A Funeral and Two Near-Misses

Early one morning a few days back, Mr Litlove came into our room in a state of some concern.

‘Harvey hasn’t come in for his breakfast,’ he said.

I hadn’t entirely got my eyes open at this point and my brain certainly wasn’t yet in gear, but this was surprising news. As our cat has grown older, so he seems to have grown hungrier. He has two meals a day, breakfast and teatime, and he anticipates both by several hours. His strategy – and it is a good one – is to make an utter nuisance of himself until such time as food is put in his bowl. This is easily achieved; he particularly likes to jump onto the desk where I am working and start systematically nudging items off of it. The more fragile or essential, the better. He has perfected the moaning miaow until it is like fingernails scratching down a blackboard. If all else fails, he resorts to the relentless headbutt against my shins. Missing a meal is not something he does. Ever.

I started to think about this, and realised it was worse than we thought. ‘I don’t remember him coming back for seconds after his tea last night, either.’ I said. ‘I think he’s been out since early evening yesterday.’

You see, I suspect my cat has Alzheimer’s. Physically he’s pretty spry for 15. But an extension of the ASBO-like behaviour has recently been to keep returning to me and asking to be fed, after his bowl has been filled.

We talk about this a lot.

‘Harvey,’ I say, ‘I’ll bet if you just go and look in your bowl, you’ll find you haven’t finished what you were given.’

Moan, moan, moan, says my cat, roughly translated as: ‘You’ve got to come with me. My bowl is empty, stupid human. You never feed me, and I ask and ask and ask.’

So we go back to the bowl where – surprise! – half his meal still remains. And I return to my desk and wait for the whole performance to start over in another fifteen minutes. When the weather was hot in the summer, he often managed to leave enough time for flies to start laying their eggs on his leftovers, adding a veneer of disgust to ongoing tedium. Halving his portions did nothing for his permanent conviction we are starving him.

Basically, I spend way too much of my day going backwards and forwards to a cat bowl, and when I shut him out in the kitchen in total exasperation, he sits on the floor with his nose up against the crack of the door, oozing resentment, determined to be first in the queue when it opens again.

So the evidence in the case of the missing cat: no pestering after tea, and a complete no show for breakfast. If there’d been an accident, I felt sure we would have known about it. The likeliest scenario was that he had found one of those little old ladies that cats have in their fantasies, with endless patience and a free hand with the tin opener. Given that Harvey is very much Mr Litlove’s cat, and spends his evenings ignoring me and gazing at him in adoration, I wondered whether it was too unfeeling to allow just a teeny notion of kittens to enter my imagination, adorable, funny new kittens, sweet, charming, playful little kittens with big eyes and button noses and those entertainingly oversized feet. Once the fluff has settled, I promised myself…

Mr Litlove returned from rowing pondering Harvey’s fate.

‘Perhaps he got shut in somewhere,’ I said. At which point Mr Litlove said, ‘Oh.’ And then he dashed off outside. When he returned he was triumphant. He suddenly remembered that the previous evening he’d shut the door to his workshop (our ex-garage) without looking behind him. Harvey had emerged as soon as he opened it, mewing with more justification than usual about his lack of regular meals. Alas it unleashed a whole new level of paranoia in him, so that by the end of the evening, even Mr Litlove was suggesting he had played the hostage trump card quite enough.

Upshot: no kittens.

Yesterday Mr Litlove went to London for work. You may recall a few months back that I was somewhat annoyed with him when he went to London and neglected to mention the fact, leaving me thinking he was dead in a ditch somewhere because he was unusually late home. Well, yesterday I thought to myself I would not be caught out that way again. Oh no. Everyone makes mistakes but only idiots make them twice. I was determined not to be flummoxed no matter how late he stayed out. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to get an email from him about 6 o’clock, saying it had been a long day of meetings and he was tired and looking forward to coming home. He didn’t know quite what time that would be. No problem! I replied. I’ll make dinner and keep it tenderly warm for you like a good wife should. About three hours later, I received a text that read: ‘Need food. Going for a pizza. Will be late home.’

I thought: I do NOT believe it. He’s tricked me again. I salvaged what could be kept from dinner and stomped off to bed. When he finally got in and I asked ‘What kept you?’ thinking perhaps the meeting had gone on far longer than expected, he said, and I quote: ‘They were drinking.’ I see. They were drinking and they handcuffed you to a nearby bar stool and made you watch. I am forced to the conclusion that London makes Mr Litlove extra silly. I need a new strategy for when he next has to go there, one that involves me going out for an expensive meal with friends, I think.

And finally, my friend’s husband’s funeral was today. I noticed that most of us got through the speeches okay, but the music very nearly undid us. That’s music for you: a direct hit to the places you’ve just about kept protected. Someone’s favourite piece of music is so redolent of their spirit. I held it together by imagining what songs Mr Litlove would want and wondering how often they had requests for Kylie Minogue and Atomic Kitten. Probably more often than you’d think. Just in case you’re wondering, this is what I would like, please, thankyou.



