In a move that surprised everyone in the street this week Ian and Raphe decided to get a cat. This news was so surprising because they did not have a good word to say about Raphe’s mother’s cat, but I’m not one to gossip about hypocrisy, I just hope that their boasting about it being different because they would be the parents, doesn’t come back to bite them.
They had decided to get a young cat from a rescue home, something that would appreciate their love. They chose a male ginger cat called Leo that had a tricky start in life because when it arrived at the rescue centre its name had been Lilly, the staff told Ian and Raphe that it had an erratic personality which they attributed to the misunderstanding over its sex. Persuaded that they could make a significant difference to the life of the cat, which nobody else had shown any interest in, they took him home wrapped in a blanket, cuddled by Raphe all the way back to the street.
Raphe was very excited about the new addition to his family and stood in the street nursing the cat as Jacinta, Margaret and Mand cooed over it. He recalled a sorry tale about the cat’s early life and how it had wrongly been treated as a girl. Form where I was sitting I could see the small creature, an orange thing with a head that was clearly too large for its body, I did wonder if this was the reason no one had even glanced at it, although it did seem very placid, nestled in his blanket. Raphe declared that things would be better now it belonged to a loving family and had been given a new name, one that suited it, Lionel Blair.Mand was on it straight away, ‘Lionel Blair, now that sounds familiar, didn’t he used to be the prime minister?’
I thought Margaret was quite unkind in the way she guffawed at this comment, ‘No, that was Tony Blair, although the cat is quite like him, got the same colouring.’
Raphe looked more than a little offended, ‘He is nothing like Tony Blair, no Mand, Lionel was a dancer, back in the day, he was very good. I’m going to train the cat to dance.’
Now this I couldn’t wait to see.
A few days later Raphe appeared in the street again looking completely exhausted. He had taken a few days off to get the cat settled in, spending morning, noon and night with it. Far from being the placid little sweetheart that it had been doing an impression of a few days previously Lionel Blair was, in Ian’s words, the cat from hell.
‘I don’t want this to break us, but they are not bonding, and even I am struggling,’ Raphe’s eyes filled up with tears as he imparted this news to Suzy, ’I mean, have you got any tips, you know how it is, what with you also being a mother.’
Suzy didn’t have a chance to respond as Daphne, who had been standing chatting to Ken almost flew across the road. ‘Ken tells me you have a new pussy, how lovely, is she settling in ok?’
‘No, and it’s a he’. Raphe was more than a little curt but Daphne didn’t seem to notice, instead she went on about the benefits of a lavender wand, a floral stick that did wonders for a cat’s mood, and what’s more, she made them herself.
‘I only charge £7 each, you let the cat sniff it and play with it, the results are almost immediate, calms them right down.’
At his wits end and in fear for his relationship, Raphe agreed to try the wand and Daphne dashed back to Garths house where she kept a stash.
The term ‘money for old rope’ comes to mind, but at this stage I think he would have tried anything. The following day Daphne was nowhere to be seen as Raphe described to Ken the vigour with which Lionel Blair had ripped the stick to pieces. The house was littered with bits of lavender and Raphe himself had incurred several injuries when waving the wand in the cat’s direction.
As usual Ken had a suggestion himself, one that involved the use of music, and that he could back up with internet research.
‘You should look it up on Youtube, there’s a whole section, ‘Sounds to soothe cats’, give it a go. I reckon music can cure all ills man, never say never, no worries’.
Looking like a man with all the worries in the world Raphe headed home with Ken’s words ringing in his ear, if this didn’t work the cat formerly known as Leo and Lilly could be heading back to the rescue centre.
I have heard talk that Ian can be quite mean but last night he turned up at Ken’s shop with a bottle of rum and some Turkish Delight (Ken’s favourite), the music had worked, Lionel Blair had slept through two nights and was showing signs of calming down during the day too. They had been careful to choose sounds that they could also sleep to but the rest of the time anything seemed to work.
‘We’ve stayed off the Heavy Metal but he responds well to a bit of Bowie; Ken you and your music can work miracles.’
Now I think that’s a bit over the top but I must admit, I am glad Lionel Blair is staying.