Thursday, 20 April 2017

Before I Forget...

I used to moan about it at the time but how we miss having to build in those ten extra minutes to run away from our cat each time we left the flat! Having eagerly clocked us donning coats and shoes, you'd follow us up to the communal gardens at the TOM, lagging behind and then breaking into a sprint, half racehorse, half baboon up the street, our black boy Django, also in tow, shyly weaving between parked cars.

I'd try to distract you by slapping a tree and teasing 'Bet you can't climb this tree!' and you'd always fall for the bait, scrabbling up the tree to show off while we tried to escape! Sometimes we'd split up doing detours round different streets to confuse you. Once I hid behind a lamp post round the corner. You stalked carefully past and then miaowed loudly in triumph when you spotted me as if to say 'Ha Mummy, I caught you!'  You liked to jump over the wall at the front of the gardens to surprise us with a mighty 'Miaow!' as well, lest we thought we could creep out the gardens without you spotting us.  We didn't want you following us up to the main road though, which you nearly did, on a couple of occasions.

It was particularly funny when punters were drinking outside the Bottom's Rest on a balmy afternoon and saw you following us. 'Just taking the cat for a walk.' I'd joke. I loved that determined look in your golden eyes. You were a natural cathlete. And of course this culminated in the Bottom's Rest being the only pub we could go to - where you could come too, much to the delight of the punters, again coaxing Django in too (as long as there were no dog-shaped objects). Not that dogs bothered you. You had no hesitation in squaring up to them and biffing them on the nose to show them who was boss.

Even funnier was when you had Django and Monster (a neighbour's black cat) in tow and all three of you would follow me to the communal bins at the end of our street. You were the leader of the pack. How they miss you now, not knowing what to do with themselves, although Monster often calls round and sits on the windowsill seeking a playdate. Poor Django hardly goes out though, except for little five minute bursts through the day. He's lost so much confidence since we lost you, even though we do our best to play with him and give him extra attention.

You loved the warm summer nights running around the neighbourhood when it was virtually impossible to get you (and Django) in, though we did our best to get you both in overnight. And once you gave in and allowed yourself to be captured with the aid of a meaty stick you always seemed happy to settle down, secretly pleased to be relieved of your catly duties for the night, even if you'd never admit it. Then you'd be bright and bushy tailed next morning, ready for a new days' adventures.

One time Django went missing overnight and we were really worried. Then you went missing too. We called you both all over the neighbourhood only to find you were both stuck in an empty house where some numpty had left a cat flap which opened inwards but not outwards again - you had gone to rescue Django and ended up trapped yourself, the two of you together!  You were both chastened and well behaved for several days after that experience and we found it sweet how you cared for your 'brother by another mother'. A cat demonstrably caring for another cat. How about that? But then you'd always been Django's friend - which is how Django came to live with us when his young owners lost their flat and ended up moving to places unsuitable for a cat. I remember how you almost high-fived each other with your paws each time you met  - two young dudes on the same block and him in need of a leader.

Another time Oliver got chatting to a man in the pub, only to find out that he lived round the corner from us and had woken up one night to find Mr Cheeky asleep and purring on his chest, having somehow got in through the first floor window! You were also a daily visitor to Gordon at Gwhizz bikes around the corner, inspecting all the bikes and amusing his customers.

A few weeks ago I had to contact the decorator who painted the courtyard of our flats last summer regarding an unrelated job and he asked how you were. I had to beat back the tears as I told him. The decorator was also very upset as you'd made it your job to be his Supervisor for those weeks he worked on our courtyard, inspecting the paint tins, the brushes and the workmanship! I had assumed you were being a bit of a pain and apologised at the time, but actually he loved you for it!

Everyone agreed you were such a character. A legend, no less.

Django is so timid without you. It's sad to see. While it seems far too soon, and there'll never be another Mr Cheeky, I think we will need to think about another friend for him. I don't think we should let him be a lone cat for the rest of his life.

It has been five months since you were so cruelly snathed from us and your wonderful life and neighbourhood by that awful couple, yet I find myself missing you as much as ever, particularly now the sunny days and balmy evenings - your favourite - are on their way again. I particularly miss how you would always spot us walking down our street from about half a street away and start running up to greet us. Or how we would drive round the corner and you would be there, always waiting and listening out for our car to return. Or finding you mooching round the communal gardens patrolling them and seeking out the catlovers on benches to be fussed as I returned from an errand.