19 thoughts on “A Funeral and Two Near-Misses

  1. Just arrived in Stuttgart so may have read this while slightly travel weary, but I hope I conclude that “Harvey” is as large as life (and twice as resentful). I like your plans for Mr Litlove’s next London visit; if you would like a companion 😉

    My favourite piece of music – well now that’s very hard to decide and it is almost as dangerous to reveal as the true name of a cat (or wizard), so I’ll reveal a few of mine and let you guess the workings of the mind of Dark Puss as to which might be “the one”.

    Bach “St Matthew Passion”
    Messiaen “Quartet for the End of Time”
    Reinecke “Flute Sonata ‘Undine'”
    Bjork “Dull Flame of Desire”
    Dick Dale “Nitrus”
    The Runnaways “Cherry Bomb”

    • Oh yes, Harvey is in fine fettle and thank you for the offer! As for the music… hmmm, tricky one and interesting choices. I want to have a good guess at this… leave it with me and I’ll get back to you. Hope Stuttgart is lovely.

  2. Glad Harvey and Mr. Litlove are safe – though the latter obviously shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near big cities…. Music always reaches the parts other things don’t – I think I’d be controversial and want something noisy and punky.

  3. Good for you! I did wonder about my second choice being something with a disco beat. There’s no need to toe a classical line! Yes, both male dependents quite safe – your comment about Mr L did give me a good laugh!

  4. I have a cat like Harvey, although I think a little less persistent. Now you’ve made me feel lucky that it’s only every couple of hours, rather than every 15 minutes, that he comes in with the moaning meow and pitiful face, trying to trip me if I get up and walk anywhere except the kitchen.

  5. So love your writing. The perfect piece to end the day. I haven’t listened to the song yet, but I will, when I can feel more assured it won’t make me cry before I fall asleep.

  6. The first part of your post is all too familiar to me but I think it’s about showing who’s boss rather than senility. Our own dear (and I mean that in both senses of the word) Squeaker is somewhere around twenty and indulges in a similar routine but happily scoffs all her food when we’re away, I’m reliably informed.

    Excellent strategy re Mr Litlove – so much better than seething over a cooling plate.

  7. So glad Harvey is okay. He will hold that against you for the rest of his days though! And glad Mr. Litlove made it back from London. I hope you enjoy your expensive dinner out next time he travels there, I think it quite a fair thing for you to do. The music always does me in at funerals too. Your selection is lovely. I think I would like to surprise everyone with something like Pink’s Slut Like You. Hopefully it would get a laugh!

  8. I’ve always thought the Hallelujah Chorus would go down well. All those people who were glad I’d faintly gone to use it as hymn of praise to whatever had carried me away 🙂

  9. I can usually keep it together during funeral speeches and funeral music (I am at least fifty percent emotionless robot), but when I see other people start crying, that is what always makes me lose it. My old strategy has been to think of the Black Panther Party, a very non-tear-inducing subject (I happened to be reading some books about the Black Panthers when I first moved to New York and needed an anti-crying strategy fairly often), but that one’s wearing thin. I need a new subject to contemplate before my next funeral.

  10. I hope Mister Puss doesn’t read this because he is already annoying enough about his meals. Especially breakfast: he’s perfected looking in his bowl and feigning surprise, what, is it STILL only half-full?

    Most of your post made me laugh, but I do agree about music at funerals. I’ve always thought I’d like a really loud jazz band to play at mine, dancing encouraged. I am very much taken with Alex’s Hallelujah Chorus and Stefanie’s Slut Like You though.

  11. This post was so funny and delightful. I think at my funeral I’ll have them play “Jeremiah Was A Bull Frog” because I love the refrain, “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls…” I wanted it as the recessional at my wedding in 1971, but the priest put his foot down. What a spoil sport.

  12. You had me worried there for a moment–when I saw funeral and then you began with a cat story, I was wondering if the worst had befallen poor Harvey (I completely understand that cat behavior by the way!). He must have been starving once he was ‘released’! Though–very sorry to hear about Mr Litlove’ friend–I am a mess when it comes to funerals and sad moments like this–I fear I would not have been able to keep it all together as well as you did!

    I totally don’t understand it when someone goes off–for a long distance especially and fails to share that information–I have had that experience as well of late–I guess I can’t imagine not letting people know–though maybe I am assuming they actually Want to know? 🙂

  13. One of my cats, who is only 3, also does the ‘Feed me’, ‘Feed me again, dumbass’ thing and likes to be followed to the food bowl a couple of times. I asked the vet, who said ‘either she is bored with her food, or she’s messing with your head.’ I will not be manipulated by plaintive miaowing! (I am totally manipulated by plaintive miaowing).

    Funerals are so hard anyway, and then music packs that solid extra punch. Sheesh.

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