3.30am is the very best time of day for cats to have a squalling, hissing, spitting, full volume fight on the bed. The human slaves are deeply asleep and they respond with extremely satisfying noises to their abrupt awakening. With any luck, pillows, lamps and even shoes might get thrown, which can then be chased down, tortured and killed. Also there will inevitably be a lot of flesh on view, and much of it can be bitten.
And that was why I awoke to sensations of extreme pain.
Ow! Harpo, you bastard! Stop that immediately!
I see he still isn't mistaking you for somebody that he likes, said Robin.
No. He certainly isn't. How about we give them breakfast so that they will leave us alone?
OK, said Robin. I'll do it. I need to get up anyway so that I can watch the world cup soccer on the TV.
Fair enough, I said. But I really cant understand why you dont just record the matches that take place in the small hours of the morning. That way you could sleep in, and then watch them at your leisure at a more civilized time of day.
Robin was shocked. That will never work, she explained. If I watch the match after its all over and done with, I wont be able to affect the outcome by shouting at the screen!
Sorry, I said. I hadnt thought of that. Youre absolutely correct. Pay no attention to me.
Anyway, Robin continued, you are forgetting the reason why we actually went out and bought a device for recording TV programmes in the first place, arent you?
No, I said, puzzled. I dont think so. Remind me. Why did we buy the recorder?
Recording machines watch the television for you, explained Robin patiently. They record the programmes, and they watch them all the way through on your behalf. Since the programmes have already been watched, you dont actually have to watch them yourself at all!
They really are wonderful time-saving devices. And they even watch the adverts for you, which is extraordinarily helpful because nobody likes watching adverts, of course.
Huh? I found Robins reasoning dubious. So you are telling me that watching a pre-recorded programme is like eating someone elses left-over food? The food is still nutritious, but nevertheless...
Thats right, said Robin. Ive recorded about a hundred hours of Dr. Who programmes, and I havent watched any of them. I dont need to. The recorder watched them all for me.
I see, I said, scratching my head. At least I think I do. Theres a certain superficial appeal to your thinking on the subject. But nevertheless, I suspect that your logic might be flawed somewhere.
Dont worry about it, said Robin. It works for me. She toddled off to feed the cats.
As I lay there, half awake and half asleep, bleeding gently onto the sheets, I could hear vague biscuit rattling noises coming from the kitchen.
Get a move on! insisted Harpo. Gosh, you are so slow!
Please is it my turn for food yet? asked Bess anxiously.
It wasnt long before the sounds of happy munching filled the house and Robin came back into the bedroom to report on progress. I've punished Harpo severely, she said in deeply satisfied tones.
What have you done to him?
I gave him breakfast in the yellow bowl, she said. That'll teach him to wake us up so early in the morning.
Indeed it will, I said. It was very clever of you to think of such an excruciating punishment at this terrible hour of the day.
Thank you, said Robin, and then she went off to watch the soccer. I lay in bed, wide awake by now, wondering what to do next. Eventually I couldn't stand the mingled sounds of gobbling and goal kicking any more, and so I got up to face the rest of the day. In the kitchen, Harpo was just finishing off the last of the biscuits in his yellow bowl.
Serves you right, I said. You shouldn't have bitten me.
He looked up from his breakfast. Bastard! he muttered.
Meanwhile, Bess took a final swallow from her blue bowl and said, I'm going to go and snooze in the warm spot that Robin left on the bed. I feel sleepy.
OK, I said. Sleep tight. Don't let the bugs bite.
You killed them all last week, said Bess, when you squirted that nasty anti-flea liquid on the back of my neck. I've been really lonely since then. All my best friends died in agony.
I made some breakfast for myself. No yellow bowls for me because I'm a good boy! I chose a plain white bowl, with a subtle blue ring around the rim. And coffee, also in a plain white mug with a slogan printed on it. If you want the best seat in the house, you'll have to move the cat. Obviously the author of this slogan has never met Harpo. Nobody moves Harpo out of the best seat if he doesn't want to be moved. Even the threat of the yellow bowl will generally fail to shift him from his chosen spot, except at meal times.
You must be blind, ref! yelled Robin. Mark him! Mark him! Mark your man! Oh no-o-o-o-o-o! You moron! Shoot! Shoot! Pull his arm off and beat him to death with the soggy end! YES!!!
Clearly Robin was enjoying the football.
I sipped my coffee and began to think about what to prepare for us to have for dinner. Reflecting on my conversation with Robin about the purpose of TV recorders, I decided that cooking leftovers would probably be a good idea. Deep within myself I discovered a hankering for bubble and squeak. Yum! So that was settled.
All I needed now was a selection of leftovers. I examined the fridge closely, but unfortunately I appeared to have completely run out of leftovers. Oh well, perhaps I could use the extra hours that the cats had given me to make some more.
I set some potatoes to boil and I finely sliced some cabbage which I braised with red onions in olive oil. I put a leg of lamb into the oven to roast. I chopped some carrots and parsnips and added them to the roasting dish.
I checked my bubble and squeak recipes. Several of them called for Brussels sprouts. I decided to pay no attention. Brussels sprouts are not food. Brussels sprouts are the reason why the British won the battle of Waterloo. The battle took place just outside the city of Brussels. What do you think the soldiers loaded their muskets with? Brussels sprouts, of course!
Mushrooms, I decided, would serve very well in place of Brussels sprouts. Magic!
When the potatoes were thoroughly cooked, I mashed them with milk and margarine and then set them aside to cool. I chopped the carrots and parsnips into julienne slices and mixed them with the braised cabbage. I carved the roast lamb. I thinly sliced a selection of mushrooms. I put all these things into separate bowls and I put the bowls into the fridge where they would be safe until dinner time.
So now I had a wonderful selection of leftovers just waiting for me to perform culinary magic with them. When dinner time arrived this evening, it would be really simple to make bubble and squeak.
Y-e-s-s-s! yelled Robin. Two-nil! Two-nil! Take that you bastards! Owwww!!!!
Harpo isnt a football fan, explained Robin, and he brought persuasive arguments to bear requesting me to curb my enthusiasm so that he can indulge himself in a session of postprandial snoozing.
You mean he bit you?
Well, if you must put it like that... Yes!