Monday, July 21, 2008

Houseguest from Oz

I am saying this in a whisper while he is asleep: Ms Pants’s hybrid owly cat Creature, Barney, has arrived at my house and is causing mayhem. I thought she was joking when she said he’d be arriving at Gatwick today heading for my house, and even if she wasn’t he would surely be held in detention for flouting quarantine regulations. But it seems he got through by pretending to be someone’s stuffed toy. I had to pay the very irate minicab driver who complained that Barney had made a mess of the newly upholstered back seat as he polished off the remnants of a smoked salmon and crab terrine he had filched from the aeroplane while the steward’s back was turned. In the few hours he has been here he has managed to down the best part of a bottle of premium quality Polonaise vodka that Mr. Signs was saving for sex-on-the-beach cocktails and more than half a bag of frozen IKEA meatballs and the rest of the lingonberry preserves. When I asked how long he was thinking of staying here he just shrugged and said Pants had bought him a one-way ticket.

The cat is upstairs underneath our bed and refuses to come out until we give her assurance that Barney is off the premises. If all else fails we will have to coax him into the garden studio and lock him in while we think of what to do. I’m considering reporting him to the authorities as an illegal asylum seeker, but I don’t think they would buy it as Pants actually got him out of the UK illegally, and he speaks perfect English – when he wants to, that is. He is something of a poseur and slips into this faux gangsta-style drawl at the drop of a hat, but clearly he doesn’t have the vocabulary. Seeing a packet of blue Rizla on the kitchen table (from when my daughter was here, she smokes roll-ups), he asked if he could score a couple of “straights.” Who has been teaching him this stuff? Obviously I have my suspicions.

Meanwhile, Daughter of Signs is heading north to Edinburgh, where she will be until end of August a-putting on and performing in her show. I got a text from her today saying that the bad news was she had missed the train (which meant shelling out £40 more to catch a later one), and she managed to do this in spite of having been at the station an hour early. But the good news was that she had bought some notebooks and had begun writing a novel. There is something so quintessentially Daughter of Signs about this that I cannot help but smile – even though this is bound to leave her rather short of money.

I think I can hear Barney waking up, or perhaps he is talking in his sleep. It sounded like “Budweiser.” I don’t know what I’m going to tell Mr. Signs when he gets home.


Kahless said...

Oohhh, how exciting.

Barney is mightily handsome if you dont mind me saying. Maybe he is a cousin of bagpuss..

The most Important
The most Beautiful
The most Magical
Saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world

And how can Daughter of Signs miss the train when she was at the station an hour early?????

Reading the Signs said...

Kahless, I'll admit that I myself was taken in by Barney's looks, but even as I say this he is downstairs polishing off the last of a couple of bottles of Rioja Reserve and has disturbed the neighbours with the noise he is making a combination of hooting and caterwauling. He says he sings in a band. I'm rather hoping he'll be gone by morning.

I have asked Daughter this question and she herself is at a loss. One minute there was a whole hour to spare and she went to do a bit of, you know, shopping - and the next minute the doors had close. She's not used to being early for things and it threw her.

cusp said...

Blimey Limey, What/who have you let into Signs Cottage ? He looks a bit of a ruffian to me and a bruiser. For God's sake don't let him buy a hoodie 'darn the Lanes' else he'll get an ASBO and then what'll you tell Pants ?

Reading the Signs said...

Cusp, as Pants is really in loco parentis (in the absence of any such), I think she can hardly be in a position to complain if he gets ASBOed. But I don't want him confined to quarters at Signs Cottage. He is getting bored now, thank goodness, and muttering about heading off to Lancashire - to stay with someone called Brian. I'm encouraging him to do this.

cusp said...

The name Brian doesn't really have the 'ring' of a chum of Barney. Zammo or Slammer seems more his type. Did you know that the word 'brian' means knitting in flemish --- says it all really [I do hope Mr. S. isn't called Brian --- oh dear ;~( ]

Still if Brian has offered I'd ship old Barney off sharpish.

