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Circus Life – a plan!


Cat Life was a novel about a cat and its nine lives. It was written by Girona Social Meetup members – each member wrote a chapter based in their own country. Now it is time for a sequel!

Sadly Bella, the famous cat model, died at the end of the book as she only had 9 lives (the nine chapters of the book). But still surviving are Henry, Wayne and David and Tim the neutered cat who used to be called Tom. Henry, despite her strange name, is Wayne’s mother and David is Henry’s estranged husband, David returned to the UK but but the rest of the family was in Barcelona. Tim was getting a little old and crotchety and he needed a companion. Money was in plentiful supply, Henry had sold her cat fashion business for a vast sum, but she had no idea what to do next.

One day, a circus came to visit Mataró, a small town up the coast from Barcelona. The whole family, less David of course, went along to see the show. And there they met Bellados!

As they were approaching the entrance, a small cat appeared from under the awnings of the big top. Since they loved cats and they had Tim with them, naturally they befriended the cat. It was small, only just out of kittenhood, but black as the night with piercing eyes. As they were kneeling in the ground, a clown came up behind them and suddenly hooted on a large car horn. They all jumped and the small cat scurried back into the tent.

“Sorry,” the clown said, “I just can’t help myself, I just like to have fun!” He spoke in English but his accent was a little “eastern” maybe Ukrainian or Russian. Or nearer home, maybe Romania because there were many Romanians in this part of Spain.
“Did you like the cat?” he said, “You can have it if you like. It scares us, it is almost human, the way it looks at people.”

Tim’s ears pricked up, this was the first time he had shown any interest in anything since Bella died. He started making moaning noises as if to say, “Pleeeese!”

“We have to go and watch the show, can we come and see you afterwards? How much do you want for the cat?” said Henry.

“Oh, nothing! You can have her for nothing. She has had the op so you won’t be having half a dozen babies after six months.” He took a look at Tom but soon realised that that there was no risk from that direction. Tim gave a sheepish shrug of his shoulder, not easy for a cat.

“And she has been de-wormed, or whatever you call it. So she is ready to go!”
“Does she have a name?”
The clown reply, “We call her Bella.”

Colour drained from the faces of both Henry and Wayne – they were shocked. Maybe Bella had come back from Cat Heaven.

“Well we will have to call her Bellados because we used to have a cat called Bella and we could never use that name again.” Henry smiled because it made her think of “Oodos” the famous Irish Rock band, as it was called sometimes in Spain.

“By the way, what is your name?”
“Korky the Clown….. Ohh, do you mean my real name? I am Vlad, from Ukraine.”
With hearts pounding they walked onwards to the entrance.
“Maybe he can connect me with Marti,” said Wayne.

He had never forgotten the beautiful young girl he met in Ukraine where Henry had a huge fashion show, and then he lost her. Her parents said that she was too young to go abroad but she was 18. He never gave up hope of meeting her again. She would be 20 by now and by some miracle, her parents would have realised that is was time to let her go out into the big bad world. Or maybe she was married, or had a boyfriend. That thought did not bear thinking about for Wayne. She had certainly been attracted to him, maybe Ukrainian guys are generally quite big. Wayne who was 19 by now was large. Not fat, just big! (haha, like a young Jack Reacher!)

So this is where we start!
The circus travels around the world, so we can write about each city that it visits. And following on from our theme of Cat Life, the animals act as though they are human but with the qualities of each animal, in the style of Disney perhaps (but that’s not where the idea flourished). And by this scheme, the circus gets around the rules about using animals which by the early 21 century were very strict. Also of course, they had human acts and the humans seemed quite happy to be accompanied by their human animals who sometimes helped them with their acts.

We can introduce characters from the circus, as well as the animals.

I will write a chapter about Barcelona and then we can go on from there. There is no limit to the number of chapters that we can have. We have to think of a name for the circus.

Cat Life – Chapter 1


That morning in Cat Heaven was much like any other. The little electric milk cart arrived at seven in the morning with a cheerful clink of glass bottles, which filled the English cats with waves of nostalgia.. and some even cried. It went back to a time in the past before everyone bought UHT milk in plastic boxes from the supermarket.

And an hour or two later, the fish arrived from Cat-Ocean in a small white van with exotic creatures, some still alive, basking in crushed ice.

