Captain Stinkypants

In an effort to make our long-awaited holiday as relaxing as possible,  I decide to book a cab to take us to the airport. There is a huge palaver when one company agrees the fare, I pay over the phone with my card and they then decide they have quoted me the wrong fare. “It was a trainee” the woman explains, sounding peeved. I explain this does not look very professional and may have a negative impact on how I view their company but she is cheerfully unrepentant. I then use the same cab website to book the same trip but with another company. I am offered another good fare online and go to pay but the site rejects my card. It also rejects a credit card. Almost immediately I receive an automated call from the bank who are checking whether my card has been used fraudulently or not. I answer all the questions successfully and it tells me to go back to the website and I will be able to pay. I input all the information again only for my card to be rejected again.

 I phone the bank to ask what is going on and they tell me it may take a while for things to filter through the system but that I should probably phone the cab company and book it that way. While I am talking to the bank, the credit card company phones to go through fraud procedures with them. I tell them to call back later. I have a cab to book. I phone the cab company I have chosen from the web and ask to book the trip. They do not take card payments. I explain what has happened on the website and the helpful man tells me that I will almost certainly be barred from making card payments with cab companies the length and breadth of the country as it will be flagged up with the cab company police (or something similar). At this point, I decide I will book my cab another day.

On the day we fly, the cab arrives on time with a very pleasant driver. On the way to the airport, he tells us he is exhausted and has been driving for over 10 hours. This doesn’t inspire confidence but we arrive safe and sound. At the airport, we play the ‘wonder who is going where we’re going?’ game. The flight is quite busy but we’re given seats together. Behind us is a small child with his parents. Dubbed ‘Captain Stinkypants’ by me, he manages to emit a smell like an over-ripe piece of Stilton. I apologise if any of you privately use this epithet to describe yourself or one of your loved ones but this boy is an outright winner. He has great skills in seepage, that’s all I am going to say.

The woman in front of me appears to have some kind of fit whilst watched over anxiously by her partner. I realise she is frightened of flying when she starts shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. I feel sorry for her and watch as they try to quell her fears by consuming large amounts of wine. By the time we land, she is unconscious and her partner carefully folds her tray table away so as not to wake her. Alas, landing wakes her whereupon she unleashes a torrent of abuse on him, shouting and berating him so I feel much less sorry for her.

We are whisked off the plane, put onto a bus and then passed through passport control at lightning speed without so much as a cursory glance at our passports. Given that I look like a female member of a Russian mafia gang in my passport (a photograph taken when I had very little hair), I am surprised I am not hauled off for intimate inspection just on the basis of it. Again, we size up our companions to see who is going to the same hotel as us. Captain Stinkypants? No, he is not on the same bus which, given the heat of the night is something of a relief. As it happens, none of our travelling companions are headed for the same hotel. We are on our own.

Bunty’s Lament

Last week was the first opportunity we had had to get away for a proper break. Since diagnosis for Inflammatory breast cancer in March 2012, it has been hard if not impossible to find time, energy, money and absence of appointments to organise something, so last week was something of a first. The first break since diagnosis. It’s a big deal and it felt strange. Unable to do the normal things, I felt frustrated and quite emotional at times. This post active treatment phase is also a strange time, dealing with submerged emotions that rise out of the water like icebergs, ready to sink my Titanic.

Coming home is a bittersweet experience. Sweet because home is somewhere I actively enjoy spending time and bitter – well, the end of a holiday is always a little sad, I think. But sadness doesn’t adequately describe the emotions apparently felt by our youngest cat, Bunty. We arrive with bags, Dog and exhaustion and she greets us with shouting and much getting under our feet. She has put on weight. Is this comfort eating, we wonder? She accompanies me everywhere. If I go to the toilet, she sits outside and waits for me before escorting me elsewhere. At night, she is a positive danger as she weaves her way in and out of my legs. She will not be separated from me and sleeps on me at night, claiming me for her own. We have never left her without a human in the house before. She has Freya for company but Bunty has issues with Freya and will not speak to her. She had a human coming in at least once a day to check up on her but I imagine her, wan and listless, looking out of the window, sharpening her claws and wondering exactly when we would be home, shunning the substitute human as inferior. This is the cat who lashes her tail if you stop scratching her head and who bites the hand that feeds her if it strokes her too much. The cat who launches herself at Dog with alarming regularity like a small, furry Kamikaze so one feels sorry for him as he cries and runs away from her. The cat who was found in a cavity wall in Putney and has reduced our wooden bed to resemble something eaten by termites by continual claw-sharpening. It is quite touching to see a heart does beat beneath her furry exterior. She is a little devil and we are clearly here to serve her. Or so she thinks.