Two things occurred to me when I was writing yesterday’s post, which were nothing-at-all to do with plumbing. The first was about Penguins and the second was about cats. Let me explain….
Although the options were very limited, it took me and Simon a surprisingly long time to arrive at a mutually agreeable decision about where precisely to mount the Hideously-Ugly-Green-Hose-reel thingy, (which, for uncharacteristic brevity, I may henceforth refer to as Hugh). Simon called me outside to show me where he was thinking of putting it. The conversation went something like this:
Me: No – not there. It’s too ugly and too prominent. Can’t it go lower where it won’t be so glaring?
Simon: You don’t want it too low down or it’ll be hard to use.
Me: Well further to the left then.
Simon: It’ll be in the way of opening the barn door .
Me: (opening the barn door for demonstrative purposes) No it won’t, look. We never open it any further than this.
Simon: Yeh, but you don’t want too long a bit of hose between the tap and the reel.
Me: It’s a shame it’s so ugly.
Simon: At least it’s green, and not yellow or anything.
Me: Yeah, but it’s a really plasticky green. Why does green plastic always have to look like that?
Simon: Because it’s plastic. And green.
Me: Oh well….I expect I’ll get used to it. And it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like the house is particularly pretty or anything.
Simon: I think it’ll just be great to be able to get water to the pigs without having to go in and out of the house with buckets.
Me: Of course. I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful. You’re right. It’s brilliant. And, (smiles admiringly) you’ve done a wonderful job with the tap. Put it about there then (pointing to the place that Simon had first suggested), where the horse-shoe is.
A momentary pause ensued whilst we considered the horse-shoe. I wondered how come I’d never noticed it before, and suddenly noticed there was a matching one on the other side of the barn door. Simon lifted it off the wall, revealing a small hole.
Simon: Hey look…there’s a hole already. Less drilling to do. But where will we put the horse-shoe?
Simon: Well I don’t want to mess with fate. It’s gotta be on the wall out here to keep the luck coming in.
Me: (in an incredulous tone) Are you serious?
Simon: Absolutely. We have to put it back up somewhere.
Me: (wondering if this really was the same man I married, or whether his logical, scientific body has been possessed by a superstitious alien) Give it here….we can put it with the fairy door. That way we can have the luck coming into the house, instead of just in the barn.
As I wedged the little metal lip at the bottom of the horse-shoe into a small gap between the window ledge and the never-used wooden shutter, and stood back to consider the effect, I was struck by the similarity with my recent conversations about the door-frame placement of The Protective Penguin. I wondered if the first person to ever put a horse-shoe on their wall just did it in a random sort of way, as a bit of a joke, just to see if anyone would notice, and whether that turned into a family tradition, which then somehow snowballed to take on the nature of a world-wide piece of folklore. I wondered if, centuries from now, colourfully wrapped pieces of chocolate biscuit would be adorning the door-frames of living rooms from Derby to Darwin, and whether people might be giving Silver Penguin bars to brides everywhere, to bring them luck on their wedding days.
The other thing that occurred to me was this. Very observant and regular readers of this blog might have noticed that I made reference yesterday to “the wilful behaviour of three nosey dogs and five curious cats”. And those very observant readers would be thinking to themselves…”Five cats? But I thought there were six?” Well there were. There were only five for a little while, when Mother Cat went on her holidays, but then she returned after a week or so, fat and shiny, and full of health and happiness, and we were back up to being a Six Cat Household once again.
Well the fact of the matter is that Mother Cat has once again gone walkabout, and has been gone now for such a long time (more than three weeks), that we really don’t think she will be coming back. She has always been Her Own Cat, and a wanderer to boot, and she has never been awfully keen on the bounciness of the dog-puppies, or even the playfulness of her own offspring. She has her mad moments, but overall, Mother Cat is a Cat of a Serious Nature, and she likes to be left in very comfortable peace, to Think her Thoughts, and Dream her Dreams. Really, she is the sort of cat who would be happiest being the Only Cat. And the fact that she was SO healthy and looked so well-cared for after her last little sojourn in foreign parts has tempted us to believe that, rather than meeting some untimely and unfortunate end in the wild countryside around Saint-Sornin, she has in fact merely Moved On.
I had a cat once before that did precisely that. She moved in with a neighbour – a lonely old lady whose husband had recently died – and quite simply never came back. And I have known people who have ‘inherited’ cats that have frequented their gardens, and whom they have tempted to stay with delicious morsels of niceness that were obviously so much nicer than what the cats had been used to, they realised they were on to a good thing and never went home.
Of course is it quite possible that Mother Cat is squashed and flat in the middle of a busy road somewhere, or that she has succumbed to some mystery illness and chosen to Do the Honourable Thing, and die alone under a bush, rather than infect her family with the dreadful disease. But knowing Mother Cat as we know her, we really think that she is probably living a life of luxury in someone else’s home. Not squashed and flat, but round and fat, and feeling not one iota of feline guilt for having gone away forever and a day, and not even so much as thought about sending us a postcard.