It’s Me – Chapter 17

These are all fictional books and there are 152 books to read, which should keep me going for a while if I want to lose myself in a fictional world.

On the next bookshelf are the books about real things. Books about facts. Books about religions especially Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Shinto, and Zen Buddhism. Volumes on philosophy fill one row, mainly lists giving high-level explanations about the teachings of philosophers from Socrates to Bertrand Russell. A book of maps called an atlas intrigues me as all neighbouring countries are outlined in different colours, but this makes sense because how would you otherwise know whether you were in Germany or Denmark other than by checking the colour of the ground under your feet, light-blue for Germany and pink for Denmark? Another row of books are on Ancient History from the Babylonians to the Egyptians to the Greeks to the Romans. Science completed the factual bookcase with books on neutrinos, anti-matter, and parallel universes. This is all wonderful news and I can’t wait to get started, but I do need to revisit the library to compare and contrast the books here with the books there. I should also make sure the blue-haired librarian is fine and has stopped crying.

A noise on the other side of the door attracts my attention and I immediately feign sleep on the floor with my paws tucked up to my tummy and chest. The door opens and the male human comes into the room:

“Oh look, he’s still asleep. He’s still convalescing from yesterday.” Julian comes across and rubs my tummy, which I enjoy for about five seconds, before realising that the thing is empty. My tummy is empty and there’s a gurgling sound to emphasize the point.       

“Come on, Freddie,” he says, “that nasty Gemma cat is still locked away, so you can enjoy your food in peace and poo to your heart’s content.”

This sounds like feline heaven and I scamper downstairs with no second invitation. Gemma’s bowl is empty but mine is full of important nourishment for my future growth as a distinguished cat whose intellect is celebrated. I’ve decided that as a Buddhist cat, who knows maybe even a Zen Buddhist cat, I should not gulp my food but should eat serenely, calmly, slowly, and with respect. I approach the bowl and give it a little bow, before selecting each kibble individually and swallowing it whole. The meat parts I decide to chew 42 times, because I once read a book that said 42 was the answer to everything. Eating in this respectful manner seems to take a lot longer, but by the time I’ve finished the humans have gone out to work and I feel full, because my brain has registered the fact my stomach is full of food. In fact, I leave some food in the bowl for later, which is unheard for me. However, it makes sense because I can now have a sleep for two hours or so and then have a quick snack before getting some exercise, and using up those calories, by trying to climb the vertical rose staircase and then climbing the vine to the library window, a gentler incline with less chance of being affected by gravity. Talking of gravity, I should find a book on gravity in the library, so I can discover how to recognise it before it sneaks up on me and causes me to fall off things. Wherever it comes from, it’s very quick to take advantage of my predicament and I end up landing on my paws with a surprised look on my face.

I decide to try and sleep on some more books in the hope I can absorb their teachings when asleep. I determine the philosophy section would be one to try and I crawl in between the books and the shelf above. At the end of the row, one book is taller than the rest and so acts as a pillow. This is called The Republic by Plato. I rest my head on The Republic by Plato and fall asleep immediately. I have strange dreams about old white men with beards asking and answering questions while waiting for someone to die by drinking something poisonous. Some sleep is restful, some sleep is relaxing, but this sleep is energy-sapping and when I wake up my head is spinning. Scanning the books, I decide to sleep in the other direction next time, as then my head would be resting on a selection of Sufi poems about love. I might be able to dream about my mum.

It’s Me – Chapter 16

“Gemma, I know you don’t want to hear this, but kindness does work, the humans are nice and the crows are friendly. I am going to make friends with Holly the Hamster and Rufus the Squirrel too, because I believe that’s how life should be lived, not in some hate-filled red mist.”

With that I padded up the stairs and went to sit with the humans who were both reading books. Marika’s book was a recipe for something called Red Thai Curry. Julian was reading Brighton Rock by Graham Greene. I had not slept on this book yet so I looked on the shelves and found about a dozen of Mr Greene’s books together. They weren’t as wide as Charles’s and Jane’s books combined, so I would have to curl up on top of Graham’s books to make a comfortable sleeping place. The problems cats have. I settled close to Julian’s left ear on the back of the sofa and started to read about PInkie and his exploits. Julian was a slow reader compared to me and I found myself drifting off into a very pleasant sleep.

