Jaffa’s book of plots and plans

Jaffa liked to let you know who was boss. It was him. Always.

My previous post mentioned a scar on my left hand caused by Jaffa. A lesson my 9 year old self has never forgotten.

The lesson….

Never put a hat on a cat’s head.

Never do this…

 

Or this…..

Jaffa was always more of a New York Jets fan

Jaffa did nothing at the time of these pictures other than store them in his infinite recall lobe. He later jotted them down in his Book of plots and plans. Unfortunately, I was to feature in this book on more than one occasion.

A while after these pictures were taken, and unsuspecting child version of me tried to go to bed one night. At the time I had bunk beds and used to sleep in the top bunk. This particular night, I had a guest awaiting me on my bed. Jaffa. Looking sleepy and cute.

I picked him up to move him to the bottom bunk. Whilst holding him in one hand and trying to negotiate the bunk bed ladder in slippers, I lost my footing and slipped.

I steadied my fall by grabbing hold of the bed, and Jaffa steadied his fall by grabbing hold of my hand… with his claws.

For a second, there we were.  I was hanging from the bed, and Jaffa was hanging from my hand.

Some might think this was purely an accident, but an extract from Jaffa’s Book of Plots and Plans tells a very different story………..

Reason for plot

The indignity suffered from being made to pose for photographs in a variety of hats.

Plan

Grease each rung of bunk bed ladder with a can of acme axle grease. Wait patiently on bed for target to arrive. Look sleepy and cute. Wait for target to move me to bottom bunk, and slip on greasy rung. Break own fall by using target. In the event of plan failure, do not panic as the risk of injury to self  is minimal. Will always land on feet, and have 9 lives intact.

Plan B if the above fails

Place banana skin outside target’s bedroom door, shut off electricity supply and mieow loudly at 3am.

Jaffa's book of plots and plans

Jaffa liked to let you know who was boss. It was him. Always.

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Jaffa! The indisputable leader of the gang. He’s the boss, he’s a pip, he’s the championship. He’s the most tip top, Top Cat.

 

Jaffa. My first proper pet.

The reason I fell in love with cats.

The reason I have a 2 inch scar on my left hand.

The reason I still step over the last but one stair at the top of the staircase years after his passing.

Jaffa was kind of a big deal around our street. There is no doubt he ruled it. And ruled it well. There was no crime, there was no nonsense. Jaffa had it all under quiet control.

In order to become Top Cat of the street, Jaffa first had to topple it’s current ruler. Simon.

Simon the cat. An ageing, rough, raggedy grey cat who had ruled our street for years and lived opposite our house. We had all lived under his dictatorship for far too long. Too scared to walk down the lane by Simon’s house, things needed to change. People needed to feel safe.

At the time, Jaffa was the new kid on the block. With a heart full of courage and a head full of brains he challenged Simon to a bare claw street fight one night. If Jaffa won, Simon was to hand control of the street over to him.

They met that night .

They hissed and spat with arched backs as they moved sideways past each other.

Each waiting for the other to make his move.

After a succession of  lightening quick paw jabs, the ears went down and the claws came out. There was a pounce, and suddenly they had wrapped their paws around each other and sunk their claws and teeth into each other.

They  rolled around the street oerning and kicking each other fiercely with their back paws…..In the Feline World Wrestling Federation* (FWWF), this finishing move  is known as the  ‘cottontail kick‘ due to it’s striking similarity to a bunny hop.

Yowling and wailing under a moonlit night, only one of them would emerge victorious.

That night…..Young fought Old, and Good fought Bad… But Pride fought Pride.

That night, a new Top Cat was crowned. Jaffa emerged the victor. True to his word, Simon handed over control of the street. Albeit with some reluctance, he knew he was beaten.

Ginger and grey fur littered the street from the night before,  whilst a triumphant Jaffa surveyed his new territory.

Things would be different now.

*Ever so slightly made this bit up

No destitute cat ever refused admission

My last post mentioned that a cat owner’s home without a cat is just a house.

When my little cat Sox passed away, for a short time my parent’s house became just that. A house barren of cats. The cat community had other plans though, and it seems my parent’s house soon became the local branch of feline Dr. Barnados.