But for one member of this community today was different. It was time to return to that strange place called Earth. Cats in heaven never get to meet their deity but instead there is Number 2, Angel Gabby. The parting message from Gabby was always the same, «Remember that you only have nine lives. When they run out, you come back here.«

There were lots of heavens, each for a different animal because animals were always reincarnated as the same species. And they were all spaced far enough away from each other among the clouds to avoid one disturbing the others. For example, the dogs barking would have upset the cat-angels. Humans think wrongly that maybe, next time, they come back as a frog. There was an enormous heaven for Humans which many of them on Earth believed in.

So, on this particular morning, with trepidation, a small cat took the long pale white staircase which threads its way down through the clouds towards Earth and we follow its story…….

This is a sad book because it is about a cat who died after its 9 lives ran out but we wait till the last chapter for that so we don’t have to be too upset early on. And anyway, it is about nine lives and most of us only have one, the span of that is not very great in the scale of the Universe around us. So don’t be sad.

Our subject is a female cat and it entered the world as a small damp bundle of black and white fur in an alley in Manchester, England together with its siblings, most of whom died. So they didn’t even make it to life number 1. The mother wasn’t sure who the father was and she got run over by an electric milk delivery van soon after giving birth. So this was not an auspicious start to life.

Mom cat never got a chance to giving her a name so that fell to a kind lady called Henry who lived in a large house near by who took in stray and unloved cats, so not long after its birth our heroine – the subject of this book – was being scooped up into the arms of a large buxom lady with a generous chest to which she clutched this small object. So much so that she nearly suffocated it. Henry loved Italy and the Italian language although she didn’t speak it so she chose Bella, as a shortened version of Bellassima. Bella survived and thrived, starting to gain weight on account of the loving care that Henry gave her and she began to feel that life was worth living after all. Without that kind human, Bella would not have made it past even this first chapter so this we will call it the first life, almost lost.

But something odd happened because Bella started developing very human traits, obviously the early ones were about potty training and learning to mew in a way that Henry could understand whether she wanted her tuna steak rare or medium. But it became uncanny. Henry was certainly in tune with cats, she had a menagerie of about 20 in her home and she knew the characteristics of each one very clearly and of course knew each one by name. But Bella was different. It started showing interest in iPhone cat apps and after one year could actually pinch the screen to zoom in and out. But the screen became scratched quite rapidly despite being the very latest bullet-proof version.

Life progressed happily until Henry split with her husband who had got fed up with tripping over cats and slipping on brown objects on the floor, they sold the house and went their separate ways and she decided to move to Paris taking one or two of her favourite cats with her, with the necessary electronic chips buried under the skin. And there was no greater favourite than Bella who by that time had started to learn French even before Henry knew that’s where she would go. Cats are psychic, Henry knew that. Maybe even from the moment of birth in the Manchester back street, she knew she would go to France.

They had one child, an obnoxious young boy of 14 called Wayne and the husband was more than happy to see the end of him. The boy hated the human race and even more so, animals. His only ambition was to own a dangerous dog and terrify the neighbours, he was such a sweet kid.

Henry’s husband has a very short part in this chapter so we never even learn his name till later but he was a very successful dress-designer, well-known – and when they were first struggling to make a living Henry made the clothes at home. By the time they split up, the clothes were being made in Hong Kong for a large chain of fashion shops and they were quite wealthy. Henry, through her love of cats had started a business as a fashion designer for pets and that had really taken off in recent years. As with her husband’s business, she started by making the clothes herself but an offer from M&S meant that she too could go off-shore to have the clothes made. How did she come by such a strange name? It was all down to her very eccentric mother who desperately wanted a boy after having given birth to three girls. And that odd streak carried on in the genes to Henry who revelled in her peculiar name, she had no wish to change it. By the time she split with her husband her increasingly weird designs were being ridiculed in the press but were enormously successful among the rich and famous who went to her shows and sat by the catwalk watching haughty cats and dogs modelling the clothes. Most of the dogs were Cruft’s prize-winners and modelling became the obvious next step in their illustrious career and they were impossibly conceited and arrogant. By contrast the cat models were more demure so they had to be taught to walk tall.

Henry decided to relocate her studio to Paris but she couldn’t pick up sticks, take the Eurostar to France, just like that. She spoke the language; she was one of those people who seem to be able to switch languages as with a light switch (by following that argument, many Brits live in the dark). But still, it needed some planning. What to do about the cats she couldn’t take with her? The solution was simple; she drowned them in the garden pond and buried them where previously the happy couple had grown potatoes. She only felt remorse when one of the cats tried grabbing at a goldfish as it sank down through the hazy green water.

