Wouldn’t you know it? I’ve finally got all the onerous administrative details relating to the passage of Barney, my hypoallergenic owly-cat (cat-owl cross) to
and convinced Barney that he would be better off with someone like me, who has always accepted him for the freak, I mean unique individual that he is, than take his chances scavenging from his hideout in the loft. Believe me I’ve more rewarding tasks parked in the in-tray. Australia
Now, Barney is having second thoughts. More about that in a minute.The original sticking point, you may recall, was that the Department for Animals and Furry Things (DAFT) and I couldn’t agree on a classification for Barney and he faced a possible six years in quarantine. I solved that problem by having him reclassified as an Interactive Bagpuss in which case I only need an export/import licence. Barney did not take the ‘bad’ news that he would have to carry my pyjamas for the duration of the flight well but grudgingly accepted my assurances of a ‘better life’. My only other obligation is to sign a declaration that I will not commercially reproduce him. As if.
It was no mean feat talking the stubborn bugger around. He embodies all the worst qualities of a cat (sleeping through my entire, meticulously constructed arguments) with those of an owl (not giving a hoot about anyone but himself). As it turns out, I won him over by appealing to those very qualities and by, well, several audacious lies. You see, I have ‘explained’ to Barney that Australia is full of hybrids like himself and that they are so common there’s even a name for them. We call them Marsupials. He was anxious to discover the etymology of the name which had me kind of stumped until I came up with this flash of brilliance. ‘It’s an Aboriginal word meaning belongs here.’ I had to look away as his peculiarly glacial eyes misted over. Needs must.
Barney, being no one’s fool, demanded some proof – cat curiosity mixed with owl cynicism. What can you do? But I’m used to his foibles and machinations now so I was ready for him. Reaching for my trusty copy of Life of Marsupials, I opened it at the page marked Wombat. ‘The wombat’, I explained authoritatively, ‘is a Womble crossed with a bat.’ Well, The Wombles of Wimbledon is one of Barney’s favourite TV shows and, although he maintains a healthy distrust of bats, as do we all, he firmly believes that creatures of the night owe each other solidarity at least. I further regaled him with tales of the kookaburra – an animal that cooks its own food underground and the wallaby – an ambitious mix of walrus and honey bee. By the end of this seminar, Barney was searching the sewing basket for a suitable zip for his stomach.
Then, disaster. It was probably a bad idea to encourage Barney to go online to further research his new home but, frankly, the constant interrogation was all getting a bit much. Unfortunately, on one of his forays, Barney came across an article in the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that the city council has advised citizens to keep a survival pack which it has dubbed a Go Bag in permanent readiness should a state of emergency suddenly occur.
I tried to reassure Barney that ‘a state of emergency’ in
is when you find yourself stranded in a street without a decent cappuccino outlet but the damage had been done. Worst of all was the advice that you should ‘carry your cat in a pillow case’. I’m afraid now all my hard work has been undone. I am bracing myself for the eventuality of having to carry my own pyjamas on the long, lonely journey… Sydney
Pic of GoBag from Sydney Morning Herald Rag