Cat trauma (or how not to meet the neighbours)

Standard

One lovely sunny evening I returned home from work at a reasonable time and thought it would be nice to relax out on the balcony, which truth be told doesn’t get all that much use but is nicely situated overlooking a big common green space.

I swapped sensible work shoes for flip-flops, used my super American fridge to crack some ice into a glass at the touch of a button and poured some orange juice over the frozen water, picked up my book and phone and tootled out to the balcony for a chance to unwind in the fresh air.

The cats soon came out to join me and, happy in my presence, jumped across the balcony to stalk pigeons (Jasper) and happily chew the cud (Buttons) (this isn’t a metaphor, they actually like to eat grass). I thought before I settled into my book, I’d give my mum a quick ring and catch up on the news from Angleterre. Idly chatting away I didn’t realise there was a problem until Jasper came bolting across the balcony and streaked into the living room.

It was then I spotted the two pitbull-terrier type dogs. Sadly Buttons wasn’t as quick on the uptake as her brother so didn’t spot the canines until they were charging towards her. Terrified, she tried to launch herself back across our balcony wall, but in her panic didn’t quite make the jump and bounced off the wall. With no time to try again she went haring off in the other directions trying to outrun the dogs.

I started shouting obscenities whilst still on the phone, before quickly hanging up and hurling the device down. Buttons was zigzagging back and forth across the grass with the wall to her back, she was outnumbered with nowhere to go. The dogs’ owner was trying to call them to heel but they were clearly having too much fun chasing my kitty. I quickly bounded over the balcony, which I’m sure would be a much harder feat if I wasn’t in cat-parental protection role, and ran into the fray.

Buttons isn’t the brightest spark in the box, or perhaps didn’t trust me enough to provide adequate protection from what she probably assumed were the beasts of hell, so didn’t run to the safety of me. But my entry into the chaotic scene afforded her enough of a distraction to squeeze through a narrow gap into the shelter of one of the underground caves. Not an actual cave, in case you think I live in a remote mountain wilderness, but a communal storage area for bikes and whatnot.

elegant balcony climb - bp image

The dog-owner had got one dog under control at this point and had just about rounded up the second. Relieved that Buttons had made it to safety my next concern was to go and rescue her from her hiding place. Getting back over the balcony into the flat was a lot harder than the other direction, as there’s a bigger drop on the garden side of the balcony and I was no longer operating on adrenaline. Bear in mind I’m wearing flip-flops and now trying to scale a vertical wall, which although not massive is too high to simply swing a leg-up. It’s mid-climb with feet up, bum sticking out and desperately trying to use my feeble arm muscles to help pull me up, that the dog-owner tries to talk to me.

This is not the best way to try and meet the neighbours but I manage to huff out ‘it’s okay, she’s okay’ in response to her apologies, but then promptly ignore her as I continue to try to swing myself up, and I’m still preoccupied with the cat now stuck in the cave.

She seemed mortified, I seemed rude, this was unlikely to be the beginnings of a beautiful friendship. The situation wasn’t her fault, the dogs were off the lead in a communal space and I don’t think they actually wanted to kill Buttons, they probably could have done her some damage if they tried, they probably just thought it was a hell of a lot of fun to chase her, sadly my little cat wasn’t to know that and I lacked the language skills or immediate concern to try to communicate this to the dog lady.

Finally back in the flat, I darted out to the cave, accessed from the other side of our building, and managed to locate the cat. However, she’d firmly wedged herself into a small gap between a pipe and I couldn’t reach her or coax her out so that I could easily rescue her. After fifteen minutes or so, she calmed down enough to consider her next move, carefully checked the way she’d come in, to ensure the dogs had gone, and darted back out of the cave, over the balcony and into the flat.

I feared she’d be traumatised for days, but she seemed to recover fairly quickly. In fifteen minutes she was happily eating snacks again but she didn’t cross the balcony again that evening and followed me around the flat a bit more closely than usual. She must still have been sending out sad vibes though as her brother even came across to nicely lick her on the head (normally he chases her around the flat and pulls out her hair, which he started doing again about an hour after the incident).

I thought now would be a good time to call my mum back, thinking she might be slightly anxious to know what was going on after the alarming way I’d terminated our previous call. But I made the call from inside the flat as the balcony hadn’t proved to be the relaxing spot I’d had in mind.

