It was another damp miserable day not unlike many in Teddie's experience. His garden was still overgrown, and as he didn't fancy getting his fur soaked he thought that he would stay indoors to help the humans with their decorating. It had been over a week since they had moved into their retirement bungalow. The furniture was still covered over, the walls had been stripped of wallpaper and the skirting boards sanded down. Today was the day that the wall painting would start with a vengeance. He watched with interest as the equipment was assembled for the day's work. He was soon distracted when his breakfast was served in the kitchen. He quite liked his 'Present from Llandudno' plate, it was genuine bone china which it had a nice ring to it when the cat meat knife was tapped on it.

When his breakfast was eaten, paws and whiskers were washed then his bottom given a final lick, he was ready to face the day. He squeezed through a gap in the door and found himself in the lounge. It was there that he spotted his first adventure of the day. A step ladder had thoughtfully, to Teddie's mind, been placed in the corner of the room. He thought it would be so easy to climb, so without further ado he sprang up the steps onto the ledge at the top. But something wasn't quite right. It felt cold, wet and something smelt funny. He looked down at his paws and to his horror he was standing in the deep end of a tray of white emulsion paint, almost up to his elbows and knees. What was he going to do?

Just at that moment, his male human came back into the room, and seeing Ted, let out a pained yell of disbelief. Teddie Tumpkins leapt from the top of the ladder just as his male human tried to grab him. He went one way, the tray of paint the other. His human squealed even louder.

"Grab him quick" he shouted to his female human. Teddie Tumpkins showered the room with wet droplets of paint as he shook his paws trying to get the paint out of his fur. Eventually he was cornered and captured, then held in a vice like grip for fear that he should escape to do even more damage. He was plonked unceremoniously into the kitchen sink where he was soon immersed in warm water and washing up liquid. The water immediately turned white, and so did Teddie Tumpkins, with shock.

After two washes and three rinses, accompanied by much yowling and struggling, he was almost clean. His humans were so annoyed with him, that he was thrown outside in disgrace without so much as a lighttowellingdown. He found himself in the long grass which was just as wet as he was and the only place that looked dry was the old lean-to behind the garage.

He had no trouble getting in as the old door had been blown off its hinges years ago. He then set about the laborious task of getting himself dry. His fur tasted horribly of a mixture of paint residues and washing up liquid, and a small bruise was coming up on the top of his head where it had hit a tap whilst he was trying to escape from the sink.

A couple of hours passed before he started to look feline again, and it was about then, that he noticed that the lean-to smelt very strongly of tom cat. He hadn't had time to explore the lean-to before, as there had always been something more important to look at. But the more he looked around the more it looked like a cat had been using the lean-to as a kind of make shift home. A tingle ran down his spine, through his ribs then out of the tip of his tail. It could be a monster feral cat, three times bigger than him and fiercer than any nasty dog. His imagination ran away with him as he thought about what may burst through the doorway growling and spitting at him, so he decided to add his own scent. He sprayed furiously over the most fragrant areas.

The decrepit lean-to had lots of things left there by the old lady who had lived in the bungalow previously. She hadn't really kept up with the house or garden maintenance. There was a rusty old lawnmower, a few garden tools that had seen better days, then, in a box of old sacks, he came eyeball to eyeball with the demon of his imagination. Teddie Tumpkins hissed. So did the stranger. Teddie's fur stood on end as though he had had an electric shock. He didn't know whether to run and hide or stay and fight. Out of the box, very, very slowly, stepped a huge grey cat, which clearly hadn't been to the vets for that 'certain operation' that all tom cats should have as a kitten. From the description given to him by Ginger Podgers and Fred Who Stares Teddie Tumpkins was almost nose to nose with none other than the Skwonx.

The shed was soon aquiver with a full blown cat fight, the likes of which Tiddleswick on Sea had never seen before. Rusty garden tools fell down, flower pots were smashed, and as the fur really flew, so did the feline swearing as they hissed and spat. Teddie's ears were cut, Skwonx's nose was bleeding but still the fight rolled on. It only came to a sudden stop when a bowl of old, cold rainwater fell off a small shelf onto the brawling cats, putting an immediate halt to hostilities. Teddie Tumpkins couldn't believe his bad luck, two soakings in one day. Skwonx wasn't too pleased either as the pair of them then ran hell for leather down the garden and over the wall, out of sight. They stood aggressively glaring at each other tails flicking with anger not sure whether to continue with the fight or whether to call a truce. Skwonx shook himself vigorously then introduced himself.

"I'm Skwonx," he panted in a faint voice, trying to catch his breath.

"I know," Teddie Tumpkins told him, "I've heard all about you."

