It’s been a pretty emotional day. Before we went to bed last night, Ninja seemed unsettled – her breathing was a bit wheezy, and we wondered if she was doing that thing they do before yacking up an enormous fur ball somewhere inconvenient like your bedroom carpet (it’s never on the kitchen floor is it?).
So this is our last week living as a proper family unit I suppose (although let’s face it, with Mr English’s weird job, we’re only ever a family unit two weeks out of four). Sam’s off to university next week and we’ll miss him loads. This became apparent as we watched the NFL tonight and sniggered, en famille, when the commentator said ‘bush’, and then a bit more when he said something about ‘coming in from behind’.
My friends all find it hilarious that I live with a human-hating cat. Our Ninja’s not a people person, bless her. She’s never happier than when she’s gnawing on an unsuspecting human, and takes great pleasure at turning from purry to assassin by the time you’ve stroked half way down her back and realised you’ve made a big mistake.
So I did what any self respecting angry Ninja cat owner would do, and forced my children to do it. First up is Sam, with a very valiant attempt at the ‘paw teddy’.
Nope, not a chance, so again I enlisted a willing sidekick (okay, I forced Charlie). This time, he nearly lost an eye, but succeeded in producing a darned fine cat beard.
The result of this, though, is an incredibly angry Ninja, who doesn’t like cuddles OR posing for photos (or frankly being touched or annoyed in any way) and is now roaming the house in an angry fashion, waiting for someone to attack.
We’re all sleeping with one eye open tonight, then…
Poor Ninja, she’s just not a people person.
Our recent trip to Gran Canaria did us no favours in her affections. I blame English Dad for bumbling the initial attempt at putting her in the cat carrier (in his defence, she did plant all four paws around the edge of the little door and arch her back whilst attempting to bite him too… he had no choice but to let her go). After that we spent a good half an hour chasing her around the house until I finally squashed her, snarling and hissing, two handed against the lounge carpet, yelling ‘bring the cat box! Quick!’. In the end we had to upend the box and plop her into it, unceremoniously and from a bit of a height (it was the only way without losing several digits… As it was I suffered several scratches and a bite to the hand).
All this trauma, added to a week in the cattery (’she’s been an angel’, the cattery manager mumbled, unconvincingly, without looking me in the eye and simultaneously relieving me of 80 quid) means that she now eyes us warily from the corner of the room and manages to duck any attempt at being stroked or touched in any way unless she can actually see a sachet of cat food being opened, in which case she’ll suffer a small ear scritch, just as a small ‘food tax’.
We’ve decided she needs a friend. ‘It might bring out her mothering instincts’, someone on twitter said hopefully, while we all rolled around laughing. ‘She might kill it’ said someone else, while we nodded thoughtfully… ‘maybe we could buy it some tiny body armour?’ suggested the dude.
Anyhoo, we’ve decided on a Bengal, as we think they’ve got strong personalities, which you’d probably need, being the Ninja’s household minion… and we’ve chosen this little silver spotted girl (obviously she’s too tiny to leave her mum yet).
I want to call her Moët (properly pronounced, with the ‘t’), but I imagine she’ll end up being called Slash or Barry something if the brethren get their way. Wish her luck.
Gorgeous, fluffy, plumptious, cuddly balls of loveliness.
Or in our case, vile, evil, furry balls of complete hatred (bar 2.2 minutes of purriness around dinner time).
When we got Ninja as a kitten, she was already horrible. I think the toddlers at the place where we bought her had been allowed free rein and the poor thing had virtually been hugged to death. So in Ninja’s view, humans = forced cuddles and being carried around by your head. She probably needs therapy.
Still, she occasionally quite likes the Mad Prof and will deign to lie on his bed while he plays XBox as long as there is no actual bodily contact. Yesterday, my happy viewing of Giorgio Locatelli in Sicily was interrupted by a blood-curdling yell.
Turns out, he broke the golden no contact rule, and while rushing to get his hand away from the hissing, snarling Ninja had smacked himself in the face, pushing the nose bit of his glasses into the bridge of his nose, actually drawing blood.
The air was blue.
Still, she provides the odd bit of entertainment, like this morning when she jumped up onto the kitchen windowsill, didn’t realise it was icy, slid off and landed on a heap in the patio.
What? Of course I didn’t laugh.
So you know The Ninja Cat of Death, right? Yeah you do: white, fluffy tail, unpleasant, miserable, bad attitude, objectionable…
Yup, that one.
When my bunch of buddies all came over to Ireland to see me, Liz, otherwise known as ‘Liz Jarvis, Pet Whisperer’ diagnosed a lack of attention. We were ordered to buy toys and play with her. In the meantime she fashioned cat toys out of tinfoil and champagne corks…
It didn’t work. Her reign of terror continued. Grown men cowered… ankles were attacked.
Here she is beating up the teenager after he dared try to stroke her when she was lying near him:
But since we’ve moved into this house, something funny has happened: The Ninja Cat of Death has turned into The Ninja Cat of Sweetness and Light. She’s gone all friendly. For instance, you can stroke her without being swiped by a razor sharp paw full of claws…
I know, right?
