Teddie Tumpkins Teddie Tumpkins, a large tom cat with a magnificent set of whiskers, an incredible black moustache and a fabulously fluffy tail, had recently moved into a new home in Tiddleswick on Sea after he'd spent the first couple of years of his kitten-cat life living in a nice house on a quiet estate road with his feline friends.

He was now settling into his new home, which was a bungalow, with his two humans who had just retired from work and had moved to the quiet little seaside town of Tiddleswick on Sea. For the first couple of days he was kept firmly behind closed doors and windows as cats have a nasty habit of running away when they move to a strange house. He also had his paws smeared with butter, which is a traditional thing that humans do to their cats when they move house. The butter is supposed to taste so delicious that the cats lick their paws then don't run away because they think that if they stay around then they'll get some more.

As he was confined to his new house he had to settle for exploring the inside. A few bits of furniture were covered over in old sheets, as Teddie's humans were decorating. So while they were preoccupied with scraping off old wallpaper and sanding down skirting boards he was free to wander from room to room, but try as he might he couldn't find the upstairs. He was certain that there must be a whole upstairs to explore. Teddie Tumpkins had never been in a bungalow before so it never dawned on him that was why the human's bed was on the same floor as the kitchen and the bathroom.

After spending most of the day investigating he jumped up onto a window sill then gently nodded off to sleep in the warm sunshine that was streaming through the glass. The road outside was very quiet. In fact he now lived at the end of a cul-de-sac, if only he knew what a cul-de-sac was. Cats don't really understand human-speak, apart from the odd word like 'vet' or 'bath'!

When he finally woke up and peered through the window he was surprised to see two marmalade coloured cats that looked very similar, sitting in the window of the bungalow opposite, staring back at him. The fur on his back and his neck start to rise as he let out a silent hiss. He thought that they needed to be viewed more closely. He meowed at the front door, but there was no way his humans were going to allow him outside. He then annoyed his humans so much by yowling and stomping round that a damp sponge was thrown at him which sent him scampering into the kitchen. He climbed into his litter tray, scratching vigorously and throwing grit all over the floor, which usually did the trick. His humans would normally race into the kitchen to let him out, fearful of what was about to come next. But his little ploy didn't work, so he had to content himself with just doing his business in the litter tray. This did, indeed, send the humans running, for the air freshener. But try as they might, they couldn't remember where they had packed it, so the litter tray was then evicted into the garden and the top window in the kitchen was thrown open to let some fresh air in. Teddie Tumpkins wandered back into the kitchen some time later when the air had cleared.

He took a second look at the window that had been opened. It looked remarkably like a window he had squeezed through some time before on one of his adventures as a younger cat when he had broken into a neighbour's house to steal some roast chicken. He had received such a finger wagging telling off from his humans when he had been discovered. He couldn't hide his guilt as there was chicken grease smeared all over his mouth and whiskers when he had been returned to his owners under the arm of a very angry neighbour who owned the roast chicken!

He jumped onto the kitchen sink, and mooching along the work surface, he looked up at the window although he stretched up as far as he could, he couldn't quite reach the opening. With a very small leap he found his head was looking out from between his two front paws as he hauled himself up and over the window, lost his grip then fell forward unceremoniously into the long unkempt grass outside. He'd done it, he'd escaped!

"Now where are those two ginger cats?" he thought to himself as he padded round the bungalow familiarising himself with his new territory. His garden was like a jungle. There was an old apple tree which looked just right for climbing, a tumble down lean-to on the back of the garage and a concrete path that lead down to a wall at the bottom of the garden. At the front of the house there was a small lawn which was overgrown too, and some rose bushes which had grown wild.

There were two brick built gateposts at the front of the property with a nice flat slab on top which was just perfect for a cat to sit on to watch the world go by. It soon became apparent that the road where he lived was a dead-end and all the bungalows looked identical to the one where he lived.  He now got back to the job in hand, which was to find the two marmalade coloured cats and see what they were all about.