Even to this day, the vegetable plot produces amazing runner beans which the new owners have never quite understood.

So, for 6 months (winter?), Henry lived with Wayne in a rented flat with the three surviving cats and Henry started looking for apartments in Paris on the internet. The flat was on the fourth floor and unfortunately one cat fell through the gap under the balcony rail so that left just two, Bella and a beige eunuch cat, Tim (previously Tom) who had become very effeminate on account of the dramatic loss of Testosterone. Bella found this quite enchanting and they fell in love.

In fact she wrote about Tim, “I wrote a sonnet”, she said, “to feel the love of Tim around me”…..

Miaw, love knows no bounds for my dear neuter
But still we hug and you’re my suiter,
We can dream of days of rambling
in the country and at Hambling
I had a boat there but the tide ran out
I was stranded and gave a shout.
Help came quickly in a boat
And never after, went I afloat.
I promise not to be too bitter
Because there is no danger of a litter.

She was especially pleased about, “went I afloat” because it was back to front and therefore sounded very poetic. She set this to music for cats’ chorus of soprano, alto, bass and two tenors accompanied by The Acatamy Orchestra of Ancient Music, gut strings of course. She loved tenors, all girls like tenors.

(ed. Note Academy of Ancient Music is a real orchestra that plays with baroque style instruments with gut strings in order to produce an authentic sound.)

The little family was quite happy during those 6 months, Henry was much relieved to be shot of her husband who was always falling over and all those pesky cats but seemed to be happy with the awful child and the cat couple who now spent all day all dewy-eyed and together in each other’s paws.

But Wayne was getting a little too interested in girls and Henry couldn’t quite get used to images of his penis being distributed around the internet by an ex-girlfriend in a frenzy of porno-revenge. She quickly broke it off when she discovered what an absolute bastard he was. That was very painful for Wayne. The cat couple found this hilarious because they were always nude and never understood the need for clothes. “Slows things down”, said Tim. There was a touch of bravado in saying that bearing in mind his two missing parts. He could still manage a feeble erection but it took a month of Sundays and Bella often fell asleep out of boredom before anything interesting happened. And he was firing blanks anyway which rather diminished his feeling of manhood… of tomcathood.

Winter was exceptionally cold that year and the cat couple tended to say indoors. Henry had a fashion show to organise at the beginning of December and was having great difficulty finding suitable models. One of the agencies had just gone out of business after a terrible scandal involving underweight models which had been banned by the EU the previous year.

But finally as spring sprung, the time came to depart the shores of England for a new adventure. And we will go along with them! Henry likes trains so that was how they planned to travel to Paris.

Logic Park – Chapter 1

A Grey November afternoon at 4pm in Carcassonne, for one particular Englishman was reminiscent of London because it was much the same but maybe a little warmer. At 4pm most people are hoping that the night will arrive rapidly, then at least it’s dark on account of there being no sun rather than its being obscured by a thick mantel of cloud with a spray of fine drizzle beneath it. It almost had a Dickensian feel about it, one almost expected to see a lamp-lighter wandering among the street-lights.

It was a Sunday which accounted for the absence of traffic. The road glistened. What traffic that did pass along Avenue General Leclerc, did so silently or with a strange symphony (or maybe a cacophony) of musical sounds on account of this being 2030 and the internal combustion engine being history in most major cities. Most people these days sampled their car sounds from the internet rather in the same way that people used to download ring-tones for their phones. For sure the air was cleaner but it didn’t lift the oppressive feeling of doom. The bare trees seemed to be weeping.

A dark electric blue Brum i4 pulled up at the kerb. Or a dark blue electric Brum i4 pulled up at the kerb, take your choice. It also emanated a strange ethereal sound reducing in pitch as it came to a stop, but very dated, as if from a computer movie in the 1980s. Thomas Leadsom was in his 60s so it was either nostalgia or that he hadn’t yet mastered how to change it to something more modern. He took a few moments to check that he had the right location and then looked up the nearest available parking on his screen. Naturally, his car could make all the decisions for him but he still preferred to impose his wish to park off-road. He addressed his car in a firm and authoritative voice, “Park in Parking Gambetta, it’s back across the bridge”. The car replied with a cheery “OK” and a waving emoji on the screen.

