Tsu Meyn Gelibteh

I could fill a book with the names we gave to you, with the characters those names became.

Ghostface Killah, of course, bestowed when my friends rescued you, all thin and angry and otherworldly. Named, as I later found out, after a spider Sam once lived with, themselves the rapper’s namesake. Then the inevitable diminutives and extractions. Ghostie (your government name), Ghostele, Ghostavic, Ghostly Goatface. There were others, by-and-large mean or scatological. The kind of things young, barely functioning alcoholic men may find the height of wit, omitted here for the sake of all. None of them captured anything of you.

Later came the more realised nom-de-cuddles:

Mrs. Ploppers -CEO of Ploppington Farms (a subsidiary of Globex inc), producers of the world famous Rat Cakes.

Woofles (who developed the ‘Woofle Bounce’ dance sensation)

Mrs. Brenda Miggins, Matriarch of the Miggins family (including young tearaway Billy Miggins, also you). This became just Miggins. Miggs. Miggs Migsley. Miggleacious. Infinite variations, and latterly, your most frequent name.

Mrs. Yum Tufts (owner, proprietor of Yum Tuft Cafe, home of the Yum Tuft)

Pussy Bambini, 1920s Hollywood starlet and studio hellraiser

Booboo ‘Shabooboo’ Miggins, *outrageous* drag queen (unrelated to the Miggins dynasty, also the proprietor of an eatery ‘Shabooboo’s Diner’).

But there is one name I won’t mention. The name your first house gave you. I called you by it just once. The sharp turn, the way you looked at me- frozen, pan-eyed and pin-eared, full of fear and rage. In that moment you told me everything I needed to know about your former life.

I wish I could have known you longer. I wish you were rescued sooner. You quickly went from being a risible, curious house cat, to my dear friend, to my most beloved. I feel robbed of the time we didn’t have, but the time we did is more precious than I can truly express.

The last two years, we looked after you, as you had looked after me through tragedy and near-fatal ailments. Two years of time and emotional weight; of sickening stress and wonder and joy, leaving now an unfillable void I don’t know how to begin to salve or plaster over. But I wouldn’t take any moment back. There would be no holiday I didn’t go on, no event I missed that could equate to the time with you it bought. I’m as glad of this as I am introducing you to Annie. If there’s nothing else good that comes out of my life, I have done this one thing. Introducing two soulmates, two best friends.

The soft, white, roller-proof hairs that clung to everything. Once infuriatingly abundant, they are now so desperately rare.

I can’t bring myself to write much more.

Rest easy, my darling. I hope you find Miles and show him how to really howl.

Stayhome Catdad

What I did when I didn’t go out this weekend.

It was either Alan Moore or Stewart Lee, when describing the development of storytelling from DC in the ‘40s to Marvel in the ‘60s, who said the shift from one to two-dimensional central characters chiefly involved giving them attributes such as ‘a bad leg’. Well, gammy appendages abound in the first series of The Alienist (on your netflix and probably elsewhere), which I watched this weekend  with my partner and our poorly puss Ghostface. The apparently ageless Daniel Brühl (no amount of hirsute frowning can disguise them cherubic chops) plays the titular psychologist, who assembles a crack team of intellectual outcasts -and, erm, actual history’s Theodore Roosevelt- to track down a Ripper style ‘multi-murderer’, praying on the cross-dressing ‘boy whores’ of 1890s New York.

Look at his little face!

Brühl’s Dr. Kreizler is delivered in intense and brooding fashion, as you would expect from a disabled and mistrusted criminal psychiatrist, though once the aforementioned gammy arm becomes a point of conversation, his swinging left limb brings to mind The Actor Kevin Eldon’s turn as Rod Hull. The cast perform well (I wonder if Michael Ironside bulked up for the role of also actual history’s J.P. Morgan. That motherfucker looks like he was wheeled into every scene by a runner with a sack barrow), though all are hindered by the same characterisation issues and can ultimately be reduced to the single words or phrases that define their struggle and opposition to the status quo. Lush. Jews. Driven woman. There are vague references to the real meat of unsubtle character development, which are dropped into conversation at convenient moments of high drama (see Brühl and Dakota Fanning’s game of traumatic childhood top trumps) or mentioned in passing and never elaborated on.  One character is said to have set her dad on fire. SET HER DAD ON FIRE! KILLED HIM DEAD WITH FIRE! This is never explained or returned to.

The lighting and cinematography go to great lengths to turn the gas-lamp gothic city into a character of its own. However, the issues that make up the place and time-  crushing poverty and grotesque wealth, racism, police corruption, radical politics, child prostitution are all treated like the often impressive sets. They look the part, but there is little behind them. Analysis of the differences and similarities in societies, especially one so closely linked to our own, is generally the most interesting aspect of any period drama. However, here it becomes like the city’s gammy leg (or arm, or CGI pulsating cheek). Only there to give colour and the illusion of something more.