I hope the day will come when I will be able to think about you with a smile on my face rather than a lump in my throat, but meantime I must stop writing about you now, my beloved.  We are going on holiday next week, so I hope that will prove a healing experience. As for Django, he will have a live-in catsitter, a nice Australian lady who also loves cats, but we are still conscious that it will be the first time we will be away without you to keep him company and play with him, assuring him that yes, we will be back! The only thing I guess he doesn't miss about you was how you'd naughtily try to lick the gravy off his catfood as well as your own, so I ended up having to feed you in separate rooms! On the other hand you could be generous, but you also needed to remind him you were top cat, lest he ever forgot!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Ode to Superfood

Having been brought up in a 'macrobiotic' household long before such things were fashionable (my first chick peas were served to me in a petri dish at the age of six, for goodness sake!), I find myself both astonished and bemused by the cult of 'clean food' that is now all around me and the millennials trying to outdo each other on various Facebook groups with vegan oneupmanship, not to mention the not at all morally dubious trolling of any vegan novice who dares to commit a crime such as spreading honey on their toast or letting their child enter an egg and spoon race with a real egg!

However, while it's great to have access to so many amazing new foods, I do wonder about the environmental impact of having up to a dozen exotic ingredients from as many countries on each plate! Talking of which - I never bother with any other but Hawaiian Spirulina dahling - the rest is very second rate...

Clean Food for Free Radicals

Hands up all you atheists whose body is a temple
Hark at my green example
All hail, mighty Kale!
Seaweed, Flaxseed,
Green tea, Broccoli
Porcini, Zucchini
Swiss Apple, Saw Palmetto
Couscous, Sweet Potato
Omega, it’s Wheat Grass!
Those go-to berries, Goji Berries,
Cousins Blueberry and Cranberry
Black Raspberries, Morello Cherry
Pomegranate and Kiwi
Sesame, Carrot, Wasabi
Ginseng, the man root
Asparagus and Beetroot
If you’re not too Quinoa
On Courgette spaghetti Cauliflower
Pass the Pumpkin creamed Starflower
Avocado, Heritage Tomato
Pineapple, Mango risotto,  
Raisins Muscat, Dates Medjool
Papaya, don’t preach
I’m in fuzzy Peach
Just like a Pear in Himalayan rock salt
Raisins from Red Grapes, Sultanas from White
Know your Onions, get your Oats
Give a Fig for Chilli Peppers
Butter no Parsnips with Royal Jelly
Cactus juice, a heart of Palm
Abide with me, your superfood psalm
Beansprouts, Buckwheat, Chick pea
Yoghurt and Mulberry Smoothie
Walnuts, Plums and Millet flakes
Artichoke, Hemp and Strawberry cake
Oranges, Apricots, Turmeric
Spinach, Aubergine, Wild Garlic,
Cacao powdered Cashews
Lentils, Carob and Brazils
Sweetcorn and Sugar beet
Pasta forged in Wholewheat
Fungi on Halloumi
Truffle-sprinkled Gnocci
Cinnamon and cardamom
Nut milk, Fruit of Sharon
Cider vinegar sourdough
Spelt out in Bran and Molasses Rye
Get a PH in balance before you die
Honey, Chia, Spirulina
Aloe Vera, Gingko Biloba
Butternut squash, Banana
To be a centenarian, think fruitarian
Eat your food raw
To be drop-dead gorgeous when you bore
Bathe in Coconut oil, no planet despoil
Just be Grapefruit
You live in the age of Quorn
And silken Tofu for a new you
I don’t mind Polenta, but hold on the Placenta
Easy over, just how I like it.

                              ©LS King 2017


Sign at Brighton VegFest this year

Monday, 27 February 2017

Eating the Roses

Facebook certainly knows how to rub it in. The above memories of Mr Cheeky flashed up on Valentine's Day from the same day two years ago when our little monkey decided to try and eat my Valentine's roses! Everything was for him in his catty mind!

In fact we could never have plants or flowers in the flat as he would soon demolish them one way or another. His funeral flowers have miraculously lasted nearly four weeks by comparison as Django is very respectful of plants.