Reading the Signs said...

erm...Cuspilein, Brian is a blogging associate of Ms Pants and a real person who may at any moment be looking in here. And knitting is something that Son of Signs is really good at (he has even invented his own kind of Arran stitch). Are you blushing?

And listen, I don't care if it's Tom, Dick, Harry or Slammer that has him. He's going to night - planning to hitch, he says.

tpe said...

You would let the owl/cat/bagpuss thing hitch? It's a dangerous world out there, Signs, and I should hate for you to get on the wrong side of Ms Pants. What if Barneyowl gets picked up by a loon? What then?

Anyhoo, don't tell Mr Signs anything. You need to act surprised, is all, when he discovers the beast. Whenever I take a strange toy, animal, woman or boy home, I just wait until my girlfriend says something and then act dumbfounded. Never fails.

"Why the hell is there a strange toy/animal/woman/boy in our bedroom?"

"Oh, for pity's sake. Not again....."

You need to appear slightly pissed off, too, as if this is just the very last thing you need to be dealing with at the moment. Go.


Reading the Signs said...

TPE! Clearly I should have consulted you at once about this and, come to think of it, every other situation where good advice is needed. But regarding Mr. Signs, I need not have worried for he is deeply immersed in watching DVDs The Wire (series 4) that I gave him for his birthday and has the knack of not noticing things that might challenge his essential sense of wellbeing. If there were a strange man in the bedroom I suppose that might be tricky, and if the occasion arises I'll bear your advice in mind.

I cannot be responsible for what happens to Barney, and bear in mind that Ms Pants has known for some time of his imminent arrival here and probably paid for his ticket!

tpe said...

It's true, Ms Pants only has herself to blame. However, personally speaking, whenever I reach a point where I realise with a terrible certainty that I really only have myself to blame, I simply re-double my efforts to pin the blame on someone else. So do watch your back, Signsy, because things could get messy.

Yet again, I love Mr Signs a little bit more. He is watching The Wire? Genius. That show totally rules. Clap hands, here comes happy.....

With the fall of the Barksdale empire, and the ascent of a new young drug king in Baltimore, McNulty, Bunk and the rest of the detail continue to "follow the money" up the political ladder amidst a hotly contested mayoral campaign......

Please tell me you watch it, too. Check the back of his 4th season DVD box and you'll find the words I've just written. Alternatively, don't. In fact, yes, don't.

It hardly matters, I suppose, either way. I think maybe you're more of a Deadwood person, anyway, Signs - another series I've only recently seen the light about. Hard to say. Have you seen it?

Who knew that Lovejoy was such a dirty bastard? Me oh my.

Right, enough already. I hope your daughter finishes her novel and that the bagpuss/owl/cat creature doesn't get murdered on the highway.

Considerately yours,


Reading the Signs said...

TPE, I feel I should love The Wire and that I must be missing out. Mr. S says that it like being immersed in an extraordinary work of literature. But whenever I try to watch I lose the plot. I've decided to go back to the first series and watch from the beginning.

Deadwood? Lovejoy? TPE, I'm just no good with stories where things happen. Apart from Doctor Who. But even then I lose the plot.

Thanking you for your consideration.

Respectfully yours,

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

That creature looks dangerous, sounds dangerous and a right handful. Are you sure you are in your right mind, offering him hospitality? How do you know he doesn't turn into vampire cat at full moon? Is it worth taking chances?
I think encouragement to him to head towards Lancashire is definitely a good idea.

That's So Pants said...

HI Signs

I would love to be able to apologise to you at this point but I would have paid any price for the serenity I am now enjoying. The beauty of it all is that when he gets deported - and that can only be hours away surely - it'll be straight back to Silicone Valley. Free at last...



Reading the Signs said...

Vanilla, I didn't really offer the hospitality, he just availed himself of it. I don't think he's actually dangerous, he's just a bit of a sociopath. Anyway, he's gone now and there's £20 missing from my purse and he has been rifling through things in my son's room and nicked a harmonica.