I had been used to this growing up. But nowadays, despite not actually owning a cat themselves, my parent’s still have to take a trip down the pet food aisle when they go shopping to feed the many waifs and strays that frequent their house.

To my knowledge no destitute cat has, or ever will be refused admission.

As cat philanthropy is rife in our family, it seems only natural that my house has also become the feline Dr. Barnados in my local area.

I live with my two cats Minnie and Cochen…They are the only two of permanent residency. The only two on the electoral roll and census.

Alongside them though, there are a number of cats who drop in and out of my cat halfway house.

They are….

Fatty Ginger*

Fatty Ginger* sleeps outside my back door. He is always gone by morning at the twist of the back door key, without so much as a kiss on the cheek, or a thank you.

Roger*

Roger* is constantly fighting his demons due to a small tail complex. I try not to mention it in front of him, and I never answer him honestly to the “Does my tail look small in this?” question.

Pete*

Pete* next door, I think has ADHD and is incapable of jumping on a windowsill without falling off it. I think Pete* might also think he is a pixie, as he has taken to sleeping right at the bottom of the garden beneath the tree. Pete* always has a look of absolute surprise on his face whenever he is disturbed.

Don*

Don* “The Don” is the size of a German Shepherd.  When I say German Shepherd, I mean he’s the size of an actual human shepherd from Germany, not the dog. Don’s* favourite pastime is to play garden Mexican stand off with me…. He wins.

Meryl*

Meryl* is BFF to Minnie. Meryl* is fairly problem free, but does hang around an awful lot. Way too much in fact. I think she might struggle with social boundaries, so I may need to ring her parents and ask if they can sit her down and have a word with her.

Previously there has also been….

Polly the 1st, (you can read about her herewho’s blood was laced with droplets of Lucifers and who’s main aim in life was to rain evil on mine, and Polly the 2nd*.

Polly the 1st’s successor. Slightly less evil but far more cunning.

Polly the 2nd* knew my movements more than your average stalker would. One time just as I was leaving for work I remembered I’d left my lunch in the kitchen. As I opened the kitchen door, I found Polly the 2nd* breaking in to my house through the window. I have little doubt, she had been performing a stakeout and had downed her binoculars thinking the coast was clear… She made a hasty retreat that day and was gone before her crowbar hit the floor, but I knew she’d be back.

Would I stop any of them helping themselves to my garden? My home?…. and I’m sure at times the contents of my fridge, my cupboards and my purse?… Of course not, because no destitute cat is ever refused admission.

*Names changed to protect true identity…. and because I don’t know their actual names so made these ones up

A family of cat philanthropists

From tattered Medieval rags, Tudor ruffs and codpieces, to Victorian corsets and parasols, the kindred blood of my ancestors all have one common trend…..  Beside them is a cat… Probably secretly planning their demise.

A lot of behavioural footprints left by parents are filled with the steps of their children.

Children who see their parents smoke are more likely to smoke themselves. Fact.

Children who see their parents acting as cat philanthropists are more likely to become cat philanthropists themselves. Also fact.

I’m a cat philanthropist, and you can blame my parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents for it…..

There is a saying that a home without a cat is just a house.

I don’t believe this to be true. I’ve been in plenty of cat free homes and they feel just as homely as those with cats.

The only difference is, in a cat free home, the wafer thin ham in the fridge is for human consumption, and there is no ’emergency’ tin of tuna in the cupboard.

I do believe though that a cat lovers home without a cat is just a house. My parents home, the home where I spent my childhood is testament to that. My first cat was called Jaffa. He was the first family pet if you ignore Adam & the Ants, the collection of goldfish won at a fairground… They weren’t really pets and Adam ate all the Ants after a few days anyway, so basically it was just Adam the goldfish. Not much fun.

Jaffa was a beefy ginger tom.  Strong, obstinate, belligerent, cantankerous and intimidating…. All the qualities of a good cat. Quite late in Jaffa’s life, not long after his retirement, after he’d hung up the chain of his professional duties as Mayor of the cat council on our street, we had an addition to the family. Sox. My Sox.

