One of the many endearing things about our cat is that he has never forgotten where he comes from.
OPINION: Abandoned at birth, Satchmo spent his formative months in a city rubbish dump. Eighteen months after being rescued, now living the high-life at the centre of our household, he retains signs of the survival behaviours he learnt in that godless wasteland.
He eats all 14 of his daily snacks with his back to the wall, one eye out for potential invaders. Of an evening, he naps under the dining table where he has clear triple views of his people, his bowl and the cat door. He would make an excellent sniper.
When he sleeps on our bed at night, he is a languid strip of liquid cat stretched along my back in the big spoon position. Sometimes he is so asleep I think I can hear him snore lightly. Yet the smallest flip of the cat-flap on the other side of the house has him instantly coiled into spring position, careening down the hall to see off whichever of his daytime playmates has mistaken a bit of garden romping for an invitation to a midnight snack.
I don't know what it is like to fend for yourself in a rubbish dump, but I can see it makes it hard to ever entirely trust the good life we try to create for him. My own tendency towards anxiety - part innate, partly the result of living for periods in anxious times - can take the shine off sparkly things if I'm not careful.
This last week has been ridiculous and so have I. I am living the dream - flown to Port Douglas at someone else's expense to stay in a stunning tropical resort that looks better in the flesh than it did in the brochures. I have eaten buckets of prawns, drunk cocktails and swum with fish over the Great Barrier Reef. Snow is forecast for Christchurch. I am writing this while lying in my bikini by the pool. I know. I'd hate me, too.
And I do a little bit. I spent the first day here totally discombobulated. In our business we call it "looking for the catch". Because there almost always is one. Maybe the producer is a predator, or you don't get paid or the gig turns out to be at 5pm in an RSL for sleepy grandpas and small children for whom you have no appropriate stories, and the microphone doesn't work, and they actually thought you were someone else who sang show tunes.
All of those things have happened sometime. None of them happened this time. It has been perfect - great gig, delightful people, bonus adventures and much kindness. I am trying to embrace it. If I keep looking for the catch, it may turn out that that's the catch: my own failure to surrender to joy.
Perhaps one more cocktail will help. I will tell Satchmo about it when I get home.
- The Press