In which the Infant Trefusii and I take Octavian & Marmalade to the vet, and I try an iPad newspaper.
If one were ambitious socially on behalf of one's cats, one might call Marmalade and Octavian red tabbies, but we are not, so to us, they're simple ginger mogs. No one appears to have told them of their humble status; on the contrary, their mother, who claimed kinship with a British shorthair on the distaff side - despite the evident bar sinister running through the rest of the family tree - appears to have given them ideas above their station and they lord it over the mews as if to the manor born, dividing their time between a number of properties - particularly between ours - town - where they snooze in a favourite chair, paws draped over the edge with the elegance of a weary flâneur, and the house opposite - country - whose tree-lined garden is their hunting lodge.
We only ever had dogs in my family, so getting inside the mind of a cat has been challenging - I always thought of cats as disloyal creatures compared to dogs, but cat 'ownership' (for whoever truly owned a cat?) has taught me they're not really bright enough to entertain sophisticated notions of loyalty or disloyalty, they're simply arch pragmatists - they go where it's most convenient, or warmest, or where they're least likely to be disturbed, or where there is some food. One learns a lot about unrequited love with a cat.
Anyway, the annual check up at the vet is due, so the Infant Trefusii call in at all their properties to try to track them down, squishing them, undignified, into cat carriers before they can escape again. The vet gives them their inoculations, prescribes the usual worming treatment, and then pops them on the scales to get the right dose of flea ointment. 'Gosh,' she says, hauling Octavian and then his brother onto the scales, 'they're not all fur, are they?'
Indeed, they are far from all fur; Marmalade is over five kilos, and officially portly, Octavian a well-covered 4.7. Leaving the vets £200 lighter, armed with six month's supply of flea treatment 'for the larger cat', I put them in the back of the car, and they sit in their carriers, purring contentedly for all the world like two fatcat businessmen being chauffeured about in a Bentley after a very good long lunch.
Seduced by a special offer, I subscribe to The Times' digital pack, quite forgetting that reading the tree-ware version makes me utterly rageous. Despite an admiration for the glorious quality of their columnists, and the fact my father-in-law was the Executive Editor for many years, there's something about the brand that, when taken as a whole, makes me froth at the mouth in righteous indignation.
Fortunately for The Times' finances, I am in a tiny minority, but only twenty four hours into having it on my iPad etc, I know that the frothing is unmitigated by the paper coming in digital form, and I ring the call-centre to cancel.
'Can you tell me why you're cancelling?' Comes a warm, motherly sounding Yorkshire voice.
'I'm so sorry,' I say in a 'it's not you, it's me' way, 'I'm afraid I just really don't like it.'
'Eh, that's a shame. Have you thought about the Sunday Times? We've a lovely offer on that at t' moment.'
'No, no, I'm really most awfully sorry, I don't like that one either. I'd completely forgotten how much I don't like it, which is why I subscribed, but I now see it was the most frightful mistake.'
I'm suddenly a little panicked: I didn't read the small print - perhaps one can't cancel, or worse, perhaps there's a vast cancellation fee? Or perhaps the nice lady on the phone will be penalised by the call-centre gang masters if she fails to sell me back into my subscription, or into another product.
'If it's any consolation,' I'm reduced to clutching at straws, 'I can't stand the Telegraph either.'
'Don't you worry pet, you're within the seven day cooling off period. I'll cancel it for you now. At least you tried it, eh.'