Note: this article contains offensive language.
If you may be insulted by offensive language
then please stop reading now.
I have "owned" cats for the bulk of my life - as a child, and then subsequently as a husband, and there must be only one overriding impression of their fluffy little species:
Cats are obscenely violent little animals.
Your idea of gentle harmless fun may be a game of Monopoly, or perhaps Nintendo. Or maybe even nude 'Twister' with your local firemen and their hose greasing machine. But your fluffy buddy is plotting other things while he purrs in your ear. He is banking on a night of singing, outdoor sex, killing things after toying with them for half an hour, then coming home and nudging you away from the fire. Even Josef Mengele didn't have the arrogance to come home from his butchery and lie on the oriental rug with his legs in the air.
Anyone who has had a cat that has access to the Outside, will have suffered from what I am about to describe. Coming downstairs in the morning to find your living room looking like the bloody climax to a Martin Scorcese movie where one Italian has said to another "Your mamma - she smella like a dog log". There is very little else worse than greedily tucking into your bowl of cornflakes, then spotting mouse entrails smeared up your collection of horse brasses, half an ear on your TV remote, and a rat's ballbag on the pouffe. I have woken up to find all manner of God's creatures in my house following my installation of a cat flap.
Mice, bats, shrews, small birds, frogs, toads and a very pugnacious squirrel have all shat in terror on my Berber carpet. But it was the magpie that caused the most spectacular incident. And it chose to happen on one of the worst possible days of the month. My wife wasn't in the best of moods that morning. She was suffering from one of the deeper switchbacks in the bizarre rollercoaster of woman's lunar cycle. It was one of those few days in the month when she could have terrified even the mighty Ghengis Khan into picking up his underpants and putting them in the dirty washing basket. I had already been threatened with having my plums seen to with a cheese grater for the grievous offence of starting a new tube of toothpaste whilst there was still some left in the old one. After I had painstakingly explained that the other toothpaste caused my tongue to swell up - making every word I said sound like "Wob" - I was answered with "You're a bastard and so are all your friends".
The first I heard of the magpie incident was when I was in the shower. Being a British shower, it was dribbling a woeful trickle of tepid water slower than an infected nostril, and I had to wriggle about a bit to get the flow to cover my body. I was currently concentrating on warming my back, having budgeted for my nipples temporarily turning into hat pegs, and my once proud set of parts shrivelling to those of an aging bulldog.
I turned off the shower, and put on my bath robe. As I ran downstairs, I was surprised to see my two cats come hurtling into the hallway, terror written across their faces. My wife's voice was coming from the kitchen, so I opened the door and went in.
Oh dear, oh dear. The kitchen looked like it had played host to an energetic Rolling Stones party where each member of the band had brought along their pet Tasmanian Devil. The room was destroyed. Upturned plant pots, bin on its side, pans everywhere and a stack of clean, ironed washing strewn over the floor making friends with the plant pot compost.
And standing on the fridge-freezer, head cockily on one side, was the most impressive magpie that has ever lived. Magpie is, by his very nature, an arrogant bird, and this fellow was no exception. From the vicious curve of his beak to the jaunty angle of his black & white tail feathers, this chap meant business. All of a sudden I understood the whole situation. Working as a pair, the cats had thought they'd have him. Temporarily stunned by a double furry onslaught, the bird had allowed himself to be dragged into the kitchen via the cat flap. But then he'd woken up with a headache, in a bad mood and bursting to go to the toilet (If he'd had a proud but useless erection as well, then I would have accepted that human males share 90% of bird DNA).
And so the fight had begun. The poor, ambitious cats really had no chance. The damn thing looked like a nasty from a "Sinbad" movie. The only difference being that Ray Harryhausen never had the guts to animate the things that this monster did. Unless I'm mistaken, the line "Unsheath your sabre, Jason - he's shitting on the microwave" was not in any "Sinbad" film.
Now, I had a problem. How could I tackle him? It was 8am, I was tired, and the last thing I wanted was a magpie having an energetic squawk in my bathrobe. I decided to go into the front room for a moment to think about it. My wife was already there. But magpie had been there before her. I looked at the state of the room, and was horrified when I saw the disruption on the table.
"Look at the sofa" my wife sobbed, pointing at spots of magpie lime. "Never mind the fucking sofa", I shouted, pointing at the table, "I was a cockhair away from finishing that jigsaw"
"Those stains on that fabric will never come out even with those cleaning chemicals I had to buy for your underpants that made them smoke."
"Two thousand pieces and all I needed was that postman's foot".
We looked at each other decided to take our anger out on the magpie instead. I strode manfully into the kitchen, and opened the back door. Then I picked up the mop and swung it at the bird.
"Get...out...you...black & white BUGGER!" This seemed to have the desired effect. He didn't like that at all. He gave me a look that said "I've had your cats, matey, and you're next". A very violent two minutes followed with a lot of flapping and swearing. Whilst this was going on, my wife, normally a quiet demure woman, donned one solitary boot so she could hoof our bemused tabby around the hall.
At last I got the bird near the back door. I was a wreck. My hair had been flapped up so much I looked like a chicken. I was unshaven, my bathrobe was hanging open, I had a violent gleam in my eye, and a mop. The bird saw he was beaten. With a defiant squawk and a flap, he swooped out of the back door. Riding the victory I chased him out, whooping and shouting "Get off my property you feathery fucker oh shit no sorry not you oh it's dangling out isn't it?"
Mormons choose ridiculous times to call.