Posts Tagged ‘Christmas


Catnip fuelled killing spree (bird and mice lovers advisory)

It always annoys me when people moan about cats catching mice and birds as if it’s a lifestyle choice the felines in question have deliberated over, a bit like deciding to introduce the whole family to naturism by serving Sunday lunch in the raw without prior announcement.

Cats are hard-wired to kill; asking them to stop would be like expecting Amy Winehouse to stay sober during a tour of a meths distillery.

The latest hunting trip for my two cats began after they received a Christmas stocking packed full of catnip-stuffed toys from the children. That catnip – a gateway drug if ever there was one.

It was reefer madness in our house over the festive period, the cats periodically returning to the catnip cache to inhale before slumping in front of the PS3 or hanging around by their food bowls with the munchies.

Kitty crack - just say no

Chop me out a line of nip, Felix. I owe you, man.

It was only a matter of time before their supply ran out, the catnip effect dimmed and the cats started to  suffer withdrawal symptoms, forcing them to seek their illicit thrills elsewhere.  Outside, small creatures shivered with dread, although not to the point where any of them relocated to an area where cats fear to tread (their outside toilet, for instance).

The stupidity of small creatures perfectly illustrates Charles Darwin’s theory about the survival of the fittest and proves conclusively that mice don’t have cable TV and therefore have very limited access to Tom and Jerry cartoons for some pointers.

Bored, disaffected and going cold catnip, the cats went hunting, having spent several hours fruitlessly attempting to breach the fish tank.

Half an hour later, the nimbler of the two cats (the one whose stomach doesn’t drag on the ground) returned with a mouse in his jaws and hurried off to what we grandly call ‘the office’, but what is in fact an ice-cold, ugly extension filled with tat, a dartboard, the computer and a carpet held together by candle wax spills and food stains.

He then promptly let it go, at which point it sought refuge behind the computer desk. The cats set up an all-night vigil, then got a bit bored with releasing their inner hunter after about 20 minutes and went to sleep, at which point the mouse escaped to the bathroom.

Initial plans to ‘let the cats finish the job’ were dismissed when the children bonded with the mouse as it watched them go to the toilet.

Yes they harbour all manner of vile diseases, yes they can bite if provoked, yes they leave their droppings everywhere, but the mouse didn’t seem to mind.

Now we have a humane mousetrap in order to lure our rodent lodger into a land of peanut butter, with extremely strict border control on the return journey. The creature is, of course, completely failing to grasp his freedom and is resolutely holed up in my contact lens box.

Just what I need: another member of the household that refuses to do as it’s told. I’ll keep you posted (unless the damn thing attacks, in which case my lackadaisical approach to keeping up to date with my Tetanus jabs may well, like the mouse, come back to bite me on the arse).


My implant hell, or how I spent £7,000 in the name of vanity*

Finally, the wait is over.

After two and a half years of monthly dental treatment, financed by the sale of three kidneys (one each from me and the kids) and a second mortgage, my teeth are now complete.

I now have Tom Cruise’s stature AND his smile, and now must only find myself a Hollywood wife, a Nazi costume and an unshakeable belief that an galactic overlord came to earth 75 million years ago and infected us all with alien juice to complete the metamorphosis.

Despite my anally-retentive dental routine, three years ago I realised that something was rotten in the state of Denmark, namely a tooth towards the back of my mouth which throbbed so insistently that in some ways it became a surrogate wristwatch, marking out the seconds, minutes and hours in which I could neither sleep, eat or speak.

I knew my infected tooth needed immediate attention, but just to make sure my self-diagnosis was correct, I waited another six months to be on the safe side – there’s no point rushing into these things.

By the time I crawled to the dentist, my drug habit dwarfed Pete Doherty’s and my tooth had taken on a life of its own; one that involved causing me as much agony as possible – a bit like Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms album stuck on repeat.

Having finally been forced by those around me to go to the dentist and undergone an appointment where I had ignobly burst into tears and had to be sent home to calm down like an over-emotional schoolgirl, I was finally treated and felt the true glory of a life without pain – right up until the moment I paid the bill.

From then on, it was downhill all the way. My calcium-leeching children had sucked all the goodness from my bones in the womb, leaving practically every tooth as precariously wobbly and unreliable as Britney Spears beside the punch bowl at a playschool barbecue.

The dentist broke it to me gently (at first with pliers and then with a bandsaw) and told me that to sort out my teeth I was going to have to have numerous treatments over several years which would include deep root canal, bone regeneration, surgery, extraction, antibiotics and implants.

I was so shocked that I didn’t even ask why I needed breast surgery. It seemed like the least of my worries.

My plan to have the troublesome tooth treated and then skulk away to my lair, tail between legs and floss between teeth until a check-up that I’d agreed to attend without any real intention of ever doing so, evaporated to dust.

Suddenly, I was spending more time with my dentist than I did with my friends and loved ones, which was a blessing in disguise for my friends and loved ones, because for quite some time, all I could bang on about was my teeth.

In a bid to bring my mouth up to 21st century standards, or even 18th century standards, I have spent around £7,000, with £4,000 of that spent on just four teeth (two implants, two porcelain veneers) – muggers from now on will ignore my wallet (emptied by dentists) and head straight for my gnashers.

I may be in debt for the rest of my life, but at least I can eat an apple. If it’s mashed up. And eaten through a straw.

I think the highlight of my treatment was the removal of an infected tooth without anaesthetic (you can’t anaesthetise infected tissue, as I found out after I’d been strapped to Sweeney Todd’s chair and watched him swallow the key to the door) in a scene reminiscent of the kind of back-street dentistry which went on in Dickens’ day. All that was missing was a match girl freezing to death in the corner and a rat the size of a Jack Russell looking on dispassionately as I stoically bore the pain in the only way I knew how; by screaming like a toddler in a shoe shop.

But it hasn’t all been bad. Very often it’s been bloody awful.

Along the way there’s been blood, sweat, tears, laughter (albeit ironic laughter when my dentist asked me if I was planning any holidays and I told him that I thought this year I’d stick to just paying for his instead) pain, infections and financial ruin. Mainly just the tears, the blood and the bankruptcy, to be honest, but to focus on the positive, I now have enough titanium rods in my mouth to audition for a role as a villain in James Bond.

With hindsight, I am glad that I had the work done and I’m sure that when they’re old enough for me to explain the situation to them, the children will understand why Christmas stopped for them in 2005.

Look on the bright side, I’ll tell them. I had my teeth done on the NHS – if I’d gone private you wouldn’t have any vital organs left.

* Maybe I should have qualified – when I said ‘implants’ I meant teeth, not tits. Sorry if I mislead you. I’m not sorry. But you knew that.

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