Not so lost, the wanderer returnsToday is Independence Day in the USA. Tina will be celebrating with her family but thankfully without the traditional turkey. For Orlando Cat the 4th July marks the end of her independence and the joyous return to the fold. Orlando disappeared the night I returned from Florida. She sat at the back door pleading to be let out, a request I refused as it was past 10pm. Thinking she’d retreated to the lounge I made one last paranoid check to see if the security gate across the door was locked and she shot out into the night. I expected her to return in half an hour as usual but she didn’t. She wasn’t there at the back door when I turned in for the night, and much to my surprise she wasn’t there in the morning either and the food I’d left out was untouched. On the few occasions she has stayed out all night Orlando would be waiting to berate me when I let her in at breakfast time.

But this time was different, she didn’t return. A poster and leafleting campaign ensued along with nightly tramping the streets calling her name and rattling a box of cat biscuits. Maybe she’d got into a tussle with another cat and got lost after being chased away from her territory. Whatever the reasons Orlando had been wandering freely for nine days when this afternoon I received a phone call to say a cat matching her description had been found and was happily eating tinned tuna at their house. I nipped out from work, rushed over on the Vespa, and was reunited with the escapee a few streets down from my own. The kind finder discovered Orlando under a hedge whilst searching for his daughter’s lost football. By chance one of the posters was strapped to a lamppost right opposite his back yard. Orlando is now safely back at my house, seemingly unperturbed and unharmed by her adventures, stretched out in the sunny attic purring contentedly. I’m glad, and to be honest surprised, to have her back after her few days of independence. A happy 4th July all round. :-)

No doubt sensing the nervous tension in the air, Orlando Cat chose the morning of my departure to the USA to do a runner. Her usual tour of the backyard takes about 20 minutes before wanting to come back in for food and ablutions. However she’d been gone for around one hour and I was just getting to the point of frantic panic looking down the back alley under cars, in neighbours’ yards, when she turned up at my front door. She never ever turns up there. I’m surprised she knew it was my house. So it appears that the trademan’s entrance around the back is no longer good enough for her Ladyship.

This unscheduled part of yesterday morning unsettled the strictly planned regime and I missed my intended bus and subsequently the airport train. Despite fearing the worst and filling my head with potentially woeful scenarios, it proved not too much of a problem as I got the next train saving me from an extra half hour hanging around Manchester Airport’s Departure Lounge. It also meant I checked in at the same time as the footballer Paulo Wanchope who was on my flight to New York and in front of me in the queue. The full extent of Orlando’s disruption became apparent when Security emptied my hand luggage and I realised that in the kerfuffle I’d left my reading glasses on the dining table. I had at least packed my prescription sunglasses. An initial period of cursing and calling myself all sorts of names for my stupidity was replaced with the resolve to live with it as there was nothing I could do, just forget it and move on. In the great scheme of things in the concept of what is going on around the world, it was no great disaster.

My flight was uneventful, I managed to catch a bit of sleep to add to the previous night’s five hours, and I saw nothing more of Mr Wanchope until Immigration as I assume he was enjoying the comforts of First or Business Class and not in with me and the rest of the proles. I wasn’t looking forward to five hours at Newark Liberty Airport having done it to death on my last trip, but this time I got the mild excitement of going on the monorail between two terminals. Having bought USA Today to read the latest on the Obama v McCain tussle, I settled down to kill some time with simply the largest veggieburger I’ve ever seen bought from the rare mirage of an airport wholefood cafe. I wasn’t sure whether to eat the burger or thrust a flag into the top and claim it as some remote British outpost. It was too tall to actually get into the mouth without breaking a jaw so I set about it with a knife and fork, although I might have been better equipped with an oxyacetylene blowlamp.

Now replete with carbs and feeling alive again I spent the time until my Jacksonville flight reading the paper, listening to Northern Soul on the iPod, and chuckling at “It cracks like breaking skin” a series of short stories set in Stoke-on-Trent written by fellow Stokie, the novellist and manbag carrying Stephen Foster. It was a godsend and helped the time to pass quickly. The chapter called “Bubblegum” was a particular masterpiece which had me laughing out loud resulting in quizzical glances from the person sat next to me.

Finally we boarded and thankfully the flight was actually early arriving in Jacksonville and Tina was there for an emotional meeting. Bags squeezed into her two seater sports car we headed back through the humid night to Jacksonville Beach. At 10pm it was still around a sticky 80′F something I’m going to have to get used to but will struggle with I’m sure. As I sit and type this it’s just around 9am on Sunday, and it’s already quite oppressive in here. Tina has gone to work and I might head out soon to get some “groceries” before it gets really hot. I’m cat-sitting as I can’t escape mad felines, Tina has just taken in a 5 week old kitten abandoned at a friend’s vets. Hadley the kitten is very cute, and has taken a shine to my feet, biting them mid-typing. How anyone could dump an animal beats me especially one as cute as Hadley. I’ll leave you with a photo from this morning, me bleary eyed and Hadley full of beans doing her impression of a parrot. See y’all later.

There’s a bit of politics going on in my back yard, and it might soon be a war zone. As reported the other day the neighbour’s tomcat has become quite partial to my yard. I don’t mind as he’s a bit of a character, a lovely docile cat. Cool cat likes Vespas
But Orlando Cat is not impressed. Oh no, his appearance brings spitting, wailing and cowering behind plant pots from her Ladyship. As Orlando is apparently the first cat he’s ever seen I don’t think the Intruder quite knows what to make of all this. He will if he gets too close. It could get quite messy.

