Monday, 3 July 2006

Carlo the Kitten

Gosh, haven't written for ten days! Getting lazy again.

A brief recap. Since I last wrote both Jacqueline and my mum have had birthdays. Jacqueline seemed quite depressed about hers, but was cheery enough when I took her out to the Shere Khan. Of course she's already had her main present, the iPod, with which she is still enthralled. Alice's present (not that Alice knew much about it!) was a pair of Bolle sunglasses to replace some that got broken in France. Also, I headed up to Charbonnel et Walker on Bond Street and bought some truffles, just so she had something from me "on the day". As it was, the night before her birthday she was dying for something sweet, so the truffles were opened just a little early!

For my mother, we picked up an excellent little present in France which I'm sure she'll like, although to be honest I was so focussed on Jacqueline's birthday that I posted my mum's cards too late, and she won't get them until the day after...D'oh! Still, she seemed happy enough to get the phone call.

But at least I remembered - I think it must be left over from the holiday, but over the weekend I realised that (i) I'd forgotten to pay the gas bill (I could have sworn I'd paid it before we went away), and (ii) much more importantly I'd forgotted to fill out the VAT return. So, Saturday morning was busy, busy, busy. Still, I caught the morning post and so it will only arrive a day late, which hopefully will stay under their radar. I remember doing it about a week late a few years back and they sent a really snotty "last warning" letter. Since the powers of these people is pretty much limitless its never a good idea to draw attention to yourself.

On the subject of finances, I have been really dropped in it by my accountants, who have filed a return about three months earlier than I told them to. Consequently, I'm going to get the tax bill about three months earlier than I wanted to. Will probably need to borrow against a credit card or something for a couple of months. Really annoying and unnecessary. This is sufficiently major to me that I did consider dropping them, but at the end of the day that is easier said than done, and of course there is a strong aspect of frying pan / fire. I guess the moral of the story is that I can be as efficient as I like, turning documents around on time etc., but I need to make sure I keep hold of them until the last possible moment, i.e. introduce a bottleneck at my end, not rely on them.

Other big news is that we are now a two-cat family once again. He's the kitten I mentioned in my last entry, and we settled finally on the name "Carlo". Alice and Jacqueline picked him up on Saturday morning, and he's a lovely little thing (his photo is on the front page of this site). He seems very adventurous - I'd have thought he'd find a safe hidey-hole upon his introduction to this new environment and sit things out for a while, but not a bit of it. Within minutes he was out playing with Alice and does seem pretty fearless.

Alice, of course, is hyper-excited. She woke up at something before 5am on Saturday, and went into the lounge to watch tv, where I found her dozing when I got up. Of course, she's smothering the poor little thing and while he loves to play with her, when he decides playtime is over she's still there, in his face. She even imprisoned him at one point, and so of course I did a lot of shouting at the weekend. It is one thing for her to be excited, but we can't let the kitten suffer at the expense. Hopefully she will calm down a little shortly, as life starts to get back into a routine.

He was supposedly toilet-trained, but we've seen plenty of evidence to the contrary thus far. Still, at least he's peeing either on towels or on the hard floor of the toilet or bathroom rather than on the carpet. He gave us jip yesterday because he wanted to go outside. We let him, for five minutes, closely supervised, but he's simply too new to be allowed out just yet. The fact that it was 31° yesterday didn't help, and it is very difficult keeping windows closed in this heat, but we must. He's already showing signs of climbing ability - not very confidently just yet but he'll only get stronger.

Maisie, unfortunately, seems to have taken it badly. After an initial meeting when they spent a while sniffing each other out, one of them hissed at the other and that's been the story so far. Maisie has spent most of the time since outside, and indeed even when she's come in, the moment she's seen the kitten she's done a runner back outside. Seems strange that she should be scared, for although she herself is a small cat she is still twice Carlo's size. I went out into the garden and gave Maisie a long fuss last night, just so that she could know that I still think of her as "top cat". Hopefully once we can open windows again, and they both can have freedom to come and go, then the situation will regulate itself. It probably hasn't helped that he spent last night on our bed, which is normally Maisie's territory.

Other news....well, the big thing over the weekend was England being knocked out of the World Cup. My own thoughts were first, that England cannot play 4-5-1 with Rooney as the front man. He needs someone to play off. God knows, even Crouch (of whom I'm not exactly an admirer) would have been better than playing him on his own. This applies especially when half of the midfield had not been performing particularly well. Second, Rooney got himself sent off for a malicious stamp on an opponent. He absolutely deserved to go, and I think once the sending off happened England had no chance of winning the actual match. He may be a skillful player but he really has the brain of an ox. Of course, when it comes to penalties you tend to think it is a bit of a lottery, but England always seem to lose so there must be something more than "chance" that comes into play - certainly whatever skill is required, England don't have it.

Overall impression of the England's WC, then, was five poor performances and not a great deal to take forward. Great individual players simply not gelling as a team. Looking at France, Italy and Germany (all of whom have made the semis), they function well as teams, despite the individual "stars" amongst them.

I should add that my views about Saturday's match don't appear unique, these things are being said in most of the papers at the moment. Both Rooney and Sven are being villified at the moment.

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