The story of how Sox came to live with us is a remarkable example of fate working at it’s best. Sox was mine. And I was hers. I loved Jaffa whole heartedly, but Sox was the first cat I formed a profound beautiful bond with. No better illustrated than what happened the day she passed away.

Jaffa had taught me the basics of understanding the complexities of the feline mind, but Sox polished my skills to a level of expertise.

I always got the impression that Jaffa just tolerated my brother and I most of the time because we just happened to be already living in the house before his arrival.  He could see my parents were quite fond of us, so trying to rid them of us was probably quite futile.

Sox on the other hand was genuinely affectionate. A lady. We could sense each other’s mood  instantly. We knew when a tickle under the chin or a rub against the legs would make it all better,  or whether to stay the hell out of each other’s way.  I could tell from her meiow, her brrrt and her purr exactly what she wanted and needed, and she could tell from my tone exactly what I wanted and needed.

Some advice… never laugh at a cat. Cats have the amazing ability of knowing exactly when you are talking about them and in what context. It’s usually when they are fake sleeping. One ear is tilted in your direction, one of their eyes is ever so slightly open and the tail is delicately swishing at the tip. Classic neuron receptor pose.

Don’t be fooled, as to the untrained eye, this looks like a normal sleeping cat. Behind the scenes though, there is a hive of activity. Their brain is processing everything you are saying and filtering anything they can use at any given date in the future into a long-term memory bank. It’s the part of a cats brain called the “Infinite recall lobe”.

Think twice before you regale the amusing story of when the cat stretched and fell off the back of the chair.. If it’s in earshot, it will know you’ve told. By earshot, I mean if your cat is within a ten mile radius of you, it will know you’ve told.

This is why a content purring cat will suddenly lunge at your unsuspecting hand as if someone has just screamed “Chaaaaarge” in it’s ear.. She’s just remembered that November last year you stepped on her tail accidentally when you went to the toilet in the middle of the night. She saw it as no accident.

A cat wouldn’t tell you if your skirt was tucked in your knickers, or you had toilet paper stuck to your shoe, but would surprise you with a bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine when you’ve had a bad day.

A cat won’t text or return your calls for weeks, but will then turn up at your house unannounced for a coffee and a gossip….. and not mention the 17 missed calls and 36 texts she’s ignored of yours.

A cat keeps you guessing.

A cat is the best pet in the world.

Everyone has a story to tell

Everyone has a story to tell. Telling it doesn’t start with the ability to, it starts with the willingness to. Every story needs a beginning, and every story begins the same way. With the desire to tell it.

That desire may be to entertain, to share, to educate, maybe to enlighten….. Sometimes just to make sense of it. To rationalise it. Understand it. See it. Feel it. Hear it.

That’s my desire.

For my story to exist somewhere other than just inside me. Somewhere where I can see it, rather than clumsily fumbling in the dark in my mind trying to identify the shapes of it.

Can you fill an empty page with a thousand words and still have an empty page?

Yes, I believe you can. If those words don’t come from the right place, I do believe you can.

Fill an empty page with a thousand words charged with emotion, and fuelled by desire, and you’ve got yourself a story. That makes every single word of your story important, and that’s the way it should be.

What happens to you in your life doesn’t define who you are, what you do about it does. That’s what makes each story different, unique, but still comparable in importance.

This brings me to a story I read yesterday. I was already familiar with this story.  I know the detail, I know the facts, I know a lot, but definitely not all the emotions of this story.

I know the people in this story because they are included in mine. Without this story, parts of mine wouldn’t exist.

Although I know this story, reading it still moved me, and humbled me. I’d never seen it written before. In full chronology. From the beginning. I felt the emotion and the honesty of every word, and I appreciate how difficult a story it must be to tell.

So, here is that story. Please click on it and read it.

http://www.birthtraumaptsd.com/experiences/placenta-accreta-and-haemorage/

Everyone has a story to tell.  Some just haven’t found the willingness or the voice to tell it yet. Lets hope some day that happens.

