Well. Hello. I have been purrrrusing the strange behaviour of humans on the beach, now that the sun has finally decided to beam down upon my magnificent tortoiseshell tresses. As you may expect, like most cats, I avoid getting my fur wet, and generally regard swimming and bathing as spectator sports. I prefer to lick myself all over at least twice a day, an act of self-worship you may think. In truth, it is. But why is it you humans behave in such a strange fashion. One odd fellow spends the first three months of summer looking at the sea, cajoling his grandchildren to jump into it while he disports himself like a beached whale with a floppy hat flung on his hairless head.

Then as July approaches, I purrrceive a restlessness begins to take hold. He stands in the sea’s edge, his ankles barely covered, clutching a child’s hand, while bobbing up and down and going ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ah’ and casting anxious glances in the direction of the memsahib who has now lost all interest. Finally, the moment arrives. Overwhelmed by guilt, he realises that the time has come for him to show a modicum of courage. And so, it begins. A slow shuffling walk into the grey briny, and as he walks, the sea’s chill fingers slide up his legs and finally they invade his tartan Speedos; he shivers and trembles, casts one more hapless look in the direction of his disinterested family, before he gallantly plunges in, skulls about like a basking shark that has lost its radar and emerges blowing and triumphant in his folly.

Maoris families have a totally different approach. My friend, Bruce, a very fine Persian Blue, sent me a video on MewTube. They arrive as a family, and all plunge in together fully clothed. But the purrrpose of going in the sea is fun – basically to see how far you throw your children. One little boy had a green bucket, which he used to repeatedly tip water over his almost submerged mother. She endured this patiently before finally rising from the blue waters like a giant; she seized her little boy’s hand and hurled him into the mouth of a voracious wave; he bobbed up like a cork and was grabbed again by his brothers who flung him like a toy between themselves. Other children launched themselves off the shoulders of their bigger siblings, while relatives transformed into sea monsters and sprang up from the foaming breakers to startle aged aunts and older folks. Finally, they all lay on the grassy bank together and steam dry in the sun.

Let us match this ebullience! What joy it would be to see uncles with dodgy knees sent hurling into the foaming waves, maiden aunts spinning into the air, their parasols being snatched by the wind, and fearless children relentlessly dousing their curmudgeonly elders, flinging their flipflops into the sky, and dismantling the ridiculous beach furniture of inflatable sharks, plastic kayaks and folding chairs. What fun it would be!

I, of course, will just sit and make – erm – dry observations. Purrrfection.

Monty – the Pub Cat.


"Brilliant descriptions of characters and places enrich a twisty plot that kept me guessing right to the end. John Simes is a master story teller."James Stevenson, Author