In which The Author cannot be trusted with small animals
Rhian has gone away this weekend, on a journey into unknown territory. She's spending a couple of days in Poole, Dorset – a place that neither of us have visited before. As the official transport planner, I'd already established the train as the only practical means of making the journey (see A Dip in the Poole in my blog about public transport). Rhian booked the tickets a couple of weeks ago. It fits around her work shifts, so she's not using any holiday. It's also a rugby weekend, so Rhian will be deep in enemy territory by the time the match kicks off tomorrow. A plan was coming together.
That left only one problem: Alvin.
Alvin is a cat which Rhian acquired about a year ago. He's small, black, lively, and a bloody nuisance. He managed to go walkabout when he was still quite young. He turned up on the Heads of the Valleys Road between Hirwaun and Merthyr Tydfil. Some people driving along spotted him, decided he was a stray, and took him to their house in Rhymney. Alvin and Rhian were eventually reunited through social media, but the mystery is still how he got to Baverstocks in the first place. Our theory is that he climbed into a box outside a house in Trecynon, was picked up in the morning along with the rest of the recycling, and escaped when the refuse lorry reached Bryn Pica, halfway to Merthyr.
I lost count of the number of times he claimed to want to go outside on Xmas night, while Rhian and I were trying to watch a film. He was even worse a few weeks back, when we were (again) trying to watch a film. I've never liked cats anyway, and Alvin has done little to change my opinion. Somehow Rhian has decided that I'd be the perfect person to feed him while she was away. I know I live literally around the corner, but I was sure there must be someone better suited to cat-sitting. Someone who likes cats, for instance.
I've mentioned this problem to a number of my friends, and they've all said much the same thing: 'A cat will last three days without food.' Rhian was horrified when I told her that. I think she thought I was actually serious. Half-serious, maybe.
Last week Rhian managed to convince Rebecca, the former Goth barmaid (who's also Rhian's cousin), to call in twice a day and feed the cat. It was all settled, except that yesterday Rhian couldn't get hold of Rebecca to give her the spare house key. She texted me instead, asking me if I could meet her after work and take the key to pass on to Rebecca. I took the key home last night, and that should have been the end of the story.
This morning, Rhian and I had the following exchange over Facebook Messenger. I knew she was catching the 1122 train from Aberdare, so I left it until then to get in touch.
Me: Remember you're catching the Portsmouth Harbour train (probably platform 1 or 2) and changing at Southampton Central. Beyond Salisbury you're on your own, so if you get stuck you'll have to talk to an English person. Have a great weekend!
Rhian: Lol ok thanks
Me: From Southampton, some trains terminate at Poole while the rest run semi-fast to Weymouth. Make sure the Weymouth train actually stops at Poole before you get on it.
Rhian: Ok I will that would be my luck getting on wrong train
Me: I know, that's why I'm looking at the live departure boards now.
Rhian: You are a great friend
Me: Not that great. I came out without your key, so I'll have to go back for it (or feed the beast myself later on).