Mr Cool was not in for his breakfast this morning. Initially I was not too fussed, since he likes to go out and normally shows up by nine or half past. When he had not come in by ten I walked up the side of the wood calling for him, and round the back garden, but he didn't appear. I had to go out soon after midday for an afternoon woodland charity talk, and as I set off there was still no sign of him.
I fretted about him all the way up the A12, then managed to stop thinking about him once I was set up in the hall, ready to go. Today's group was a U3A with a proper sound system including big speakers on stands, a lapel microphone that didn't keep cutting out or depend on my holding my head in exactly the right position at all times, and a cheerful man who knew how it all worked. Since the first part of the talk is accompanied by actual twigs, and I tend to move about and use my hands to illustrate points while lecturing, it is a lot easier not to be rooted to a microphone stand or desperately concentrating on holding the microphone the correct distance from my chin with one hand while operating the projector or rifling through a basket of twigs with the other. The only technical issue today was that the hall's big screen was above the stage, and even with maximum tilt on my projector table and a magazine wedged under the projector's front feet the image still fell short of the top of the screen, and I had to raid my pile of leaflets for extra packing.
The U3A seemed to enjoy the talk, or at they stayed awake and some of them were smiling and some came up afterwards to say that they had enjoyed it. I'd give this afternoon's effort an alpha minus, whereas I rated the last one beta double plus. It is very hard to tell, though, like trying to say how you did after an exam. There have been times when the audience have sat through a talk so solemnly and stiffly I've been amazed to get a call a year or two later inviting me back, but other times when people seemed to love the talk on the day then I never heard from any of them again.
As I packed up my things I remembered that Mr Cool had not been seen since about ten last night. I drove back up the A12 telling myself that when I got home the Systems Administrator would greet me with the news that Mr Cool was back, but Mr Cool was not back and it was raining. The SA had been up the side of the wood and through the wood calling him before the rain, to no avail. I changed into my gardening clothes to start looking for Mr Cool, and Mr Cool appeared, soaking wet. He graciously consented to be clasped to my bosom while water soaked into my t shirt, then he ate some tea, or perhaps it was a late lunch or breakfast, and then he went to sleep in my chair in the study.
Today was the longest we have gone so far without sight of him. Even when he isn't hungry he pops in after we've got up to say hello, and he generally wants lunch. There were strange people here this afternoon, first of all some friends kindly bringing us straw bales for the chicken run, and then our cheerful local boiler specialist to do the annual service and measure up to replace the heated towel rails, which are leaking. Mr Cool hates strange people, so perhaps once they started to turn up he remained out of sight until they had gone and it started to rain. That doesn't explain why he ignored us calling for him earlier, when yesterday he was enormously friendly, but that's cats for you.