In The Diary of a Provincial Lady she is always worrying about her bulbs.
She plants them at the end of Autumn in bowls, and then frets and fusses over them daily, perturbed by the advice of well meaning do gooders, all of which contradicts itself. She is harried by the children who ‘help her’ in that way, and subliminally displaces all anxieties about day to day problems onto the bulbs, which never quite manage to rise to the occasion, so she also worries about day to day problems to stop herself fretting about the bulbs.
It is a kind of narrative leitmotif.
Mine is the state of the cat’s eyes.
We are almost out of cream and I am definitely out of patience. Every day I pace upon the sands, staring into her eyes with a wild, deranged obsession. Is she better? Is she just spoofing? Is she worse? Will I get home to find her eyes rolling about on the hall floor like marbles? If I just throw up my hands and walk away from the whole thing will the RSPCA be round with a butterfly net? Can you teach a cat braille?
What to do? What to do?
Yesterday her eyes looked clear, so I ceased and desisted in my cat bothering activities, for which the cat and I were both equally grateful.
Then I got home from school to find that one eye was looking a bit sticky.
I stalked her round and round until we were both dizzy. Then, having totally failed to catch her, I gave up and went to sulk in the study. She reappeared in the hallway making an odd scraping sound. I thought: ‘Can her eyes have fallen out?’ Which was clearly a ludicrous thing to think, but to be honest, by this point all rational thought has fled in terms of me and the cat.
I went out to explore, with caution.
She had found a bird’s egg broken open in the garden, carried it into the house and was shunting it up and down the hall, propelling it with her nose.
I went to get it.
She looked at me, and thought about running away in case I was going to get her in a half nelson, but stayed because she was incredibly proud of what she had found and wanted to show me all of its features. I crouched on the floor while she trilled and postured as if she had dragged home the jewels of the Romanovs and it was in fact a Faberge egg rather than what looked like a half eaten pigeon’s egg.
I said some enthusiastic words. When a cat brings you a gift you ignore it at your peril, even if it makes your stomach go flip flop. She looked delighted.
Then I picked it up. This caused massive feline excitement. I suspect she had ideas of mounting said wonder in a velvet case and selling tickets on the front door.
It was at this point that the entente cordiale broke down.
I wagged my finger at her and said: ‘No more bloody eggs you maniac.’ and lobbed it in the bin.
Waily waily, huff upon huff. She stalked out with stiff legs and a rigid tail apart from the top inch which twitched back and forth like Evil Edna’s antennae just before turning Mavis Cruet into an eclair.
We have not spoken since.
This morning the eye that was sticky is still sticky, but no worse than yesterday, and she has developed a squint in the same eye.
I have drunk my morning coffee contemplating feline eyeballs, wondering if the squint means that it is indeed conjunctivitis, or whether she is developing a nervous twitch due to being pursued up hill and down dale for two weeks.
Does this mean that she will go on to get stress related cystitis as well?
I used to think, in my darkest hours of child rearing hell, that having animals would have been a safer, less stressful option. Now I’m not so sure.