A column in six parts

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
There are only so many articles you can write about cats, muses columnist Kate Oktay. 


Kate Oktay
Kate Oktay
When I first got this gig, I was thrilled. Let's be honest, I might have begged for this gig. I virtually, probably, actually, definitely begged for this gig.

I would say, I stayed thrilled until around, maybe, April.

Then I began to wane. I only have so much to say, and that "so much" was probably three months of 800 word columns.

I think this became really obvious when a significant percentage of my writing became cat-related.


"What can I write about?" I moaned to my husband

"Maybe cats again," I mused, looking down at the purring ball of contentment on my lap ... "She is a champion cat."

`If I do like her more than rest of my family, it is no reflection on them, it's just ... I really, really like the cat. She is an outstanding member of the household. Looks after herself. Only occasionally bites ..."

"You've got to stop writing about cat," my husband said absentmindedly as he watched football. "You sound like crazy woman."


I began to brighten up whenever anyone told me about their bad day ... "That's excellent material," I would say thoughtfully; a sudden connoisseur of minor irritations and genuine unfairness.

A friend told me about a bus trip she took because it was advertised as a free, child-friendly, one-and-a-half hour tour and because there are also only so many times you can go to the dinosaur park without wanting to punch yourself spiritedly in the face.

It was five hours. An awful, screamingly Fawlty Towers/Fleabag-esque disaster of cascading terribleness.

I was so happy.

"That's an easy column," I muttered under my breath as she bemoaned her stolen Sunday; recounting the slow understanding that it was going to be less fun day out, and more belting along Highway Number One for two hours in an ancient bus packed full of truculent 4-year-olds and wailing babies. The "tour" portion of the tour, was half an hour in a parking lot with several middle-aged coach enthusiasts pointing at wheels, visibly agitated at the young families who didn't even care about buses. The return leg was comprised of 80% of the bus genuinely angry, 20% visibly tearful, and 100% of the children needing a wee/a snack/not to be on a *&^%ing bus.

The driver, feeling almost threatened, laboriously dropped the loud and ranting portion of passengers at their homes, while the remainder were far too polite to say anything, but really getting very cross, and giving meaningful stares to the spouse responsible for roping them into this mess - which, by the time they disembarked, had evolved into what would be three days of irrational resentfulness and snipped replies to perfectly normal questions.

"At least a paragraph ..." I thought to myself.


"What would be the best thing to write about?" I asked my daughter's friend.

"If this was mine article, I would write how sea lions put sand on them, because that is their sunscreen," he said, giddily. "It's so funny: `Sea lion! Sunscreen!'," he whooped, sweeping in wild circles, aeroplane arms open to the sky.

Five-year-olds are absolutely no use for content generation.


The problem is, I have a very narrow range of things I enjoy.

It would help if I had an intellectual curiosity about the world. I wish I was the type of person who cared about ballet. And theatre. And engineering. But I'm not. But I am almost enthusiastically disinterested in anything outside my specific and limited interests. I was at a dinner a few months ago when a very nice man tried to explain his PhD in gene-editing. I feigned listening for a good four minutes, nodding and making "uh-huh" noises at appropriate intervals. He dug around in his bag for a pen and started animatedly scribbling explanatory notes on a napkin. When he reached across the table for another piece of paper I stopped him. "God, I am sorry, but I just cannot listen to this anymore. I am much, much stupider than you, and I only have limited capacity in my brain. The parts I have left I want to selectively fill with vapid rubbish I read on Twitter and recipes that I can ladle sriracha over the top of."

Perhaps if I was the kind of person who could listen to someone talking about gene-editing I would have more to write about. But I am not.

Maybe if I also cared about what most people seem to care about I would have more to say. But I have a sneaking suspicion that actually other people enjoy hearing about make-up secrets of the Kardashians, watching mid-evening free-to-air television, and discussing New Zealand's latest sporting success; all of which pass me by without disturbing the tranquil stillness of the truly disengaged mind.


In light of all of this, I thought I would crowd-source topics from you, dear reader. Please write in with a subject for me.

Or it's back to cats.



With Burt Reynolds' gaffer.

You loved Cat Dancing you say. Did you watch hep cats dancing?

'Seems to be a misunderstanding, sir. I loved Miss Sarah Miles. "Cat Dancing", that was her name.
Then, Mr Reynolds run me over with a Continental Trailways Bus. I never did him any wrong'.

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