“Hmmmph,” said Dolly

Tuesday January 17, 2006

I couldn’t for the life of me work out why I woke so early this morning. It was still full dark. I had no urgent need to get out of bed, but even so I found myself wide awake, looking at the clock on my bedside radio and wondering why it was telling me fibs. Six-thirty? Far too early to be up and about. Even on a clear morning this time of year there’s no trace of light in the sky until after seven, and it’s past eight o’clock before the sun peeks above the hedgerow.

No arguing with it, though. Once I’m awake, properly awake, there’s no way I can stay in bed.

So I creaked myself upright, toddled along and into the kitchen, and snapped the light on. That’s when I heard the noise that’d probably woken me. From the study there came a deep, creature of the night kind of growl, and a lot of huffing and puffing, and the sound of Dolly giving the french doors a jolly good thrashing. What the…?

I tiptoed into the room, quiet as I could manage, to see Dolly doing her best to kill a little tortoise-shell cat on the other side of the glass, who was trying desperately to kill her back. [I think they call ’em “calico” cats in North America.] The sweet little thing, perhaps one eighth of Dolly’s size, was flinging itself at the window, screaming hatred into the night. Dolly’s growl, combined with the thumping she was applying to the glass, was threatening to shake the ornaments off the bookshelves.

Totally immersed in their mutual agression-fest, neither of them had noticed me, and they continued to ignore me as I stomped over to the window. I shrieked at the pair of them to desist. Dolly stopped in mid-growl and pulled back a little, looking rather embarassed. The little tortoise-shell cat was having none of it, and screamed her defiance back at me. A tortoise-shell cat, in my experience, needs a lot more than some yawny old geezer shouting at her through a window to make her give ground.

Nothing for it, then. I slipped back into the kitchen, out the door and round the house. The night caller stopped, looked at me, spat and hissed fluently, turned, and slipped away, out of sight.

“Oh, Dolly,” I said, when I got back into the warm. “You really do know how to get a chap up and out of bed, don’t you?”

Still huffing slightly, she looked up at me, then made her way into the kitchen, where she stood by the sink, staring meaningfully at me.

“Yes,” I said. “I expect you are a bit dry in the throat area after all that growling. Hang on a tick while I fill the kettle… there you go.”

And I stood there, watching the kettle boil while a larger than average sized Mega-Cat quenched her thirst. As I poured scalding water over coffee, she finished, shook herself, jumped down, and walked off back to her bed as though nothing had happened.

“Well,” I said. “Thank you very much. I needed that.”

The morning wore on, the rest of the world woke and went about its business, and I forgot all about my early adventure.

Dependable as clockwork, the postman called, tooting the horn on his van to rouse us. Two parcels for Graham, and a packet from Sally, containing those dreaded forms that’ll need careful study and completion over the next day or so before being mailed back along with the title deeds so she has everything to hand necessary to carry out her part of the house sale. Within a week, probably sooner, she’ll be all ready to exchange when the buyer’s solicitor has done the necessary work on his side. Then it’s a matter of waiting for the machinery to grind. We’re not proposing to apply any pressure, leaving that to the agent.

Then, to Boston, for carbolic soap, an electrical extension cord, and a very large capuchino-and-croissant at Costa Coffee. It was chilly in town today, too much so for purposes of loitering and promenading, so we didn’t hang around. A quick lunch in MacDonald’s, followed by an equally speedy trip round the Boston Tesco’s, and we were off home once more.

It was close on dark when we pulled up on the drive to unload provisions.

“I’ll park the car out of the way in front of the house,” I announced.

“What on earth for?”

“So you and the tumble-drier bloke have a straight run to load it into his car when he calls.”

“Ah. I’d forgotten that.”

The Freecycle system worked very well on this. When I shook hands with him I had no doubt at all that he was a genuine case. He was delighted to obtain a decent, clean, working drier, and we parted in the gloom after exchanging mutual pleasure at the ways of Freecycle. I hope he disposes of his old, broken-down machine in a responsible manner but I’m sure he will.

“When does the woman who wants the mower come?” Graham asked.

“Tomorrow afternoon.”

“Good. Things are beginning to move, then.”

Later in the evening, after dinner, we sat at the dining table trying to make sense of the legalese in the Law Society vendor forms.

“I think I’m going to have to cry off this tonight,” I said. “I’m feeling strangely tired. Might be something to do with being woken early by an unfeeling Mega-cat.”

“Oh, this can wait until tomorrow. Have an early night, why don’t you?”

“Think I’ll do just that.”

“Hmmmph,” said Dolly.



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