There are some days in your life you’ll never forget

Sometimes, there are days you don’t ever want to forget. Days so perfect that if you could paint a picture of how you wanted it to look, it would look like that. If you could write the script for that day, it would be as you’d have written. Days you’ll want to preserve from every test and trick that time has. Sometimes these are days of great significance, sometimes these are just normal days. Either way, if a thief came into your mind trying to steal your memories, these are the ones you’d gather up behind you to protect with all your strength.

The weekend just gone was one of these occasions. The weekend celebrated an important event. The Christening of my beautiful Goddaughter.

Rewind about 8 years or so….

I was walking to my car from work one Friday evening with the intention of going to the gym. It was a summer’s evening with a clear blue sky. The perfect beer garden weather. Whilst walking past a pub, there was a lady from work sitting outside. We’d exchanged pleasantries in work, had the odd polite chat, but we didn’t know each other. This lady asked if I wanted to join her for a drink. (I feel I must add, that she wasn’t drinking alone in the pub, she was with a group of colleagues!). I accepted…… Fate must have been late clocking off from work that day, because accepting that drink has led to accepting a life long friendship.

You know how sometimes you’re describing people or telling a story and you’ll say “My friend’s mother or husband or sister” etc etc… I don’t do that when I’m describing these people. I don’t do that because I describe them as “my friend”. Because they are. A friendship struck over a beer with one person has led to a friendship struck over a lot of beer with an entire family.

I think a test of a good friendship is when you feel comfortable enough just to sit in their company. Like you do with your own family. You don’t have to speak, you can just sit… I can do that with these friends. I can just sit. I enjoy their company, I love their stories, I appreciate how dear each of them is to me.

Fast forward to present day…. When my friends gave birth to their 2nd child in September, they asked me to be Godmother.

Now, you can never underestimate what an honour this is. When a parent asks you to be a Godparent, what they are saying is “We trust you”… “We trust you with the most precious item God has given us.. Our child”..

As part of my christening gift, I wrote my Goddaughter a poem and had it made into a book. I wanted something she could have for life to remind her that I will always protect her and guide her. The message I wanted to convey was that being a Godmother is more than just a title, and lasts longer than just the christening day. It lasts a lifetime. I’ve spoken in earlier posts about passion, well.. passion helped me write that poem. I’m passionate about being the best Godmother I can. I’m passionate about doing the best I can for my godchildren.

I had two copies made, one for me, and one for her.

What I didn’t expect was for my friend to read it out at the church before the service. My friend said that they had wanted to respect the time and effort I had taken to write it and wanted to share it with everyone… That’s the kind of people they are.

It’s actually quite difficult for me to put into words how that made me feel. I sat in the church with my Goddaughter on my lap hearing the words I’d written to her spoken aloud for the first time by her mother.. My friend. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so humbled and yet so proud at the same time. It was perfect.

Every word we speak creates a vibration, which is why we should always choose our words carefully. It’s like when you throw a pebble in a still pond. The water level in the pond rises, and changes because you have added to it, and the ripples created continue far beyond the point of impact.

That’s what happened Saturday. Part of the world’s vibration rose and changed, caused by my words, my dedication to a beautiful little girl. They exist now.  They were spoken, with perfect emotion and perfect emphasis. Somewhere in the universe, their existence is causing ripples. Good ones I hope..

As for my friend, I didn’t think I could have any more respect and admiration for her than I did already… A truly remarkable, strong, beautiful, wonderful person.

Usually the tide of time brings waves that crash over you so quickly, you wish you could stem the flow to make sure your savour and enjoy every moment. On Saturday, time was very kind to us. It dripped slowly and carefully. If you could look inside every droplet, you would find smiling faces and warm-hearted emotions from wonderfully good people. If you could hear every droplet fall, you would hear the echoes of laughter, the chatter of good conversation and spoken words of affection.

Saturday I became a Godmother for the fourth time, so the following is dedicated to my three Godson’s and my new Goddaughter….

I found a fairy in a jar.

When I opened it and set her free, I asked her to do something for me in return. Find you. Follow the path that connects me to you. A path where our footprints will be forever found.

