That’s the river Ystwyth, which flows into the sea at Aberystwyth. It chose that spot because ‘aber’ means ‘mouth’ in Welsh, though not the sort you eat gizzards with. I’ve never been to Aberystwyth but Curtis has. It was where he saw the sea for the first time. I saw the sea for the first time yesterday. So it could have been Y for Yesterday, but Ystwyth is more exotic, don’t you think? Not that there’s anything exotic about Aberystwyth. According to Curtis anyway, but I suspect he’s just blasé because he lives by the Mediterranean.
I didn’t actually go on the sea because my plan didn’t work out. I wanted to take the ferry to Calais, so I joined the queue and then a security man came up and said, ‘Sorry, no cats.’
‘What do you mean?’ I said. ‘I’m Smith, Terror of Tawnton, Lord High Clawncellor, reincarnation of Sir Thomas More.’
‘Think that makes you the cat’s whiskers, do you?’ He thought that was funny. ‘Now skedaddle!’
So I did. Plan B was the Eurostar, but the same thing happened, except this time it was a woman who was nicer. ‘Oh, aren’t you cute?’ she said. ‘Trying to get to France on the Eurostar. Have you got a ticket? Where’s your passport?’
I was slinking away when a man tapped me none too gently on the shoulder. ‘I wouldn’t bother, mate. What do you want to go to France for? We’ve got all we need right here. Don’t need Johnny Foreigner, that’s for sure.’ Then he went off shouting insults and bragging about Brexit.
‘What an awful yahoo!’ said an old lady behind me. ‘Pay no attention to him.’ I thought Yahoo was something to do with the Internet, but she said, ‘They’re in Gulliver’s Travels. Uncouth, nasty, cowardly brutes. Unfortunately, we have quite a few in Britain.’
‘If I’d known that, I’d have done Y for Yahoo instead of Ystwyth.’
‘Ah, so you’re doing the A to Z,’ she said brightly. ‘What a clever cat! I’m doing the #WATWB (We Are The World Blogfest). We combat negativity by pointing to stories that show kindness, compassion, hope and the resilience of the human spirit. And this month I simply want to say that not all of us here are yahoos. Councils have been overwhelmed by community support for the scheme to resettle Syrian refugees, with many local authorities increasing their pledges after campaigns from local charities and citizens’ groups. So I think, you see, that despite the negativity in the news, the reality is more uplifting. Not only does altruism exist, but it’s far more common than we think.’
She demonstrated this by driving me to Heathrow, where she gave me a tin of pilchards and advised me to stow away in someone’s luggage. So now here I am, about to set out on an epic journey of discovery, hopeful that I’ll come across more altruists than Yahoos.
In a special promotion deal, the price of Cat Tales is just $1.99 for the whole month of April. Available as a PDF (or epub / mobi) complete with colour illustrations directly from this site* by clicking the button below. Also available in print (black & white, $9.50).
*Buying from this site results in $1.61 after the PayPal commission, as opposed to just $0.70 when buying from Amazon. An insecticide treated mosquito net, which protects on average 2 people for 3 to 4 years, costs $2.50. PLUS, if you buy from this site, you’ll get a personal message of thanks from Curtis along with a short story of his own (in which Nibbles the cat, I’m sorry to say, comes to a rather unfortunate end).