"Really?" asked Skwonx, surprised but pleased that his reputation preceded him. "So now you can tell me who you are."

Teddie Tumpkins told him all about himself, and that he was the new cat who was living in the bungalow. He also went on to tell Skwonx all about his meeting with Ginger Podgers and Fred Who Stares who had warned him about Skwonx.

"Oh, those pair of wusses," scoffed Skwonx. "Ginger Podgers and Fred Who Stares," he sneered, "me and the lads in the gang call them the 'Marmaladies.'" Teddie Tumpkins laughed at this, and the more he thought about it the more he laughed.

"I see what you mean," chuckled Teddie Tumpkins.

"They are about as hard as custard, and just as yellow," added Skwonx, "did they mention that they're frightened of mice?"

"It does take some believing." commented Teddie Tumpkins.

"Well, I'll let you into a little secret," Skwonx went on "seeing as we look like we're going to be pals. I caught a mouse one afternoon in their garden then just for a bit of fun I let it go in their kitchen just to see their reaction. Well, the Marmaladies' humans squealed and squealed, and the Marmaladies did much the same. In the end, the Marmaladies' humans came round to my house and pleaded with my humans to take me round and catch the offending mouse. Well, Tumpers, when I got there the Marmaladies were both standing on a stool together, frightened rigid. Their old lady human was holding her skirt tight in case the mouse ran up her leg. The old male human was doing his best to be brave. He was holding a very threatening rolled up newspaper."

Teddie Tumpkins was enthralled by Skwonx's tale.

"So what happened next?" he pleaded.

"I got up to a bit of mouse-chief, just to liven things up a bit. When I caught the mouse behind the freezer I paraded it around the house in my mouth, waving it at the Marmaladies whilst holding it by its tail. The Marmaladies both shrank back and promptly fell off the stool and Ginger Podgers fainted. I showed it to their lady human who started to scream hysterically, then the old man wet himself. Do you want to hear something really funny? The Marmaladies' humans paid my humans for my services, and I got a packet of ham."

Teddie Tumpkins howled with laughter.

"The Marmaladies were quivering wrecks for the next couple of weeks. The nearest thing the Marmaladies got to a mouse after that was playing 'ghost mice'. Sad, isn't it?" Teddie Tumpkins had to agree.

It was clear that Skwonx was from the same school of thought as Teddie Tumpkins, but perhaps a bit more professional in his approach to mischief. It did indeed look like they were going to be friends. When he stopped chuckling, he turned to Skwonx with a question.

"You mentioned the lads, who exactly are the lads?"

"Well, funny you should mention that," replied Skwonx. "You look like the sort of chap that might like to join our select band of moggy-mischief-makers" Teddie's eyes lit up as he licked his lips in anticipation.

"Tell me more, tell me more," he implored, but Skwonx was momentarily distracted as he tried to clean the wound on his nose that Teddie Tumpkins had given him during their fight.

"Now, where was I?" asked Skwonx. "Ah yes, we are known as 'The Tiddleswick Tail Lifters.'" Teddie's jaw dropped for a moment. The Marmaladies had been right. They were really called The Tiddleswick Tail Lifters, a bunch of desperadoes, and what's more he felt he was being invited to join. But before he could get carried away, he asked Skwonx exactly what it was that The Tiddleswick Tail Lifters did.

"Very simple," smiled Skwonx "You don't need me to tell you that a tom cat, even one that's had that certain operation as a kitten, enjoys a good spray." A smile played around Teddie's whiskers. "So what we do is to dare each other to spray on something in risky circumstances before they can become a member of the gang. We have sessions when a human that has done something bad to a cat we avenge that cat by giving something that belongs to the offending human a spray!”

"Like what?" asked Teddie Tumpkins, wide eyed with wonder.

"Like giving car hub caps or wheelie bins a good spraying, teach them a lesson. I'll give you an example," Skwonx went on. "There's a horrible man who lives a few doors up from you. He's just bought a new car and every Sunday, without fail, he comes out to give it a wash. His favourite trick, if he sees a cat within range, is to turn the hose pipe on to it and give the poor cat a good soaking."

"Well, that's not very nice," concurred Teddie Tumpkins as he shook his damp coat, "cats and cold water just do not mix do they? So what did you do?" By now he was hanging onto every word.

"He left the sun roof open one afternoon, didn't he, so we got Colonel Bogey, our Chairman, to drop in through the sunroof of this nice new silver car to give the insides a jolly good spraying. What's more Ted, the Colonel hasn't had that 'certain operation' that some of you toms have had, so believe me, that was one sniffy car."