Chapter 3 – Today

Well, it’s the next day again, which is still today. How confusing is that? I woke up to find myself still on the sofa, but the book had gone. I wanted to read what happened next, but the book wasn’t on the shelf where it should have been, if everything was done in a neat and orderly fashion. What is the world coming to? Surely Mr Graham Greene’s books should all be together for company? Why orphan a perfectly good book like that? Then I noticed the living room door was closed. I couldn’t go and have my breakfast and I couldn’t use the litter tray. This isn’t good, I thought, this isn’t good.

My mum used to tell me to make the most of my time and not to mope if things didn’t appear to be going my way. I remembered those words as I sat trying to open the door of the lounge with my paw. There wasn’t enough room for me to insert anything under the door, so I resolved to make better use of my time. I hoped to visit more of the library and find some interesting books on philosophy, religion, ancient history, and geography. However, what I should do first is inspect the bookshelves here in my new abode to see what I could read here, as long as I can remove the books from the shelf without knocking off any of the ornaments that are in the way.

I jump on to the back of the sofa and start my inspection. Charles’s and Jane’s books I already know about. And Graham’s too. There are two long shelves of Agatha Christie, about 75 books in all. I see they are mystery books featuring detectives called Poirot and Marple. I have never read a detective book before and it’s a mystery why that is, but I resolve to start soon – perhaps I will start with Cat amongst the Pigeons because there should be at least one character I can identify with.

On another shelf are twelve books by Eric Ambler who wrote thrillers according to the blurb on the back of his books. Most of them are set just before WWII when the world was even more dangerous than it is today. A few isolated titles by Daniel Defoe, George Eliot, Jonathan Swift, and three different types of Bronte complete the bookshelf.

It’s Me – Chapter 15

I needed a snack, but I hadn’t left any food in my bowl as I’d been hungry in the morning. Archimedes hadn’t opened the fridge in my absence, so I decided to go and sleep on the top of the bookcase, in a defensible position, until the two humans came home and I could hang around them for a while until Gemma’s anger subsided. I jumped up to the highest shelf and managed to wedge myself between the books and the top of the bookcase. The complete works of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen felt comfortable beneath my fur and I am glad they were so devoted to their craft in 19th Century England. Who knows one day I might be able to read Great Expectations or Pride and Prejudice? Or even both, because I have ambition to improve myself.

The next thing I am aware of is that I’m being chased around the library by a woman with blue hair who is trying to swat me with a number of pieces of paper with my rearview on them. I have to jump up to hit a silver disc to open a door and then I hide under a shelf and then I am running down some stairs and jumping up to open another door. Eventually, she corners me in her store room and I’m trapped. She approaches me and says:

“You’re difficult to track down, please O great artist sign these original works of yours for me, so that people will know they’re the originals and that these aren’t copies of the originals. I am only too pleased to do so and then I start purring…

…which is when I wake up, because Julian is stroking me under my chin. He then says in his funny, foreign accent:

“Come on, Freddie, you should have some tea with your friend Gemma.”

I miaow because that is the last thing on the surface of the Earth I want right now, so I cling on to Charles and Jane as best I can. My front claws are in Sense and Sensibility and my rear claws in Hard Times. I try to keep my tummy as close to Oliver Twist as I can. However, his superior strength wins out and I am scooped up like a large baguette and carried down to the basement, where sure enough Sneer Level 6 is waiting. I am plonked down by my bowl and I start to eat because I am hungry and Archimedes hasn’t been too helpful today.

As I swallow nervously, his footsteps disappear upstairs.

“I don’t know what’s worse,” she starts, “you fraternising with crows, who you should be eating or you being carried around by that half-wit human.”

I continue to eat my food and ignore her.

“Don’t you have anything to say?” she demands.

I munch a mouthful of kibbles ostentatiously so that Gemma can see that I can’t possibly reply because my mouth is full and my mum always told me it was rude and common to speak with your mouth full.

“Why aren’t you speaking? Answer me you stupid cat.”

I chew some meat because I’m an obligate carnivore and need vitamins from meat, especially if the meat is chewed very thoroughly like I am doing now at this precise moment.

Gemma decided to attack me at that point. She swatted me on the nose and called me a lackey of fascism. I swatted her on the nose and scratched her.

“Gemma, stop this,” I said, “I was being kind to those crows, they’re our friends, and they told me some useful information.”

