Quelle histoire!

What a tale (and sadly not really ended). I left you with a bit of a teaser, which some people hoped was a precursor to a happy ending to the Story of George’s Escape. But no, I’m afraid not. This is a long story, I’m afraid, with no pictures, so you may want to make a cup of tea first!

On Thursday morning I did the rounds as usual, calling George cand rattling a bag of croquettes. I headed up to the HLM housing, as we still suspected the Man of having catnapped George. He had been acting suspiciously, and, as I listed in my last post, had been seen with a big ginger/white cat but denied having one….etc etc. I spoke to Mr B (whose family have been keeping an eye on the Man, and who is sure he has George) and as I was talking the Man came out of his appartment and went to his garage.

I decided to play the innocent, as I didn’t think he knew me, or that I knew who he was, so I approached him and asked if he had seen our cat. I acted my socks off – my husband can’t sleep, I cry all the day, I said; George is like our baby, we don’t have children…do you have a cat, m’sieur?  I think I made a connection, because we talked cats, and he said that his cat was a good friend, but he was worried it would get run over…and so on. He did ask a couple of bizarre questions:

  • “Maybe your cat is in a house with children, and they play with the cat…Is your cat good with children?”
  •   “Ah, m’sieur, we don’t have children; George is like our baby. “
  • “”But when children come to your house, is he good with children? Does he play?” he insisted.
  • “Bof…je ne sais pas exactement…” I replied, wondering what’s this with the children?

Anyway, I left shortly afterwards.

In the evening I was doing my rounds, and I met Aurélie, Mr B’s daughter. We were chatting, and we turned the corner so we could see the Man’s windows. There was a big ginger/white cat at the open window.

It’s George!” said Aurélie. I rattled the croquettes, I called his name… I wasn’t totally convinced it was George, but from outside the flats to the fourth floor it looked very like him. I called again, and Aurélie insisted the cat meowed and looked as though he wanted to jump. “It’s George! It’s George!” Then the cat was removed, and the window was closed.

I was convinced. By now the entire B family had arrived, plus Mr FD and Veronique and her partner who had initially alerted us to the fact this Man had been seen with a ginger and white cat. We phoned the local Gendarmes, but they said they were dealing with another important case  and couldn’t come out just for this. They would pass by in the morning.

But he will have taken the cat elsewhere! Oh! C’est incroyable!” everyone lamented. But the Gendarme politely wished us Good Evening and put the phone down.

Then Mr Veronique said to Mr FD “OK, let’s go up to his flat and demand to see the cat!” So someone let us in, and off we went, the three of us, with everyone else trailing behind. Mr Veronique and Mr FD hammered on the door, and rang the bell, shouting that the Gendarmes were on their way, but if he gave up the cat that would be the end of the matter. Finally the Man opened the door – and he looked terrified. He started shouting back at us, but I could see that he was really upset and frightened, and I started to have my doubts.

So, using the connection we had made that morning, I started to speak quietly to him, I took his hands, I started to cry (because I was really upset and adreneline filled by now too) and I explained that we’d seen the cat at the window – what colour was his cat? I asked. Brown and white, he replied. Could I just see it, for my own peace of mind? He knew we had lost our baby, I continued…he understood how I felt… we had talked about it…Could I just go in his flat, and meet his cat?

Every time one of the others started to speak, the Man got upset again, so I sent them all away, except for Mr FD who stayed by the door. The Man let me into his flat, which was full of boxes and other things – but in a very orderly way; it wasn’t a complete mess. Just full of boxes and bags.

We found the brown-and-white cat…which was, in fact, a ginger/white cat who was a big friendly boy, who could easily have been mistaken for George from a distance, or by someone who didn’t know George. This poor guy had been accused by everyone of taking our cat, while he had this one of his own, which he called brown, but which was a rich ginger colour. Being slightly “not all there” he possibly didn’t understand the subtlties of language. I admired the cat, and stroked him; I asked his name (Bee-bee) and said how lovely he was.

We talked about cats, he told me how he had been praying for us, because he was a Christian, and we needed peace. I told him I was a Christian too, and thanked him for his prayers. He then said that people were always watching him…always accusing him…he was upset by this…then he told me how he prayed for people all the time and how he wouldn’t lie as we all have to face God…

Then, very gently, I said, could I possibly look around the rest of the appartment? Not accusing him, but for my own peace of mind?

