Monday, December 12, 2011

A Hot-Water Squirrel

As always, Shakespeare puts it perfectly:
"How easy," says Theseus, in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', "is a bush supposed a bear".
Does that sound familiar? It does to me. It brings back times when, hurrying home on a dark night, shadows can take on unexpected forms. Times when a rustle, unnoticed by daylight, is suddenly menacing.
Nor is this tendency for self-delusion limited to foolish humans. Chloe, my cat, has started to display an over-active imagination . . . and it's causing problems.

In her case, it's not a simple question of confusing bushes with bears, more a troubling case of mistaking an innocent hot-water bottle for a squirrel.

None of my previous cats had this problem. On the contrary, diverse as their characters were in many ways, they all appreciated a hot-water bottle for the comfort it offered.
But Chloe, influenced, perhaps, by the daily thrill of chasing squirrels in the garden, sees things very differently!

Is it, I wonder, the warmth of the hot-water bottle . . . the flexibility of the rubber . . . the gurgle of the water inside . . . the furriness of the cover? I wish I knew. All that can be said with certainty is that, to Chloe, the sight of a hot-water bottle is every bit as potent as the proverbial red rag to a bull.

My inoffensive bottle was minding its own business at the bottom of the bed when Chloe first became conscious of the warmth. She then detected the bulge. With all the enthusiasm and fighting spirit of her tiger ancestors, she dragged this intruder from between the sheets and went straight for its jugular. When I finally managed to rescue her mauled victim, it seemed best to bury it beneath a cushion on the bedroom chair.

I'd reckoned without Chloe's tenacity. Within minutes, she'd unearthed her prey and was dragging it triumphantly around the flat. For its own safety, and to prevent it from being punctured, the long-suffering hot-water bottle had to be confined to a drawer.

I was left with a problem: how to warm the bed in the depths of winter?
A cunning plan is now in force. An hour before I go to bed the bottle is placed between the sheets, the door to the bedroom is then firmly closed. On going to bed, the hot-water bottle is discretely removed and secreted from the room without a keen-eyed Chloe catching sight of these operational tactics. The bottle then spends the night hidden deep beneath a pile of towels in the bathroom.

It's true that Chloe's warm body, curled up beside me under the covers, acts every bit as efficiently for my middle regions as the missing hot-water bottle . . . although this doesn't solve the problem of chilly feet.

I'm sorry, forget that I mentioned my cold feet . . . it's not a thought to leave you with at Christmas.
Instead, let's follow Chloe's example and go in search of angels. Contrary to appearances, this beautiful, seasonal angel is completely safe. Whilst anyone might be forgiven for mistaking a bush for a bear, not even Chloe's wishful thinking could mistake a crystal angel for a squirrel!