“Kind?” she said, “I’ll show you where kindness gets you” and she leapt onto my head and it hurt and I let out my distress miaow

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaoooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Julian ran down the stairs and pulled Gemma from me by her collar. He shook her hard and said “Bad cat, naughty cat.” Gemma hissed at him.

Julian picked up a towel and threw it over her as he didn’t want to be scratched by her sharp, vindictive, evil, malicious, spiteful, harmful, murderous, nasty, scythe-like, dagger-like claws and took her to a small room and put her, still wrapped in the towel, on the floor in the cell. He pulled the towel from her and closed the door. “You will stay in there until you learn to behave,” he said.

Gemma started hissing like a pit full of snakes.

Julian came over to me – “Are you alright Fred?” he said. I tilted my head slightly and raised my eyebrows to indicate that I would manfully try to continue in spite of my suffering, like my mum had taught me. He looked at my head to make sure there was no blood and patted me. Once he’d gone, I continued to eat my food. I ate the rest of Gemma’s food too as she wouldn’t be needing it and used her litter tray, as she wouldn’t be needing that either.

I stood outside Gemma’s sadly only temporary cell with my paws at 10 to 2.

It’s Me – Chapter 14

Someone or something, I thought, and you are very astute, Angela.

“Ok, Ang, I tell you what, I’ll ask the repairman to come tomorrow, it’ll be too late for today, and see whether he can find anything wrong with the door and the photocopier. OK?”

“Yes, thank you Kirstie, I’ll keep these to show him. But that one there, is definitely a cat’s arse, so I am not sure what kind of book we have that would contain a picture of a cat’s arse. Can you think of any? Or even a magazine?”

“No, I can’t think of any, but there might be a special restricted section where they might keep books on cat anatomy or something similar. Would any of the cat magazines contain such pictures?”

“I doubt it, there’s no caption underneath, and why did they go and use my photocopier? I know, I bet it was that bastard Roger up to his tricks again, he’s probably behind this, wait until I see him.”

“But he wouldn’t bring his cat in with him would he, Ang?” replied Kirstie, “we’d notice if there was a cat in the library. It wouldn’t keep quiet would it, they’re always yowling and miaowing.”

Well, actually, you haven’t noticed there’s a quiet cat in the library have you? I thought.

“I’m going to have it out with Roger, you can’t leave representations of a cat’s backside on library property when the image will discomfort a colleague.” With that Angela turned around and headed back to her office. I made a quick decision to follow her no matter what, because I believed that the Roger she was going ‘to have it out with’ worked down the corridor and that she would have left her door open as she was grasping my oeuvre in her hand when she came to talk to Kirstie. I could then make my escape via the window.

My paws scampered towards the closing door. Cats can run faster than human beings if they’re motivated, it’s just that the motivation is lacking most of the time. I squeezed through the gap and then I ran to the door of Angela’s office. She was not there. Then I heard her haranguing someone on the other side of the wall. I leapt on to a box, clambered up to the window and made my escape to the outside. However, I was intrigued as to what might happen next. I decided to lurk. And observe with my ears. Cats exhibit both these behaviours a lot and it’s one of the ways we learn about humankind and life in general. I also needed to calm down a bit as I’d felt nervous in the main section of the library. I could have been trapped in there all night and my new owners might have thought I’d left for good and found a replacement who would eat all my food. My thoughts and self-doubts were interrupted by a conversation in the office:

“I never use your photocopier, I have a photocopier of my own, why would I use yours, when I have mine?” said a small man wearing glasses, who was presumably the Roger spoken about earlier.

“You have a cat at home and I am willing to bet that this is your cat’s arse,” said Angela pointing at my masterpiece of light and shadow, of fur and skin, of texture and baldness..

“My cat is black all over, her head’s black, her body’s black, her legs are black, her tail’s black, and amazingly enough, given all the information I have provided you with, her  backside is black too.” Roger folded his arms and looked annoyed, “this is not Pixie Frou’s bum.”

Pixie Frou sounded a lot nicer than Gemma although most animals sounded nicer than Gemma including spiders, rats, T-Rexs and the toads my mum had told me never to lick because they tasted obnoxious. The leaves of the vine started to become impatient with my lurking. The sky looked grey as though it was going to wet everything with its tears.

“Well, where did these come from?” asked Angela, “who put these images here, if not you?”            

