Saturday, 28 July 2007

I've been driving all night, my hand's wet on the wheel


Listening to: nothing (lost the iPod)
Eating: Lamb Chana
Trying: to catch up on sleep

Nearly there. . . the van stage of the move north is over - thank God. It's not that I have anything against Renault or the French motor industry in any way, but if I have to sit in the cab of one of those big vans again I swear I'll do murder.

I have new-found respect for long-distance lorry drivers. After 2,200 miles I started developing the goods transport equivalent of bed sores. My friends and my mother had been queueing up to tell me I couldn't possibly do two trips to the Orkneys in nine days, but it's done and the wreckage that once was me is now recuperating at the home of my dear friends Mr and Mrs W, girding my loins (?) for the final journey to Orkney on Monday, this time in Lennox the Land Rover Discovery.

Hard work it might have been, but the move is going really rather well. Beds, chairs, wardrobes, dogs, settees, father-in-law, bedding, garden tools, and so on are all safely on Westray.

The greatest achievement in my mind was - apart from not falling asleep at the wheel - getting Trevor up there.

Trevor is my wife Sally's cat and he doesn't do cars, to put it mildly. When Sal and I got married a few years ago, Trev was part of the move from her house in Wolverhampton to mine in Shrewsbury.

He set off down the M54 on my stepson's lap and proceeded to scratch, bite, kick, butt and complain generally. It was when he simultaneously vomited and had diarrhoea over Patrick's trousers that Sal decided it was time to pull over onto the hard shoulder.

At that point, Trev saw his chance and made a break for freedom, diving into the undergrowth and heading for the general direction of Shifnal. Half-an-hour's coaxing and food-tin rattling later left the feline Steve McQueen cornered and he gave in, abandoning the motorbike in the barbed wire and settling for a life with three dogs instead.

So as the move to Westray loomed, there was a certain amount of fretting about Trev's future. A 12-hour drive followed by two ferries seemed out of the question for a cat who had gone completely Whiskas on the 30-minute shuttle from Wolverhampton

Could we sedate him somehow? No, said Sal's niece - a nurse at the local vet's. A small dose for a short journey perhaps, but not for hiking all the way to the far north.

Sal kind of settled for the idea that Trev would have to be rehomed, but where exactly? Friends and relatives had almost all reached maximum feline capability and the trip to my mother's in Devon seemed almost as much trouble as taking him to Orkney.

I took a deep breath and, taking in the worried look on Sal's face, did the decent thing.

"I'll take him to Orkney on the second run - it'll be just me, him and the furniture," I said with growing visions of having to negotiate the M74 while engaged in single combat with a crazed tabby.

A plan was hatched whereby I would slip Trevor a herbal thingy we've discovered called Rescue Remedy. It has worked a treat on calming our manic Collie/Spaniel cross Owen and apparently humans can use it too to suppress anxiety. No doubt it gets chocolate stains out of a white shirt as well, but that remains to be seen.

I got ready for the second run to Orkney and looked for the Rescue Remedy only to realise I'd left it in the kitchen on Westray. Nothing for it but to shoehorn Trev into his box dump him on the passenger seat and get going.

Knock me down with a feather if he didn't take to the journey like a trucker to an all-day breakfast with extra beans. He yowled a bit to start off with, but Led Zeppelin at high volume soon persuaded him of the futility of that and we passed a full night and 600 miles uneventfully, stopping occasionally for a bit of a cuddle and a bite to eat. He's now settling down in the hay loft, chasing mice and generally looking as if nothing has happened.

So, chaps, if you want to earn maximum brownie points from the missus, all you have to do is transport her grumpy cat 600 miles and through two sea voyages to your new home. How hard can that be?

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