It is by no means a stretch to say that the English language is an endless joy for me. Words buzz through my head daily, leaving a continuous appreciation for the Bard and his ilk. However, it must be extremely difficult for a first-timer staring at the language puzzle of “there is a head on the road ahead” and other such peculiarities.
I love the fact that we sometimes call a jail “the clink,” which was a prison owned in ninth-century England by the Bishop of Winchester. The name might have come from the sound of an iron door closing, but that is just one of many theories. It was eventually burned during the so-called Gordon Riots in 1780 and never rebuilt. But for an ESL student, it must all be bewildering to say the least.
If anyone is asking, the word “foster” makes my blood run cold, and I do not mean children, bless ’em. No, I refer to my wife, Kitty, and her need to foster animals in our once-beautiful house.
This would be the one and only area that I and our frightful cats, Bertram and Pericles, are in agreement. No outsiders, please. Why not simply tootle over to the very nice SPCA, fling money through the front door and retire to the club for a cold one? You cannot miss the SPCA, for that is where all the noise and odour is coming from, although our humble home will soon join its ranks.
Kitty is not someone who does anything by halves. She appeared the other day in the foyer of our pile in Rockland with — and I am serious — nine dogs. They were of every shape and size, pulling in all directions at once and bellowing to beat the band. She was somehow still upright, holding the leashes that had started to encompass her in her struggles.
I felt a large movement of air behind me as our leviathan-like cats went up the stairs with their bowls firmly held between jaws, as they wanted nothing to do with this new bedroom community and were prepared for a long siege from the safety of my study.
Now normally, no cat in Christendom would be caught in the sanctity of my quiet room, filled with books for the ages, as I would have flung them from my sight in a trice. However this was an exception, for I needed like-minded allies, albeit ungrateful 40-pound cats.
I slowly started to back up the stairs, but the cats’ flight had caught the attention of the orchestra row of hounds, who were passing on this newfound intelligence to those in the mezzanine. Soon, all the pointy and bumpy foreheads were focused on the stairs behind me, and after a short union meeting amongst them, they started to move as one towards yours truly.
I threw my cane at them, followed by my plaid slippers, before sprinting for the second floor and my study. Unfortunately, my wife was still wrapped up in the nine colourful leashes, so the rush of dogs in one direction had the effect of pinwheeling her through the unopened french doors to the garden.
I could not stop to see the results of a large woman covered in glass twirling towards a privet hedge, for the cats, with bulging eyes, were holding the door to my study ajar at the top of the colonnade.
We achieved a routine, the cats and I, during the past three days, of sharing the meagre amount of food available: ancient animal crackers found between Blake and Byron and feline kibble. It must do, I suppose, for we will not come out until a sense of normalcy once again descends upon the house. Next time, there should be a vote. It is too much. I plan to write to city hall about my living conditions, as the air is becoming fetid.
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