My whole life is filled with hauntings lately.
I’m pretty sure I’m being haunted by a ghost. And not in a friendly, Casper-like way. In a malignant something’s-watching-me-from-the-corner-of-the-room way. It’s most likely my highly-strung imagination combined with watching horror films and reading a ghost story. (Though how you explain footsteps up and down the stairs when you’re tucked up in bed and there’s no one else in the house beats me). I took Sophie-cat to sleep on the end of my bed last night it’s getting so bad. I’m pretty sure Mummaloo and Poppaloo think I’m going nuts (it’s a 1960s built house and I’m pretty sure there were no deaths here before we moved in). I guess it doesn’t help that I still have an irrational fear of the dark (I don’t care what you say, 24 years old does not mean you get over your fear of not being able to see what’s under or at the end of your bed/in the wardrobe/at the other end of the hallway).
I am also being haunted by a Blue Tit. No euphemisms please. Every morning I am greeted by a tapping on the frosted window of the back door. I’m kind of enjoying the greeting with my morning cuppa. I’m just terrified of opening the back door and finding he flies in and becomes Sophie-cat’s new plaything.
And, finally, I am being haunted by the novel-that-never-was. Or, should I say, the novel-that-should-be-but-is-still-gathering-dust. All my fancy promises of a new start and writing every day seemed to fall to the wayside almost as quickly as I announced them. Life is still taking over. Instead, my forlorn little notebook is just looking (forlornly) at me with (forlorn) accusatory eyes. It follows me around the room, begging to be picked up, but not daring to say anything in case I hurt its feelings by giving a half-baked excuse of being too busy. I even dreamt about the damn thing last night! But that might have been the overdose of Sudafed I took in an attempt to breathe whilst sleeping affecting my brain patterns, or whatever.
What’s haunting you at the moment?
Every morning, as I climb the shallow steps to the train station, I greet my little Railway Cat. He’s a black-brown tabby with gold-green eyes and massive leonine paws. Every time I see him, I think of this:
Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat
There’s a whisper down the line at 11:39
When the Night Mail’s ready to depart,
Saying ‘Skimble where is Skimble has he gone to hunt the thimble?
We must find him or the train can’t start.’
All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster’s daughters
They are searching high and low,
Saying ‘Skimble where is Skimble for unless he’s very nimble
Then the Night Mail just can’t go.’
At 11:42 then the signal’s nearly due
And the passengers are frantic to a man –
Then Skimble will appear and he’ll saunter to the rear:
He’s been busy in the luggage van!
He gives one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal goes ‘All Clear!’
And we’re off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!
You may say that by and large it is Skimble who’s in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
He will supervise them all, more or less.
Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in the First and in the Third;
He establishes control by a regular patrol
And he’d know at once if anything occurred.
He will watch you without winking and he sees what you are thinking
And it’s certain that he doesn’t approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk are very quiet
When Skimble is about and on them ove.
You can play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He’s a Cat that cannot be ignored;
So nothing goes wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks is aboard.
Oh it’s very pleasant when you have found your little den
With your name written up on the door.
And the berth is very neat with a newly folded sheet
And there’s not a speck of dust on the floor.
There is every sort of light – you can make it dark or bright;
There’s a button that you turn to make a breeze.
There’s a funny little basin you’re supposed to wash your face in
And a crank to shut the window if you sneeze.
Then the guard looks in politely and will ask you very brightly
‘Do you like your morning tea weak or strong?’
But Skimble’s just behind him and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won’t let anything go wrong.
And when you creep into your cosy berth
And pull up the counterpane,
You are bound to admit that it’s very nice
To know that you won’t be bothered by mice –
You can leave all that to the Railway Cat,
The Cat of the Railway Train!
In the middle of the night he is always fresh and bright;
Every now and then he has a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of Scotch while he’s keeping on the watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
You were fast asleep at Crewe and so you never knew
That he was walking up and down the station;
You were sleeping all the while he was busy at Carlisle,
Where he greets the stationmaster with elation.
But you saw him at Dumfries, where he summons the police
If there’s anything they ought to know about:
When you get to Gallowgate there you do not have to wait –
For Skimbleshanks will help you to get out!
He gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: ‘I’ll see you again!
You’ll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The Cat of the Railway Train.’
T S Elliot
So every time I go to work, I greet my very own Skimble with a “Skimble where is Skimble for unless he’s very nimble, then the Night Mail just can’t go.” To which I normally get a blank, disdainful stare as he washes his paws. Oh, my talent just goes to waste!
Cats live the ultimate lives – worshipped as Gods, treated with great affection, they are fed when they are hungry, they sleep when they feel like it, and they have the best seat/bed/position in the house. What’s not to love about that? They are superior and disdainful, but at the same time fiercely loyal when they choose you and deeply affectionate when they want to be. They are heartbreakingly cute when little, and deeply hilarious as they grow up and even better, they grow to be awesome with age.
Okay, so you’ve caught me out… this isn’t exactly a post about writing or books or anything I promised this blog would be about. But who cares? I love cats, and after the long debate at work today about cats versus dogs, I just couldn’t resist. Plus, it also gave me an excuse to post ridiculously adorable pictures up.
I could tie it into my writing a little… I will always have a cat of some kind feature in all my writings. One of my favourite books is I am a Cat by Soseki Natsume – the story of a Japanese cat. My own cat is my own little mascot – appearing whenever I arrive home, and making sure I’m not out of sight until I leave again. She sits on my lap as I write, and curls against my stomach when I nap to make sure I’m warm. Whenever I need a cuddle, she’s just there.
So, be proud to be a cat fan, like me…
This is a very short post today, as I am far too wrapped up in writing my novel right now (don’t hate). So, without further ado, I will introduce you to my mascot – strictly when I’m at my parents of course…