He let me walk round the appartment, open doors, rattle the bag of croquettes, call out George’s name…There was no sign of George, and quite honestly, I don’t think he would be a good enough actor to say everything he had, and to behave as he had, if George was in the appartment. And I could see nowhere where a cat could be hidden against its will: I swear I would have heard it meeowing. Finally, with apologies, handshakes, more apologies and thanks from Mr FD and I, we left. Without George.

Everyone was waiting below…Was it George? No, it wasn’t. Are you sure? Yes. Really sure? Yes. We know our cat.

But, said Aurélie, the cat meeowed. It was George! No, we don’t think it was George that we saw at the window. But he has two cats, she insisted. No, he said he has one cat. I know he has two! Did you see two? No. There you are! He has George hidden! No, we don’t think he has.

But, said Mr Veronique, we saw him with a ginger and white cat. Yes, we replied, that’s his cat. Are you sure it wasn’t George? Yes, we are sure.

Please stop accusing this man, we said. If he has taken George somewhere else (maybe somewhere with children, and hence the bizarre questions this morning), we believe that George is safe. We are satisfied that this man loves cats and wouldn’t harm George. If he wants to keep George, and wants to bring him back to the appartment then he will, finally, make a mistake and we will see George. But, while we are keeping a slightly open mind, we don’t think he has George.

But, but, but… everyone chorused, and it struck me that they actually want this Man to have done something wrong. They do care about the fact our cat is missing, but they were rather happy to blame this Man, and they are still sure he’s Up To No Good. I just think he is different, and fragile, and I hope we have not done him harm. When he said everyone was watching him, we said, it’s not on our behalf. We have asked them to stop. (We know they won’t, and they’ll let us know if they see anything suspicious – but we did ask them not to accuse the Man any more)

And so, and so…We continue to follow up leads (there was one hopeful view, but I found a ginger/white cat in the area which is probably the one that was seen) and to trail round the village, calling and rattling croquettes. People come and talk to us, and tell us hopeful (and not-so-hopeful) stories about cats that came back (or that fell down drains and couldn’t get out again),; one woman came out to tell me she’d sent her husband to check under the church because they found a kitten there once…I was out for an hour-and-a-half last night, and the same again this morning, but no luck. We are starting to think our beautiful soft boy is gone. We hope he has been taken in by someone who thought he was abandoned and who will love him dearly, as we do.

We will continue going out and calling, but I think we need to start drawing a curtain over George.

 

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…and so it continues…

George is still missing. We are still searching. We still have our suspicions about this gentleman…BUT we insist to everyone that we are NOT accusing him of taking George. We only want to verify that his ginger/white cat is not George. However…

  • despite having been seen cradling a ginger/white cat, saying it was his, and it was castrated, he denies having a ginger/white cat.
  • a g/w cat has been seen twice in his appartment window. However this may have been the tortie/calico cat that he is believed to also own.
  • he has been seen transporting a g/w cat ( although this may have been the tortie/calico cat that he is believed to also own.) from his car to his flat.
  • he has now blacked out the windows of his car so you can’t look in.

We now wonder if he is moving the cats to different places, especially at the weekend, as that’s when we are more likely to come calling. So, once my mum has left, we are thinking we may just wait outside the appartment block on Friday evening/ Saturday morning to see what happens. We also have people in the next block keeping their eyes firmly on this guy who will phone us as soon as they see anything suspicious.

The Gendarmes have told us that there IS a law against stealing pets, but we still require proof. A contact at the Mairie is going to see if they can do anything.

 

Meanwhile, we trail around Saint Just, chasing up possible sightings (so we aren’t just putting all our eggs in this guy’s basket) and plaintively calling out George’s name. Someone kindly offered us two small cats if we can’t find George – very kind, but that’s not the point!!!

Please keep up your prayers/positive vibes. I hope we’ll bring George home soon!

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Developments on the cat front

So, the story continues…

Our friends, Monique & Michel, have joined us on the hunt. Michel is a little act-first-think-afterwards, and was ready for a full-on commando style raid on this guy’s home, but Monique persuaded him otherwise! Via a friend of M&M, we were told that yes, the man everyone had told us about had a cat, but had had it for quite a long time, so our hopes were dashed.We were out again last night, trawling the neighbourhood.

