Most Saturday mornings my staff, my female staff's mum and I can be found at one of the pavement tables at The Mulberry Cafe in Cooroy. Badger prefers not to join us, he likes to spend Saturdays doing his toenails. I sit on either of my staff's lap while they slurp their skinny soy decaffeinated, gluten free, lactose free lattes and guzzles their muffins. I have long since become accustomed to the attention I receive from passing pedestrians and the people who come out of nearby shops to gawp at me and make suggestions as to what sort of creature I might be.
"It could be a mongoose." One of them might whisper.
"Nah, it's a rabbit." Says another.
Somebody else comes up with "It's obviously some sort of possum."
None of this worries me now that I am older and wiser, certainly wiser than most of the residents of Cooroy at least. There was a time when I would get quite offended if someone accused me of being a deformed kitten or a fat ferret, but not any more. Such remarks are water off a duck's back to me these days, though I do reserve the right to bite people who peer down at me, stroke my nose and proclaim to my staff "Wow! That's one hell of a rat you've got there." There's only so much even a laid back sort of piggy such as yours truly can take.
My favourite part of these Saturday morning excursions are the conversation that take place between my female staff's mum and Sharon, the proprietor of the Mulberry Cafe. My female staff's mum is a very fit eighty-four year old and Sharon is a lovely friendly, jovial lady of indeterminate age, though I suspect she is younger than my staff. Both are delightfully vague. Although my female staff's mum can remember what colour knickers she wore on March the 14th 1951 or whether she had a pork or beef sausage for breakfast on the first day of World War Two, she struggles to remember what day it is today or where she parked her car, or even if she drove the car for that matter. I'm told that this is common among older humans and I have even noticed that my staff are heading the same way lately. I'm not sure what Sharon's excuse is though, being the youngest of all of them. Anyway, when she has time she comes out of the cafe kitchen and joins us at our table. The conversations are always memorable. Here's the latest episode from this Saturday.
"Did you see that thing on telly last night?" She'll say to my female staff's mum.
"Not sure. What thing was that?"
"You know, that thing with wassisname in it....and that woman who was in the other thing."
"I don't think I know who you mean."
Yes you do. You know.....the bloke with the funny ears. He was also in that thing that used to be on Monday nights."
"Oh yes, I know who you mean. What was his name again? Walter Pigeon, wasn't it?
"No, Russell Crowe. That's who I meant."
"Ah yes. I knew it was some sort of bird. I hate crows anyway. Have you seen what they do to new born lambs?" Sharon's face takes on a puzzled, surprised expression at this unexpected twist to the conversation.
"No......anyway, "says Sharon," where was I?
"Walter Pigeon," suggests my female staff's mum helpfully.
"No, I was talking about the TV show I saw last night with Russel Crowe."
"You were watching TV with Russel Crowe? Is he a friend of your husband? It must be nice to have people like that come around now and again. I don't like him much though. Didn't he hit someone with a phone once?"
"Who? My husband?"
"No, not your husband. I'm talking about Walter Pigeon. He hit someone with a phone."
"You mean Russell Crowe."
"That's what I said."
By this time my staff's eyes are beginning to glaze over, but my female staff's mum and Sharon are only just getting warmed up. My head is turning from one to the other as though I'm watching a tennis match.
"I think I did see that programme last night come to think of it." Said my female staff's mum. "Was it that movie about radiators?"
Sharon looked puzzled again for a moment. "Oh, you mean gladiators?"
"Yes. That's what I said. You really should pay more attention dear. Actually I don't think it was Walter Pigeon or Russell Crowe. I think it was Charlton Athletic."
Sharon frowned. "I think you'll find Charlton Athletic is an English football club. You must mean Charlton Heston."
"No, he died years ago. He couldn't have been at your place watching telly."
"I didn't say any anyone was watching telly with me, especially not Charlton Athletic. Gah! I mean Charlton Heston." My male staff was rubbing his temples and complaining that he was getting a headache. Then the regular crowd of MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) turned up at the cafe and were busily propping their bicycles against the wall and unstrapping their enormous tear drop shaped crash helmets.
"Time to go." Said my male staff, draining his coffee.
"Damn!" I thought. It looked as though the MAMILs each had a French bean and a couple of small Brussels sprouts shoved down the front of their pants and I was optimistic that they might be persuaded to share them with a cute, hairy rodent. However, it wasn't to be, I was whisked away before I could start nibbling at things.
I'm so glad that I stay at home while the rest of them go off to the cafe. My feet are aching just thinking about about having to listen to Billy's female staff's mum and Sharon. It's bad enough that she calls me "Skunk" whenever she comes to visit. Time after time I've said, "No, it's Badger." But I suppose all she hears is "wheek wheek rumble putter wheek!"