He jumped down from the gate post, shuffled across the road then jumped up onto the wall of their house. He looked down into their garden, which by comparison to his own was very neat and tidy, with an immaculately clipped lawn, lots of bushes where a cat could easily hide, or even make a comfy nest. He didn't have to wait very long, two furry ginger heads popped out from behind a peony bush, staring back at him with big orange eyes, curiously. The two fat marmalade cats then minced across the lawn, tails erect, towards Teddie Tumpkins.

They sat down and looked at him. The fur on Teddie's back stood up on end again.

"Oooow, I say, there's no need for that. We're not like that you know.

I said we're not like that," chirruped the larger of the two chubby cats, so Teddie Tumpkins sat and calmed down.

"My name's Ginger Podgers," the much larger of the two marmalade cats announced, "and this is my brother, Fred Who Stares. He's called Fred Who Stares on account of him having a squint you know. I said he squints, don't you Freddo?"

Teddie meets the Marmaladies

Fred Who Stares rebuffed his brother with "No need to explain why you're called Podgers, you wobbly fat blimp." Teddie Tumpkins eyed them both up, they did indeed make quite a comical pair. He then thought he had better introduce himself so he sat up to his full height, pushed his magnificent set of whiskers and mustache forward then proclaimed himself to be Teddie Tumpkins.

"Ooooww look at him Freddo. Look Freddie, look what a lovely moustache he's got. I said Fred, and just look at those whiskers he's got, and so handsome too."

"Just moved in have we?" inquired Fred Who Stares.

"As a matter of fact I have" confirmed Teddie Tumpkins.

"There was a lovely cat in that bungalow before you, lovely wasn't he

Ginge?" Fred went on.

"Ooow yes, lovely Freddo" Ginger Podgers confirmed dreamily.

"Funny cat, had no tail, said he came originally from the Isle of Man, wherever that is," Fred Who Stares went on.

"So, what happens around here?" asked Teddie Tumpkins, "what do you boys do for fun?"

"Fun, ..... oh no," sighed Ginger Podgers.

"We don't really do 'fun,'” yawned Fred Who Stares, "we just stay at home."

Teddie Tumpkins looked perplexed. "But you must have adventures, go off on explorations and expeditions?"

The two marmalade cats gave each other puzzled looks.

"Adventures? ... Expeditions?   We don't think so, no, we don't do those, I said, no way," confirmed Ginger Podgers.

"What about games like 'Swat the bluebottle'?" Teddie Tumpkins asked incredulously.

"Nope, never heard of that," the marmalade cats replied together, "we used to play 'ghost mice', but we haven't done that for simply ages now that Gingie is too podgy," Fred Who Stares went on.

"So, what's 'ghost mice'?" asked Teddie Tumpkins curiously, "that's a new one on me."

"Well, we didn't like to catch real mice when we were younger," Fred Who Stares started.

"Ooooh, Fred, remember when we saw a real mouse once?" Ginger Podgers interrupted, "didn't like it though, did we Fred? I say we didn't like it. Frightened us half to death it did. Horrible thing. So we would pretend. If we saw a leaf blowing across the path we would chase after it and pretend it was a proper mouse instead, lot less frightening. I said not as scary as the real thing."

"And that's it?" scoffed Teddie Tumpkins, "that's all you do?"

"Well, that, and keeping out of Skwonx's way," the marmalade brothers both whispered fearfully, almost expecting to be overheard.

"Who or what is a Skwonx then?" asked Teddie Tumpkins.

"Come a little closer and we'll tell you," whispered Fred Who Stares, so Teddie Tumpkins jumped down from the wall. The cats exchanged nose touching, but when it came to bottom sniffing, Teddie Tumpkins quickly sat down and politely declined.

"So, who is Skwonx then?" Teddie Tumpkins urged them to tell all.

"He's one of the local gang members," Fred Who Stares informed him.

"Oh, do tell me," Ginger Podgers gasped, "full of his own importance that cat, I said full of it he is."

Soon Teddie Tumpkins learned that the infamous Skwonx was a large grey

Tom cat, who hadn't had a visit to the vets for a certain operation that all tom cats should have. He was always on the lookout for mischief and would chase Ginger Podgers and Fred Who Stares whenever he saw them.

"He sits outside our window and stares in at us taunting us for not joining in with his adventures with the other members of his gang," whimpered Fred Who Stares.

