When Bertie arrived she was shy and unsure. She’d hide under the sofa or lie in the climbing ivy or under the fence because it felt safe.
But since then Alleycat’s instructed Bamber to keep Bertie safe and naturally that’s made her more confident than she used to be. She may be young but she senses Bamber’s presence and feels him watching over her, and that’s why she’s getting too big for her boots and dragging old Lucy around by the ear and biting her where she shouldn’t.
Pink misses Alleycat, but maybe she doesn’t know how much. When he left her to drive the trains she said she’d be able to cope without him and she’s sticking by that.
She adjusted fast to little Bertie’s arrival but Bertie’s surprised her by growing even faster. Pink still imagines she’s in charge of the establishment, and she expects Bertie to toe the line and obey her commands. That’s not going to happen fast, is it?
It’s been a while since I blogged, but I’ve been hard at work on a story that Pink told me while I was sleeping. She crept up close while I was dozing in the armchair and whispered in my ear and said I’d better get on and write up some of her better adventures, not the latest ones, but the ones she had when she was younger. Pink isn’t altogether stupid. Mostly she just pretends to be silly because it means she can avoid difficult and lengthy tasks by claiming they’re beyond her. But she’s clever really and she knows stuff. She was quite right about the story. I’d been letting things slide and it was high time I got to work. Here’s a link to what she dictated. While I was writing it Pink perched somewhat cheekily on the back of my office chair and watched what I was typing, in case I got anything wrong, and if there was anything she didn’t approve of she chirruped a warning and told me to blot.
Maybe it’s because it’s Halloween, but there’s a presence in the house, and Pink keeps looking behind her, scared of her own shadow. Last night she was with the dogs on the big yellow sofa, just as normal, when a nasty, grisly, horrid sensation gripped her and she wanted to turn around and look but she was too scared to move. The dogs felt the same as she did. Normally they’ll bark at the smallest disturbance (like a leaf blowing across the lawn) but they were so scared they couldn’t make a sound and it took all of Bernie’s courage to call for Alleycat with a little yapping bark. Alleycat ran in from the kitchen, but of course he’d been fast asleep and he’s not as quick as he used to be, so when he arrived on the scene there was no sign of uncanny intruders or walking shadows at all. You can imagine he didn’t take too kindly to be woken up for nothing, but Berne and Lucy were adamant that they’d seen (or felt) something nasty, and Bernie decided to put on her quilted jacket for extra protection and Lucy and Pink begged Alleycat to stay close and help them to settle down. As soon as they felt confident enough to be left alone, Alleycat returned to his gentleman’s chair in the kitchen, where he went straight back to sleep. But he must have half-believed that something was amiss because he kept one ear open, and presently he heard a weird, unaccountable sound that wasn’t normal at all, and he woke himself up to find a rather sinister looking bear snooping around the kitchen. As soon as it realized that Alleycat was on to it, the bear tried to escape through the outside door, but Alleycat chased it into the house and made it stay there. He’ll be questioning it later and that bear had better be sorry for frightening Pink and promise to mend its ways, or I wouldn’t like to think how angry Alleycat will be with that miscreant night-wanderer.
There was nothing magical about Snatcher, but years ago, when he stayed with the cats of the Six Foot, he managed to slip into Pink’s heart and make her adore him. They were often together, sitting on the elephant table or sunbathing in the yard, and they left all the difficult work to Bamber, and all the complicated work to Alleycat. It’s years since Snatcher moved away, but Pink still thinks about him. Every now and again she attempts to open the door to the room where he had his quarters. He slept in the middle of a big four poster bed and the Ginge Club steered clear of him and Snatcher wouldn’t have let them in even if they’d asked. He didn’t speak to them much. Except for Pink. But now that he’s gone and won’t ever come back she often tries to cross into the room he occupied, as if a shadow of him might still be there, and Alleycat stands guard and watches the Six Foot and that door at one and the same time, because he can’t have anything bad happen to Pink, and if Snatcher had left a message it would be a trap as much as anything. Snatcher won’t ever come back, but Pink could get caught up in the idea of him ever so easily and if she saw his shadow or heard his voice she’d never be able to forget him at all, not ever, and she’d never be able to think about anyone else either. And no one, not even Pink, would want that.
Bamber’s the most faithful, loyal animal that ever walked the earth. Dogs are meant to be loyal and true, and some of them surely are, but that’s because they know which side their bread is buttered on. Bamber, on the other claw, is as independent as he wants to be; he’s always out of doors, climbing, or exploring, and he’s often seen (more like glimpsed) on the topmost point of a pine tree, hundreds of feet above ground, swaying in the wind like a cat in the crow’s next. From there he scans the Six Foot, and the surrounds, and watches for encroachers and the onset of hostile forces. If we go out he climbs up there, to his lofty spot, and he watches and waits until we return, and when he sees us he slides down and greets us with a glad miaow. But he’s shy, is Bamber; he doesn’t like his picture taken, and he plays up extensively when he’s put on film. That’s him in the video trying to rip the camera out of my hands. He doesn’t need to look behind his eyes or hide from what’s there. He simply doesn’t care about that sort of thing at all. He’s true to himself as much as he’s true to us.
When Alleycat wakes in the morning, the first thing he demands is a lift. I have to carry him around the house and display him to the other animals, so they can see how important he is. He’s like a medieval monarch, processing around his territory and going from place to place and showing off his power. They used to call it the Iter Regis. Alleycat doesn’t call it anything, but it’s the same thing. I’m his howdah, his sedan chair, and because he’s being carried everyone can see how important he is. That’s the point. It’s his Royal Journey and he likes to stop at key points in his Kingdom, just like the Kings did in Olden Times. They’d pray, or make a sacrifice, or eat a jolly good dinner depending on how they felt at the time, but Alleycat’s not interested in any of that. All he wants it to have me carry him. It’s no good going on the Iter on your own, obviously.