Pants, I just got a call from Barney. He has apparently "borrowed" the mobile phone of a salesman he hitched a lift with. He says he is stopping off in London to do some busking. I don't know about Silicone Valley - he seems to have got it into his head that he's going to be a rock star.

tpe said...

Well, he's got the harmonica already, Signs, so he's halfway there. If he can play it very badly, indeed, then he has to have every chance of succeeding as a rock star. He may even develop a career of shudder-inducing longevity. Take a look at Bob Dylan if you don't believe me.

I'm just ducking now, Signs, to avoid your flurry of wild lady-punches. All done? Good-o.

Anyway, I think you might Enjoy The Wire if you start again from the beginning. It definitely deserves the chance to be given a fair viewing, I feel. One thing which might help you keep pace - and I had to do this because I found myself getting lost - is to switch on the subtitles until you tune in to the heavily accented dialogue of so many of the characters. I found it really difficult to understand a lot of the time (especially, in fact, in the fourth series.)

I remember feeling a bit outraged when I discovered that Americans watched Trainspotting with subtitles, feeling that they ought to make more of an effort to understand English as spoken by drug-addled Scots. Now I just see that they were ahead of the game, as usual.

Apart from that, you're own your own.

Barry Normanishly yours,


(PS. Deadwood is really good, too - I think you'd like it, eventually, and so would Mr. S. I groaned when I saw that it was set in "cowboy times", right enough, but quickly became hooked. You may read that the actress who plays Calamity Jane gives a towering performance - this isn't true, she's rubbish. She plays a drunk like someone would in a school play. Hopeless overacting and a terrible blight on an otherwise impeccable cast.

Going now, sorry.)

Reading the Signs said...

TPE? - punch! (waves fists in the air and bares new front teeth). You can't say anything like that about Bob - even if his last album was so boring that I pleaded with Mr. Signs to turn it off en route to somewhere in the car. Well ok, maybe you can say things like that. But he was so erstwhile gorgeous one forgives him almost anything.

Anyway, The Wire: Mr. S and I are gobsmacked to learn that there are subtitles available, and I will certainly be availing myself, though whether it's subtitles or translation one needs is a question. He has read Deadwood which I gave him for Xmas. I think he liked it. For now, he is watching Wire episodes twice over - second time with all the commentary.

There has been an almightly balls-up with the apartment we booked for Edinburgh festival. Will blog about it anon but for now,

I am absolutely hopping furious. Though not with you, Barry - Mwah!

tpe said...

Oh dear, that news about the apartment doesn't sound good. I hope you manage to get everything sorted out. I'll just sit very quietly and wait for you to unleash your post, then.

I'll just say, though, that the only appropriate response to catastrophe is calmness - trust me, it's just a fact. Plus, it's way easier to plot a lasting and deadly revenge whilst calm.

Good luck.

Yours, in shock and awe,


Reading the Signs said...

You're right, McGuru. I'm focussing on breathing in and out and doing it rather well.

Minx said...

Is he coming to Cornwall? I think we would get on quite well.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

I'm sure you won't mind if I reply to Minxie -

Minxie - You know Barney loves you. He's on his way. He wants to know if he can be your familiar. Beware though he likes to be VERY familiar.



Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Nicked a harmonica - is this to aid caterwauling in the dead of night, once he's spent the twenty quid on booze?

barney said...

hey pants yeah howr u doin i got a bounser job but they saked me and it was long so crashin with this cat under arches not bad and she paid for internet cafe. xoxoxo

cornwall a good ideer minx be with you soonest loadsa luv BARNEY xoxoxo

ps hey vanilla i never paid for the booze tasts better when is free rock on dude

Minx said...

Just heard that the police have closed the borders. I am hoping he is bringing some of that funny tobacco that always makes me laugh. Do you think he'll manage to squeeze through before they catch him?

Reading the Signs said...

Minx, Somehow I don't think closed borders will present much of an obstacle to Barney. Sorry.