Monday, March 31, 2014

How to really get along with your neighbours

Our cats Harriet and Beatrice have the habit, very occasionally, of following us up or down the street when we pop out. They're most fond of this at night, and would prefer it if we walk at a very leisurely pace to allow them to stroll just behind us, though if the occasion demands they've also been known to break into a brisk canter to keep up with us. This habit, I think, is entirely charming, so often of an evening I like to take a turn myself around the front of our Lalorian gardens, taking in the evening air and seeing a few sights with the cats.

It has been my fond wish that, one evening, a neighbour will be out in their lawn, and they will say, with a tone of inquiry in their voice: "hello, nice night to be out!"

"Yes!" I will say. "Just taking my cats for a walk!"

And there the conversation will end, with the neighbour thinking "why, what a charmingly quirky fellow he is, with attractive and well behaved cats!"

This evening I had my shirt off, because it was hot, and I was going for another walk up and down the footpath with Harriet (who is the most fond of walks). Actually I kind of had to persuade her to come with me for a walk - I sat down on the driveway until she walked out of the garden and onto the footpath and then joined her. (I didn't try calling her. She hardly ever comes when you call her). But she seemed happy enough to come, and so there we were, two intellectuals enjoying the cool of the evening. We got a couple of houses down when Harriet, as is her wont, jumped over into the front garden of one neighbour, and wandered up the driveway. A moment or so after that I saw a white flash - it must have been another cat, and Harriet ran after that. Not sure what to do, I kind of hummed and hawed, loitered a bit, and tried walking back a bit to see if Harriet would follow me. Nope.

So I tried walking back to the driveway Harriet had walked up and called her name. She duly presented herself again (the offending white cat apparently having vanished), and I began walking hopefully back up the path. Harriet didn't really seem interested, and I lost sight of her again (with her grey coat she's quite difficult to spot at night). Suddenly, horror of horrors, a car turned into the driveway! I quickly saw Harriet wasn't on the drive anymore, and then managed to spot her in the garden again. I called to her, but she didn't seem inclined to come at all. I kind of shifted from one foot to another awkwardly, fully aware that I was a strange shirtless man standing for no apparent reason outside the house of someone else who had just arrived home to see me there. 

Okay then.

"Um.... just trying to get my cat" I said. "She was on your driveway".

"Oh, she's all right isn't she?" said the neighbour.

"Yes," I said. "I can see she's in your garden. She's quite hard to spot because she has a grey coat....."

Then, for added verisimilitude, I called: "Harriet! Come on Harriet!"

She didn't come, of course. She hardly ever comes when you call her...


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