We almost had a death in the family during the week.
I was walking back from Sainsburys with a 16-pack of luxury quilted toilet tissue, four peach and apricot yogurts and Mrs Canavan’s dry skin cream, when I approached a junction near my house and saw our cat, Percival, perched on a fence on the opposite side of the main road.
I didn’t even know he’d been near the main road, let alone actually crossed it.
When he saw me he looked all excited (to him, I represent food) and reacted by jumping from the fence and beginning to dart back across the road.
As I glanced to the left I could see, to my horror, a big 4x4 Range Rover approaching at a pretty rapid rate of knots.
It was clear that Percy’s life was about to come to an abrupt and messy end.
I briefly considered flinging my shopping bag to the floor and hurling myself into the path of the Range Rover in a brave and selfless bid to save my son, but then thought I don’t love my cat that much, and if he’s stupid enough to sprint directly in front of a large, oncoming vehicle then quite frankly he kind of deserves to get his brains mashed.
It was a terrible moment as the car flew straight over Percival and it felt awful to be witnessing my only son meet his maker.
Then, in what was a Gloria hallelujah, Lord it’s a miracle kind of moment, the car passed and what was left wasn’t a bloodied mass of black and white fur in a heap on the road, but the sight of Percy trotting nonchalantly on to the pavement on the far side of the road. He was so relaxed that when he reached the other side he lit a cigarette and put a jazz album on.
He had somehow timed his run so that he’d missed the tyres and thus the car passed over him rather than squashed him.
I was obviously relived and overjoyed, then like any good parent I went berserk.
“Do you know what could have happened?” I screamed at him, though I’m not sure he took on board the gravity of the situation because he looked entirely disinterested and began chasing a fly.
When I got home I grounded him, sent him to his room without any dinner, and later that evening we had a lengthy discussion about the dangers of crossing road without properly looking both ways first.
I even printed a copy of the Green Cross Code off the internet, though I’m not convinced he’s read it as, to me, the pages didn’t look as though they had been thumbed through.
It was undeniably a lucky escape, which makes a nice change as we had some rotten luck with cats when I was younger.
My mum and dad lived about 200 yards from the M60 motorway in Bury. Almost every week there would be a knock on the door and some poor driver holding a cardboard box with the remains of our cat in. “Sorry,” the bloke would say, “he just ran out in front of me as I was overtaking a Nissan Micra near junction 18.”
One year we lost four cats and got a warning letter from the RSPCA.
Taking the hint, my parents got a dog instead – which (true story this) died 18 months later when it jumped out of the attic window.
With a family history like that, it’s a miracle Percy has made it to the age of four-and-a-half unscathed.
A defective detector is an effective alarm call
I stayed overnight at my mum’s this week.
I love doing this because she still treats me like I’m a 12-year-old, and in the morning brings me breakfast on a tray with a steaming hot mug of tea.
This has never happened in my current relationship. In fact, even when I broke my leg, Mrs Canavan refused to bring me breakfast on a tray (“it’s only your tibia you big wimp – besides, you can lean on your crutch while the porridge is in the microwave”).
I was staying at my mum’s as she needed a lift to the hospital early the next morning. This makes me sound like a good and caring son, but in reality the reason I agreed to stay over was to get away from my pregnant wife’s snoring and have a bed to myself where I could enjoy a deep, peaceful night’s sleep.
However, it didn’t go to plan.
As I approached the house after parking up, I heard three shrill, high-pitched beeps.
It happened again 30 seconds later, and every 30 seconds thereafter.
My mum explained that her carbon monoxide detector was malfunctioning and she’d stuck it in the garage for the last two days, wrapped in a dog blanket in a vain attempt to muffle the sound, until she got chance to take it to the tip.
At my mother’s, I sleep in the front bedroom – directly above the garage. And so it was that at 4am, I lay with my eyes wide open, beating the pillow in frustration as the damn alarm went off again, and again, and again.
It was so annoying that it almost made me yearn for Mrs Canavan’s snoring. Almost.