Ok, so I'm writing this at just after eight o'clock in the morning and I've already been awake for five hours.
Picture the scene. Son No 2 is staying with us for a few days, and the cat has taken exception to this fact. With no good reason - Matt has barely seen the cat since he's arrived, but it's enough for Pedro that there is another human being in the house.
He's got the hump, basically.
To the extent that he's keeping out of the house as much as possible - including through the night, although he has deigned to cross the doorstep in the early morning if bribed with food and cat milk.
Anyway, this morning I woke up at around three and went to check at the back door. No sign. So back to bed, where I tossed and turned until around half four, when I thought I'd give it another go. Still no sign - but a faint yowling could be heard on the breeze.
So I'm at the bottom of the garden, barefoot in the dew, dressing gown on. Yes, definitely a plaintive cat cry.
Back upstairs, clothes on, torch. Mrs W behind me in dressing gown and training shoes. Down the bank at the bottom of the garden we crawl, around past the neighbour's garden, to the foot of a big bank of leylandii. A very big, very tall bank of leylandii.
And there he is, right at the top. Yowling.
So I'm trying to climb this tree, in the pitch dark, Mrs W holding a torch below. Not a chance.
We leave him there, and wait until daybreak. Mrs W goes back to bed - work in the morning.
Half past six, I'm there, now armed with our longest stepladder. All six foot's worth of it. Clambering up the bank around the back of the trees, I can finally see him, and by climbing up to the toppermost rung on the precariously-balanced ladder, I can actually touch him.
But I can't dislodge him, or pick him up.
Plan B. Scrambling round to the other side of the tree, I can see a gap in the foliage to the flat top of the trunk, which has obviously been lopped in the past. The place Pedro had been perched when I last spotted him. I find that I can balance the end of the ladder on the top of the stump and support the bottom of the ladder myself, thus creating a walkway for Pedro to stroll casually into my waiting arms.
Does he do this? Does he buggery. Instead, he backs away and perches precariously onto one of the highest, flimsiest branches left on the tree.
Now bear in mind the tree is actually growing right on the edge of a vertical bank. On one side of the tree, the drop to ground is probably around ten feet. On the other side, the drop must be nearer thirty feet.
Guess which side Pedro is on.
Plan C. Throwing caution to the wind, and the ladder to one side, I realise that by straddling Pedro's tree and the one next to it, I can actually climb up to the top and get to the stump where he had been sitting. So that's what I do. You now have to realise that I am therefore up in the air, one foot on one tree, the other foot on another tree, and a clear drop of about thirty feet between my legs. But at least I'm in a position to grab Pedro if he comes back to the stump.
What I do when I've grabbed him, I'm less sure.
At this stage, I'm wondering if firemen do still get cats down from trees, but in the event, my thoughts and efforts are academic, because eventually the poor pussy - who is of course absolutely terrified at this stage - steps out too far and the branch he's on can't hold his weight. And so, of course, he falls gracelessly to the ground below. And gets up and trots off into the house to eat his breakfast. Apparently, none the worse for his adventure.
Me, I'm still stuck up in mid-air straddling two trees. At half seven in the morning. Thinking that at the age of fifty, my tree-climbing days should be well behind me.
Anyway, a couple of restorative coffees later, and having got this out of my system, I now need to shower because I smell like a midden and ache like a bastard. In the meantime, the cat has eaten, washed and gone to sleep at the back of Mrs W's wardrobe.
I'm too old for this.
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