I got home tonight and he was sat on my bin by the fence to his house. Rather than fleeing, as I opened the back door he took up position on my Vespa as you can see. How could I be angry with such a cool intruder? A bright moment after a long hard day “putting in a shift”. (© Anthony Pulis Snr) :-)

Having subjected some colleagues to a lengthy presentation about proposed service improvements for my section, I got my come-uppance when I got in from work. Orlando had a turd stuck to her arse when I got home. She stank. I had to corner her in the kitchen and try to yank it off with some kitchen roll trying hard not to chunder. Naturally Orlando was not keen on this indignity. She was less keen when I squirted her bottom with (pet-friendly) disinfectant and gave it a wipe as best I could between the protests! Eventually she sensed it was for her own good and started purring. But she’s spent a lot of the night outside sulking! Thankfully she’s speaking to me again now and is curled up on her plastic bag in the attic.

Yesterday I discovered her cowering behind the wheelie bin because nextdoors’ kitten has now grown into a huge tomcat and he’d escaped the house and got into my yard. He wasn’t being menacing but just his presence was freaking Orlando out. She hates cats. The hefty intruder couldn’t work out his way home so I had to lift him over to Louise the neighbour. Lordy he was heavy! Last time I saw him he was a tiny ball of fluff.

Finally tonight I’m getting this site moving towards how I want it to look. I have to offer thanks to Scott at work who has been kind and patient enough to give me tips and shared his expertise. I’ve also started to make sense of the CSS style sheets that help make up the format of these pages. I’m slowly learning how to read the code and making changes. I’ve got the sidebar headers green and bold, but can’t work out how to sort the text colour below them yet! The blue must go! It looks like the Conservative Party logo colours! I had intended on an early night, but my determination not to leave this dangling for another night, and get some major changes done before bedtime, now sees me entering the early hours of the next morning again! The washing up remains in the sink, the work shirt remains unironed. That can all wait for later this morning when I’ve had my 7 hours zzzzzzzz!

But now I can put Tina out of her misery and reveal my “secret project” she’s been dying to know about haha! Does that fulfill my side of the bargain? ;-) It’s only just gone 7pm over in Florida so she should see it before her bedtime! Orlando Cat is curled up on her plastic bag again and I’ll be off to bed shortly.

12. May 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Life stories · Tags:

Orlando came to me nearly 18 months ago, lodging at my house with her owner (a good friend of mine) for a couple of months. For one reason or another Orlando is still with me. In the main Orlando is an affectionate cat that likes human company, so I was happy to have her stay with me, especially as talking to the cat is better than talking to one’s self!

While very affectionate and so lovely when she is, Orlando has an aristocratic air. “Her Ladyship” as she is also known clearly thinks she owns the place, and that everybody’s life revolves around her. Her affections are on her terms, and she can be at times prone to bad temper and the bloody-mindedness that befits an old lass of 15 years. She has been spoilt and is used to getting her way, having her favourite spots and getting irritated if anyone dares sit in HER chair. Recently she refused to come back in the house and spent all day outside while I was at work refusing to come in at lunchtime too after a special visit to retrieve her. Instead she sulked in a flower box! (see below)

However as well as the airs and graces Orlando is quite capable of slumming it too. For some reason lately she has decided to shun all of the comfortable places in my house if favour of a plastic bag on my attic floor! It’s one I’ve been meaning to recycle but lazily left it lying around. Now Orlando has adopted it and it has become her favourite bed. We sit together in the attic, me typing, Orlando rustling, and while away the hours. Speaking of beds, it’s now time for mine but it won’t be a Morrison’s carrier bag!

This has been a relaxed yet productive weekend. Much of it has been spent catching up on the chores neglected during the previous whirlwind weeks of gallivanting around the world. My house is now tidy again, my hedge is trim, the car is clean and the large mountain of clothes are put away. While I sat in the sun today with Orlando the cat uncharacteristically curled up nearby, I finally produced an updated CV on the laptop. I’ve been meaning to do this for weeks as it’s all part of a cunning plan, but I’ve lacked the time and inclination to do it thanks to more entertaining diversions. This was the first weekend at home for ages and I think justifies my staying in and doing nothing special. After all recent past weekends have seen me:

* walking in Scotland and discovering my football club was now Premier League!
* drinking, watching football, and meeting a former Dutch Stoke City manager in Brussels
* having a stay in Coniston in the Lake District
* in Florida for 17 days with the beloved
* having my parents to visit and making trips to York and Richmond

This weekend is a calm before the storm. I’m away again in Coniston next weekend, spending the Bank Holiday weekend staying in Exeter with my friend Jen walking somewhere in Devon, then after that I’m away across the Pond enjoying the company of “mar lady” as they say in Stoke. Hopefully this blog will help chronicle the adventures and save me the trouble of writing it up in the old fashioned way, something I attempted in Florida previously but ground to a sorry halt after starting gamely.

Thankfully I also got my hair chopped off this weekend, the mini-heatwave we’ve been enjoying recently has had me sweating bricks and the removal of the thick mop has helped considerably. I look respectable again and hopefully will not incur suspicious glances from the US Immigration Control when I return in June. I’ve spend a fair amount of the weekend faffing around with this website and blog settings, struggling to install the Gallery2 program which has seen me up into the early hours cursing and scratching my head. Simple installation my arse. It’s riddled with errors and meaningless messages. It better be worth it when I finally get the swine working. I found a nice simple gallery program that works beautifully but will not allow the functionality I need if I’m to advertise my wares as is the plan. Well one of the plans, but not the cunning plan. More of that another time.

Finally this weekend saw the arrival in the post of “It cracks like breaking skin”, a collection of short stories set in Stoke-on-Trent written and sent to me by fellow Stoke City fan and member of the Brussels Nine, Stephen Foster. Another book to add to the growing backlog of reading but a welcome addition, I’d been after it for some time. Nice then to get a signed copy. Worthy of online thanks and a link to Stephen’s blog