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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

While I was in Ibiza, my next-door neighbour decided to worm and de-flea Sydney the cat.

He’s at least fourteen years old now and has never had this sort of ignominious treatment before. Apparently, she ground up the worming pill and mixed it into a bowl of mashed-up tinned tuna. Sydney would have preferred wild red salmon, but there, wouldn’t we all.

She said it was a relatively peaceful process, unlike a friend of mine in America who kindly sent me the following advice in case I attempt to repeat the process in 2016.

Pick up Sydney and cradle in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby.

Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of Sydney’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand.

As Sydney opens mouth, pop in pill. Allow him to close mouth and swallow. Retrieve pill from floor and Sydney from behind sofa. Cradle him in left arm and repeat process.

Retrieve Sydney from bedroom and throw soggy pill away. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle Sydney in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand, force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for count of ten.

Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and Sydney from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, holding front and rear paws.

Ignore low growls emitted by Sydney. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler or similar into mouth. Roll pill down ruler and vigorously rub Sydney's throat.

Retrieve Sydney from curtain; get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for later gluing.

Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head (Sydney’s) just visible from below armpit.

Put pill in the end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down straw. Check label to make sure pill is not harmful to humans, drink one beer to take taste away. Apply plaster to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

Retrieve cat from neighbour’s shed. Get another pill. Open another beer.

Place Sydney in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessertspoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of Scotch. Pour large one and drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot.

Apply whisky compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another large one. Throw t-shirt away and fetch clean one from bedside drawer. Call Fire Brigade (if not on strike) to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid him.

Take last pill from foil wrap. Tie Sydney’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining room table. Find heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it.

Hold Sydney’s head vertically and pour two pints of water into throat to wash pill down. Consume remainder of Scotch. Open new bottle that was being saved for Christmas. Get spouse to drive you to the accident and emergency ward at the nearest hospital. Sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill fragments from right eye. Call at furniture shop on way home to order new table. Call the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals and arrange for them to collect Sydney and call pet shop to see if they have any hamsters today.

Drink remainder of Christmas Scotch.

Sinclair Newton