“Angela, it was nothing to do with me. Perhaps it was some schoolboys in the library. They found a cat magazine and decided to play a prank on you.”

“These images are not from a magazine, there are no page numbers, we do not keep magazines of cat bums in the library, in fact there’s no magazine called Cat Bum Weekly or Playcat, the equivalent of Penthouse or Playboy, but meant for people who like felines. It wouldn’t sell very well and the only people who would buy it would be perverts. This is an image from a real cat, either that or the photocopier has thrown a wobbler and printed off the results of its own nightmares.”

“We don’t have a cat in the library, someone would spot the animal, and why would it head up here? There are photocopiers on the main floor and one on this floor for the public to use.”

“The only other possibility is that there’s a phantom cat in the library which we’re only able to see when it takes a photocopy of itself.” Angela looked rather earnest when she said this and I couldn’t help thinking that with her imagination she should write books for a living.

“Yes, well I will leave you alone with that thought,” said Roger, “I think we’re not going to resolve this conundrum. Perhaps the repairman might have a better idea?” With that he walked backwards out of the office and then made a dash down the corridor to his own office and locked the door.

Angela placed the images on her desk and after examining them again, she placed them in her inbox, a two-storey construction made from blue plastic, situated on a filing cabinet by the door. She then sat at her desk and started to weep into her hankie. I felt sorry for her, it was all my fault because I had become overzealous in my desire to produce a masterpiece of cat anatomy to rival those that Rubens had done for humans. Actually, not just Rubens, but Velazquez too. Those were the only two painters I knew because my old lady owner only had two books of paintings, so my learning was limited. I decided to make a tactical withdrawal as the sky had seen Angela crying and had decided to do the same. I slithered down the vine and trotted around to my house, where I knew a seething Gemma would have been practising Sneer Level 6 all day in preparation for my return from the outside world. I followed Sid’s advice and scampered over the roof, before balancing on the still open window and sliding onto the kitchen countertop in an ungainly heap, though my paws were still at 10 to 2.

It’s Me – Chapter 13

I left the dictionary at the letter ‘T’, but moved the pages from those featuring ‘Thuggery’ to a double page featuring the words ‘Tome’, ‘Topic’, and ‘Treatise’, which I thought was more appropriate for a librarian, as I have never heard of thuggish librarians. I decided to inspect this small area, which I believe is referred to as an office. I nose around the desk and imagine my surprise when I see a green bulbous thing in a small brown pot. The green bulbous thing is similar to the five in my first litter tray and is filling most of the area available. My mind is working quickly because I’m wondering how a human would use such a litter tray without receiving a spike in a sensitive place. The lady librarian must enjoy a challenge, that’s all I can say. I can’t open any of the drawers in the desk, because I believe they are locked. There are lots of boxes containing reams of paper piled against the wall at one end. The other three walls contain accounts and internal communications according to the writing on the folders. Some empty boxes are wedged in a recycling bag. This is more of a store room than an office, but the lady has made it homely. There is no picture of the dog, but then she probably doesn’t want to remind anyone of who created the stains on the floor. The only other item of note is a large metal basket with a narrow slit on top as an entrance. There are narrow strips of paper inside and I believe this is called a shredder for shredding sensitive information. I should place the pictures of my rear end in this contraption, but I forget to do so, because I am distracted by the door into the rest of the library. This lay before me and I decide, in the spirit of adventure, to head out and see what is available. Before I do however, I work out my escape route should I be in a hurry when I vacate the premises.

The door leads into a corridor at the end of which is an even larger door. It is closed. There is a noise and I withdraw my head as a male human heads down the corridor to the large door. He pushes a large silver disk on the wall and the door open towards him. I wait until the door closes. I pad down the corridor and jump up at the silver disk with my front paws. There is a slight whirring sound and the door opens towards me. In the room beyond are a few people sitting at brown desks reading books and typing things into their computers. The same dark-blue floor tiles are on the floor. Some abstract art is on display. The door starts to close until I jump up and touch the silver dish again and the door stops. I go to the threshold and look out, deciding where I can run to. Unfortunately, the door closes behind me and pushes me out into the room. I locate the silver dish on the outside and jump up to hit it. The door starts to open but there’s a human coming towards me down the corridor, so I run and hide under a shelf containing some books. The human male looks at the door and then heads towards a female member of staff. They have a quiet conversation involving much pointing at the door. As the man leaves I hear him saying “Well I will report it, it’s definitely faulty again’ before he disappears down a flight of stairs.

