Conscious uncoupling from the cold-playing cat

Taking my cues from Gwyneth and whatsisname, I sit the cat down and tell her that she and I are going to have one last shot at living together peaceably

The chap from Coldplay and Gwyneth Paltrow: blazing trails and setting trends. Photograph: Reuters/Files

The chap from Coldplay and Gwyneth Paltrow: blazing trails and setting trends. Photograph: Reuters/Files


I’m strongly considering consciously uncoupling from the cat. It’s not like I don’t have good reasons: she’s arch, chilly, a lousy listener, and has some deeply unappealing personal habits, including enticing mice into the house (she prefers to do her killing indoors) as well as the diligent and frequent ablutions she lavishes on her rear end.

Recently, however, things have taken a more sinister turn. She’s spending her nocturnal hours stalking rolls of toilet paper and ripping them to shreds. The bathroom, which was never going to make it into House & Garden in the first place, looks like it’s been snowed in. Then, at 7am, when you’re running downstairs to find a dustpan, dribbling expletives, you find she’s practising her Pilates on the middle step, her lithe little body delicately positioned to send you head-first into the sheet of glass by the front door. I think she’s trying to kill me, possibly because I’m getting in the way of her addiction to processed ham.

The last time I wrote about the cat, a concerned reader wrote me a seven-page email criticising my feline husbandry and offering tips as to how she and I might get along better. If he is still reading, my apologies for not getting back to say thank you but, on a point of information, yes, the shagging cat does sleep on the bed and, yes, she still looks at me as if I’m the one who just crapped on the rug.

The new tsunami
Conscious uncoupling is one of those terms that, in an instant, seems to have moved into our hungry mouths and taken up residence next to our withering molars. It’s everywhere, creeping into our vocabulary like an injured mouse into a warm slipper (and yes, that has happened too).

It was the same with the word “tsunami”, which was bandied about with tasteless haste days after the natural disaster struck in Indonesia, when all of a sudden people claimed they were being buried under tsunamis of paperwork or experiencing tsunamis of emotion over the demise of the moggie (one can dream).

Conscious uncoupling is the oral equivalent of a tin of Swarfega, its uses alarmingly myriad. I predict a slew of CUs in the weeks and months to come. Lovers, mothers, mobile-phone providers, lending institutions – all can be uncoupled from, simply by closing down your chakras and bathing in healing juice.

Gwyneth leads the way
The CU phrase was, as you surely now know (unless, that is, you’ve been submerged in goat’s milk in a Mongolian yurt for the past couple of weeks), brought to us courtesy of the actor Gwyneth Paltrow, who was explaining the gracious disassembling of her marriage to the guy from Coldplay. Paltrow, a willowy vegan and lifestyle guru, has from time to time been accused (possibly in not these exact words) of having her sculpted noggin implanted in her sparkling backside.

I, however, hope that she and whatsisname move on to find happiness elsewhere. Presumably there are other kindred spirits out there to accompany the consciously uncoupled couple on their quests for silky hamstrings and a decent samphire-and-mung-bean salad.

Oh look, what do I know? I’m dazed and confused enough as it is, negotiating shredded bog roll and suburban Saharan sands with my dustpan and brush, and wondering if you can be done for catricide. I remember a statistic I read on the back of a rubber-glove packet, or something equally reliable: middle-aged women are most at risk of cat bites.

I look up conscious uncoupling. Apparently it’s “healing the mistakes that cause suffering, steal joy and prevent future love”. I sit the cat down and tell her that she and I are going to have one last shot at living together peaceably. We are going to address past miscalculations, starting by healing the mistakes that cause suffering. From now on she’ll be turfed into the back garden at night, stealing her joy maybe, but increasing mine certainly. By way of compensation and to improve the odds on future love, I’ll occasionally fire bits of processed ham at her. She looks at me when I say “ham”, green eyes flaring with interest. “Haaaam,” she repeats, in her little alien voice.

“Correct,” I say. “Ham, but not if you rip up the toilet paper.”

I really feel we’re getting somewhere; it would be nice to know if she feels it too. But she never says, her gritty little tongue being otherwise firmly engaged.

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