Thursday, November 15, 2007

Talk to the claw


The Maharajah of Katpur by Michael Weigall 1986


My neighbours moved out today. You can't imagine what a relief that was - not I hasten to add because I didn't like them, far from it - but because they and I have been on exactly the same sales trajectory with our properties for the last 15 months. We had the same mendacious landlord and the same sweet but slightly off-the-ball lawyer. That they completed today makes me believe it is possible.

I've spent the better part of this week trying to fit the vast amount of information required by the High Commission of India onto its one page visa form. I've printed out half a dozen so I can keep practising my miniature calligraphy with the aid of a philatelist's magnifying glass. I hope to be able to make my final submission next week. I've already been subjected to one major scare over this when the High Commission shut down its Special Delivery postal service for a time. I had heard this was the only reliable way to get yourself a tourist visa other than to start queuing immediately after you stopped queuing for Wimbledon. You'd roughly the same chance of success as well, so I'm told.

Barney, my hypoallergenic owly-cat is yet another complication in my plan to spend a month unwinding in India on the way back to my final resting place in Australia. When I sifted through the dozen boxes that had been in the loft for the last eleven years, I came across eight of the extraordinary Cat Empire postcards I'd loved and collected in the 80s. To me, they're just very clever dressing up photos of a very compliant cat who may or may not have been assisted by the powerful sedative Moggydon, incidentally the drug I intended to use to knock Barney out for the time it took me to regain my peace of mind.

Unsurprisingly, Barney perceived these found artefacts quite differently. And they say relationships with men are difficult. In short, a messiah paid a personal visit and the repercussions are still being felt at House of Pants. Never mind my entreaties that the 'Maharajah' to my certain knowledge was an (admittedly talented) alley cat from London called Merlin who operated under at least fourteen other aliases. I admit, out of sheer frustration, I screamed at my ludicrously expensive hybrid pet and that is wrong. I apologise in advance of a delegation arriving from the RSPCA's GenMod Team.

However, those damn pearls are so blatantly fake. I know this because I have a set of real pearls and they do not look like that. I showed them to Barney and he bit them. This is where I totally lost my rag. I shrieked, 'that's diamonds, you fuckwit.' What do you think Barney did? He sunk his big owl beak into my sodding finger, that's what. The small diamond thereupon is unaffected, proving my point. However, I suspect it will be quite difficult for me to play a flattened ninth chord for the forseeable future.

I had hoped that after all the trouble to have Barney classified as an interactive Bagpuss by D.A.F.T. (Department of Animals and Furry Things), I could just pop him in the top of my backpack with the zipper slightly open and no one at the border would be the wiser. I assumed they'd be so busy scanning the microscopic writing on my visa, they might not notice that my backpack was making its own way to the taxi rank.

The problem, as I've explained exhaustively in the past, is that Barney is not the ideal combination of owl and cat. For example, a cat sleeps twenty-three hours a day. What a blessing that must be for its lucky owners. Barney keeps owl hours which means he's on the internet all night gathering all sorts of misinformation. Having discovered the Cat Empire has its own national orchestra, there is no dissuading Barney that it has about as much global relevancy as UKIP. No biggy. It just means that we have to make a slight detour to Katpur to pay our homage to the 'Maharajah'. I can live with that if it means the little guy has something to tell his genome inheritors.

Fake pearls notwithstanding, you have to admit that Merlin (undoubtedly now deceased as this photo is over twenty years old), is rather elegantly attired. Barney has been at me to post an Elegantly Dressed Wednesday image that reflects his 'community' for some time. Until he came into my life, I had no idea that cultural diversity could embrace such a broad church, as it were. I'd like to be able to tell you that I feel enriched by the exposure to new points of view but when I continuously spend the early hours of the morning resetting all the spam filters on our shared computer after Barney has spent the night googling the words 'pussy' and 'lick', I'm afraid my natural inclination to tolerance quite deserts me.

Anyway, he's sulking now after our tiff. He's hardly touched his smoked salmon roulade with cream cheese cake dessert. Slowly but surely, we inch towards destiny, however hideous it might turn out to be...

30 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

it sounds like you're drifting to Australia via the sub-continent Pants? What of poor Barney? Have you conferred with him? Consulted on the itinerary?
Congrats on the poetry, how awesome!

