HOLLY MIRANDA SMALE

Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.







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Saturday, 29 May 2010

Kittens

Let it be known that I believe in fate: especially the kind you really have to force into being.

If I like you, I will follow you. I will work out where you live, and when you try and crouch behind bushes I will make kissy noises at you until curiosity makes you come closer to investigate. I will be there in the morning, and I will be there in the evening, and I will be there at night even when the mosquitos are after me. I will kneel on the floor and stay there for hours, making cute faces to make you love me. I will tell you how beautiful you are, and how clever you are, and how bouncy you are, and I will tell you and tell you and tell you until your head is full of me. And, if I really, really like you, I will have a blade of grass in one hand and a bowl of milk in the other: one of which I will twitch enthusiastically, and the other I will be sniffing and saying mmm mmm mmm about as loudly as I can. I will make you love me. Because if that's what fate wants, then that's what shall happen. And if that's not what fate wants, then tough cookie: I'm making it happen anyway. Because I believe in the kind of fate that gets me what I want.

Especially - and I need to make this point perfectly clear - if you are a stray tortoiseshell family of four kittens and you have little white bellies and big orange eyes and little meows that sound like a clean plate being squeaked with a finger. Especially then.

I don't know who they belong to - almost certainly nobody, because Nichinan has a stray cat problem - but I love them already and I only met them this morning. They're brand new - perhaps a week old - and they appear to be sleeping in the vegetable patch outside my bedroom, which is how I found them: I went outside to see who was squeaking plates while I was trying to sleep off pneumonia. They're orange and black and white and absolutely teeny, and when I went outside there was a flurry of orange and black and white streaks, disappearing under the wood pile.

All, that is, but one.

"What's all this racket about?" I said crossly.
"Squeak," said the naughtiest kitten, peering around the corner of the wood with big eyes and a head cocked rakishly to one side.
"Oh, hello," I said (this isn't strictly true, actually. What I really did was immediately get hit by two hundred tons of maternal instincts racing like a runaway train, drop to my knees and croon "heellllloooo you adorable little kitten," and then - when I realised it was Japanese - try out a few random Japanese words strung together in the hope that it might understand me).
"Squeak," the kitten said, and then disappeared behind the wood.
I waited. I'm good like that. I can be very patient in very short bursts as long as I know I'll get exactly what I want before I'm bored of waiting.
And then, sure enough -
"Squeak," the kitten said again, putting his head back round.
"Squeak," said another, copying exactly.
"Squeak," said the third, and there were three little stripy heads peering at me in a vertical line like a really cheap calendar front cover (or maybe not the front cover; maybe March, or July, or a month that nobody really likes like October). So I waited for the forth kitten to line up but apparently only 3/4 of the family were interested in me.
"Hold it there," I said, and went inside to kit myself out with a piece of straw and a pneumonia mask (it would be incredibly evil to give week old kittens pneumonia just because I was too lazy to put a bit of material over my face).
And then I spent a good hour and a half, crouched on the road, trying to coax them out from under the shed with the grass and a bit of milk in a saucer.

It didn't work. It nearly worked: one of them made at least fifty cautious attempts to get over the ditch and then decided the gap was too big (they are really, really tiny kittens), the other moved its little eyes and paws every time the grass twitched (and then got distracted and tried to eat a buttercup in its way), and the other slipped down a sheet of metal and then spent twenty minutes trying to get back up again. But it didn't work. They were too scared, and too tiny, and I looked a little bit like a gay Hannibal Lector in my pink flu mask.

"I want one," I told my friends said when they dropped off another bag of icecream (I'm getting ice cream deliveries every two and a half minutes at the moment; I'd like to see that happen in London).
"Take one, then. They're almost definitely stray."
"I can't go round stealing kittens."
"Ok, fair point. But if you really want a kitten, you could go and get one. There's a company in Miyazaki that take in stray kittens and try and find them homes so they don't have to be put down by the council."
"They put kittens down?"
"Not if they can help it. But it's a big problem in this area."
"But if I go to a company then it's not fate, is it. I can't go and make a choice to have a kitten; the kitten has to choose me."
Mainly, I added silently, because it would be totally irresponsible of me to get a kitten when I work all day and will only be here a year or two. Therefore the cat has to make the decision: not me.
"The cat has to choose you of its own accord?"
"Of course."
My friends looked at the pieces of grass and the saucer of milk and the cushion outside my front door with raised eyebrows.
"Looks like you're doing a fair bit to help fate on its way."
"Of course. As long as I can force the kitten to love me and live with me because it wants to, then that's ok. That's fate. And I can use every method in my power to get them to do exactly that."
"Does fate work like that?" my friends said doubtfully.
"My kind of fate does," I said, looking at the pile at my feet and wondering if a tiny toy mouse might help swing the balance slightly.

And my fate does work like that, even though it shouldn't. It's usually half a sign, and then me dogmatically hanging on until I get what I want. And if I should have learnt one thing in the past year with The Boy, it's that fate - and love - will not be forced, and it will not be coaxed, and it will not be bribed, and it will not be chased: no matter how much I want it, no matter how happy I think it would make me, no matter how strong the sign seems to be, no matter how strong my dreams are. Fate goes where it wants, with no help from me, and there isn't the slightest thing I can do to help it one way or another.

Luckily I haven't learnt a thing, so I'm going to spend the next few days hanging around outside and seducing some tiny kittens into loving me.

And if they don't now, they damn well will when I'm finished with them.