My grandfather, my mum's dad, is one of few people in this world that I truly idolise. He can't read or write properly but he is the most intelligent and hard-grafting person I know. He can speak five languages and can fix everything except the economy and a broken heart. I had to wait until I was about sixteen until he conversed with me like a human instead of muttering and swearing at me, and I've treasured every word to leave his mouth ever since. I promise this story is going somewhere.
I'd happily describe my grandpa as a hard bastard because it is apt and summative. He chased and hit my mam in the good old days because her hoop accidentally knocked over a tin of paint. He perfectly deconstructed and rebuilt a Kinder egg in order for it to contain a cold, hard boiled egg, just to watch me cry. He's banned from Lidl for shoplifting salami in his seventies. A few years ago, he punched a guy in the face at the pub because the guy owed my grandpa money. £2.50. Despite being absolutely hilarious and the best story teller I know (you haven't lived until you've heard an 80 year old man relate in broken english and through fantastic, uncontrollable cheeky laughs at the christmas dinner table how he got caught scrumping by a woman in the Ukraine so he pissed on her from up a tree), my grandpa is definitely someone to be respected and revered.
Even though he is a dick to lots of people, always comically though (to me at least), there is a sure way to my grandpa's heart. Cats. He has a funny relationship with them. He doesn't have one, probably because his age prevents him from looking after one properly, but he likes to teach them things. Actually, that's a huge understatement. My grandpa is to cats what Martin Luther King was to America on the matter of civil rights.
He likes to befriend cats in the neighbourhood. At one point his house must've looked like Madam Meow's kitty brothel with all the cats coming and going all the time. There was one in particular that he really liked so he installed a cat flap that only let cats out of the house and then spent I don't know how long teaching his favourite kitty to slip his paw under the flap and lift it over his head to get in. I swear if it was possible he would organise a cat orchestra that could play you any Tchaikovsky classic on request.
I almost feel that since his blackbird Fred died, he is capable of expressing happiness and love only in the company of or when speaking about cats. Aside from when he does a particularly triumphant fart, I only ever really see him smile when he's talking about a cat he used to know or one that lives in the street.
So here's to cats, the only real joy in my idol's life, an otherwise cruel, horrid, inappropriate, hard bastard.