Then I was out looking & calling again, in the area of the HLM this morning, when I met someone else, who told me that this man had had a cat for a long time, but had recently acquired another cat . Hopes were raised again…

With lots of help from various acquaintances of M&M, Monique and Mr FD finally got inside the apartment today. The guy was obviously very reluctant to let them in, but finally did so. Mr FD said it was a total mess – like on Hoarders programmes, with boxes & bags everywhere – and obviously there was at least one cat there, as there was a box of Whiskas pouches. However, he saw no cat(s), save the whisk of a ginger tail at the window before they got in. We are rather stymied now: we are fairly sure (75%) that George is there, due to reports from various neighbours, however not 100%. The Gendarmes said they would only get involved if he refused to show us the cat – which he didn’t do, exactly, although no cats were in evidence. Mr FD said they could have been hiding anywhere – and George always did like a box to hide in!!

We don’t really know what to do. We think that – always with the proviso that it IS George – he is going to be reasonably well looked after (Though I get what Jean said in the last comment) as the guy is a cat lover. But we still want him back. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are others who go into the flat, such as a carer, so we don’t have an independent witness that there’s a ginger/white cat there.

Any advice would be welcome. We are missing George terribly! And my poor mother, who is staying with us at the moment, is obviously sick to the back teeth of us going on (and on, and on…and on!) about George.

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Chat Perdu

I am sitting here at midnight, typing this as I am unable to sleep. We are missing a cat, and have been since last Sunday…

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Lovely big George slipped out, we know not when, between Saturday night and Sunday morning, possibly when Mr FD was watering the plants in the courtyard, possibly jumping/falling from the balcony during the night. I arrived back from the UK on Monday with mum and so on Monday evening, Tuesday morning, Tuesday afternoon we were out searching, calling his name and putting up posters arond the village. We contaced the vets and the local refuge, as well as various missing cat sites. Lots of people around have asked us how the search is going. There are 2 small groups of strays in the village, one by the HLM (social housing), just opposite our house, & one by the church.  We have been centring our search around these, putting up lots of posters around here. Later someone told me that a ginger-and-white cat had been seen elsewhere in the village. We spent an hour both Tuesday night & Wednesday morning looking there but all we saw was another ginger-and-white cat, sitting in a house window. Presumably the one that had been sighted. Otherwise, no sign of George.

We’d booked a night away in the Cantal with mum, so were driving that way on Wednesday (after our searching) when we received a phone call from somone Mr FD knows. They told us that someone at the HLM – who had never had a cat before – was seen with a cat which looked  like George. Very like George. This was good news, which helped relax us a bit to enjoy our time away.

We got home today, and went to visit the HLM building where this guy was seen (where there are 16 flats) & we spoke to the man who had seen the cat & whose partner had contacted us. However we couldn’t get any info about the bloke’s name or flat number. It seemed that we had been clocked by a couple of other people who live in the same building though.

A couple of hours after our first visit to the HLM a woman rang on the doorbell, and said that she thought that there was a hole in the wall behind the church, and that’s where she thought our cat would have gone. I asked if she’d seen the cat; she said no, but that’s where she thought it woud have gone. Round the corner, not straight ahead (towards the HLM). This seemed a bit odd to me – yes, it could have been someone being helpful with their thoughts, but coming soon after our visit to the HLM had been noted, it seemed suspicious. Especially as I noted that she headed to the HLM housing after speaking to me. We were starting to believe that George had been “rescued” by someone who, having discovered what a gorgeous soft boy he is, decided that they wanted to keep him. Despite the myriad notices all around the village (including an A3 size one outside the house) with a clear picture of George on it. BUT we still don’t know the name/flat number of these people.

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A gorgeous soft boy indeed

Mr FD suggested we made a flyer, saying that we were aware that someone in the block had recently acquired a ginger-and-white cat, and that we wanted to check that it wasn’t our cat. Please could they phone us, and let us check as if it was George we would like to discuss the reward with them. If they had George but were thinking of keeping him, please think again as we would be willing to go the legal route to get him back. We added another photo of George (with his sister) to help.

We took these up to the HLM to put into the letter boxes of all the flats in the building…however the letterboxes were inside, and you needed to know the code to get through the door. While we were loitering wondering what to do some people arrived who were walking their dog. While they didn’t live in the block, they knew someone who did, so they buzzed this person. He opened the door & we explained what we wanted to do – we were not accusing anyone of stealing George (Not yet, anyway) but we thought maybe someone in the block had rescued George and had taken him in, and if this was the case we wanted to discuss the reward with them. The guy who opened the door seemed to know Mr FD and confirmed that he was “a good type” so was happy for us to put the flyers in letterboxes. He wasn’t letting on though, if he knew who might have George…

So we went away, fairly sure that George had been taken in, and kept by these people (who, if we are honest, really copuldn’t have missed the “Chat Perdu” notices), and consoling ourselves that at least George is safe and looked after. We are hoping that consciences will be pricked, and tomorrow someone will phone us. If not, we may be going to the Gendarmerie to discuss options.