Always good words from you Pants.
XO
WWW

That's so pants said...

Hi WWW

Confurred? I've had nothing but confurences with the test-tube tyrant since I spent the best part of a year's salary on him. If we make it through India without one of us ending up barbecued, I'll consider that a result.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

I forget which station it was, but I was waiting on a platform with a few backpackers for an overnight train in India. An Indian strolled up and got chummy with us, he sat among us in the carriage and continued his charming ways. Late at night as we got sleepy he said the light was keeping him awake, so he removed the globe. The next morning half our stuff was missing and so was he. I lost a Pentax SLR camera with a half-exposed roll of film in it. That's what I'd strangle him for; the lost photos.

That's so pants said...

And this is why someone invented travel insurance RH. The moral of the story is - sleep with the light on or risk losing your holiday memories.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Well I was travelling overland from London and still had rolls of film I'd shot along the way, but lost all my Indian photos, plus a few taken in Pakistan. He'd slit open our luggage with a razor blade, or a knife.
For thievery (and conmen), India was the worst country I travelled through, except for Yugoslavia where they pinched the helmet off my motorbike, and then the bike itself -which I got back.

That's so pants said...

Hi RH

I presume you're talking about the 70s or early 80s. If I'm wrong about this my whole theory is going to crash and burn. I didn't travel all that much in the 80s - only to go on holiday. I did go to Spain, France and Italy a few times in those years and, certainly when I was in cities, I kept everything very close. I'd heard of people being knocked down by motorbikes and having their backpacks stolen and being sprayed with some kind of airborne Mickey Finn on overnight trains.

By the time I started to solo travel in the late 80s/early 90s, things had changed a lot. I don't know quite why but the whole nature of opportunistic crime has changed. Maybe it's because, even in the poorest countries, travellers' goods don't bring in the return. Items like cameras are a lot cheaper than they were 20+ years ago and a new model has come out even before you've stepped on the plane.

The last time I was in Italy a couple of years ago, I left my whole backpack on the beach at Lido in Venice while I went for a swim. No one even looked like going anywhere near it.

I did get ripped off last year in Istanbul and I was mad with myself because I fell for the big note/small note switch in a taxi.

The only reason it happened was that I'd lost my debit card earlier in the day (it was later recovered and returned to me unharmed) and I was not as on the ball as I should have been. I knew exactly how to avoid being caught by that trick and I forgot to do it. It wasn't a huge deal - it meant I ended up paying about £15/AUS$35 for a ride that should have cost £5/AUS$12.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

It was the seventies and I was a square on the hippy trail, freakishly non-cool. I bought a motorbike in Copenhagen -a two stroke thing called Trophy, or "MZ", and possessing a large map of the world thought I could just leisurely putter my way back to Australia, but it ended in Afghanistan. Meanwhile I'd got done on the street in Istanbul by a sleight-of-hand money-changer offering more than the banks, and almost fell for it again while admiring a church in Plovdiv, then later on I shit myself in Rangoon when we wanted to trade but suddenly decided the dealer was an undercover agent. But the best one was in Calcutta when me and a pom were invited to a cafe by a yank and an Indian who offered us cash for all our travellers cheques. They had a good story about why they wanted to pay us a nice sum in American dollars which was way above the cheques' value. Well it happened that my cheques were in the safe back at our cockroach lodgings, so we arranged to meet this pair same place next day -not really hot on the idea, but greedy for the dough all the same, but when we told our Indian maitre in his cockroach castle about it he had a huge laugh for a while and said yes, it's American dollars alright boys, but it's counterfeit.

trousers said...

As regards the wonderful singularity of cats: I read this the other day and it's still making me giggle:

http://tinyurl.com/2j7xtx

That's so pants said...

Hi RH

People are still falling for those currency scams. At least you admitted it was motivated by greed. I was in Russia (years ago in the communist days) and people were getting ripped off on the black market left, right and centre.

I thought what's the point? There was very little to buy at the time and food, drink, transport and entertainment were so cheap, it seemed entirely disingenuous to be even thinking about trying to get a better deal on a few quid's worth of rubles.

Being cheated when you're not on the make is an entirely different matter however. I screamed at the taxi driver and told him he was bringing disrepute upon his profession in no uncertain terms. I gave him the money though because it wasn't worth getting into an argument when I had a boat to catch. It was my word against his, after all.