I am a bit better now about not bursting into tears at inopportune times, but I still expect to see him around every corner in the flat. Writing the following poem helped a bit. 

The Grim Reaper’s Mate (Grief)

Whether you yearn to hear a key in the door
The flip of a catflap or the pitter patter of a paw
Grief doesn’t differentiate
Whether you’ve lost a person or a pet
It fillets your innards with pain so raw
You just don’t want to carry on any more
Your appetite is stolen and so is your sleep
You ache all over, no tears left to weep
The longing to rewind time won’t go away
You feel you’d give anything for just one more day
The what ifs’ and if onlys’ claim the wee small hours
It’s an effort to think about new dawns and showers
You make silly mistakes like putting kettles in fridges
And confusing an onion with a Golden Delicious
Your car drives you in unintended directions
You’ve aged ten years overnight when you catch your reflection
The rain doesn’t move you and nor does the sun
Will you ever smile again, let alone have fun?
You want to be alone but crave company too
Though no friend can bring back what you need them to
Yes, you’d give up a winning lottery ticket to have things back as they were
Whether you’re grieving the loss of a human loved one or a babe with fur

©LS King 2017

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Mad Catters' Tea Party - photos and update

Here are photos of some of the lovely attendees at the Mad Catters' Tea Party at Patisserie Valerie in Hove on Sunday night. 40 tickets were sold and along with the raffle and a few extra donations, the total raised for Lost Cats Brighton is £600 (rounded up from £595 by a kindly work colleague - thanks Michelle!).
With big thanks to everyone who supported this event, not forgetting the manager Daniel, and staff of Patisserie Valerie, who put on the tasty buffet spread and opened just for us, and the Lost Cats team themselves. 

It was particularly touching to meet in person some of the many individuals who tried so hard to help us find our beloved Mr Cheeky (on line and in life) after he was kidnapped from our home on 4th December, including a couple of dog owners who had taken Mr Cheeky's story to heart. There was also Heidi, standing on the stairs below, who unbelievably had a phone full of clips of Mr Cheeky playing with her boyfriend at work (her boyfriend works in a music company next to our flat and Mr Cheeky used to visit on a daily basis it seems). She was indeed wooed by endless clips of our pussycat and his antics when they first met! Sad as it was, it was so nice to see our boy having a great time whilst we were out at work feeling guilty about leaving him home!

It was a poignant night to remember our golden boy with a smile - he with the paw in every door - who spread his massive heart and love throughout the neighbourhood and indeed, introduced us to most of our neighbours!

The latest news with Lost Cats Brighton is having suffered their own sad loss last month of their founder Ron Ayres, they need to find new rented shelter premises, as their former rented premises ended with Ron's death. 
Meantime, having re-homed all the cats that they had, they continue to operate online helping reunite lost cats with their owners and are setting up a cat fostering service where cat lovers can be supported in a temporary fostering role until a cat is found a forever home. Anyone interested in fostering a lost cat in the Brighton and Hove area should email: for further details.
Further Lost Cats fundraising events coming along in May in Hanover.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Mad Catter's Tea Party, 19th February 2017

While still in deep mourning for our beloved golden boy, we feel the need of something positive to look forward to, so are working hard on the Mad Catter's Tea Party to bring cat lovers together for an evening of feline fun and fab tea party food to raise funds for Lost Cats Brighton in Mr Cheeky's memory.

We also intend it to be a unique event to remember!

We are therefore calling on all Sussex cat lovers to please share poster and print out for your window or workplace. And do book your tickets asap if you intend to come as they are currently going fast. Really want to make this a sell-out for Lost Cats Brighton (and our late beloved Mr Cheeky). Tickets here.
Many thanks. Laura and Ollie xx

50% of ticket price will go on buffet and beverages (lots of veggie options) and the rest to Lost Cats Brighton.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Kidnapping of Mr Cheeky - the final chapter

It has taken me most of the day to process what has happened, but ultimately I wanted to say more than a few words on Facebook.

Today at 11.50am, as I was cleaning the windows in our flat, the telephone rang.

It was Emma from Wilbury Vets, Hove. A ginger cat had been brought in. It had been hit by a car round the corner in Cromwell Road, Hove.