I have a good spot for observation. It’s a gift I think that all cats have. They go to the right place to see things. I see the middle-aged man asleep in a chair with a book called ‘Bleak House’ clasped to his chest. A young couple of about 15 are watching a video in Spanish. An earnest student is reading a book on The Russian Revolution and typing some phrases into his laptop. A married couple are reading magazines sitting in chairs next to each other, but don’t acknowledge the other in any way.

The lift doors open and out steps the blue-haired librarian. Her lunch time over, she’s heading back for an afternoon’s work. I remember my works of art are still on the birthing contraption and decide to stay put because things might become interesting. Sure enough a minute later there’s a muffled yell from behind the door and the blue-haired lady is back clutching my oeuvre in her hand and shaking the works around like a fan in a hot room.

She heads over to the other female member of staff.

“These were on the photocopier, and they weren’t there before I went to lunch.”

“Let’s have a look, Angela…..well those are unusual, are these the sort of things it produces when it’s doing a test print, to highlight light and darkness, because they’re all different like it’s doing a test.”

“Well, I don’t think so, this one looks like a cat’s arse, but the other two I’m not sure about, they’re all different like someone, or something was experimenting.”

Yes, I thought, it is a cat’s arse, it’s my arse thank you very much, and you shouldn’t be dismissing it so readily. Those papers could be valuable to someone with an eye for art.

“Wait,” said the other librarian, “you don’t think we’re haunted do you? Tim was saying a few minutes ago that the door suddenly opened when he was coming down the corridor, but no one came through the door.”

“I don’t feel anything cold and clammy when I’m in there on my own,” said Angela, “I don’t feel any presence although I did feel as though I was being watched earlier on, just before lunch, you know that feeling you get when you think someone is observing you.”

It’s Me – Chapter 12

After doing my best for 15 minutes I managed to find the best route to the top of the vine. There were a few false starts and some routes upward led me away from the window, but by a combination of athleticism, luck, and perseverance I reached the window ledge. My paws were sore as the wire from the staircase in my own garden had bitten into the pads and almost penetrated the skin. As I rested on the ledge, I wondered how the rose climbed so successfully without hurting its paws, or whatever rose feet were called. The vine was luckier. It had a whole wall to use and its suckers were attached in many places, allowing the load-bearing to be undertaken at a large number of points.

              When I had regained my breath and stopped panting, I cast a nervous look through the gap in the open window. I saw a blue-haired person typing on a keyboard. The room was lined with items that weren’t books, but instead looked like black files with white labels containing pieces of paper. These files all had red writing on their labels, usually from the first to the last of a month, going way back to over 5 years before I was born. This must be the Ancient History section.

There were some books on the lady’s desk, including a dictionary. I could look up some of the words Gemma had used earlier in the day, so I could obtain their precise meaning, although Sid had seemed to understand what I meant, so perhaps I was doing myself a disservice. There were some other books too: Memoirs of a Geisha, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, and MacBeth. I would just look at the dictionary on my first visit to this library, as it looked large and I would have to find the best way to open it before I could read it.

In the corner of the room stood a large machine. The blue-haired lady, whom I guessed must be called Angela, from Sid’s description of her, stood up and walked over to the machine, adjusting her brown jumper and smoothing down her skirt, as she proceeded. She opened the lid of the machine and placed a piece of paper on top. She pressed a red button and there was a whoosshing sound as the machine worked. It must have all been internal as presently the machine gave birth to another piece of paper. Angela seemed pleased with the baby. She looked at it closely and then pressed mother and baby together. She put them into a smaller contraption and went ‘Yihaahahaha yah’ and hit the top of the contraption with the side of her hand in what I believe is referred to as a karate chop. There was a sharp click and mother and baby were stapled together. Angela went back to her desk and opened a pink pen. She touched certain areas of the mother paper with the pen and then placed both items into a plastic tray, which had the name ‘Out’.

All of a sudden an alarm sounded from her phone – it sounded like the Saint Saens Organ Symphony to my untrained ears. “Feeding time and walkies for Miss Poppy” said Angela, presumably to herself as I felt sure she was unaware of me lurking outside. I had no idea what she was talking about, other than that perhaps Miss Poppy was the name of a dog in her home that had to be exercised in that dependent way dogs have. Remembering what Sid had said, I knew I had 30 minutes perhaps longer. Angela left the door open as she left to feed and walk her dog.

