Le Parkour / Freerunning

Fairly recently I have discovered the "art" of Free running; although too much effort for someone such as myself, a very close friend of mine seems to have taken up the urban sport.

For those of you that do not know what freerunning is, here is a brief description: teenagers and other urban types have taken to running around cityscapes, leaping, bounding, vaulting and sprinting dependant on whatever obstacles are in their paths.

Much like previous urban sports (such as aggressive skating and BMXing) there are various techniques and "moves" available to inspire awe and excitement in onlookers (often other members of the free-running community); one of the most impressive manouvres that I have seen is the use of walls to launch yourself off of – and then continue running in the direction you just came from. Personally, if I needed to turn round through 180 degrees whilst running, I would: stop, turn around, start running again. But this has no flair or excitement, it interrupts the "freedom" and therefore the "flow" of the run.

Now, the "person" that has undertaken this lifestyle change is not the type you would expect to do so… it’s my cat, Arnold! Regular readers will know all about my unique feline friend, but what I had previously, erroneously thought was my cat being a little old and senile, turns out (in my opinion) to be a very modern pursuit of fitness and agility.

On Sunday I was pottering around the kitchen, tidying, cleaning, ironing and washing (God I sound old!) and had absent mindedly left the lid of the washing basket in the doorway whilst loading up the washing machine. Arny was doing her usual trick of darting around the house at lightening speed until she decided that the next place to explore was the kitchen.

What happened next completely changed my view of the little ball of fluff with razor blades; she ran to the kitchen door, saw the washing-basket-lid in her path, launched herself over it, planted all four of her paws (VERTICALLY) on the side of the cupboard housing the tumble drier, and vaulted off whilst spinning through 180 degrees, landed on all fours and continued running in the direction she had just come.

So there we have it, Arnold the Circus Cat is also a "hip" modern sportsperson!

Since seeing this, I have noticed that whenever she is running around the house, she isn’t just doing it out of a cerebral deficiency! In the same way that freerunners are not satisified with going from A to B, Arnold also enjoys making all journeys through C, D and E as long as there are some long, high or death defying leaps in between.

The Tail of Arnold the Circus Cat

Before we begin, I should give some background info on my cat (the play-on-words in the title will become clear then)

A few years ago, whilst living in Ashford, my parents decided that they wanted another cat (I never understood why anyone would want A cat, let alone MORE THAN ONE cat!!) but anyway, we found a local cat-dispenser – friend of a friend as I recall – who provided us with a ball of ginger fluff with a bunch of razorblades at its extremities.

My mother bought into the whole “you only get ginger toms, not ginger females” wives tale so decided to change her name from Chloe (that would be a hint for me, cat IS female) to Arnold – Mother had a ginger friend called something Arnold when she was younger; and so the adventure begins: Female, Ginger Cat called Arnold… she has no chance…

The next chapter in Arnold’s life is a pretty dark one. One day we discovered that Arny wasn’t sitting properly, she had her backside up against the back of the sofa, and her bright RED tail was only being held in place by the cushion; in other words, Arny was not controlling it. The tail was bright red, where she had licked all the fur off it and left a raw, bald tail. (This looked quite freaky, as I’m sure you can imagine). We dragged the poor kitten – at this point I still had some respect and compassion for the cat – down to the vet to see what he thought.

Dr Doolittle [I don’t think that was his – or indeed her – real name] could not figure out what had happened to poor Arny but could only tell us that the tail had ‘died’ so (s)he suggested amputating the tail. The reasoning was this: if the tail had been shut in a door, there would be some ‘pinch’ marks either side of it; if the cat had been run over, the tail would be flat and Arny would have damaged claws, so this was also ruled out! So anyway, the tail came off…

So now we have a Female, Ginger, Tailless Cat called Arnold – which is obviously a boys name…

A few years later, we decided to leave Ashford (or Ashwitz as my father calls it!) and head for a very expensive bit of real estate, it was too far to bring Arny, because by this time the teasing from the other cats had driven her a little loopy, so we sent her off to stay in a retirement home… in the form of Grandma Grant’s beach house.

After a couple of years eating pilchards and salmon – I think my grandmother felt sorry for Poor Circus Arny – she completely forgot who we were, whenever we visited she would just hide or ignore us. So that was destined to be the end of our relationship… Until…

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