Under Black Light

There are downsides to sharing your house with an inordinate number of cats. The first is that while cats give a pretty good impression of thinking like us, that’s all part and parcel of their Domestic Infiltration Strategy. I use a variant on that technique myself – it’s called the Human Race Infiltration Strategy.

The thing that really gets my goat is when they choose to pee on my diary. Yes, choose. This morning one or other of them peed on my fourth 2016 diary, and of course I didn’t spot it straight away. By the time I did spot it my diary, having acted like blotting paper, was soggy with it. Soggy!

I just can’t be bothered with yet again transferring a year’s worth of appointments and birthdays from one to another. Every time I do that somebody gets lost, and it’s awkward to admit to a friend or relative that their birthday isn’t in fact engraved on your memory in giant gothic letters – or maybe it was once but it isn’t now – and please could they remind you?

No doubt it’s grubby and old-ladyish, but today I am just going to dry out my diary in the sunniest place, which happens to be on top of the tumble dryer. Temporarily displacing the tumble-dryer’s cat-bed ‘hat’ shall be my ineffectual revenge. Afterwards I’ll insert the crinkly, dried-out remains of my fourth 2016 diary into a clear plastic sleeve, like they do recipe books.

‘Fluorescent’ seems to be haunting me at the moment. Yesterday I found myself writing about fluorescent sheep, cats and monkeys when I set out to write about my dreams. As it transpired, people seemed less interested in my dreams than in the fluorescent sheep.

Can’t imagine why.

And this morning, in one of my little in medias res compositional dives into the internet, I have discovered that cat pee glows in the dark. Apparently it doesn’t glow enough to be visible to the human eye – though perhaps to the cat eye – but it can be seen under black light. Black light is another name for invisible (ultraviolet/infrared) light – also known as Wood’s Light, after somebody not all that interesting called Wood.

Now I come to think about it, black light is what those super-slim, trouser-suited, wonderfully-coiffured and immaculately lip-glossed forensic ladies must be using in American detective dramas. They go all round the apartment where somebody may have been killed, shining this special light at things. All sorts of things show up: mysterious stains on mattresses; bloodstains on kitchen knives… Probably they’re not looking for cat pee. Not in all that lip-gloss.

Now it makes sense. If I really wanted to get miserable I could buy a Wood’s Light from Amazon and go all round my house looking for five years’ worth of undiscovered cat-whoopsies; except that I can’t justify the expense of a Wood’s Light any more than I can justify the expense of a fifth 2016 diary. Besides, I don’t want one. I really don’t want one. And there’s a certain pleasure in martyrdom.

A second downside of cats – they tend to act out their dreams. We humans can more or less totally disconnect our dreaming minds from our bodies – which is just as well, when you think about it. Cats can’t, or at least not to the same extent. George – poor little George – a disaster even when awake – has just awoken in the middle of a boggart-chasing nightmare of some kind and hurled himself semi-conscious out of his basket, on a teetering pile of boxes next to my computer, narrowly missing my right ear, to land in a confused, head-shaking heap on the floor.

How is a person supposed to compose? I ask myself. Whither goeth the Muse when a black and white cat hurls himself, claws fully extended, past a creative’s right ear in compositional medias res…?

 

103

George, himself

VISITING THE CASTLE

In this courtyard, overborne and

Cramped by shuttered rooms,

The leaded panes grown cataracts of light,

Moss grows between the stones

And a marble fountain plays.

It is small, unremarkable,

Nobody in here to view it, just a sparrow

Thirsting in the furnace of July;

Nobody in here and yet

The bowl is full of coins.

 

Maybe each of us comes alone

And again discovers what queens and princes knew;

Maybe they too, in their moments of distraction,

Trailed their finger-ends beneath the water

And, feeling it cool and simple,

Sighed and threw silver, leaving behind

Battered portraits of their ancestors,

Distorted by refraction

And by motion.

 

I will not throw a coin.

For all their praying, those who threw before

Are no less saved or lost. I would rather just

Recall them, these unknown dreamers, feeling

The benediction in the sun, the wish in the stone,

Their lives and mine

In the sound of

Water falling.