‘Is that so? You’re great for getting up and on the road so early, that’s still the middle of the night for me. Dark until Moffat, you say? That surprises me, either you were driving fast, or the sunrise is later than I thought it was. Yes, that’s true, I suppose it is only the end of January. Coffee’s ready, will you have a cup? Absolutely it’s fresh. Brewed it when I got your text saying you were five minutes off. Hot milk? No bother at all, I’ve got one of those frother-things if that makes any difference. Hand-held, battery, but it does the trick. Bacon? Good, I wasn’t sure, and mushrooms too? Sorry, I’ve no sausages. How do you like your eggs? Funny, I was going to get black pudding but then I thought about the haggis we’d be having this evening and decided that would be more than enough offal for one day. Now you’re just being polite; you weren’t joking one bit, I should have bought it. I could run out and get some now. Ok, we’ll do with what we have. No, I’m grand just pottering – you sit there and talk to me, too many cooks and all that. He’s doing the very best, thriving, wait ’til I wipe this egg from my hands and I’ll show you a photograph on my phone. I know, gorgeous; six months tomorrow. Eyes bluest when he smiles. Ach, I’m sorry to hear that. That’s an awful blow, a bad way to start the New Year. But nineteen, that’s a good age. What would that be in human years? One dog year is supposed to be equivalent to seven human years, but what about cats? Oh, it’s the same? So that would have made R. 133 years old. Surely that can’t be right. Still, even if we made it equal to six, it’s some age for a cat. How crispy do you like your bacon? Buried where? Under the Twisted Hazel. Nice that you can see it from the table you work at. How do you mean you hear him? Where and when? Bizarre. You don’t think it’s simply your imagination leaking into your reality? They say that can happen; muscle memory of what you’ve heard daily for years and years gets hardwired in and there is a blurring. Purring and meowing and pawing at doors, things you’ve heard over and over for nineteen years, the echo of those sounds can remain in your head long after actual noise has gone. Maybe you are recreating it unconsciously as a form of comfort. Shall I toast the bread? No, I’m not saying you’re mad, but it does sound a little peculiar. Explain that one to me again. The door opens? But just a crack, same amount as it would if R. had pushed it and slithered through. Now that is odd. The noises I could put down to your imagination, but doors opening by themselves, that makes me more inclined to believe you’re living with the ghost of your dead cat. Poor thing, and it out under the Hazel. Are you ok with scrambled eggs, served up on the loose side? I can’t bear rubbery eggs myself.’
Farm Breakfast, John Clare
Maids shout to breakfast in a merry strife,
And the cat runs to hear the whetted knife,
And dogs are ever in the way to watch
The mouldy crust and falling bone to catch.
The wooden dishes round in haste are set,
And round the table all the boys are met;
All know their own save Hodge who would be first,
But every one his master leaves the worst.
On every wooden dish, a humble claim,
Two rude cut letters mark the owner’s name;
From every nook the smile of plenty calls,
And rusty flitches decorate the walls,
Moore’s Almanack where wonders never cease–
All smeared with candle snuff and bacon grease