I asked her to sprinkle fairy dust on your soul, so you may always have spirit in your heart and magic in your thoughts. I asked her to splash a fairy teardrop on you, so you may always feel your emotions. I asked her to whisper words of affection and encouragement into your ears so you may always hear the good echoing inside you.
I asked her to catch your wishes in a net and put them by the side of your bed in a jar, so as you grow older you’ll never forget them.
I asked her to light the paths in front of you with fireflies so you will always know the right one to take.
Finally I asked her to take a piece of my heart and drop it in your pocket. It is now yours. This way you will know that you are protected and loved by me. Always…

I did this so you know, fairies and Godmothers always go hand in hand together”

You and who’s army?… Passion and his army actually

The alarm was snoozed, it was too cold to get up yet, and I was too tired. This morning, I lay in bed for far longer than I should have, thinking about what actually drives me to get out of bed in the morning. What do I really feel passionate about…. and what does passion do to a person?

Imagine if there was no passion in the world? The world would keep on spinning, but the greatest films would not have been made. The greatest songs would not have been sung. The greatest books would not have been written, and your greatest love of all time would not exist.

I don’t think passion alone will get you what you want or where you want. What will, is all the other emotions that passion stirs awake.. Emotions that join forces. Pledge allegiance to each other.  Promise to watch each other’s back. Allied bound to each other.

Together, they’re the offering hand that you grab to pick you up, or steady your fall. They’re the forceful hands you feel pushing against your back when you’re half way up the hill and too tired to walk any further. They’re the reassuring hand that holds yours when you’re scared.

But, sitting in the darkness, in the stillness of nothing, in the dead of night….critical, negative thoughts start to seep out of the corners of your brain. Whisper from the shadows, and escape into your conscious thought.

If you’ve already awoken the beast of passion inside of you, it’ll be that beast you call to your rescue.

Your brain sends out an SOS.

Passion hears.. He calls a trusted friend, Mr Power.

“Will? Are you there? Gather up the troops, we’ve got a situation…”

You can feel the vibration within you, the resounding beat as they all gather up their energy, synchronise,  and come galloping to the rescue.

Valiant Passion leads the pack. Behind him, his gallant, loyal army.

Mr Will Power, has mustered up the best soldiers you could hope for. Courage, Determination, Conviction, Confidence, Resolve, Nerve, Belief,  and finally Faith. Faith who insists on leaping everywhere and insists you try the same.

They come thundering in to slay the dragons of insecurity. Make no mistake, they’ll always win. Understand, that if you back them, they’ll always emerge the victors.

After the fight, you’ll still hear the chants and war cry’s of Passion’s army echo and reverberate inside of you. Listen to them, feel them pulsate, find their beat.

Then, and only then…is when you can pull the thorn of fear from your side, lift it triumphantly above your head, before throwing it to the lions of success to devour.

That….. is what passion can do for you…. If you let it.

Monster hunting, fast cars and jungle trekking

Wednesday evening I found myself chasing monsters, driving fast cars and trekking through a jungle.

With my trusted sidekick beside me, we hunted the monsters out and stunned them with a Buzz Lightyear gun. There were lots of them. They were on top of cars. On the dangerous road. Down drains. On top of buildings. They were everywhere… There’s one!.. Bzzzz… Stunned him with Buzz’s gun… There’s another one!…. Bzzzzz….

Then we drove cars. Really fast. Performed death-defying stunts. Jumped over other cars. Flipped onto our sides then back again. Wheel spun. Skidded. Dangerous stuff, but we were never in danger.

Then we lived in a jungle and spoke to elephants, lions, giraffes and hippos. We grazed on leaves from tall trees, We sat on rocks. We drank from the river…….

Wednesday, I spent the evening playing with my friend’s 3-year-old little boy.

Play is such an important part of a child’s development, but have us adults forgotten it’s importance? Has adulthood with all it’s pressures, responsibilities and worries stifled the pure enjoyment we used to get from just playing.

I’ll put my hand up right now, and admit that I still enjoy playing. I enjoyed stunning monsters, I enjoyed racing cars and I enjoyed living in the jungle.