Hi Trews

Thanks. You might like to enjoy some of the other Barney posts. I intend to finally getting around to doing the labels sometime this evening...

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Yes and not all Arabs fear Allah, I abandoned a taxi in Kabul on my way to somewhere when it passed the same distant tower on my right for the third time.
This was a town overflowing with American hippies (Love Peace Humanity) come there to smoke hashish, and where eight year-old Afghan kids sold it in the streets.

That's so pants said...

Ah, those were the days eh?

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

These are days thirty years later when beaded braided American poseurs dragging their hippy act all over Europe and Asia are reaching the end of high-paid careers in giant corporations; this is the happy non-hippy end for privileged educated middle class snobs who in sandals and cheese cloth once took vacation from Colombus and Berkeley to lounge beside famous European monuments in the hope a photographer from Time might happen by. These were princes and princesses from America slumming it as paupers all the way from Istanbul to Afghanistan taking over a whole section of Kabul to smoke dope. Rich foreigners. Middle-class kids, standing outside American Express trying to flog off wrist watches and semi-precious baubles for a few more days in fuck paradise. These were fakes, poseurs, play actors "Peace, man" the meanest most tight-fisted bastards I've ever known.

That's so pants said...

Ah, the nostalgia

R.H. said...

Right on.

That's so pants said...

Righty-ho

R.H. said...

"Ya gotta hassle."

I'm sorry to annoy your readers, but I'd like to say one more thing; Americans are good, no more stupid than anyone. But the Hippy culture was empty, nothing came from it -no art, nothing. It was inward, material, self-obsessed that's all. During a delay at the Turkey-Iran border, Mt Ararat got a glance from one or two, that's all, and in Trabzon the Black Sea was ignored; the scramble was to get to Kabul and smoke dope. I was on a bus with a group of them, these flower children, we all having been refused entry to Iran without a visa. Trabzon -way up north, was the nearest place to get one.
It was a long adventure, there and back (with lots of "Hey, man"), but I only want to make one point. On the way there I found myself broke, and a longhair paid my expenses until I could cash a cheque, which would be in Trabzon. But I'd stupidly got my cheques in British Sterling, and the Trabzon bank rejected them. When I told this to my yankee creditor, who was waiting outside, he went back in with me -and harrangued, and pleaded, and almost screamed the place down, until they crumbled and cashed a cheque. It was a hell of a performance, I was impressed. But soon as we got outside, he was calm. "Ya gotta hassle." That's all he said. And it's true. -Enormously true; the one good thing I ever learned from a Hippy.

That's so pants said...

Don't worry RH - no one reads me any more...

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Is that so. Well I'll never have that problem, when I take over this jackass country reading me will be compulsory.

That's so pants said...

Oh glee...

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Well hey, why grumble? You've got twenty comments here, including one or two from me: RH, most controversial commentor in this entire racket! Controversial? Wooh! You bet! Banned sixteen times, that's all! And by top people!
Listen, when you come here I'm taking you to meet Miss Brownie and Miss Copperwitch. How's that. Start up a blog together, the three of you. What an event. Explosive? Oh my goodness, like an atom bomb in a bedsit.

R.H. said...

Behave.

Or I'll start my travelogue all over again.

That's so pants said...

RH

You're making me look good here.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Enjoy it. Tomorrow I start charging.

That's so pants said...

The words 'milked' and 'for all it's worth' spring to mind.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

What's a cow worth -or a sheep, plenty. A human being is worth seventy-five cents. Why else do you think lamb chops are so expensive?

R.H. said...

Sorry, daylight here. I have to go to bed now.

That's so pants said...

Goodnight Batman

Helena said...

Miss Brownie ... another old Hippie. Not Kabul, but Kings Cross.

the bat sleeps come dawn.
nosferatau

Reading the Signs said...

I was going to say something to Barney but got diverted en route. r.h. - don't bogart this thread, man. Drop in, turn on, tune out.

That's so pants said...

Hello Helena

You know you and your hallucinations are always welcome. I have to tell you that Barney is a bit spooked though. Now that he is preoccupied watching old episodes of Springwatch, I can reveal that situation gives me no small pleasure.

Hi Signs

Please DO NOT encourage either of them. I'm already thinking that RH might be an alter-ego of Barney's.

xxx

Pants