Big Al and the Cucumber Cat

Pic from Christina of

Pic from Christina of

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

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 😀

  4. 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.

  5. 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.”

  6. 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?

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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.

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