You’d think I’d be able to sleep, but now I’ve started wondering if the lady who called at the house had had George, but had then let him go (thinking we might accuse them of stealing him) in the place she was pointing out to me, so that I could go and find him…or maybe we’ll never get him back…or we’ll have to go via the gendarmes, get him back and then they’ll come & steal him from us, or try to get revenge.. All kinds of scenarios are rushing through my brain and I can’t sleep at all. I don’t even feel sleepy. Just uptight and worried about our big ginger boy.

IMG_0508George as a kitten

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George & Millie

If you are of a praying nature, please pray for a happy outcome. If not, please send positive vibes. We’d like this to be solved un-acrimoniously and without involving the police. And, of course, while we think that these people have George, we aren’t positive. It may be that after all this George is not with them, and he’s still missing outside.  Which would not be good.

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Tickets…passport…money

There is a line in Willy Russell’s play “Shirley Valentine” where the eponymous main character is waiting nervously for the taxi that is to take her away to Greece to start her holiday. She repeats the mantra “Tickets…passport…money…” to calm herself and to check she has the essential items.

Whenever I travel I am the same. Since yesterday I have been checking and re-checking my booking form for the flight (I can’t check in online, so that has to be done at the airport. Cue for more worrying: How? Will I understand instructions? What do I do if I can’t do it?), making sure I have a bit of English money, is my passport in the right place?

I have a knot of worry that won’t go until I am safely landed – On top of the tickets/passport/money concerns, I dislike flying anyway. There is now the added worry of what if today is the day “they” decide to blow up Lyon airport (or Manchester, for that matter…), or decide that FlyBe is a valid target for a suicide bomber? And how much extra time is needed for security checks – what if I miss the flight ? Actually, that is less of a concern as my friend  is taking me & her sister to the airport; Diane’s flight is 2 hours before mine, so I’m going to be there 4 hours before my flight leaves. I imagine that will be enough time to go through security checks!

And then when I get to Manchester what if I miss my train to Liverpool (as there’s 1.5 hours between the scheduled landing and the leaving of the train that’s probably not too likely either!!) ?

Are other people like me, or am I just weird?

Maybe if I flew Lolcats Airlines I would be less worried!!

 

Anyway, my lift will be arriving soon. See you in a week or two!

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July in Books

Back again for a round up of what I’ve been reading recently…All on the Kindle in July.

I have just given the spare room and our bedroom a good bottoming, as they say (my mum’s coming to stay!), so I took all the books off the shelves to give them a good dust and a rearrange. I filled two big bags full to give to our friend Richard, who has friends on a narrow boat in the Port at Roanne. There is, I believe, an English-language library in the Captainairie, so from time to time I donate books. It is about to grow by about 50 books! These are books I didn’t enjoy, won’t read again, or which are so unappealing I’m not sure why I ever acquired them in the first place! However, I came across a crop of about 20 books which I wouldn’t mind reading again, so August and September may well be a couple of months of re-reading books. I’ve already started one which I don’t remember at all, but am thoroughly enjoying.

Anyway, in July I read…

The Redbreast: A Harry Hole thriller by Jo Nesbo.(Trans: Don Bartlett)

GoodReads summary says: 1944: Daniel, a soldier, legendary among the Norwegians fighting the advance of Bolshevism on the Russian front, is killed. Two years later, a wounded soldier wakes up in a Vienna hospital. He becomes involved with a young nurse, the consequences of which will ripple forward to the turn of the next century.

1999: Harry Hole, alone again after having caused an embarrassment in the line of duty, has been promoted to inspector and is lumbered with surveillance duties. He is assigned the task of monitoring neo-Nazi activities; fairly mundane until a report of a rare and unusual gun being fired sparks his interest. Ellen Gjelten, his partner, makes a startling discovery. Then a former soldier is found with his throat cut. In a quest that takes him to South Africa and Vienna, Harry finds himself perpetually one step behind the killer. He will be both winner and loser by the novel’s nail-biting conclusion.

Although this was the 3rd in the series, and I haven’t read the others, I didn’t feel I was missing any vital back stories. However, I didn’t fully engage with the characters, which may have been as a result of coming to their stories later in the sequence. I enjoyed the book, but did finds it a little confusing, but I am ready to admit that this may well be because I do read quickly and don’t always concentrate as fully as I might. Mr FD claims this is why I can happily re-read books: I actually read a different story each time as I read a different set of words! Certainly not bad, and I’d be happy to read another in the series.

