The Weird Cat

She’d been a weird cat since she’d first arrived, squeezing her way past the children’s legs one day as they came in from school. “Can we keep it?” they’d begged their mum, but she’d told them that this was somebody else’s cat and lifted it out onto the path, where it sat until the door was opened again before attempting entry once more. The girls had made posters advertising ‘FOUND CAT’, complete with a photo, but it’s hard to tell one black cat from another, especially in a grainy print. No owner had come forward and, day after day, the cat came back with little encouragement from the girls’ mum but secret treats and lots of cuddles from the youngsters. Eventually, it was tacitly accepted that she was now the family cat; a bed was bought and two bowls for food and drink. They named her Clinker and they loved her.

There was no doubt that she was getting on in years; her belly was flabby, the tip of her tail was flattened and hung at an odd angle, she had strange flecks in both eyes and she never meowed, although she often purred. The whole family made a fuss of her, but nobody pretended that she wasn’t weird. She would sit on the window sill, her back to the outside world, watching the room like a small, furry guardian. If anybody got up to leave, she would watch them until they were out of sight before resuming her original stance, rarely blinking, even more rarely sleeping. Most un-cat-like.

Clinker wasn’t very graceful for a cat either. She had an ungainly walk and would frequently fall from the furniture, righting herself as she hit the floor and continuing as though nothing had happened. The one time she displayed anything like the expected amount of feline agility was when she did the weirdest thing of all; whenever she crossed from the rug in front of the fire to head into the kitchen, she would walk in a wide arc, hugging the furniture until she reached the chair closest to the door, whereupon she would leap delicately as though she were clearing a small hurdle. The first time she’d done it, the family had laughed at her odd ways and had subsequently tried to fathom what made her do it. They’d tried moving the lamp in case a stray shadow was causing the cat’s confusion but it made no difference; over time the furniture was rearranged slightly, but she still followed roughly the same path and always ended with a little leap. It was part of her charm.

As the girls grew older, Clinker’s fur sprouted stray white hairs and she looked a little scrawny about the haunches, but she would still sit and survey the room with her almost unblinking gaze, never once facing the outside world. She enjoyed curling up in a lap, rumbling like a fur-covered Geiger counter and there was never a shortage of willing laps. All in all, it was a good life.

It was approaching winter when the burglary happened. As the family lay sleeping, their mother woke to a strange sound. Somewhere, a cat was mewing loudly and a bitter draught rattled under her bedroom door. She thought the girls might have left a window open, as they sometimes did; perhaps a local cat had climbed in, but as she opened her door to go and check, she saw a dark figure halfway up the stairs, or down – it was difficult to know which way they were heading in the gloom – and she cried out and flailed for the light switch. The burglar ran down the stairs and headed through the dining room and into the living room, making for the open back door through which he had forced an entrance.

He’d clearly spent some time in the living room, looking for valuables that didn’t exist, as every drawer of the dresser had been emptied onto the floor and the cushions from the suite had been tossed, as though someone might hide money or jewels in the furniture. The burglar stepped onto some letters and skidded a little before taking a wild step to try and right himself. He hadn’t accounted, however, for the now silent black cat prowling in the only spaces left unsullied and as his foot landed on the flattened end of her tail, she hissed and lashed out with deadly accuracy, raking her claws across his leg. He fell with a crash, catching his chin on the dresser and was already unconscious as he hit the floor. As he lay like a dead man near the kitchen door, Clinker sidled up to him and leapt in a graceful arc over the vanquished intruder, as though clearing a small hurdle.

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Parliament Reels as Cameron Quits!

In a move that has rocked the British political scene, David Cameron has announced his retirement from politics with immediate effect and is to become the host of a late night chat show. The shock move came in the wake of the £1.7bn bill from the EU, which is due to be paid by December 1st. Sources close to the former Prime Minister say that he had been considering stepping down for some time and this latest crisis gave him the incentive to take the drastic step.

As a result of his resignation, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, is now Prime Minister and, although an official statement has not yet been made, it is believed that Esther McVey is to be the new Deputy Prime Minister. Just minutes after Cameron informed the world of his decision, with rumours of the new leadership team running rife, the value of the pound plummeted, net migration dropped steeply as British and foreign nationals fled to the continent and Scotland requested a second independence referendum.

Although he refused to be interviewed on camera, David Cameron was recorded in the lobby of the House of Commons, saying “I don’t know where they think we can get £1.7bn from, this close to Christmas. I’ve promised Manchester a high-speed railway and I haven’t even finished paying for Birmingham’s library. It’s just take, take, take with these cities. Do they say ‘thank you’? No!” When asked to elaborate on his remarks, Mr Cameron refused, claiming he had a prior appointment with the controller of Channel 5.

While there has yet to be confirmation, a member of the scheduling team at Channel 5, who has asked to remain anonymous, has suggested that the proposed chat show is to follow a light entertainment format. Guests will discuss their latest projects, share a few glasses of wine and perform a song and dance duet with the former Prime Minister. Suggested titles are said to include ‘Croon with Cameron’ and ‘Dave’s Duets’. Russell Brand is expected to be the guest on the first episode, which is scheduled to air shortly before the general election.

To Dirty Washing (With profound apologies to Andrew Marvell)

Had I but world enough, and time,
My efforts I would turn to rhyme
I would sit down and think which way
To sculpt a poem every day.
I, by the chattering Mersey’s side,
Could sit with pen and watch the tide.
Of chills and winds, complain. I would
And shuffle back to flee the flood,
Of water, not of words I’d use;
The offerings of my shimmering Muse.
My verse anthology would grow
As vast as any that I know;
And readers would, with deep amaze,
Marvel at how I used my days;
Yet empty pages do attest
That my sweet Muse remains at rest;
Or else she knows not how to start,
Bold inspiration in my heart.
Most likely she must sit and wait
‘Til I surrender to my fate.

But at my back I always hear
The pile of laundry, damp and drear;
Which will not hang itself to dry
Though I should wait eternally.
And in the bedrooms, more is found,
Socks, shirts and towels, all in a mound
I gather laundry with a sigh
And wonder why it’s left to lie,
Forgotten forms to gather dust,
If left too long to form a crust:
To banish beauty from the place,
Inviting odours at a pace.

Now therefore, when my sons return
Strong words will make their ears burn,
And consequences may transpire
Involving piles of clothes and fire,
If I should chance to find them thrown,
Upon the floor; my will is stone!
Their clothes will dwindle by the day
‘Til every thread is cast away.
Let them retrain to nightly scamper
To drop their clothes into the hamper.
Then I can take my book and pen,
Commence to gather rhymes again.
Thus, though I may not be a bard,
My laundry won’t be half as hard.