I love Leveson as much as the next chap, but there comes a point – after, say, reading the first 300 articles on it – where you think “I can’t add anything to this. People who are better known and better respected than I (ie: everyone) have already said it all.”
And at that point you turn to your area of expertise. Which, in my case, is cats.
I’m going out tonight. I never go out, so I’m very excited about it. But my going-out-itude is somewhat marred by the fact that my coat – my only coat that isn’t gardening-related and therefore to some degree intentionally vile – appears to be made out of purest badger. In fact it is a rather nice asymmetrical boiled wool coat which was originally black. But I have four bicolour Oriental cats, and between them they shed fur in every possible shade, from palest fawn to darkest dark chocolate, from whitest white to blackest black, and one of them sheds fur which is a curious shade of lilac. Whatever I wear: they’ve got it covered.
The week before last, I had to take the smallest one – Po – to the vet’s. The vet did nothing to her, but she was nonetheless perturbed by the experience and when a cat is perturbed it sheds fur. This is quite normal. However, in Po’s case she sheds everything she’s got in great poofy clouds. As the vet examined her, we found ourselves surrounded in a miasma of white hair which even the vet remarked upon. At the end of the examination it lay in drifts on the table and banked up against the side of the cat carrier. And – oh – I forgot to mention: on my coat. I had a broad white stripe of the stuff so dense it looked deliberate, right across my middle, where I had been cradling the little beast as she tried to burrow into me for protection. I don’t resent it in the least. I walked home with her, looking as if I’d spent the day slaughtering horses.
My first tip, therefore, is this: if you own animals of any shade, hue or temper, do not ever buy a wool coat. Just don’t do it. The fur doesn’t sit on the surface of the coat. It goes into it, the cuticles on the animal hair gripping against the cuticles of the sheep’s wool and working in deeper and deeper, like little arrows. It becomes one with the coat. They meld, and the resulting garment has a gestalt entirely of its own making. It becomes a one-off. It becomes your badge of shame and isolation.
However, if you had already purchased a lovely wool coat, you may be tempted to invest in a lint brush. Do not. Belay that. It will have about as much impact on the melding of fur-with-wool as you’d have if you stood outside the Palace of Westminster spitting, with the intention of getting some in Dave’s eye as he took PMQs. It’s a lovely sentiment, but it’s going nowhere, honey. Have a sit down.
You might think a wad of sticky paper, artfully wound about your fist will do the job. It will not. You will get through an enormous amount of sticky tape to little benefit. You will cry.
Or perhaps you might invest in a “lint roller”. One of those roundy things with a sticky outside. These are the least helpful of all – they are simply not sticky enough and will remove, at best, about 10% of the offending fur.
The answer (I should charge for this), is to purchase a pair of Marigold gloves, or similar. They must be new, and they must be bone dry. Pop them on and WIPE your hands all over the coat, hard. Put it on a table (remove any cat hair from the table first). And WIPE it, from top to bottom. When you reach a hem or cuff or seam, pay it special attention and pull it between your two hands, as if folding a piece of paper. This will take some doing. Your arms will be tired. But it works, and you will be astounded by the amount of oomska that comes off your coat.
Once you have done this, hang the coat up immediately, because if you turn your back on it, whatever animal you own will immediately lie on it, fearing for your safety if you go out without a portion of the tribal pelage.
Also, as you get ready to go out, your cats, dogs, or monkeys, will approach you. Their eyes will plead. “Mama!” they will say (or “Papa!”) “Are you going out? Can I come? Are you leaving me for ever? REASSURE ME!”
It is vitally important that you do no such thing. The animal in question is putting on an elaborate act, designed to make you pick them up and give them a fuss, thereby covering yourself in fresh animal fur, and ensuring that you remain, always and for ever, single, theirs and theirs alone.