I enjoy entering a land of endless creativity. Boundless imagination. Limitless fun. For a short while, its pure escapism. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it?

I’m a normal responsible adult. I do normal responsible adult things.

But….. I do like to daydream.

Maybe that’s why I’ll quite happily sit cross-legged on the floor and play with my niece & nephew, and my friend’s children….. Maybe that’s what has earned me the very honourable title of Godmother to four very beautiful Godchildren.

A lot of my friends now have children. I don’t, but I’m not one of these friends who feels duty bound to interact with their friend’s children. Neither am I one of these friends who has slowly distanced themselves from their friends with children and just surrounds themselves with similar circumstanced friends.

I’m one of these friends who understands that when you are spending time with your friend’s children, you are in the company of the most precious item on Earth to your friend. You are in the presence of something that your friend, the parent, has such natural, immeasurable and sometimes inexplicable love for. Love, stronger than any diamond and worth so much more too.

If you love your friends. You’ll love their children too. And I do.

I take an interest in the lives of my niece and nephew. I’ve never missed a school concert, or a birthday party, and I don’t ever intend to. I help with homework, I babysit, I play shop, I play house, I play board games, I read books, I do jig-saws. I colour in, I cut-out, I play football in the street, I play cricket in the summer, and I’m a legend on Cooking Mama on the Nintendo DS.

My niece and nephew have their own brilliant, wonderful, unique, quirky personalities, but sometimes I catch a glimpse of something familiar. A certain look, a little mannerism, a smile, a frown. It reminds me that something beating inside of them, beats inside of me too…

Top 10 things to do when you’re bored

1. Give yourself a makeover…..

2. Pretend to be a giant (a healthy eating one)…….

3. Pretend your cat has a go go gadget paw (and fights crime with it)…..

4. Find food products on/or in cars…….

Baguette spotted in a car in Normandy

Potatoes found on a car in Bath. Potato!

5. Glue a Hannah Montana cut-out to the hands of a sleeping 35 year old man……

6. Perfect the art of a strong handshake by practising on your cat…..

7. Go on a day trip with a deer……

8. Become a master of disguise…….

9. Pretend your cat is Marlon Brando in the Godfather…….

10. Browse the internet whilst enjoying a drink that sums up who you are…..

Optimist or Pessimist?

Optimist!…. No… Pessimist!… No… Indecisive to both?

I don’t hi-five and whoop my way through the day, but I don’t clunk my way through, shackled to the woes of despair either.

This topic caught my interest on the daily post today. It’s relevant to me. I would say that at the moment I’m generally an optimist. Because I’m choosing to be. It’s not always very easy, but it’s always possible.

Optimism hasn’t got to where he is today without the help of some of his friends though. Optimism would be nothing without his best drinking buddies by his side, Faith & Belief. They are the ones who keep buying you a full pint at the bar. They don’t want you to ponder over ‘half full or half empty’. They want you to have a full pint.

Determination, focus, nerve, courage, hope and confidence aren’t innocent in this either. In fact, they’re all in it together. A posse. A force to be reckoned with.

The brothers Pessimist and Doubt are usually kicking about in the same pub, along with their motley crew.It’s a free world, they’re allowed to. They’re always willing to buy you a pint too, but they expect to drink half of it first before giving it to you.

Sometimes you’ll let them, because it’s easier than challenging them.

Sometimes it’s OK to do that. Optimism won’t be offended, he knows in the long run, he can offer you more, because deep down you do too. He just hopes you realise it.

I started the year with three very clear personal goals in mind. I’m optimistic that I’ll achieve all three. They won’t fall in my lap. I know that I’ve got a lot of hard work in front of me if I want to achieve them…. And I’m prepared to do it.

  • The wheels are in motion for goal number one
  • The wheels are just being screwed on for goal number two
  • The wheel has not been invented yet for goal number three

I’m not worried though, they’ll all happen, because I’ve got Faith and Belief buying me pints. Full ones.

I won’t set the whole world on fire with them, that’s not my intention. But in the small patch of it that I can call my own, I’ve got the matches…

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