When he first bought the car in 2022, he would never have dared send it off to some parking lot, but on account of his growing fame it had been updated free of charge by Brum with new sensors and, of course, the software had been updated on a regular basis. Then two years ago, his battery was replaced with one of the new Plasform power-packs (the word “battery” by that time had a very dated feel about it). With the new power-pack, he could charge the car almost as quickly as one used to take to refill a car with gasoline, and it had a range of 300km. But many people worried about these new power-packs. After all, they still contained the same energy as a tank full of gasoline, they were physically smaller than the old lithium batteries and rapid charging put great stress on the whole system.

He reached behind his seat for a small folder of papers and eased himself out of the car. He shut the door and immediately it moved off towards its parking space, humming in an ascending scale to itself as it went. He was casually dressed, jeans and a shirt with a thick sweater and a bomber jacket to keep out the damp cold air. The Prison, Maison d’Arrêt lay towards la Cité outside the centre of the town, Thomas thought how similar in appearance it was to Wormwood Scrubs which he knew well from visiting clients. Maybe the prison featured in movies and TV series as was the case with The Scrubs. As he approached the gates to the prison, he realised, of course that numerous cameras were now plotting his progress and analysing who he was. Thomas Alvarez Lendsom, 62, British, lawyer, married with two children, lives in Hampstead, London. In the UK, ID cards had finally been accepted so the trawling of information was even easier. People realised that they had given so much about themselves in social media and online that there was really very little more that they could give away. But the research on this visitor went further. From his profile in Silicon Valley, the prison was able to create a complete picture of the man. And because he had been in all the newspapers and TV outside the law courts, le Cour d’Assises, on Friday, the prison quickly came to the conclusion that he had come to visit his client. Or “ex-client” because they had parted acrimoniously as he was led down to start his sentence and as Thomas went out to attempt to explain to the press why his client had had a “James Ratner” moment, an act of hari-kari. Norman Prensel had destroyed his case in a few short moments giving the judges an early start to their weekend, for which they were thankful because the case had already dragged on for 15 days.

Thomas had hoped to visit his client, his ex-, without anyone knowing but some hope of that. There was a small group of people outside the jail wall, some he supposed were friends or family of inmates but one or two looked suspiciously like journalists. He walked up briskly to the police officer at the gate and explained who he was and the purpose of his visit, although that was hardly necessary. It was possible that the policeman knew more about him than he knew himself. Was his wife having an affair which he was spending so much time in France? It was the hour of normal visiting and he had already checked with Norman’s family to see if they planned on visiting him. The policeman at the entrance gave Thomas an ID on a lanyard, the photo it took from their own database, and a wristband. He gave up his mobile phone.
He was led to a small room by a prison warder where he found a motley bunch of sad looking people waiting to see their loved ones (or maybe their confederates to ask where they hid the money). Thomas took a seat next to a very large woman in a floral dress. He picked up a copy of Paris Match and there at page 4 was a report on the court case, the trial of Norman Prensel, world-famous entrepreneur and bon viveur, now brought low, not by the law which his lawyer was skillfully manipulating but by a seemingly rash statement at his trial. That was why Thomas was at the jail rather than heading for home, that would have to wait. But then he doubted what would happen. Their conversation would not be direct but via an electronic link and any sound or unusual actions would immediately be picked up by the artificial intelligence. His face, his emotions would be picked up by the software. In public, face recognition was still a controversial subject, more so as it became more sophisticated. But in a prison, anything goes!

He imagined Normal being brought from his cell to the meeting room, maybe he wouldn’t want to see him and what could they talk about anyway. The weather? But, yes, Norman was happy to meet, after about 15 minutes, a warder called his name and took him down a dark corridor to the meeting room. As he opened the door, Thomas saw Norman but not as he was accustomed to seeing him. Of course, now, he was wearing a prison uniform but previously he was always impeccably dressed in a dark suit, tie and white shirt. He walked up to the screen where Norman was seated, he said “Hello” and Norman responded. Then followed a little small talk before Thomas put the big question, “Why did he do it?”. Not the crime itself but the virtual confession when Thomas had almost got him off the charges. This was the question on everyone’s lips. But he knew that Norman could not reply as it would have been picked up immediately and for sure leaked to the press. Norman looked back at him with a blank look on his face and a Gallic shrug of the shoulders. But then he smiled, this was not expected. And his smile cautiously drew Thomas’s eyes down to his hands which were clasped on the table in front of him. And then Thomas saw it. From the wrist up to the first knuckle of his right hand was a string of letters and numbers, about 12 in all. He reached in his wallet as if to consult his documents but drew out a sheet of paper and a pen and casually wrote down the string of letters. He had to write it down although he had no idea what it meant, maybe some kind of code that he could present to his clever mathematical friends in the UK. The vigilance in that room was so tight that he feared that at any moment his writing would be discovered. Norman looked back at him blankly and gave him one or two phone numbers which were obviously bogus just to camouflage the vital text. Then, out of the blue, Norman said, “My penis is tiny”. Just that. Well, Thomas had never had the opportunity to judge that, either flaccid or erect. Norman, he knew was gay but he was happily married so there was no question of anything happening between them. And then he said, “You are lawyer”. Not “You are a lawyer” which would make more sense and the former was not English in any case. But he was smart enough to realise that this was also a coded message. He didn’t even risk winking his eye, he just looked blankly back across the screen and continued to chat about the weather. And so they continued, just chatting but obviously Norman had passed something important to Thomas. The time came for him to leave, they said their goodbyes and as Thomas reached the door, he looked back to see Norman surreptitiously wiping the letters from his hand, making out that he was wringing his hands in sadness. And that was the last time either of them saw each other for a number of reasons but one in particular.