Teddie Tumpkins was awestruck. What a thing to do! Something like that would never have occurred to him but he smiled at Skwonx in a knowing manner which indicated that this was the sort of thing he did at his last home and he was keen to join The Tiddleswick Tail Lifters.

"You look like perfect material to me Tumpers, but I have to warn you that the boys in the gang will require you, in full view of other members, to perform a daring initiation test." It sounded like The Tiddleswick Tail Lifters was going to be a great hoot and at last he was beginning to feel that the move to the new house was going to be all right after all. As the two cats parted company, Skwonx told him the gang members met up at the lost property office at the railway station. Teddie Tumpkins wasn't quite sure where this was but he was too embarrassed to ask. The Marmaladies would surely tell him, but he wasn't going to let on why he wanted to know.

When he got back to his bungalow for his tea, he was almost dry, but the cuts on his ears were giving him a bit of trouble. He needn't have worried as help was at hand. When his humans saw his injuries he was seized and liberally covered in antiseptic. The vile smelling liquid was sure to send a cat into a frenzy, but it was worth it to avoid any infections or a trip to the vets. The last thing he wanted was to have his ears amputated.

He managed to sneak out later that evening so he swaggered over to the Marmaladies' house, if he was going to be a member of The Tiddleswick Tail Lifters he would have to start looking tough. The Marmaladies were sitting in their window, and watched him arrive.

"Oh cooeee" yelled Ginger Podgers, "look who's here. I said look who's here, Freddie, it's that nice Teddie come to see us again." The Marmaladies jumped out of the window then went round to their front door and meowed to be let out.

"Goodness me," muttered Teddie Tumpkins to himself as they were let out immediately, "they have got their humans well trained." Ginger Podgers took one look at Teddie Tumpkins and gasped in disbelief.

"Oh, look at your ears, you poor thing you've been fighting. Freddie, come at look at Teddie's ears, he's been fighting. I said he's been fighting," screeched Ginger Podgers.

"Oooow yes," agreed Fred Who Stares, staring hard at Teddie's ears, "may we inquire who the other party to this affray was?"

"Well..." sighed Teddie Tumpkins pretending that he hadn't made friends with Skwonx after the brawl so that he could perhaps get the information he wanted about the lost property office "It was that brute, Skwonx, you warned me about him and you were right, he's a proper alley cat."

"Oooh, you're so right there," agreed Ginger Podgers "he's one of those all right, a proper brute. I should give him a wide berth if I was you, Ted."

"I shall do just that," confirmed Teddie Tumpkins.

As the cats sat chatting in the garden, Teddie Tumpkins was looking for just the right moment when he could ask where the lost property office was, but somehow he couldn't quite get it into the conversation. If he was to ask them outright, they were sure to know what he was up to. So he asked the Marmaladies what there was to do in the area for a young tom like himself who liked to explore.

"There's always the beach, Teddo, you live at the seaside now you know," Fred Who Stares told him.

"Oooow yes, the beach isn't too far from here. I said it's not far,"

Ginger Podgers confirmed. Teddie Tumpkins hadn't seen the sea yet so he asked them where it was.

"Not far from your garden," Fred Who Stares told him.

"You must watch how you go, mind," added Ginger Podgers.

"Why's that?" asked Teddie Tumpkins.

"Well, you have to cross the railway lines, silly. Haven't you heard the trains clattering up and down?" He had, but didn't quite know what the rattle of the seaside special was.

"Straight over the railway lines, just past the railway station, over the road and you're at the beach," the Marmaladies instructed.

"But be careful near the railway station." Fred Who Stares warned him, "that's where The Tiddleswick Tail Lifters meet."

"Have you ever been to The Tail Lifters?" asked Teddie Tumpkins curiously. The Marmaladies looked at each other awkwardly.

" Errr, we don't go there, I said we just don't go there, do we Freddo?" whispered Ginger Podgers.  "I wish I hadn't mentioned them, I shall have to go and lie down now. Come on Fred, let's go, it'll be dark soon and we don't like being out after its gone dark, do we, Freddie? I said we don't like the dark do we?"

So Teddie Tumpkins thanked them and promised he would explore the seaside one day soon.  He decided to get a good night’s rest himself to let his wounds heal, as well as his damaged ears. He had been bitten all over during his scrap with Skwonx so there would be nothing better than a good night’s sleep on the duvet with his humans. They were now accustomed to his night time visits to the bedroom and didn't seem to mind him sleeping with them. He'd only been scufted off once when he'd squeaked out a vile cat meat smell at two o'clock one morning.

You can catch up with Willi Whizkas on his Facebook page: just look for Willi Whizkas - full time cat!












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