Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I had the dreaded meeting with Gillian this morning.
She told me off for naming one of the cats. “You start to lose sight of the group as a whole when you name them,” she said. “Think of them as a single solo organism, like a hive of ants or wasps. You wouldn’t name individual ant, would you?”*
“But ant’s aren’t cuddly,” I said, “and cats are social creatures, not hive drones.”
She drew a breath between her teeth. “You’re spoiling my experiment,” said Gillian. “I’ve been watching these cats for two years. They’re the basis of my dissertation for my social psychology degree.”
“You’re going for a degree?” I have to admit I was genuinely surprised.
“Why not? I’m fed up of you and Harold treating me like a thicko. I started a distance learning course.”
“Good for you,” I said. “And you managed to write your name on the application and everything?”
“Ha ha ha.” She did that smile that is so uniquely Gillian – the one where she opens her mouth and extends her fangs. “You’ll have to treat me a bit better once I’ve gotten my edumacation.”
I left her to it. Harry the Maui cat wanted his breakfast and I’d got a freshly caught salmon (gutted) in my pocket just for him. The other ones weren’t braving the cold yet.
I rubbed my fingers together and he trotted right up to me, winding around my legs and purring. I took the opportunity to feel his stomach. It had gone right down since yesterday so I felt it safe enough to feed him.
Walking with Gillian, I happened to spot a flash of blue in the sand of the cactus garden. I used an imp to dig and there, in a little pile of fresh cat faeces, were the remnants of a balloon. I have no clue how he managed to eat a whole one.
*Actually, I’ve done exactly that in the past. I spent half of 1964 doing nothing but watching the behaviour of an ant hill on the edge of the Gobi desert. Then some wildlife film-makers came along and released an anteater, just for the fun of filming it. I lost a lot of friends that day.