There are cat people and there are dog people. I’ve been asked which I love more and I have to say my reply depends on who’s doing the asking. So, I usually just say I have this weird thing about hedgehogs. It’s not the most convincing answer when you happen to live in built-up Bermondsey. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
To maintain neighbourly relations I tell the lady who walks her toy poodle to our café every day that I am a dog person. She’s called Gloria. She has a polkadot ribbon in her hair and wears a little coat and a little scarf. She’s about 100 years old. I sometimes pat her on the head. Every few yards she squats and cocks her left leg and I’m not talking about the poodle. Then when Bethany, who lives in the loft next door, shows me Polaroids of her oversized pussy I can’t help but tell her I’m definitely a cat person. Who’s to know?
When I was a kid I never owned a pet on account of the fact that my mother was like Cruella De Vil whenever she was around animals. She’d have cut a pair of gloves out of a hamster given half the chance. Then when I met Guido he told me he was allergic to sheep (I didn’t ask how he knew) so we haven’t gone down the domestic pet route for obvious reasons. Well, two weeks ago I was sitting on a bench just outside Tate Modern when I heard this strange rustling noise in the birch trees above me and I saw these two grey squirrels swinging up there. So I fed them some crusts from my hummus sandwich. Then the next day I went back and threw some brioche crumbs at them and then the next day I swear they were looking out for me so I left a trail of macadamia nut. They went totally berserk. Since then I’ve practically become the all new Mary Poppins.
Last Friday morning I snuck some mixed nuts and some crushed hazel nuts and some almonds from the café larder but I didn’t ask first. When I say snuck what I really mean is – stole. And apparently hell hath no fury like a chef with no nuts that’s all I’m saying. Heard of “Watergate”? Well this was “Nutgate” and in one jump I’d gone from Mary straight to Deep Throat. Just to offer you a word of warning. If you talk about squirrels in bed one night and then the next morning a whole bunch of nuts goes missing from your home, you are very likely to get busted.
“Have you any idea what it’s like trying to serve a chocolate ice cream nut sundae to a customer, but with NO nuts?” said Guido. So you get the whole picture, he was pointing his finger when he said that. I think Guido’s ancestors may have participated in the Spanish Inquisition.
I’m hoping for babies in Spring. Little bushy tailed ones with pert ears and big buck teeth. I’ll call them names like Scamp and Scruff and wave to them and look out for them. But I’ll be buying my own nuts from now on. I am pretty sure it’s what Mary would do.