The small blonde boy beamed beatifically at me as I brandished his snack.
I was a little out of breath. Mainly because with four minutes to go, I had locked myself out of my house in which were my car keys, and had unwisely chosen my husbands decrepit old bike, a gearless brakeless wonder on which to career chaotically down to the school gate.
I wheezed, “Hello, Al!”
My five-year old nephew takes his aunt’s shortcomings in his stride. He ran over and hugged me with gusto, and I took his hand and we walked out into the school playground.
He had an empty orange juice carton. He followed me obediently to the bin. “Go on, Al, pop it in there…” I said. But Al was not to be moved. “Mummy says I must put it in my packed lunch box,” he instructed me sagely. And with the air of a gangster money-launderer opening a case of bank notes, he unzipped his diminutive packed lunch box and slipped the treasured carton inside with infinite care.
The bin tried hard not to look offended.
But Al did not notice, for we were trundling off on our way to collect the others: his sisters, and my son, his cousin, Felix. We acquired them effortlessly and then, as I trailed off up the path for home, I remembered that I couldn’t get in, because I didn’t have any keys.
I experienced fleeting panic as I pictured the five of us wandering the streets in sub-zero temperatures, a Victorian style waif and her little strays, calling passers-by Mister and asking if they could spare any coppers.
But there were a few hopes between myself and destitution: two keys.One at my mother in law’s house up the road; the other across town with my mother.
A call to my long-suffering mother brought her hurtling across town as we neared my front door.
If had expected the children to moan and grumble their way home, my expectations were confounded. They chattered and laughed, and as we approached our road the local strumpet-cat, a long haired moggie, walked over to us and began a complicated routine involving rolling comically on the floor to encourage tummy scratching, and then getting up and charging off when we attempted to oblige, before rolling once more on the dusty pavement.
Al was in stitches. “Look, Auntie Kate, that cat is like a cucumber! It’s a cucumber cat!”
And it did indeed, roll and yaw with all the grace of a cucumber on the deck of an old sailing ship. If such a thing ever existed.
The cat led us, rolling and yawing, all the way to out front door, where we watched as my mother drew up in her car with my front door key. Strumpet-cat gave way to the black wraith who haunts our doorstep, the Shrewsday shadow, Clive Bond.
“Hello, Bond!” the little boy said affably, and the cat began to dematerialise wisely away onto a high shelf. Al could still reach his tail, though. I put my arm round Al and spoke close to his ear. “No, Al,” I said. “I think Clive Bond needs some sp…. sp…..”
It’s a trick I have. Start the word off – in this case, ‘space’ – and the child finishes it off, demonstrating that they have properly understood the situation. Clive Bonds needs his personal space.
Al finished triumphantly: “Spaghetti!”
Clive sat there, gazing with his gravid green eyes, indicating fervently that the last thing he needed on God’s own earth was a bowl of personal spaghetti.
I took the little boy by the hand, and led him away from the cucumber moggie and the spaghetti-eating cat, towards a drink and a snack of his own.
45 thoughts on “Big Al and the Cucumber Cat”
All’s well that ends with Al well and safe
Quite. He survived the experience to commune with cats another day.
And the cat survived to be kind another day
spaghetti… he is a cutiepie Kate 🙂
He is master of the one-liner, Jas!
He’s got an imagination … “cucumber”
I know, the picture did make me chortle, Jamie 🙂
Spanners, sparkle, sparrows, spam, speech therapy or spending money. Clive may well be frustrated by the lack of understanding of his real needs.
Perhaps I should invest in an interpreter.
I’m never sure myself whether I need space or spaghetti more so perhaps Al is onto something. 🙂
Decisions, decisions….spaghetti, space, space, spaghetti….
Another lovely tale. You are too funny – a Victorian style waif and her little strays – mind you with the cold weather we’ve had this week, your choice of analogy doesn’t surprise me. I was alone in the house with the Little Chap on Monday, as Mayfair Dad was travelling for work. The heating was on full pelt but with the wind whipping round the house (I swear it was trying to get in!), everywhere still felt cold and shivery. Goodness knows how people survived winter nights like that without central heating – must be why they wore so many clothes!
I know – I always feel like even moving is an effort on days like that, MM!
I’m sure spaghetti would have gone well after all the exercise 😉 very entertaining, very English read Kate.
Thanks, Gabrielle. Must rustle up some spaghetti one day soon.
Close enough…. 🙂
Phew! All’s well that ends well. I’ll have an image of a cucumber cat all this day long, Kate – and a taste for spaghetti. Glad your mom came to the rescue and all arrived home safe and sound.
So am I! I don’t know what I would have done if she had not turned up!
Your mum is a life saver! Glad you could get indoors and out of the cold 🙂
She is, and so am I, Tandy…it was raw out there!
Lovely . . . and so wonderful that the rubbish bin did its best not to look offended. That might have been off putting for Al.
Your missive reminds me that we should provide someone with the key to our place . . . just in case they need to get in to give Tigger a plate of spaghetti. 😀
Good idea, Nancy. You never know the day or the hour…and it’s best to be prepared.
I wonder what Clive Bond would make of spaghetti? Big Al may be onto something…… 🙂
How is your mom? You haven’t mentioned her in a while, and I hope that means she is fully recovered.
She is much, much better, Andra, and has just got her license back so she is experiecing the freedom and independence that goes with that. Thanks for asking!
What a wonderful visual – asking passersby’s for coppers. we too have a cucumber cat named Jewels or jewelsy if you are 5.
Jewelsy. What a classc name, Chris 😀
“Spaghetti”! Didn’t see that one coming. I like the way Big Al thinks. Very John Lennon-like.
Lateral in the extreme, Lame…
You don’t want to know what Rover has to say on the subject… 🙂
My imagination os now filling in the gaps 😀
Big chuckle on the “spaghetti.” Life’s never dull with a quick-witted child around.
We once had a cat like the “cucumber”; ours was dubbed “meatloaf.”
Great name, PT 😀
Big Al is on the money….once again.
How does he do it, Lou?
Lovely! However, I am still left wondering about the fate of the bike through all of this. Was your means of arrival seen and commented upon? What then happened to it? Wheeled or ridden home?
It’s in my sister’s back garden just behind the school, Col. I can’t face rescuing it just yet 😀
Looking forward now to a post on how you manage to master the art of changing gears without doing yourself an injury…
This whole effort from beginning to end is just a wonderful story. I’m sorry for all the inconveniences to you, but somehow I sense this was an adventure. You really took us all along with you and I enjoyed every moment. I love Al’s interpretation of the events and your one word warning–space OR spaghetti! I like how Al’s mind works! I hope you can now aim towards some rest this coming weekend…being so tired probably did start the whole thing, and you don’t need too many of these adventures! 🙂
He is such a cutie!
Why must the juice box go in the lunch box? To prove he drank it?
Some of my best stories come from walks to and from school. I loved that time with my boys. I was stopped the other day by someone who remembers me walking past her house every day, practising spellings and times tables with my children – at least six years ago 🙂
Just to clarify – not homework done at the last minute, but a useful period to concentrate their minds.
Al is adorable….and smart 🙂 Was he impressed with your bike adventure?
“A call to my long-suffering mother brought her hurtling across town” – good to hear that, Kate.
I’m glad your travels ended well, Kate. I did have a cat, Tumbleweed, who loved spaghetti. If it includes anchovies, I’m betting Clive Bond woud lap it up. 🙂
Oh, Al… too much! And the Cucumber Cat? Another title for Al’s children’s book-series, penned by Auntie Kate.
One day, Cameron. One day.