I clambered into the room and dropped gently onto the blue felt tiles, most of which seemed to have been stained by leaks from the roof. Unless that was the reason she wasn’t allowed to bring Miss Poppy into work? I was intrigued by the machine in the corner. I sat on the warm top and looked at the buttons – where was the red one? I pressed the red one with my paw and the machine convulsed before birthing a representation of my rear end. It looked horrible. I had never seen my rear end before not even in a mirror. It looked squashed up, so lifted up my hips and pressed the red button again. This representation was more of an abstract and less identifiable as the hind quarters of a cat somewhere between the ages of 1 and 3. I decided to press my backside into the top quite hard and pressed the red button. This one was a work of art and would have made me some money if I’d been able to sign it and flog it as an original artwork. La derriere de Freddie le chat would have made me a star in Paris I think. Anyway, the time for play was over and now it was time to learn.

I jumped onto the desk and approached the dictionary. It was open at the letter A where I could find out all about archery, architecture, archetypes and more. I pawed through until D for Diarrhoea, yuk how horrible, F for Fascist, that sounds like Gemma, J for Jackboot – but Jackboot wasn’t there, but Jackfruit was, a type of large, Oriental fruit. Perhaps I’d misheard her. Finally, T for Thuggery, acts committed by a violent person or group of people. Right, well, what does this mean? Gemma was warning me that the humans would commit violence using large fruit and shouting Nazi propaganda. Well, what kind of house have I become a part of? I think the key indicator for me would be the large fruit, because there didn’t appear to be any room in the fridge for the fruit, so I deduced the violence would only start once the humans had consumed some food from the fridge and replaced it with large fruit. I should be keeping an eye on the fridge. That would be my task for the coming days, though not when they were out at work writing technical and analysing business. My job title for the next few days would be large fruit analyst.

It’s Me – Chapter 11

“To our left, is the house of Holly the Hamster. You can see her in her wheel at that window,” said Sid, pointing his wing towards an upper window, where Holly was looking out while exercising. Holly stopped and waved her paw at Sid.

“On the other side of Holly’s house, is a 4-lane road that you must never even think of crossing Freddie, because you will get squashed by the humans and their large vehicles. Not even Rufus risks running across roads as wide as that one.”

“I won’t,” I replied, “and who’s Rufus?”

“Rufus is the clever squirrel who lives in the tree straight in front of us.” Sid nodded his head towards a Scots Pine, “Rufus crosses the road straight ahead, which is only 2-lane, every morning at 10 o’clock and returns at noon. He visits his friends in the park. If you want to cross the road to visit the park, I would advise you to go with Rufus, as he is an expert at crossing this road.”

“Good for Rufus,” I replied, “I will accompany him tomorrow morning, how will I recognise him?”

“He descends from his tree at 9:55am on the dot and then assesses the traffic before heading over to the other side. Some days the traffic is heavier than others, young Freddie, so make sure you’re there on time and don’t ever go on your own. Promise me.”

“I promise,” I said, “I don’t want to get squashed by a car.”

“And now I am sure this will thrill a learned cat like yourself, there’s a library on the other side of your house. The entrance is on the far side from here and there’s a car park on the far side too. If you want to enter the library, I would suggest using the window you can see up there. You should be able to climb up the vine and then make an entrance that way as the assistant librarian always opens the window at 8:55am and closes it at 4:55pm, just before she leaves for the evening. Her name is Angela and she has blue hair. She has two dogs, which she doesn’t bring to work, so she goes home at lunch time to walk them for 30 minutes. That would be a good time to read some books if you wish, or to find the dictionary which Angela normally leaves open on her desk, as she wants to make sure she spells words correctly and is using them in the correct context.”

“Wow, you’re an encyclopedia of local knowledge, Sid,” I said, “how do you know so much?”

“We crows share knowledge for the common good, there’s always a sentinel crow at the highest point in the area, we take that job in turns, who monitors what’s happening and reports to everyone else in the crow family. Our squawks may sound a bit mindless, but they’re not, they’re providing updates on what’s happening – gardeners, lawn-mowers, dogs, other potential enemies, some cats I’m sorry to say, all are reported by the sentinel crow. Your master, bless his heart, feeds the birds in the park before going for his morning run, so that’s always squawked about as you can imagine. It’s usually peanuts, no complaints from me, but they do contain lectins that aren’t supposed to be good for you.”

