

Theday the car war started

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. 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.

Day1

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.

Day 2

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.

Day 3

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!

Day 4

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!

Day 8

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.’

Day 9

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.

Day 10

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!


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A Shaggy Dog Story and how a Hoodie got his Just Desserts!

Looking back to my childhood, one thing I’ll always remember is our dog, Bob. My brother and I always wanted a dog and one day I remember playing outside, waiting for Mum and she came towards us holding a wicker basket and in the basket was Bob, a mongrel puppy but, according to my Dad, ninety per cent Manchester Terrier.

He was named Bob because all my Dad’s pet dogs were called Bob. There was Old Bob, before him there was Even Older Bob and then the Last Bob. Presumably if there had been one before him he would have been In-between Bob.

Bob the Dog.

Bob the Dog.

Anyway, we grew up, my brother and I with Bob. He was a wonderful dog and we had some great times together. When we moved from Wythenshawe to Handforth Bob disappeared after a few days. We searched and searched but couldn’t find him. We went to the Police and the officer suggested that maybe Bob had gone back to our old house. “What? All the way to Manchester?” we asked.

“It’s been known!” he said.

We had no car so we walked back to our old house, a good five or six miles away, nothing in a car I suppose but a fair walk. The neighbours had seen Bob about and after waiting a while he turned up, very pleased to see us.

Where we lived in Handforth there was a dog called Butch who lived around the corner. Butch looked like the meanest nastiest dog ever but he was actually a really friendly dog. When we took Bob for a walk Butch would follow us to the old RAF camp where we went for walks. Of course, Bob would not allow Butch to actually walk with us. Oh no. Butch would have to walk about five yards behind us and if he approached, Bob would bark and growl until Butch went back to his proper station. When we got to the field and Bob’s lead came off then all bets were off and the two raced about and played together but on the way back home, protocol had to be observed and Butch had to adopt the proper position or be barked and growled at.

Butch’s owners were not the best or most responsible dog owners. Butch was an outside dog and when they went on holiday Butch was left to fend for himself until they returned and some of our neighbours thought Butch was a menace, a wild dog but he really wasn’t.

One day, during the school holidays, there was a knock on the door. Now, I do mean a proper knock, a real rat-tat-tat on the door knocker. When I opened the door no one was there except Butch, looking at me in askance. I assumed some kids had been messing about knocking on our door so I told Butch to go away and shut the door but a few minutes later there was the rat-tat-tat again. My Mum opened the door looked at Butch and said “Round the back Butch” and a few minutes later Butch turned up at the back door and my Mum gave him a few scraps to eat. It turned out this was a regular visit from Butch and Mum explained how Butch used to tap on the letterbox with his foot or his nose. He was a bright lad that Butch.

Anyway, one final dog story to finish with. I must be careful how I tell this one because I always seem to give the punch line away before the end. Anyway, here goes.

When I lived in Newton le Willows I used to take our Labrador for a walk on the playing field round the corner after finishing work. There was a little snicket you walked down to the playing field and further up was some rough ground and a bit of a pond where we’d have a run around. On this day as I approached the path a youth on a mountain bike came hurtling down the path, passed me and was off. As I came to the field there was an old lady there who looked a little odd. Something about her wasn’t quite right so I went over and asked if everything was ok.

“No,” she answered. A man on a mountain bike had just grabbed her hand bag and shot off. “I saw him,” I said. “He went off towards Newton. Stay here and I’ll run home and call the Police.”

“No,” said the lady. “It doesn’t matter,” and then she started to laugh, slowly at first, then developing into a great big hysterical laugh.

Well, I thought, I wonder if this is some sort of shock reaction? Should I perhaps slap or shake her or something? The lady could see where my thinking was taking me and held up her hand. “I’m not mad, just a minute and I’ll explain.”

When she had calmed down she told me that she came here every day to walk her dog but the dog always liked to have a poop on the football field. Well, she was aware of the kids playing football so she always used her poop scoop and picked up the dog mess but felt a little self-conscious walking back home carrying a bag of poop. Now this is the bit where you’ve probably preempted me and guessed what happened. The lady brought an old handbag with her to carry the poop and that’s what the hoodie biker had grabbed!

I can just imagine the face on that hoodie when he stopped to examine his goods. What would he find? Had it been pension day? Would he find a purse filled with money?

Well, when it comes down to it, he found exactly what he deserved!


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