It's been Official Week of the Manky-Brained Harlot round here. The Sidekick and I left the bathroom window open on Sunday night, to facilitate the immildewification of said bathroom, and thereby instead facilitated the escapades of Intrepid Harriet. Out the bathroom window she slunk, down the neighbour's prickly conifer she clomb, into the neighbour's enclosed backyard she plunked, round the neighbour's chicken coop she sniffed, whereupon she realised she was verily stuck. Actually, that's my reconstruction. This is how it really went: at 10.30 we closed the bathroom window which had been opened for the immildewification of said bathroom and retired to the recumbent reading room safe in the knowledge that Harriet and Beatrice were hiding under their hard furnishings of preference; by 11.00, Beatrice was pillowing her head on my ankle, but Harriet hadn't emerged from under her hard furnishing; I searched the baronial premises; no Harriet. We remembered the bathroom window. We shuffled outside in slippers and jammies. "Oh, Harriet!" I stage-whispered into the night, so as not to antagonise the neighbours. "Why, Harriet!" Still no Harriet. And then I saw Leonard, perched atop Apartment 7's recycling bin and staring hard over next door's fence. I listened. Tinkle-jing. Harriet's collar. Sidekick, who's got the advantage of an extra 8 inches, looked over the fence, where sat Harriet, staring up at him, relief in her eyes.
"Oh, Harriet," said Sidekick. "It's you! Good girl! Thank God!" (We were worried, see, 'cause it's a rough neighbourhood, what with four lanes of traffic just around the corner, to say nothing of the menaces of Fat Cat, who lives a couple of houses down the street, and is all "I wuv you, I wuv you so much, I wuuuuuuuvvvvvvvv you, purr, purr", until he sees Hazza or Bea, whereupon he lets out a godawful air-raid-siren of a meow and squares himself up like a Staffordshire Terrier whose bone you've just admired.)
Anyway: "Meow!" said Harriet (truly - that's exactly what she said - two syllables and everything).
"Jump up here," said Sidekick.
"My good man, if you think I can jump 1.85 metres straight into the air without serious inducement - and might I here suggest Tasmanian smoked salmon with King Island clotted cream and organic caper berries - you are sorely deluded," replied Harriet.
"I see," said Sidekick. "Well, perhaps you could follow me along the obverse of this fence and I will lead you to the neighbour's padlocked gate, under which you should be able to squeeze yourself, whereupon I will scoop you up and escort you personally back into your nice warm home."
"That's all very well," said Harriet. "But I cannot understand a word you are saying, and I wish you'd come up with a plan to get me out of this garden rather than blathering on."
And so Sidekick and I told Harriet she was a fine, fine cat, and suggested she try climbing back up the tree that leads to our bathroom window, which we promised her we would keep open, and then went back to the recumbent reading facility, where we lay awake for the next hour and a half, hoping, hoping, hoping that Harriet wasn't being molested by Fat Cat. Actually, we knew she wasn't, because she had set herself up in the corner of nextdoor's garden closest to the edge of our apartment block and was gazing longingly up at our window. Beatrice, meanwhile, lay on the window sill, gazing longingly down at Harriet.
At 2.30, we heard a scrabble and a thump. It was Harriet, figuring out how to climb back up the conifer. We cracked open the Iams cat biscuits, threw a bit of a party, and then went back to bed.
That, I submit, is the main cause of my manky-brainedness for the rest of the week. I managed to lose my phone recharger, forget - in the middle of a lecture - the name of the bloke who wrote Rousseau's autobiography, and leave my wallet and keys on my office desk on Wednesday evening, so that when halfway through my walk home I found myself with a pile of olives, peas, bread and toilet paper at the Coles checkout, it turned out that I was completely without funds. I spent the next hour and a half ambling through my neighbouring suburbs, plucking the ripe figs that dangled over people's fences. I was still home half an hour before anyone who could let me inside, so I checked the letterbox, and by the light of the silvery halogen streetlamp, read Medecins sans Frontiers' letter about tuberculosis so many times I was ready to give them my entire life-savings immediately - only my credit card was sitting in my wallet locked inside my office four kilometres away.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why a more sensible me would have invested in a fly-screen for her bathroom window three months ago, but all's well that ends well, blah blah.