Sadly it could not be saved. They scanned the cat and found a match with Mr Cheeky's details on the PetLog database, hence the phonecall. I asked if she was absolutely sure and she asked if he had any other distinguishing features so I mentioned the chipped upper right fang, She asked if he had had a collar and I said yes, he had a yellow collar on when he was kidnapped. Much to my astonishment he still had a 'gold coloured' collar on. She asked what I wanted to do as they could organise cremation if I wanted. I said could I pick him up after the weekend as I didn't think I was in a fit state to drive. She said she understood, They would put him in their cold room for the weekend until I was ready. She knew all about Mr Cheeky and sounded quite emotional herself.

So our baby was alive for 7 weeks and 6 days following his kidnap and was killed only today when he finally escaped (or was released). Clearly disorientated and with no idea where he was, he panicked and ran across a road, sadly to be unlucky. I wonder if his captors lived on Cromwell Road? It is also a mere 0.9 miles from our flat in Brunswick Street East. So near and yet so far!

I have been in bits all day thinking about it. He had such a tough start to life, abandoned as a young cat, barely out of kittenhood, living on the streets and rescued by Lost Cats Brighton (where we got him) and then only two and a half years of happy life with us before he was kidnapped by those utter slimeballs, for who knows what reason.

My last memory of Mr Cheeky was earlier on the night he was taken. I was sitting on the sofa in front of the TV and Mr Cheeky was lying on his back on my lap reaching up with his paws to try and brush my hair with his claws. It was one of his little things. He was fascinated by hair. But it was also a perfect moment which I will treasure always.

He was a tough and independent cat most of the time, (let's face it, he ran the neighbourhood in catly terms!) but just occasionally he would be as soft as a marshmallow and allow a big cuddle, usually when he was tired. Or if I let him sleep on our bed (big treat) he would start by sleeping nonchalantly at the bottom and gradually work his way up the bed through the night until he had wedged his head under my chin gently purring and bunting me with his nose until I was so hot I had to get up and relegate him back to the living room with his food and litter tray.

So farewell my brave soldier, the most fearless cat I ever knew. You wouldn't hesitate to look a dog straight in the eye or boof a canine nose which got too close. You even managed to cow an American bulldog two doors down and visit and walk around that flat as if you owned it. You had a paw in every door (little children loved you) and you followed us to the local pub too. You even tried to follow me up the street to get the bus to work and were a regular visitor striding up the aisles at the Sunday Assembly in Waterloo Street! You've paid a high price for being so independent, friendly and fearless, (or perhaps because of your resemblance to 'A Streetcat Named Bob'), but you could never have been an indoor cat. It just wasn't in your nature. I'm so glad you got a last taste of freedom, albeit tragically brief. God bless you my furbabe, until we meet again.

Thank you so much to all the Likers and Sharers and Messagers and well-wishers. You've been phenomenal. As have our dear neighbours. I only wish I had a happy ending - for all our sakes.

But if you are local and want to pay tribute to Mr Cheeky and help other lost cats in Brighton and Hove, there IS one final thing you can do.  I had been arranging a Mad Catter's Tea Party (dress code: Crazy Cat Lady or Eccentric) to raise funds for Lost Cats Brighton. (where we got Mr Cheeky). This will take place on Sunday 19th February (6pm-9pm) at Patisserie Valerie on Western Road, Hove. It is £25 a ticket - £12.50 for late afternoon tea with buffet and beverages (lots to suit vegetarians too), with the rest going to Lost Cats. Plus we have exclusive use of this gorgeous venue on two floors, so it would be amazing to get away from screens and mobiles for a bit and meet some of you lovely people in real life. Something to look forward to on this darkest of days. As you may know Lost Cats sadly lost their founder Ron Ayres last month and may shortly lose their rented premises, so it is vital they find new rented premises asap in order that their valuable work can continue (it is estimated Ron helped up to 200 cats a year in his 17-year post-retirement calling.Tickets here (even I as the organiser will be buying one!). It is a registered charity, so Lost Cats can also claim Gift Aid on anything we raise.

UPDATE 29/01/17: The lady who was alerted to Mr Cheeky's body in Cromwell St and who took him to Wilbury Road vets round the corner has been in touch with some further information and it looks as if our cat may have been being kept by someone in the street, very close by. Have just updated Police and asked them to investigate. It would be good to get a prosecution for pet theft if possible.

