Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In loco parentis

Whilst I have been gainfully occupied pondering the actual gloom of things for artistic purposes – I invoke Sartre merely to amplify the severity of my condition in case there is any Gaulois-induced cloud of a doubt – Barney the owly-cat has engrossed himself in genealogy. Australia kindly offers up a double helping of Who do you think you are? on a weekly basis and, after tearfully following David Baddiel’s valiant effort to be recognised in Golders Green in the cause of history, Barney embarked on a quest to reconnect with his roots. Mercifully, it has temporarily stemmed his loquaciousness.

I would like to think that a television programme might have been required to reacquaint the hypoallergenic one with his origins - we certainly could do with the income – but the names of Barney’s antecedents were in fact right there on the paperwork that came with him in his hermetically-sealed pet pack from California. Pictured above are Barney’s birth parents, Kitty Spears and Septimus Clooney. Locating them was simply a matter of tracking them down to the Denver trailer park (Kitty) and Wyoming animal refuge (Septimus) where they currently reside. Not too difficult as they both had impressive criminal records.

As you can see, they are young, disturbed specimens who clearly would be judged at risk if they were human. Unfortunately for us all DAFT (Department of Animals and Furry Things), is more than happy to turn a blind eye to the origin of hypoallergenic species. Ms Spears has subsequently gained a certain notoriety in her home country. She went on to have a litter of kittens with a rapacious Tom. They were immediately removed by the Church of Scientology and sent on a rocket ship to source a planet where simple-minded religious folk can live free from the persecution of common sense. That was hard news for Barney to take. He’d just discovered a litter of half-siblings only to learn they’d been lost in space. He cheered up a little when I offered to send an email to The Robinsons to ask them to keep a look out.

Worse news was ahead when he researched the Clooney family. Septimus was hounded out of the family barn for refusing to participate in the Hollywood writers’ strike. He tried to explain that he was an owl, as opposed to a writer, but that cut no ice. You were either with the Clooneys or against them. Besides, if he was having a problem writing, he needed to see someone rather than deny his whole being. Septimus declined their offer to pay for a session with Dr Phil and, after a kicking about as an extra on the last Harry Potter film, sought sanctuary at the Owl Alone Refuge.

Discovering that both his parents were outcasts who deliberately rejected him was a severe blow to Barney’s self-esteem but made perfect sense to me. If I’d known what he was like, I wouldn’t have wanted him either. It’s fair to say that both of us have suffered crises of identity in the last couple of weeks. In his short life, Barney has already been shunted from a Silicon Valley GM laboratory to the prospect of a bleak future in Britain testing cosmetics for Body Shop – they’re introducing animal testing to meet the perceived demand by animals for jobs – who’d have guessed? Then he trailed me through India, always fearful for his life. We saw very few cats
and a lot of hungry dogs. We only saw one owl and it appeared to have two heads. Barney didn’t feel at all safe in

It was rather easier to get Barney into Australia than I’d expected. Our plane was on turnaround and customs officials were so concerned to ensure that residents where not taking oversized bottles of sun screen lotion out of the country that it was easy to slip Barney through in his cryogenic state. My heart fluttered a bit when he went through the x-ray machine in his travelling flask and two partially digested Koi were clearly visible, (apologies to Changi Airport – I know they’re quite valuable). As luck would have it, the woman behind was trying to smuggle some baby food onto the plane – the nerve of some people - so the slumbering Barney whizzed through without a fuss.

Barney has actually settled into Noosa better than I thought he would. He has made friends with the kookaburras who he believes to be fellow hybrids. You may recall I previously told him that the kookaburra is an animal that lives underground where it cooks its own gourmet food. Barney has been sniffling at the sizzling delights wafting in on the evening air and has been vociferously polite to the kookaburras in the hope of securing an invitation. He has not been at all put off when they laugh like drains at the suggestion. Plucky little fellow.

When I can muster the patience, I will discuss with him our next move. In the meantime, Barney is happy to pursue his new interest of populating the family tree. I just hope we don’t need to call the fire brigade as I’m not certain our travel insurance covers arbour rescue. I have suggested to him that he might consider penning a misery memoir since the genre is inexplicably popular and Barney has a remarkable capacity for exuding angst no matter what the situation.

Based on his discoveries so far of the makeup of his frankly odious ancestors and his general appearance and demeanour, I very much doubt the public would have any difficulty in believing he had been raised by alcoholic wolves in the slums of Mumbai after being abandoned by his drug-addled, cradle jumping, mixed heritage parents and, after having a kidney stolen, smuggled across the Pacific to a lead-lined vault in Silicon Valley by Captain Jack Sparrow himself where he was groomed to furnish the insatiable cravings of westerners for lifestyle-specific house pets.

Once I’d overcome the guilt I harbour for my own complicity in his wretched little life, which incidentally lasted for several minutes, I suggested a gratuity of ninety-nine per cent of whatever advance he is able to extort from a greedy publisher would be appropriate in compensation for my agreeing to put up with him. Naturally he agreed as both his needs and his mind are simple, and set to work immediately. Happy day. We may have a future after all…


Wisewebwoman said...

The Biography of Barney, Owl-Cat Extraordinaire, fills in a lot of the blanks, dear Pants. His fans have muttered endlessly on parentage and proclivities.
We understand him a little more. And love him.

trousers said...

Absolutely, wisewebwoman, it fills in many blanks. Not only has it increased my understanding, it has also increased my respect - for both of you (though in different ways, I must add).

Oh go on, give him another stroke from me, would you?

Dame Honoria Glossop said...

I look forward to pictures of kookacats, koala cats, owlyroos and other such hybrids.

I played Buster a video of some kookaburras, he is looking forward to making them laugh on the other side of their faces. Not that we get many round Wensleydale.

That's So Pants said...

Hi everyone

Can't for the life of me think why the little bugger is so popular. No accounting for taste.



Buggles Balham High Road said...

Marvellous. Had to use that word but this made me smile with the vivid descriptions.

Lovely images.

That's So Pants said...

Hello Buggles and welcome. Barney does bring out both the best and worst in me I'm afraid.