Advertisements

Ten reasons it’s easy to be a recluse in the modern era

Standard

1. Virtual social life obscures lack of actual social life

You can pretend to have an active social life, be fully engaged in the latest details of the lives of hundreds of contacts just by posting the odd status update on Facebook or wherever and clicking a few random ‘likes’ here and there. There is no need to actually engage with anyone. Should anyone intrude on your personal space by making a comment on one of these updates you can just click ‘like’ until they go away again. I call this the virtual unreality.

2. If you can’t be a part of everything you might as well not exist

There are so many social media platform that if, say, you only really use Facebook and created a Twitter account for the sole purpose of thinking it’d somehow make your blog cooler there are so many other online arenas you are completely failing to engage with. When it comes to Tumblr and Pinterest and other things you don’t even know the name of you might as well be living in a cave.

3. Fisticuffs over Facebook will lead to societal meltdown, or at least intractable family divisions

I envisage that future wars will not be drawn up over boundary or ideological disputes but over those pro- and those anti-Facebook. Seriously, I’ve had some pretty heated exchanges with my brother about why he bothers with sending words via Twitter and images via Instagram when he could just combine the two in Facebook, he argues that FB knows more about me than my fiancé. One of these days it’ll come to fisticuffs at dawn.

4. Your social life depends on your smartphone battery, so its doomed

If you have an all-out power failure or maybe just misplace your phone charger your access to a social life will die in the amount of time that’s left in your smartphone battery. So that’ll be about two hours then.

5. It’s now so much easier to flake on people

It’s easy to ‘forget’ to actually meet people. Remember a life before smart technology when you used to meet people by making plans on Monday that you’d meet on Saturday at the waterfall in the shopping centre at 11, and somehow that actually worked? Now if you don’t confirm and reconfirm plans at least twenty times you have a legitimate excuse to just not show up by saying ‘I’m sorry, you didn’t facebook message me two seconds before I was going to leave the house so I assumed you weren’t coming’.

6. You can be a hermit without anyone noticing

You no longer need to leave your house. Ever. You can work remotely. You can order clothes and food online to be delivered to your door. You can attend online networking events. You can study online. You can meet new people online. You can even Skype friends and family if you really feel the need to look at someone in real time. Once you’ve mastered hurling your bin bags at the bin collection spot there’s no need for you to actually set foot outside ever again.

7. Too much homework to hold an actual conversation in the pub.

There is so much information online, Wikipedia articles, YouTube videos, virals of an elephant riding a horse balanced on the helmet of a man on a skateboard that if you try to go out in public without knowing what’s #trending you will be shamed into looking like a moron and lose any real friends you thought you had.

8. Cybertourism removes the need to actually go anywhere

Ever wanted to see the Pyramids, the heads of Easter Island or just the British Museum? Once upon a time you had to work bloody hard, save up loads of money and then you could go on an awesome trip none of your friends had done and enjoy bragging about it when you got home. Now everyone has already been everywhere that you can see what these places are like through friends pictures online or using GoogleEarth spyware, getting a drone or just doing one of the online tours tourists attractions are offering. Why get out of bed and risk encounters with the stinking masses when you can feel like you’ve had a productive day by having a quick online tootle around Parliament in your pyjamas whilst eating Marmite toast in bed. No-one can see you to judge the butter in your hair and crumbs on your face.

9. Reading the Daily Mail Online increases fear of the outside

Certain highly reputable yet overwhelmingly popular sites, in the UK it’s the Daily Mail online, I imagine in the US Fox news has some sort of online equivalent, would have you believe that the world is a terrifying place full of disease ridden immigrants, violent immigrants, insane immigrants, volcanic eruption-causing immigrants, traffic-inducing immigrants, financial-crisis-inducing immigrants and just bastard-stealing-candy-from-a-baby immigrants who make the world such a terrible place you might as well stay indoors.

10. Being a recluse is really what everyone wants

Technology has been designed to help people lead easier lives (and also to make us think we need expensive things to lead meaningful lives). Cave men lived in caves, which was great but in the age before technology it was realised it was actually easier to live together in commune to get more stuff done in an ‘I’ll milk your cow you give me a turnip’ sort of mentality. Nowadays we don’t need other people for comfortable lives but we still cling on to this concept so all this great technology helps us to transition away from old fashioned ideas of friendship, family and community and to progress towards single unit living, like the single-cell amoeba we all came from.