I don't know why Ollie fell in love with Ted the painter but the adoration was mutual. "You have a lovely cat" said Ted, setting his ladder against the roof.
I started on the old story. "Er, he's not our cat ....."
Ollie sped up the ladder a few rungs ahead of Ted. He was on hand to give Ted a few kisses and face rubs as his head emerged over the guttering. It's not easy painting a roof with a helpful cat but Ted managed magnificently. Ollie was endlessly moved from the path of the paint brush, had his feet cleaned when he walked in the paint and gently distracted from playing with the paint-brush. When Ollie got sick of the whole thing he sat on the top of the ladder, looked at the ground and let out megaphone yowls of distress. Ted stopped painting and carried Ollie down the ladder.
"You don't have to carry Ollie down the ladder," I said to Ted. "He's perfectly able to climb down himself."
Ted tickled Ollie under the chin. "I don't mind carrying our Ollie boy down the ladder," he cooed. "We can't have our little fellow upset."
Ollie's smirk was sickening. After that the pair were inseparable and Ted carried Ollie down the ladder on a daily basis.
When Ted went to drive home that evening I asked him if I could look in the back of his station wagon. Sure enough Ollie was curled up asleep under a heap of rags. "He likes looking and sleeping in peoples' vans" I explained, "I always have to check them out before they go." I didn't add that sometimes Ollie liked spraying peoples' vans as they were new and unmarked territory.
It took Ted ages to finish the roof and I became used to the murmur of his voice as he talked to Ollie. When it was finally done Ted looked around hopefully. "Anything else you want done, I reckon that fence needs a paint and your garage roof is in bad condition."
I looked at Ollie - he was wrapped around Ted's neck like a fur collar. How could I break them up. "Yes, by all means continue with the work," I said.
It's been several months since then and maintenance work is still going on. Ted comes and goes - usually fitting us in with other jobs according to the weather. Ollie is happy and so is Ted - and John and I? We're slowly going broke.