Thomas retrieved his phone and escaped out into the street again, it was 5.30pm and he checked for messages. There were very many, most of which he ignored. There were several which noted that he had visited the prison and which were requesting an interview. And the crowd had certainly increased in number, and they were not all visiting friends and relatives, that was for sure. There were two large and powerful motorbikes at the kerb and several guys hanging around with expensive looking cameras. A microphone was thrust into his face, “What did he say?” He felt vulnerable without his car so he started walking briskly in the direction of the main boulevard where he had sent his car. The press pack followed and jostled him. “You had your day on Friday, leave me alone!” he cried. He called up his car and it responded, “I will pay with the disk on the windscreen”, it replied, “Don’t worry”. Somehow his own car had caught wind of the pressure he was under, he supposed it was the tone of his voice unless the car watches TV. Maybe it was, inanimate objects, all connected to the internet-of-everything have been getting uncomfortably smart. He cursed at the journalists and paparazzi in the most vulgar French he could think of and continued walking. When he reached the bridge which crossed the River Aude, he saw a familiar blue car approaching slowly as if looking out for someone. He flung the folder in behind the driver’s seat, slammed the door shut and gratefully drove away in the direction of the A61 autoroute which would take him to Toulouse. But he had not shaken off the two motorcyclists and he also became aware of a black Mercedes which he had seen parked by the prison, He had dismissed it as obviously not being press. He couldn’t make out the registration mark but it was neither French nor British, he thought he saw a blue and yellow stripe next to the number.

After just over 10 minutes, he arrived at the autoroute. Naturally the traffic was very “fluide” as the gantry signs told him, but he was still being harassed by the two motorcycles. And the Mercedes was still there as well. He tried changing lanes but apart from increasing speed which would obviously have attracted a ticket, this was the only thing he could do. This motley little convoy continued to Toulouse where the number became A62, this was his target for getting out of France and heading for home. The two motorcycles had given up, it was obvious that he was heading back to Calais so there was no point in chasing him any further. About 5 km out of Toulouse, he pulled off to recharge the power-pack and visit the toilet. As he got back into the car, he remembered the coded letters that Norman had given him. He took the paper out of the wallet and sat thinking. Tiny penis, tiny, tiny. What is the clue there? And, “you are lawyer”. He wrote the words on the paper, folded it and put it in his top pocket. He would have to work that out later or during the boring hours of travel ahead. He didn’t see the Mercedes slip out of the lay-by 50m behind him.

Very soon he was passing the airport, he was tired but his spirits were lifting. He was happy to be going home. After about 10 km, when he was close to the maximum of 120 kph, something strange happened. There was a shock and a loud bang in the front of the car and suddenly he was upside down about 2 metres above the central reservation, at high speed. The car dropped rapidly to the ground onto its roof, spinning twice, into the fast lane of the opposing traffic and the collision with the camper-van was unavoidable. There was silence. All traffic stopped with the exception of a black Mercedes which slipped by unnoticed as it headed towards Calais. People jumped out of their cars and attempted to drag Thomas out of the car. He was obviously seriously hurt but, even in these electric day, people still feared a fire. They laid him on the road and within a few seconds, the power pack, punctured by the Armco exploded sending fire and a plume of smoke into the night. When the medics arrived, there was very little they could do. At first, they didn’t even put him in the ambulance, it was obvious that by now he was dead.