It reminded me of an episode that happened when I wrote my first novel and it should act as a cautionary tale to those of us who insist on writing down our chapters. maybe we should embrace technology with more confidence, after all, sometimes the unexpected happens...
Like the saying ‘money breeds money’, so does travel. It’s been quite an active year for us on the travel front and on our travels we’ve met a lot of very nice people. We encountered two such nice people on a trip to Mallorca earlier in the year. We hit it off with them and they invited us back to their villa for a meal. A friendship developed which resulted in a phone call last month with a strange request. As we are retired (i.e. bored and have nothing to do) would there be any possibility that we could leave the (Y)UK in October for a few days and come and stay at their beautiful villa, complete with swimming pool, ornamental Koi fish pond with tinkling fountain to look after their cat while they hopped off to visit relatives?
Apparently the cat hates people normally but because it hadn’t jumped on us, hissing and spitting, when we visited them, they thought we’d be suitable carers. What leave cold windy Blighty for a few days to go to warm, sunny, cheery Mallorca? It was a ‘no brainer’. I booked the flights faster than you could say "Here Kitty, Kitty!"
Among the t-shirts, sunglasses and shorts was my large 'Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines' notebook because as you know, I have been working on this book for months and I was almost at the end. I only required a few days of peace, with no distractions, to complete it. Nothing like, sea, sun and San Miguels for inspiration, I decided.
We were greeted by the owners who were just about to leave for the airport. We were hurriedly shown around and told about ‘Sammo’ who was hiding somewhere, no doubt sulking.
"He’s no trouble. He doesn’t much like to hang around people. This is the number for the vet if he gets sick and give him one of these each evening for his tea," said the owner holding up an enormous sardine from a can. It looked more like a small sea bass. The owners left and immediately Sammo emerged; more like ‘Sumo’ than Sammo.
It was the largest cat I’ve ever seen. It strode up to us, meowed then trailed its tail around our legs. It seemed surprisingly friendly. Now, I need to mention here that although I like cats, I am in fact allergic to them. I knew Sammo was independent and lived outside so I thought I’d be okay. Hubby promised to do most of the looking after him anyway but ‘Sumo’ had other ideas. He adored me from the start. Cats seem to know that you are allergic and when you can’t be near them.
I set up camp to start writing outside on the sun beds. First, he sat under my sun bed making my nose itch, then he sat on the foot of my sun bed making me itch all over and making my eyes stream. Then he cheerfully launched himself onto my stomach, causing me to be winded and then sneeze furiously. Hubby tried to encourage him to leave me alone but Sumo hissed at him and wrapped his tail protectively around me each time I tried to get up and scurry back into the villa. He was a nice cat though and each morning he serenaded me with happy meows, hissing periodically at Hubby. There was no doubt I had a small fan, or even a small stalker. I gave up going outside. It was impossible. Sammo sat on me purring whenever I attempted to sit by the pool. He watched my every move from his position on the kitchen window ledge where he had difficulty in sitting due to his enormous size. He pressed his nose up against the window and gazed fondly at me, watching me write at the kitchen table.
Sammo accompanied me to the car when I finally exited to buy groceries and waited in the driveway for me to return, purring loudly and tripping me up as I got out of the car. He came for evening walks up the road and walked me to the house, where he would sit and watch me intently through the window while I wrote and Hubby watched television. He refused to leave my sight. At night he would sing to me under the bedroom window making Hubby grimace and put in ear plugs.
Two weeks later the book was finished. The final afternoon I sat outside and put up with Sammo trying to sit on my knees, stomach and head as I put the finishing touches to the work. At last it was done. Sammo sat back and surveyed me suspiciously as Hubby brought out a celebratory bottle of Cava. The book was finished. Hurray! I just needed to type it up.
We celebrated in the kitchen since Sammo would no doubt try and get into my glass of fizz if we sat outside. Just as I glugged down the second glass, I realised I’d left my notebook outside. I went off to get it, not tripping over the cat for once and then I realised why he wasn’t there. He was busy chasing bits of my newly clawed and ripped up notebook all over the patio and several freshly chewed pages were floating in the swimming pool.
So, all my final chapters are a soggy chlorine mess of kitty litter. I guess it will save a literary agent from doing the same thing and binning it.
One more thing. Apparently we should have given Sammo the whole tin of sardines not just one sardine each evening. As a result the Koi pond was depleted of stock. Hubby and I have been asked to look after an ageing dog in France soon. I’m taking my laptop this time and no, I’m not allergic to dogs.