Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Nine Lives of a Cat.....




Nine years ago today, our big. bad, batty Siamese cat died: almost as many years without him now as with him. At the time, the children and I were so shocked by the suddeness of his loss, and saddened by the void he left behind him, that it felt truly unsurmountable. 


However, we did resolve to think of him with a smile rather than sadness, as this was far more representative of the effect he had had on our day-to-day lives. As he was forever hell-bent on getting into any available space, it's safe to say that he had an effect on many areas of our lives.


Of course, as a kitten he was always on the look-out for new pranks and foul practices and his beastly intentions could be read by his body language.


When he wasn't skulking around, clambering and clawing his way up furniture or flinging himself off great heights, he would be lolling and lounging around in the most carefree, feline manner.


His earliest forays generally appeared to be quite innocent, but he upscaled these with time and practice.


And practice certainly makes perfect, or purrfect, should I say?


Once he'd discovered an appetite for such antics, there was no stopping him...


Anything or anywhere he could get into, he would, with a certain ease and great, grim determination.


Regardless of the consequences and the numerous trails of devastation he'd leave in his wake.


As he was a housecat, and I often prepared work from home, he would be a constant companion.


Ever watchful for a scrap of activity that he could join in with...


Paws ever ready for action, in whatever form that might take...


Shredding any handy paper, homework to be marked or the odd paper hanky, invariably feeding a serious fascination with boxes that soon grew into a marked fixation.


Of course, this is an interest shared by the majority of moggies, worldwide.


But you do wonder what it is, exactly, that draws them into any box, regardless of shape or size.


And why they feel compelled to radiate such an air of smugness once in their cardboard castles.


They just seem so pleased with themselves, and their latest exploit, even when it's a bit 'passé'.


And this behaviour is something cats simply do not grow out of, even when they have out-grown the boxes themselves!


Or when they are no longer the 'baby' of the family, strictly speaking.


They simply up the ante and become evermore resourceful in doing so...


When they have become mature cats, this tendency seems to escalate.


After all, why limit yourself to mere boxes?


Paper bags will do quite nicely, but something a little more upmarket will go down well too.


Any domain is fair game for the domestic lion, even more so when there is competition, in the form of a human baby.


Always best to mark out the territory as soon as possble so that intruders know their place.


 And to repeat the message several times, for good measure.


We don't want anyone getting ideas above their station...


Or thinking that anything that they can do, you can't actually do a whole lot better...


And with far more style and swagger!


And play far more sophisticated games with any toys that might be hanging around...


And for anyone who still has trouble grasping the law of the land, you can always resort to spelling it out in the bluntest, feline fashion so that there is no room for ambiguity.


Any vantage point will suit in order to keep a watchful eye on proceedings...


From way above, in order to outstare, in the most nonchalant way...


Or lower down, as cupboards do lend themselves to the more dignified, formal comtemplative pose...


But if you want to get a little superior, more original sites are there for the taking.


Feline versatility knows no bounds...


In the kitchen, it is advisable to take the no-holds-barred approach....


The fridge may be a rather obvious choice...


But there are plenty of options, with the various utensils, gadgets and appliances just waiting to be occupied...


No space is too small, and with a bit of imagination, the humblest of places may take on a whole new dimension...


Yet, territory and experience is limitless for the more adventurous feline...


Even if getting stuck into exploratory mode could lead to unexpected consequences - getting literally stuck!


But hey! All in a day's work...


And whatever, a cool stance in required, even when you look plain silly!


And if all else fails, you can simply close your eyes on this world, and just relax...


Or gaze on, with those eyes bright and attentive that burn so many precious, privileged moments into our lives. They may only have 'nine lives', but cats, just like dogs, live on forever in our memories.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Roman Lion..... Roaming in Reims....


The sarcophage Chasse au lion is one of the many Roman artifacts to be found today in the Musée Saint-Remi - the former Abbaye Saint-Remi. Most of these objects were, however, initially found around the city of Reims itself, or in the surrounding Champagne region. Some come from these familiar streets and seem to emphasise that 'the past is a foreign country'. I always find it hard to imagine what my quartier was like, back in Roman times... We really do just borrow places, for a moment, and then time marches on, without us, but perhaps with some trace of our passing through.


Apparently, the mythological allegory of the lion hunt was common in Roman funerary art where the confrontation between Man and Lion was comparable to that of the dead with Death itself. This work of sculpted marble honours the general, Flavius Valerius Jovinus, born in Reims in the 4th century. Unfortunately my photos failed to pay him any honours; I was so taken by these fine beasts, with their expressive eyes, that the Roman hero didn't actually get a look in!


Well, I decided to go back, and so here is the great Flavius Valerius Jovinus, who does actually remind me of the Roman 'Bigus Dickus' from Monty Python's Life of Brian !


Below is Reims Vue du Ciel, a video that swoops over the city, above all the ancient vestiges and Roman remains, tracking the tram lines, the roads and routes that we roam along and crossing the canal that cuts through this expanse... Even if that wasn't me featured in the scull, that is still my rowing route!


What I admired the most, is that none of the changes over the centuries, good or bad, have taken anything away from the glory of the cathedral - it still dominates the city, as it always has. All these buildings and edifices have been the backcloth to all my roaming here over the past twenty-five years, and therefore half of my life! And yet for all its familiarity I can't say that the town feels as if it were half of my identity which leads me to wonder when or how you really feel at home in a place.