"We're scared to go out some days," Ginger Podgers added, "so we just have to stay inside and lie low until he goes away."

"Oooow, and spray...." went on Fred Who Stares, "talk about spray, he must drink three litres worth of puddles a day just to keep himself in working order. There's not a bush in our garden that doesn't smell of Skwonx, and he's Second in Command of a gang of desperadoes who go by the name of.... No, I can't bring myself to say it."

"Oh, but you must!" insisted Teddie Tumpkins.

"Well, they call themselves 'The Tiddleswick Tail Lifters.' Make of that what you will."

"Ooooh, I say Fred, he forced it out of us. Poor Ted will bump into him sooner or later," Ginger Podgers cried.

Teddie's humans had missed him by now. They had looked everywhere for him and thought for one horrible moment, that he'd got into a packing case and been taken away to the refuse centre. He heard his name being called from across the road.

"Teddie come on, it's your favourite," the cat meat knife was tapped urgently on a plate. It wasn't his normal plate by the sound of it.

"Sounds like you're wanted" commented Fred Who Stares.

"Oow I say, they probably think you've ran away, I said ran away you naughty boy Teddikins!" Ginger Podgers added.

"Don't forget to came back and see us again now, Teddie," shouted Fred Who Stares after him as his new friend bounded across the road.

"Nice boy isn't he? I said Fred, he's a nice boy," commented Ginger Podgers.

Teddie Tumpkins darted through his front door and was promptly scolded for escaping. The cat meat in the green can was dolloped out onto an unfamiliar plate which bore the words 'Present from Llandudno'. Having watched 'The Antiques Roadshow' his humans had realized that it would never become a family heirloom worth keeping. The house was still a mess and the decorating was far from complete. Walls had been stripped of the old fashioned floral wallpaper, which must have been popular once.

As Teddie Tumpkins seemed to know his way back to his new home, his humans left the back door open to help the newly painted ceiling in the lounge to dry.

After a bite to eat, he ventured out into the jungle which, under normal circumstances, would be his back garden. The grass was as high as he was and it was great fun pushing his way through, not quite knowing where he was going. He found his way to the apple tree and looked up at the small green apples hanging from the branches. He stretched up then sharpened his claws on the bark. When he'd finished he turned his back to the trunk and thought it was about time he marked his new territory in the traditional tom cat manner before climbing the tree.

In no time at all he was high into the branches having a good look round. Over the garden wall he could see the sea, on the distant horizon, some houses, a couple of shops and to his astonishment, through the gaps in the buildings he could see a small train rattling its way along the coastal line.

"Mmmm," thought Teddie Tumpkins to himself, licking his lips "lots of adventures to be had here". He couldn't help but feel sorry for Ginger Podgers and Fred Who Stares, who by the sound of it hadn't really been much further than their own garden.

He was called in for the night then the door was locked behind him.

There weren't any curtains up yet and the bungalow still had a strange feel and smell to it.  He hadn't quite found anywhere to his liking to curl up and go to sleep yet. He had slept in one of the old packing cases on the first night, but they'd all gone now. He used to sleep on top of the fridge in the old house, but that had stayed behind when they moved, and the piece of old mat that had been put down on the kitchen floor for him was far too cold and draughty. He needed his comfort.

When the humans had gone to bed he decided to do a bit more exploring in search of the perfect snoozy spot. Most of the furniture was still covered over with old sheets smelling of paint which he didn't like. He still couldn't find the stairs, but he did find the humans snoring away under their comfy duvet. So he jumped onto the bed, padded at the duvet with his front paws whilst purring gently. He turned round a few times just to make sure this was the spot, lifted his back leg and carried out a bit of bottom polishing, then washed his paws and face before he settled down for the night.

He curled up into a tight little ball and began to think about the day's events. He felt pity for the Marmalade brothers. They really needed to get out more, so he made a decision to introduce them to some new adventures. As for Skwonx, he was still an unknown quantity, and he would make up his own mind about him when he came face to face with him, hopefully on Teddie's own terms. As he closed his eyes, he couldn't help having one last thought about his old pals that he'd left behind, at his old home, and he wondered how they would ever manage without him.

A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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