The most beautiful moments of the diary of my cat- part 1

It was different with the drains. When they went wrong
a visit from Charles’s Aunt Ethel was only a week away
and Aunt Ethel being what she was – a ripe old tartar, as
our neighbour Father Adams described her the day he
heard her carrying on because Solomon had autographed
her nightdress case with large muddy footprints, and he
wouldn’t be married to she for ten quid – something did
have to be done about it.
Unfortunately when we rang up the builder he said he
couldn’t come for a fortnight and the outcome, which I
try not to remember, particularly at night when I lie in bed
thinking of Charles and the cats and trying desperately to
count my blessings, was that Charles and Sidney did it
themselves.
Charles has been responsible for a good many catastrophes
in his time. There was the time he fixed new wall-lights
in the hall, for instance, and in a series of experimental
connections produced first the interesting result that when
the switch was pressed, though nothing happened in the
hall, all the sitting-room lights went on; secondly, after a
little adjustment, the equally interesting phenomenon
that when the switch was pressed every bulb in the house
exploded; and lastly – if this didn’t fix it, said Charles,
emerging triumphantly from the cupboard with a large
screwdriver in his hand, then nothing would – the grand
finale where, when he pulled the main switch, with one
almighty bang all the lights in the valley went out.
There was also the time when he built a dry-stone wall
which looked solid as a rock while he was doing it – at least
four old men, with their eyes on a pint at the Rose and
Crown, said it was the best bit of walling they’d seen since

they was lads and ’twas wonderful seeing the old craft revived
– and the moment the last of them tottered rheumatically
round the bend of the hill the wall immediately fell down
and blocked the road for hours. As for Sidney – when I
reveal that, some years back, the Post Office men came
out and spent nearly a week putting the local telephone
wires underground and no sooner had their little green van
disappeared in the direction of the big city than Sidney, who
was working then for a neighbouring farmer, rode happily
out with the plough and cut clean through the cable, you
can imagine what the pair of them did with the drains.
First, having taken the cover off the inspection trap,
they dug a long, deep trench across the lawn to find the
soakaway. Then, on the advice of Father Adams who
happened along just then and, though he favours an earthcloset
himself, knows quite a lot about such things, they
dug a long deep trench in the opposite direction and found
it. Next they blocked in the pipe. After that, with a lot of
sweating and straining and telling me what hard work it
was, they enlarged the soakaway and filled it with stones. It
was a pity that by that time Father Adams had gone home to
his lunch, because he might also have told them it was silly
to unblock the pipe before they got out of the trench. As it
was, just as I went out to call them in to feed there was a yell
from Charles, who in imagination was obviously engaged
in some mighty damming operation on the Frazer River,
to Let Her Flow, a biff on the pipe from Sidney’s pickaxe
– before you could say Jack Robinson the pair of them were
ankle-deep in filthy black water and all Charles could say
when I asked him what on earth he was doing was that one
of his gumboots leaked.

Everything went wrong after that. While we were having
lunch Solomon went out, started to poke nosily under the
planks they’d put over the trench for safety and immediately
fell in. No sooner had we got him out than Charles, busily
cleaning out the pipes with rods – not that there was any
need for it, but he said he liked to see a job well done – lost
the plunger. And no sooner had we fished that out than
there was a strangled scream from Sidney who, having
been skipping merrily round the open inspection trap for
hours, had just measured it with a rod and found it to be
seven feet deep.
He went home shortly after that. Never in his life, he said,
had he come across one deeper than four foot six before.
Only have to fall down there, he kept saying starkly from
the other side of the lawn, and they’d never get thee out
again. It was fruitless to point out that, while that was true
in principle, the trap was only about two feet square and the
only way he could fall down it would be stiffly at attention,
with both arms at his sides. Sidney had had enough. Home
he went, looking back at us fearfully as he pedalled up the
lane as if we were a couple of Sweeney Todds bent on his
end, and leaving us to finish the drains the best way we
could.
Spurred on by the thought of what Aunt Ethel would
say if the dishwater came up in the bath while she was in
it, we did. There was an interesting sequel in that, while
the drains worked perfectly while the trench was open, the
moment it was filled in the water immediately started going
up and down the wrong pipes again like mad, but it righted
itself within the week. Meanwhile – just to make sure he
never had any rest, said Charles savagely; just to make sure

what with the drains and Siamese cats and blockheads like
Sidney, that he was hounded till he died – the night before
Aunt Ethel’s arrival, Sheba disappeared.
If it had been Solomon we wouldn’t have been surprised.
Solomon was always turning up in odd places. Staring
inquisitively through people’s windows, slinking sinisterly
round people’s chicken runs – though in point of fact if
a day-old chicken had so much as looked him in the eye
he would have run for miles. One day a couple of hikers,
coming past the cottage and seeing Sheba sitting on the car
roof smirking lovingly at Charles, asked us if we owned a
black-faced one as well, and when we said we did they said
if we wanted to know where he was, he was two miles up
the valley lurking in the long grass. Frightened the life out
of them, they said he had. There they were having a quiet
little picnic by the stream and Lil had only turned to throw
the banana skins into the hedge and there was his great
black face peering at her out of the cow parsley and she was
so scared she’d spilt the thermos all over her shorts.
‘Oughtn’t to be allowed,’ said Lil’s husband tenderly
mopping a stray trickle of tea off Lil’s tub-shaped thigh.
‘Ought to be kept in a cage,’ he yelled after me as I started
up the lane at the double. Pretty well everybody who knew
Solomon had said that at some time or other, but that
wasn’t why I was running. There were foxes in the valley
and while I would have bet any money on Sheba being
more than a match for any fox she met, I could equally well
imagine Solomon being dragged down the nearest foxhole
still asking whether they’d seen him on television. As it
happened, I met him that time the moment I rounded the
corner, doing his stateliest Rex Harrison down the middle

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