The One plus One by Jojo Moyes

From “Good Reads”: One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your maths whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose holiday home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Maths Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages… maybe ever.

I had read, and really enjoyed, “The Girl You Left Behind” by the same author, so was looking forward to this. It’s not often I spend more than £1.50 on a Kindle bok, so spending £3.99 was a big step! It was okay. I romped through it, and – to be fair – found myself picking it up at odd moments when I might usually have picked up my laptop to browse, but it didn’t have much depth to it. I also found the story completely unbelievable, which, while in itself isn’t a problem, meant that I got a bit too annoyed at people doing things that seemed out-of-character.

While I found this a bit disappointing, I would be happy to read another by the same author – which I will, as I came across one in the cupboard and it’s now on my “Re-read” shelf!

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marion Keyes

Good Reads tells us: Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year – touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side – she’s back to normality with a bang. And she’s got writer’s block.

Stella wants a clean break as she didn’t exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?

I think the kindest thing I can say about this book is “Meh”. I thought Marian Keyes was supposed to be a witty, funny writer. This was basically tedious. The structure was confusing, the main protagonist unappealing and unbelievable, the secondary characters extremely unappealing, unattractive and unbelievable. And I wasn’t too sure I liked the writing style which struck me as being arch and smacked of trying-too-hard. I’m not sure I’ll be reading another by this author.

My Husband’s Wife by Amanda Prowse

Back to “Good Reads”:

Once a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.

She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.

But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?

One reviewer wrote: “This is a FANTASTIC book, but don’t go into it expecting a light and fluffy chick lit romance. It’s a deeply emotive and pretty dark look at a woman’s descent into despair and eventual breakdown and it’s NOT easy to watch. It’s about family and friends and never really knowing what goes on in other people’s minds and how fickle and feckless some folk can be. It is enlivened by the girls who are wonderfully refreshing and their antics brought many a smile to my face. They are completely innocently caught up in the backwash of this breakdown of a marriage and I was saddened by their involvement.”

I wouldn’t go as far as saying “fantastic”. It was okay. Rosie, the main character, was a bit annoying, as I feel the author wanted us to really like her, so she was painted in glowing colours; I felt I was being told “See, Rosie copes with even this. Don’t you admire her for it?” (I also found her name very irritating, but that’s not her fault!) I don’t have children, so I can’t comment on how true-to-family-life the domestic scenes were, but again, I thought the children were characterised in a twee, “aren’t they amusing” way which just made me want to slap them.

The ending pissed me off too. So, no. Not fantastic. Again, not another author I’ll be seeking out.

In the Light of What we See by Sarah Painter

With thanks (again!) to “Good Reads”: Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she’ll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees…Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.

Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash. She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing. She’s not even sure whom to trust. Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital, her visions are clearer than ever…

Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.

I enjoyed this book the most out of the four non-crime-thrillers I read this month, but it wasn’t great. The two stories, that of Grace and that of Mina, were both relatively interesting – although I found Mina’s more gripping, as there wasn’t a huge amount of tension and suspense in Grace’s. It was basically the trials of a student nurse in 1938, with a bit of a story thrown in. But I didn’t feel that there was a satisfactory explaination for why there was a connection between Mina and Grace. I felt a bit “and that’s it?” at the end.

From the five, I’d recommend “The Redbreast” most of all, but from the others, this final one is the best of a fairly mediocre bunch.

I have just started “The Outcast” by Sadie Jones

This is a re-read of a book I can barely remember. Already it surpasses the last four books in terms of story, characterisation, and writing alone. This one really has been picked up at every opportunity. It is, so far, a story of loss, of family rifts, of tragedy – I am hoping for a redemptive ending. I fear it may not happen.

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Getting Creative

Two posts in one day! Goodness me – am I feeling okay?

I wanted to show a card that I’ve just made for Isabelle (where we stayed the night we went to the David Gilmour concert)

I used a tutorial on this splendid blog – The Postman’s Knock.

Lindsey is a talented calligrapher, but much more than that too. I have started using her tutorials more and more, as they are so detailed, and produce some beautiful results. If you are interested in calligraphy, card making or creating art then this is a great place to go!

Here is my card:

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I know my photography isn’t up to much, but I hope you can see how it has been made. If not, Lindsey’s tutorial will explain all. I hope that Isabelle likes it.

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