“Lectins? I will have to remember that, lectins.”

“Yes, they’re a protein found in most foods, as you can imagine we eat everything raw, so we digest quite a lot of lectins. They give us gas and bloating, but we’re not fussy eaters at all and we don’t want to starve.”

“What’s on that side?” I asked, pointing my back paw behind me in rather a balletic way.

“There’s a back-alley, Freddie, which should be safe. There are people’s garages and the back entrances to their houses. The alley is a dead-end to your left, just the other side of Holly’s House. In other words, if you are in a car, you can’t turn out of the alley into the major road, it’s too dangerous.”

“Well, that’s an excellent introduction to the area, Sid, thank you so much and if you need any help, let me know.”

“I will do, young Freddie, and look after yourself, we don’t want to be pecking your entrails off the road at any time, don’t forget that. Take care.” With that Sid flew to the kitchen window where he tapped on the glass. I saw a movement in the window and moved four feet to my left to get a better view. Sid was tormenting Gemma, who was swiping her paw against the glass, but Sid knew he was safe. Gemma may refer to the humans as jackboot fascists, but she certainly knows how to eat their fascist feline food in large quantities. Being a svelte feline, I had squeezed through the gap without a problem, but Gemma was too fat and would get stuck in the gap, if she even tried to exit the kitchen by that route. She’s what I believe is called a Champagne Socialist and would undoubtedly smoke cigars if she could strike a match or operate a lighter. I laughed to myself as I think Gemma fancies herself as a feline Lenin, who was one of The Beatles if my memory serves me correctly. With that thought, I determined to make my acquaintance with the vine leading up to the library window. There was a thick branch leading up the wall, which I should be able to use to effect an entrance through the window. I pinned my ears back and remembered my mum’s words to always try and do my best on all occasions.

It’s Me – Chapter 10

“That’s a chain link fence, and you will find it difficult. Have a go now and see how you get on.”

“I will,” I said and stood on my back paws before gripping the wire with my front ones. I attempted to climb but only gained about two feet in height before I had to let go and fall back onto the grass.

“My muscles are aching,” I said, “I can’t get up any further.”

“Well, memo to self, young Freddie, physical exercise is just as important as mental exercise. I want to see you using this fence as your gym routine every three days, until you can climb to the top and reach the window. Will you do that for yourself?”

“I will,” I said, “but until that point, how do I get back into the house today?”

“You will jump on to the shallow roof covering the entrance door from the handrail, you will climb on to the apex of that roof, from where you can jump onto the roof of the house, you will then mosey over to just above the window, where you can hang by your front paws as you place your back paws onto the ledge. You can then sinuously insert yourself into the house through the gap you created in the window by use of your chin.”

“That sounds straightforward,” I replied, “anyway what is that chain link fence for?”

“They train roses up it,” said Sid, “they like gardening which suits us because they disturb lots of grubs and insects and worms and we eat them.”

“Train roses?” I said, “I didn’t know roses went to the gym. Do they get to the top?”

“They do, eventually,” said Sid, “and very nice they look too, very aesthetically pleasing, even if I do say so myself. It takes time but they make it – they show the value of persistence, young Freddie, they know there’s something to be done and they do it.”

“Yes, persistence, you have to keep going, but you also have to know where you’re going. At the moment, I don’t know anywhere else in the vicinity, so where are all these places?”

“Good attitude,” said Sid, “I like that, let’s head towards the front of our garden and show you.” 

Sid walked with a rolling gait like a sailor on a storm-tossed ship and it was unnerving for me to walk beside him. I found myself rolling my gait too – not easy when you have four paws – so that we didn’t bump into each other.

There was a squawking from a tree ahead and Sid stopped to listen.

“Apparently, your cat companion is observing us from the window to your right.”

I looked up and was dismayed to see Gemma looking at me with what appeared to be a Sneer Level 6. It was a kind of Death Stare and meant she thought I was being an Enemy to Cat Kind. I smiled my nicest smile and then ignored her. There appeared to be voices in my head for a few seconds, emitting yowls and hisses, but I blocked them out with some considerable effort by thinking happy thoughts about my mum, about Archimedes and his levers, and about a fridge with its door propped open by a cleverly placed spoon.

