My mate went to Nicaragua on a business trip and so I had to look after his cat for 10 days. No biggie. The guy trusts me. I live nearby so I took the keys from the poor sap, waved him into his cab and set about my task with relish.
Aside from best man and godfather, being assigned cat-feeder for a week is about as big an accolade as you can be handed by a male friend. He had obviously observed something in me over the past decade which made him pick me ahead of other people he had in his phone contacts. Well, he made the right choice on this one. I used to have a cat – a proud, arrogant one – so I know my way around a sack of Iams. Also, I understand the code. He’s asking me to feed his cat, sure. But he’s also interested in having someone come into his flat from time to time, just to keep it all ticking over. If you’re busting balls in Central American boardrooms, you don’t need to be worrying that your books are falling off their shelves or that your coffee machine’s not being given a workout in your absence.
After a couple of days of feeding Muji, I must admit I started to lengthen my visits. My mate’s got such a lovely sofa, and the ambience in his flat is second to none – he’d be the first to say that. Also, the way he does it is he leaves a few lights on and has his radio on (BBC 6 Music) when he goes on his trips, so it kind of feels like you’re being a bit of an arsehole if you leave straight away.
So I’d feed Muji, make myself a cuppa and take the weight off. On the third day I worked out how to use the TV, too, and whacked that on. I’m keeping the guy’s cat alive, I guess he’ll be cool with me watching his Sky Sports.
I thought, so long as I wasn’t sleeping in his flat, I pretty much couldn’t be accused of taking the piss. I once laid on his bed in my clothes, but when I felt myself nodding off I left and jogged home, only pausing to wonder whether I’d fed the cat that time. Not a problem, I had big plans for the Thursday, and I figured I could certainly feed the cat as part of that lot.
On the Thursday I arrived early and brought some work to ‘make a day of it’, and in the afternoon a consignment of provisions arrived from Ocado which would see me through to my mate’s triumphant return the following Tuesday. I’d splashed out on a big old hog, which I planned to roast, because I’d become aware of an Aga. I then spent the rest of the day deep in his sofa, messaging a few people about my piece of luck and saying to arrive from 7pm onwards. These were the good times! Chowing back biscuits while the cat meowed in delight.
After the success of the Thursday function I really let my hair down on the Saturday. I’d started to stay over a bit, and had extended the arm of friendship to the Ocado man and a couple of girls from the pub and we were playing happy families now it was the weekend, watching shedloads of snooker and finishing what was left of the coffee and cat food. The girls knew more folk than me and we really filled the place up on the Saturday night, with their people and a couple of columnists I’d given the heads-up to.
I tipped everyone out on the Sunday, spent the Monday doing a proper tidy up and feeding Muji absolutely tons and then made sure I was there waiting for my mate when he came back on the Tuesday. I was wearing his slippers and he joked that I’d made myself at home. I laughed really loudly. “Yes!” I said. And the poor guy slumped on his sofa, Muji jumped on his lap and purred like a good’un. I left him to it. I’d more than done my bit.