Ted is back to finish painting the toilet and laundry. He left us mid-stream to build a ramp for a widow lady with one leg. "She needed my help, otherwise she couldn't get outside," Ted told me virtuously. How could I protest that our renovations had been going on for over a year. It would have seemed mean somehow. On arrival he declared the paint-peeled letter box was a disgrace and spruced it up with a natty suit of grey and white. The cat, overjoyed to be back at work again, took an intense interest.
I didn't think much about Ollie's interest in the box until I went out to get the mail. I admired Ted's masterpiece for a second and then stooped over to collect the mail. Something hit the top of the box with the force of a mini-tornado. I reeled back. Ollie was balanced on the narrow hip roof of the mail-box, swaying in the breeze. I'd had a shock and wasn't amused. "Get down," I shouted. I grabbed the long pipe that supported the mail-box and shook it fiercely. I needed have bothered. The cat loved it. After all, he did his apprenticeship at ballet school. Her balanced on the box easily, a paw out that way, a paw out this way, sometimes two paws together - a right front paw and a left back paw. I gritted my teeth as I grabbed the smirking cat and dumped him on the lawn. "Scat." I said.
I stooped over and made another attempt to get the mail. Crash. I was banged on the ear and Ollie skilfully hooked off my glasses as he landed on top of the box. I reeled over and picked up my glasses from the concrete path - fortunately the lens are plastic!
The next day I noticed something odd - the cat yowled to go outside at exactly 11.00 a.m. It was unusual behaviour as he is usually asleep then so I watched as he marched down the drive and disappeared into a large bush by the mailbox. The mail girl was right on time. She steadied her bike, removed a letter from a large bundle in her left hand and bent over to insert it into the slot of the box. Wham!!!! The cat struck. I don't think I have ever seen such a reaction. The girl fell off her bike, letters went everywhere and Ollie did a little dance of joy on top of the box. Her reaction had exceeded his wildest dreams. The girl was new so I guessed he'd done the act before with another hapless mailperson.
I rushed outside and helped the girl to pick up her mail, apologising profusely. "I'm so sorry, I don't know what got into the cat. Would you like a drink? Oh dear, you've skinned your knee." All the while, Ollie was dancing around on the narrow top of the box, adding insult to injury.
I did try to keep the cat inside afterwards at mail time but I didn't know the half of it. The mailgirl was not the only person using the mailbox. The paper-boy was next. This time Ollie hid inside the cat-sized open enclosure used for newspapers directly under the mailbox. I was watching for the paper and only saw the cat at the last minute. The boy had stopped on his bike, folded the paper neatly and without looking, put the paper around the side of the box. Ollie grabbed his hand and gave it the four paws and teeth treatment. You would have thought the poor kid had been bitten by a serpent. He let out a terrible shriek and took off down the road as if all the demons in hell were after him.
It's getting near Xmas now and the cat is having a field day (encouraged by Ted and John who think Ollie is terribly clever. "No need for a 'no advertising' sign on this box," I heard them chuckling together.) You see it is 'advertising brochures' time as well mailbox visiting time from other types such as land agents and religious people with their offerings. There was the woman with the pushchair the other day, stuffing brochures into the box. I heard her yell from the kitchen and when I looked out the window I saw her picking up her papers. Ollie was on top of the box, smirking, pirouetting and bowing. At any minute I expected him to rear onto his hind legs and balance on his points. I didn't go out. Helping people up, apologising and picking up their brochures is becoming embarrassing.
I am hoping Ollie will get sick of it. After all, life is all go at the moment. Ted has made a nice little sleeping place for him on the closed lid of the toilet seat. Great fun for us - every time we want to go to the loo we have to remove the cat and his cushion as well as Ted. Sigh, it's going to be a long summer.