After a minute of peaceful meandering whilst heading in a straight line, Sid stopped near the front door and said “This is a good place for your tour of the area.”

“Right,” I said, “this is a perfect spot.” Any place where I couldn’t make eye contact with Gemma was a good place right now, although she was somehow in my thoughts even though I didn’t want her to be.

It’s Me – Chapter 9

I am woken from my slumbers by a tapping on the window. I open half an eye and see a black bird on the window ledge staring at me. I jump down onto the floor and pad across to the kitchen counter and jump into the window, moving aside a primrose in a pot in the process. I apologise to the plant for waking it up.

The bird on the other side of the glass looks straight at me.

“Open the window,” it says, “and come outside, I want to welcome you to the neighbourhood.”

“Who are you?” I ask.

“How do? I’m Sid the crow,” said Sid the Crow, “and I live in your garden and trees. Who are you?”

“I’m Freddie the Cat and it’s very nice to meet you,” I said.

“My family’s down there in the grass,” said Sid.

I see four more crows that look like ducks on a green pond as they meander through the blades of grass with a carefree air.

“How do I open the window?”

“Stand on your hind legs and push down on the handle, that will loosen the window and then you can push your way through using that strong chin felines have for just these situations.”

I do as Sid says and sure enough after a little difficulty I am able to open enough of a gap for me to squeeze through to the outside. It is just as well I’m slim.

“I made it,” I said, rubbing my chin with my paw. I think my chin will need toughening up if I am to do this on a regular basis.

“Well done,” said Sid, “at least you’re friendly unlike that other cat that lives in your place, who seems very stuck up.”

“She is,” I said trying to remember the words, “those she never suffers from diarrhoea and believes that humans indulge in fascist jackboot thuggery all the time.”

“Is that right?” said Sid. “You have a very impressive vocabulary for a young cat, I must congratulate you on trying to improve yourself.”

“Thank you, Sid, you’re very kind. My mum said I should try my best every day to improve in at least one way and I am trying to follow that principle, even if it means increasing the amount of time I spend sleeping.”

“You’re a wise cat,” said Sid, “anyway young Freddie, let me show you around.”

Sid fluttered down and I jumped about ten feet on to the grass.

“Will you be able to get back up there,” said Sid.

“I will,” I said confidently, “I can climb up that staircase there.”

It’s Me – Chapter 8

It seems like the humans have cleared up the kitchen counter, though listening in to the conversation they seem to think a squirrel might have gained entry into the house. I sit on the kitchen chair, starkly wooden and shaped for a human bottom, and tuck my feet under myself and watch them go through their ‘getting ready for work’ routine. This seems well choreographed and organised as they never bump into each other as they move in and out of the room and then, just before they leave, they pick food out of the fridge, place the food into containers where they can still see the food and then place that container into a bag so they can’t see the food. The fridge looks full of interesting things to chew and taste, so I make a careful note of the way the door opens and closes. If I lie on the ground and insert my front paw into the bottom of the fridge, I should be able to use my front leg as a lever to open the door, even though the door has some suction around the edges to stop the door swinging open. I am very good at using my paws and legs as levers and I have studied the principles of Archimedes in this matter – if the distance a from the fulcrum to where the input force is applied (point A) is greater than the distance b from the fulcrum to where the output force is applied (point B), then the lever amplifies the input force.The problem, which Archimedes can’t help me with unless he turns up to open the fridge for me, will be how to insert myself into the fridge before it closes and to make sure the fridge doesn’t close with me inside. I reckon I will need to insert a spoon in the gap that I create with my levering, so that the curved part will stop the door closing completely. The thin handle wouldn’t work and if I used that I’d be trapped in a cold prison, although I wouldn’t starve to death of course. At the moment of potential discovery, I would have to pretend I was a furry loaf of bread or a black-and-white lettuce and hope that would fool them. One of things I will have to practice soon is lying on the ground in front of the fridge to find the optimum spot for myself. I also have to find a soup spoon in the dish rack that I will place in my mouth when I’m lying on the ground.

All this thinking wears me out and I fall asleep on the kitchen chair and I miss the humans going out to work. He works for a credit union analysing businesses and she writes technical words for a utility company. She drives and he catches the transit train.