And you can walk towards her – even past her – without her fleeing in the other direction in case you plan on touching any part of her body on the way past…
And then she actually purred:
That made us a bit suspicious. We had a really good long look at her in case we’d accidentally picked up the wrong cat when moving from my Mum’s. Nope, definitely our cat: same ridiculously fluffy tail… same stupid pink nose…
So what’s happened? Has the traumatic experience sharing the house with Ellie the Labrador and Harry the Ginger T*sser changed her in some way? Has she realised she’s actually onto a good thing?
Who knows. But it’s all bloody weird if you ask me. Take last night:
This cat has NEVER sat on a lap before. Never.
Something’s afoot. What do you think? Cloning? A large patch of catnip in the back garden? A bump on the noggin?
Okay, so we’re going to have to work on the name, but we’re in! The area is really nice and there are some really beautiful areas of woodland and fields nearby (more of this later).
The kitchen is fab (check out the KitchenAid placing – looking rather fly):
and although the oven and hob were really gross, we got one of those oven cleaning companies in and now it’s immaculate:
And look at the hob:
Pretty nifty eh?
The fellas are back at school: #2 back with his beloved mates, and #1 very happily starting in the Sixth Form (yes, I tried to get one of those really nice ‘back to school’ shots with them standing looking all neat and posh in their new gear. Let’s face it, it was never going to happen):
…even the Ninja Cat of Death is pleased (turn the sound up for the purring) but she’s gone back to being miserable now. Happily I got the brief happy spell on film:
Much, MUCH more to come! So anyhoo, how have you been? What did I miss? xx
So back here in the UK, we’re squatting, somewhat ridiculously, in my Mum’s house. All our stuff’s in storage (even the beloved KitchenAid), even then it’s a bit of a squeeze and the Ninja Cat of Death is living an uncomfortable truce with Ellie the labrador and fending off amorous advances from Harry the ‘ginger t*sser’ (I know it’s mean, but it’s his name – he accepts it, and so should you).
We spent a while looking for rental houses, but it’s hard going – they seem to be gone almost as soon as they’re advertised – well, the ones that don’t smell of wee and have kitchens out of the 1940s are, anyway…
A friend of mine was recently looking for a rental house round here, was registered with all the local estate agents and heard of a house to rent. When she asked the agent why she hadn’t been told about the property despite being registered, she was told ‘oh it was gone by 8.30am’… WHAT?!
Now admittedly it’s commuterville – 30 minutes straight into Euston on the train – but queues for viewings? Seriously? And don’t get me started with the prices: £1500 a month for a very small semi-detached house (admittedly, they probably watch us shamble in, me with sticky out Russell Brand hair, the teens with their mahoosive feet and jeans around their arses and English Dad looking seriously pissed off with the whole process – and quickly add on an extra few quid) and they’re always 2 double bedrooms and one single – you try asking two teenaged boys which one wants the single room… One of these days I’m going to suggest a fight to the death (joking).
So we decided we’d buy a house. English Towers Part Deux, if you will. I know, I know… the FTSE is down 12.5%… oh wait, it’s up again… But it’s a very, very small house, with one reception room (I know it’s facile, but all I could think about was where the hell would the Christmas tree go?) on a new estate that was offering good financial incentives for people like us (for ‘people like us’, read poor people). We very nearly bought it too: mortgage offer in place… contracts ready to sign… and then the extras happened.
Heard about ‘the extras‘? Everyone that buys a new house will be nodding their head wisely at this point. Turns out that the extras are charges for practically everything that’s not cemented in.
‘You want carpets in your new house?’
‘Would be nice…’
‘No problem sir, that’ll be three grand. A kitchen you say? One with built-in appliances and a double oven? A snip at £3250…’
‘Okay, well there’s a small teenager surcharge of £1000 per child…’
And so it goes on. I might have made the last one up, but our very modest extras – tiled bathrooms, pretty normal kitchen… came to £8,000. And I think we would have stomached it – killed ourselves but stomached it – until the husband read one of the extras was to install Sky: £800. I think it tipped him over the edge and we had a really, really good think about what we were doing. Could we afford all these extras and the deposit? Probably not. Should we stick the money on our credit cards? Probably not.
But the final nail in the new house’s coffin came from my brother, the Cocktail King, Sensible Uncle Ian. He made up our minds in two seconds and with one sentence:
Sensible: ‘Do you love it?’
Sensible: ‘Then don’t buy it. Why would you make one of the biggest purchases of your life and not completely love it? No amount of builders’ incentives should persuade you to buy a house you don’t love’.
So we’re back on the rental market.
Aaaanyway, we’ve found a house. Not exactly where we’d like to live but, unbelievably, very close to the house we nearly bought. I’m looking forward to rescuing my Kitchen Aid from storage! It’s got room for us all, and a decent kitchen. And I think I’ve even seen a spot where the Christmas tree can go..
What about you? Rent or buy?
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