We had guests to lunch. By this morning the house was fairly clean and tidy. I'd already wiped the kitchen units, sides as well as the worktops, and cleaned the Aga and washed the floor, and the Systems Administrator had vacuumed everywhere else, and I'd washed the hall floor and cleaned the downstairs cloakroom. I'd put out fresh hand towels and checked the visible supplies of soap and loo roll were not about to run out. The SA had put fresh newspaper under the kittens' food plates and their litter tray. Altogether things were looking quite presentable by our standards. This morning I added a few finishing touches like wiping the mantelpiece, something that doesn't normally bother me personally since I am too short to see it unless I stand on tiptoe.
By mid morning the kittens had had their breakfast, been out, come in again, and two were sitting quietly under one of the chairs in front of the television. Suspiciously quietly as it turned out, because a few minutes later we discovered they had a mouse. The SA got rid of the mouse. I got on with making Jane Grigson's leek and mushroom tart, with only a brief moment of panic when I emerged briefly from the kitchen and found the energetic kitten in the hall with a dead bird. The SA put the energetic kitten out, together with his bird, and vacuumed up the feathers. By half past eleven we were all sitting down quietly, even the energetic kitten, waiting for our visitors, until the serious kitten started wrestling with Mr Fluffy on the sofa.
As soon as the guests arrived the serious kitten disappeared. He hates and distrusts visitors. The other two stared at the strange people from a safe distance, before the energetic kitten decided that they were not dangerous and consented to sit looking kittenish on the pouffe and occasionally chase his tail in an entertaining way. This is the trouble with people declaring they want to see our kittens, apart from the fact that the kittens are virtually six months old and well on the way to being small cats. There's no guaranteeing whether they will want to be seen. Our Ginger obliged, and sat with us all before lunch then toured the garden with us afterwards, but we were a trifle light in the delightful balls of fluff stakes. Though on the plus side we did not have any more birds or mice. I still remember the time a couple staying with us in our previous house opened their bedroom door in the morning to find a dead rat laid out in the lobby.
Mr Fluffy did not want to consort with the visitors up close and personal, but consented to come in. The serious kitten would not come into the house at all, even when the SA waved a plate of food at him. The combination of heat, tail chasing and general excitement seemed to have blunted the energetic kitten's appetite, so Mr Fluffy was able to eat most of his brothers' lunch as well as his own, and retreated to the garden to spend the rest of the afternoon sleeping it off.
The troops regrouped once the scary visitors had gone away, and all three followed me over to the greenhouse to do the watering, then Mr Fluffy thought that dragging the hose round the garden was such a good game that he stayed with me while I watered the rest of the pots in the front garden. I am mildly regretful that they can't be depended on to entertain visitors, but that's cats for you. They like who they like. Our Ginger likes everybody and the short indignant tabby detested everyone except us. The Maine Coons were pretty sociable, the black cat gave strangers a wide berth. The new generation of cats will suit themselves according to their individual personalities. Mr Fluffy will probably learn to oblige once he gets used to the idea, but I don't hold out much hope of the serious kitten. A pity as he is growing into an elegant cat, and he is extremely affectionate to us, when he's in the mood to be fussed.