I leave you with a few of my favourite piccies of Mr Cheeky, some of them with his playmate Django, who has been doing his catly best to cheer up a weeping Mummy all day.

The male Marilyn of cats

You may rule the neighbourhood but I rule the cat flap! Mwah ha ha.

Mmmm we love fresh linen!

We also love Daddy...

Polishing cars with Django

Chilling in Bottom's Rest pub

I'm King of the bag!

You're not going anywhere Mummy and Daddy!

Chillin' after a hard day's catly duties

I saw this new fridge first ok?

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Kidnapping of Our Cat Mr Cheeky

It's been some time since I blogged, probably the longest time since I started this blog in 2007.

Aside from battling two bouts of the flu, back to back, nearly all my spare time has gone into the hunt for our beloved cat Mr Cheeky, who was kidnapped from our front courtyard in Brunswick Street East, Hove, by a young couple on the night of Sunday 4th December 2016 (caught on neighbour's CCTV).

We didn't immediately know that this is what had happened to Mr Cheeky as our neighbour opposite had been away for a few days and it was only when he was checking his footage (my partner Ollie had asked him to see if he could see in which direction our cat had gone), that he made the horrifying discovery that Mr Cheeky had not just wandered off, but had been deliberately taken. Quite a dramatic end to what had been my partner's birthday celebrations.

Naively we felt relieved that at least our fur babe had not been knocked down by a car, and now we knew what had happened, it must surely be only be a matter of hours or days until we got him back.

Nearly six weeks later (seven since the kidnapping), we seem no closer to finding him, despite all the publicity, the social media, the postering and flyering and offering a substantial reward.

Regrettably the CCTV footage was not quite good enough to identify the couple, although it was picked up by the Brighton Argus newspaper (click link to watch footage) and BBC/ITV regional news.

Mr Cheeky has left a huge hole in our lives and I worry that he may think we have forgotten about him or given up on him. I wish I could find a way of letting him know that we still love him and will never give up on him. Our other cat Django has been wandering around like a lost soul wondering what has happened to his leader and staring out the window forlornly, hardly venturing out. Their black cat pal down the road, Monster, also doesn't seem to know what to do with himself. Mr Cheeky ruled the neighbourhood. I am constantly stopped by small children in the street asking where Mr Cheeky is. He had a paw in every door it seems and visited most of the neighbourhood. For a short time, he was possibly one of the most famous missing cats ever - his story even appeared on The Sun online and The Mail online!

He had over 1000 shares on social media, particularly via a wonderful local facebook group called Brighton People. Mr Cheeky now has his own Facebook page called Find Mr Cheeky here.  Streetlife website have also been very good.

In fact we have been overwhelmed by the number of shares, likes and lovely messages, plus offers of practical help and tip-offs that we have followed up (sadly all other ginger cats, until now). We have truly seen the best side of social media and been reminded of all the good people in the world, at a time when we could easily have become fixated on the bad people in the world. We also have amazing neighbours, many of whom have put up posters in their windows and cars.

We have no idea why Mr Cheeky was taken, except that apparently there has been a spate of ginger cat thefts since the success of 'A Streetcat Named Bob' book and film.

One thing that I have particularly appreciated is all the stories people have shared with us about their pets miraculously reappearing weeks, months or even years later. Only this weekend, I met a young woman who used to volunteer at the RSPCA in London who told me that a cat was brought in because his elderly owner had died. They then scanned his chip and found to their great surprise he was a cat who had been reported missing more than 3 years before. Evidently the elderly lady had found him, assumed he was homeless and taken him in without making too many enquiries (or vet appointments). Needless to say his real owners were stunned and delighted in equal measure, having long since given up hope of ever seeing him again.

Fingers crossed it will be our turn for a miracle sooner rather than later.

Meantime the founder of Lost Cats Brighton (where we got Mr Cheeky two and a half years ago), Ron Ayres, sadly died a fortnight ago. Funds need to be raised for a new shelter to continue his legacy as the charity will soon lose their rented premises.

I am therefore throwing myself into organising a 'Mad Catters' Tea Party' to raise money, hopefully at the end of next month. Full details as soon as I have venue confirmation.