Previous Contents Next

The Haul Of The Mountain King

Porgy the Cat has a cold, wet nose. Every morning at 6.00am he thrusts it in my ear and snorts loudly. I ignore the slimy trail of cat snot trickling moistly over my earlobe and pretend that I am still asleep. Porgy burrows down in the bedclothes and pushes his nose up my left nostril. Companionably we share bodily fluids for a short while and Porgy purrs like a train, perhaps with happiness, perhaps with hunger. It's hard to tell.

"Where's my breakfast then, you lazy sod?"

Ah. Hunger it is then.

Bess sits at the foot of the bed, far too ladylike to bully me. But when she sees that Porgy has succeeded in arousing me she politely asks:

"Breakfast for me too? Now!"

Hearing lots of activity in the bedroom, Harpo swaggers in on all four feet, his tail to attention. He catches sight of my shoes and is distracted by the laces. He chases them for a while, then he kills them. He thrusts his head deep inside my right shoe and inhales luxuriously. His head emerges with a great silly grin from ear to ear.

"Aaaaahhhh!" he sighs luxuriously. "That really sets me up for the day. All I need now, to make a perfect day absolutely pluperfect, is breakfast. How about it?"

Bess growls deep in her throat. She regards Harpo as a threat and doesn't even like him to be in the same room as her.

"Go away!" she says forcefully. But she's only a girl, and Harpo pays no attention.

I crawl out of bed and the cats dash ahead of me. Harpo waits in ambush just outside the bedroom door and as I stagger sleepily past he swipes at my leg. There may or may not be claws. It depends how long I've kept him waiting. I scratch his scabs to encourage him. Harpo is mostly scabs; his hobby is fighting.

There is chaos in the kitchen. Cats intertwine between my legs. Cats sit beside their bowls telling me to hurry up. I pick up the feeding bowls and get the biscuits. Normal biscuits for Harpo and Bess, special diet biscuits for Porgy because he sleeps all day and all night (except for mealtimes) and is mildly spherical as a result.

Heads down, tails up. Silence descends except for the sound of chomping. Porgy watches the other two carefully. Perhaps they'll leave some biscuits and he will get a forbidden treat. I set off towards the shower, and Harpo raises his head.

"Hey," he says, "You've studied chemistry haven't you?"

"Yes," I admit warily.

"How many atoms are there in a guacamole?" asks Harpo

I think about it.

"I don't know. How many atoms are there in a guacamole?"

"Avocado's number," says Harpo smugly, and goes back to his breakfast.

After my shower, I have breakfast. There are no cats to be seen, for which I am grateful. I have my own breakfast. Toast and marmalade. I like marmalade. Alan's psychedelic breakfast. Then I go and wait for a bus.

I stand shivering at the bus stop. A wind from the antarctic blows up my trouser legs and freezes my naughty bits. I wonder if the lady standing next to me will massage them so as to prevent frostbite. Unfortunately I suspect she will not. Wind ripples are running hither and yon across the long grass on the verge as the wave front curls and shifts. The timetable insists that the bus should have been here ten minutes ago, but buses are always late in cold weather. The wind makes their tyres sluggish.

The lady standing next to me has icicles dangling from her nostrils.

"How do you keep your hat on in such a strong wind?" she asks me.

"Clean living," I tell her. "And extremely strong follicles."

A bus appears. It stumbles slowly to the bus stop and I get on.

"I don't think the bus before this one ever came," I complain to the driver. "I've been waiting for ages."

"This is the bus before this one," the driver tells me gloomily. "I'm running a bit late. Too much frost on the fetlocks."

I spend a cold day teaching. When I get home in the evening, Robin shows me the solar lights that are growing in our garden. They soak up sunshine during the day, charging their batteries. During the night they glow, lighting up the whole garden. Planes en route to the wide, wide world take diversions and fly low over our garden so that the passengers can enjoy the view. Robin waters the solar lights assiduously and feeds them solar light food. She's obviously doing something right, for they are thriving – nothing else in our garden grows quite so well. The gnomes are thrilled.

Yes – we have gnomes living in our garden. I'm not quite sure when they moved in (Robin is in charge of the garden; I seldom go there). They seem quite happy; presumably we have provided them with all the comforts of home. They can fish, chase frogs, and bathe each evening in the glow of the solar lights. They are getting quite tanned. We call them the garden gnomes of Zurich.

Robin has a new toy for the garden. It's a big noisy device. You put trees in the top of it and wood chips fall out of the bottom. Very useful. Fortunately Robin has access to a lot of trees, so now we are awash with wood chips. A gnome drowned in them last night.

To pass the time, I have been honing my haiku. A haiku is a Japanese verse form. It has three lines and seventeen syllables. The first and last line have five syllables each and the second line has seven syllables. In those seventeen syllables you are supposed to say something pithy, and perhaps even profound. Instead of forcing you to read the last few thousand words, perhaps I should simply have written these one hundred and nineteen syllables:

Porgy and Bess sleep
I open up the cat food
Two cats inhaling


Harpo has a fight
Crusty scabs adorn his head
Happiness is gore


Wind in the morning
A frozen moment in time
Buses die of cold


Alan reads a book
The words swim round on the page
A book reads Alan


Robin mulches a big tree
Chlorophobic chips


Solar cells unfold petals
Tanned gnomes are drowning


Here is a haiku
Compressed essence of static
Prose under pressure


Previous Contents Next