School’s Out 4 Ever

It is only 8:30am here but I am already getting fed up with the “news” coverage.

Yesterday the government announced that as of Friday, schools will close in the UK until further notice. By all accounts, they have resisted this move for a while, but can resist no longer.

When you stop and think about it, it is a big deal. The obvious knock-on effect is that workers have no childcare. There is a further knock on effect that this year’s round of exams will have to be postponed or cancelled. Okay, a big deal, but it is a price we need to pay.

And so the people affected are coming on TV, asking what is the plan for exams?

Okay, at this stage I’m prepared to cut them [the government] some slack. The correct answer to that question, as far as I can see, is just to say: We don’t know. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it but right now we have higher priorities.

It is okay to say I don’t know.

Then the education minister comes on TV too. Have a guess, what is the one thing he wouldn’t admit?

And this is Reuben…

Reuben is a beautiful cat too but I don’t think he’s very photogenic. He’s not particularly long-haired, but long enough to take away from his definition. And even less well-defined when his regular daytime posture is curled up in a ball! So he usually just looks like a big black splodge. He is, however, the largest cat who ever lived with us.

You can tell it is him from the ear. On my clean laundry!

Reuben’s history is largely unknown, so I shall start with my firm knowledge. Two years ago he arrived here, as Reuben, from my daughter. He was fully grown (I’d say he must be eight or nine now), but underweight and his fur was quite thin. Before that point, the story is patchy.

My daughter, at the time, was living on a tight budget in a third-floor apartment. Six months earlier, she had answered a call for help – we need to move out of our house urgently and can anybody take on our cat? without really considering whether she was in a good position to help. This was Reuben. Except then, he wasn’t called Reuben, and this is where it gets fuzzy.

My daughter says that she did not ask his original name. I find this pretty unbelievable – if you’re taking on a new animal, what is the very first question you’d ask? Even if you’re planning to change it? Anyway, whatever the history, and I am sure we only know a small part of it, daughter christened him Reuben. Even now, he does not really answer to it, but actually we quite like it. Plus, we have no other name for him.

My daughter then tried to coop Reuben up in her apartment, but he had obviously been an outdoor boy and went stir-crazy indoors. He started over-grooming himself and his fur thinned out as a result. Finally, my daughter asked if he could come here. When he first arrived I was quite upset at his condition.

Reuben gradually integrated here. We were all nice to him, except for Lola, the other cat. And Reuben gradually accepted us, except Lola, and his health improved as he became an outdoor cat once again.

Reuben and I are now best buddies. After all, he is a neutered male. His main interests are sleeping and eating, just like me. And he is a happy cat – he purrs loudly and often, he can be heard by everybody in the room. He likes to sleep right next to me on the bed, although that might be because he’s waiting for me to get up to feed him his breakfast!

When he does go out, however, Reuben likes to catch things. Birds or rodents, he’s not fussed. That is the saddest part, for me, about living with cats.

The two cats do not get on, but they have both learned just to be someplace else when the other cat is around. All except for breakfast, when they’re both too interested in food. Reuben is probably twice Lola’s size, but she is the one with the temper.