Cat Cultivation

“Your cat’s been in my prize leeks again!” The grouchy old Barney Rubble look-alike yelled at me as I came home from work one night. I was tired, stressed out. I was looking forward to a good soak in the bath and curling up in bed with my two marmalades, Bing and Charlie and Stephen King’s latest novel.“I’m sorry Mr. Rubb…. I mean Mr. Roberts.” I sighed, “I’ll keep them in tomorrow.”I don’t think he heard.“The competition’s this week. My stock’s ruined!” He ranted.

Wearily, I trudged down his garden to inspect his leek patch.
“There!” He pointed to the leeks in question. They weren’t damaged. Yes, I’ll agree small mounds of earth were apparent between the vegetables, but no serious damage that I could see. But then I was no expert.
“I’m sorry.” I said for what must’ve been the hundredth time this year. “I’ll pay for any damage they…”
“Pay!” He roared. “Pay. This is a serious business this leek growing. That’s all you so-called career people think about is pay. What about all my hard work?”
“O.K. Mr. Roberts.” I said, getting a little annoyed myself. “What do you want me to do?”
He had to think about that one. “Just keep them away.” And stormed off.
Once inside, I flopped onto the sofa. Bing and Charlie immediately came to say ‘hello’. Fussing between my feet, walking to and fro across my lap and purring away like a well tuned Norton.
“You guys are not in the good books.” I said, fussing each in turn. “I’ll have to keep you in for the next few days. We don’t want you doing any more planting of your own in Barney’s patch now do we?”
Since moving into my present house two years ago, Bing and Charlie have borne Barney’s wrath. It didn’t seem to matter there was at least another ten cats in the immediate area; Bing and Charlie were the problem. It didn’t help matters when Charlie had taken to chasing a cabbage white butterfly through the canes which were supporting his sweet peas. Barney had thrown a wobbler and chased after him. I’m not sure who did the most damage, Charlie bringing down the peas or Barney trampling over his neatly sown lettuce bed in a futile attempt to catch him. From then on, the cats only had to look in his garden for them to get shouted at.
It wasn’t long before Barney erected high wire fencing, he was becoming paranoid. Bing was terrified of the man and kept well away. But Charlie the fearless was a different story. Charlie would boldly tread where no other cat dared. He quickly worked out the only way into the forbidden garden was over the gate. It was the only area Barney couldn’t raise the height of. What I couldn’t work out was, why? Perhaps it was because he knew he shouldn’t or just to prove he could or maybe he did it to rile Barney. Whatever the reason he was guaranteed to get spotted.
My mind drifted as I soaked. Charlie was sat on the corner of the bath playing with the dripping tap, trying to catch the drips with his little white spats. Bing was sprawled the length of the window sill, soaking up the warmth from the late evening sun. He was a soft cat with an easy going temperament. I named him after Bing Crosby because he loved to sing, particularly at night. His serenade’s cut through the night like a serrated edge knife. This added yet another black mark against their names.
"Just tomorrow and Friday boys,” I told them. “It gives him chance to get his precious leeks sorted out. Then you’ll be allowed out again.” I’d never been to the annual veg’ show before. Maybe this year I’ll put in an appearance and see what all the fuss is about.
Saturday morning I opened the back door wide and both cats pounced into the open air. Anyone would have thought they’d been cooped up for months the way they chased and wallowed in the freedom. I took delight in their antics a while longer before making my way to see the show.
By the time I got there the judging had started, apparently they’d started early due to the hot weather. They didn’t want the produce wilting in the heat. I searched the crowd for a face I knew and found Wendy chat-a-lot Marvin, she was showing her melons. Wendy told me they’d only judged the onions and leeks so far. Melons and squashes were next.
“Who won the leek competition then?” I asked.
“That was won by your neighbour, Ken Roberts. Beautiful leeks they were too. The judges were very impressed. They asked Ken what his secret was, he said he didn’t have one. They didn’t believe him and suggested he probably had a secret formula in his compost and wasn’t letting on.”
“That’s probably it.” I smiled and wondered if Bing and Charlie would get any credit for all the digging and hard work they’d put into his garden. I didn’t think so somehow.

Cat Cultivation


Pinell De Brai, Spain

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Based on a true story.

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  • Naylor
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