There’s this thing in literary criticism – I forget the name of it – where the weather reflects and underlines the action. King Lear’s descent into madness accompanied by the thunder. That sort of thing.

Well, inasmuch as you can view your own life as a kind of personal narrative, the spot of rain we’ve been having has underscored aspects of my own story. Environmental empathy in my personal narrative and its unfolding events.

In other words, I imagine that the weather is behaving in this appalling manner because of plot developments in my own life. Egocentric, perhaps, but sometimes you need to feel like the main character.

You see, today I kill my cat.

Ashley has been my faithful, albeit somewhat deranged, companion for the last 15 years. Through no less than 10 house shifts (probably more) and some fairly significant life changes, he’s been around. My cat. He predates my relationship with my wife, and he’s older than my child. In fact, I’ve long thought of him as some sort of feline extension of myself. Love me, love my cat. He comes as part of the package.

Only now, he has a tumour of some kind. It’s not good. He’s sneezing blood all over the furniture. On the bright side, he doesn’t seem to be in any pain, and he’s not off his food or anything. It’s just not going to get any better no matter how many expensive procedures the vets will come up with – and I’d rather it didn’t get any worse. They’re not going to suggest it themselves, so I will have to be the heartless one who suggests that we end his life. I have no particular moral or ethical qualms about justified euthanasia – but it won’t make me any less sad.

I’m a little upset about it now as I type – and I plan to be much more enthusiastically upset at the vet’s later this morning, where Ashley’s spent the last couple of days being thoroughly tested and biopsied, etc.

Fortunately, I’ve had the whole episode put into perspective by reading Bernard-Henri Levy’s ‘Who killed Daniel Pearl?‘. Gruelling stuff – and compelling too.

By comparison… ailing aged cat? Doesn’t even rate on the trag-o-meter.

Ashley’s name lives on though. I built him a little immortality back in 1996 or ’97. Belinda Todd and I started a production company and made a radio serial for kids (a cartoon for radio, no less) in which all the characters were cats.

It was called ‘Ashley’s Worlds‘ – and Craig Parker played Ashley. It also starred Merv Smith, David Weatherley (better known these days as the Innkeeper at Bree), Belinda, Carl Bland and guests including Ilona Rodgers, Beryl Te Wiata and Emmeline Hawthorne.

It was great fun to make, and it ran every week for two years over 26 radio stations nationwide. Yet, nobody ever heard it (at least – I’ve never met anyone who had). Now, thanks to Trevor Plant and Don Linden, it’s going to get another airing on nationwide radio, on a show called Small World on Solid Gold FM – assuming I can find all the episodes.

My penance for disrupting normal meteorological patterns for the sake of my own personal dramas is appropriate. I’m paying a visit to the flood-ravaged lower North Island this weekend. It was booked before the illness, and before the clouds rolled in – and I’m damn well going. No jazz show this week as a result. My listeners will both have to wait.

Tonight, Bobbie, Jake and I head down to Wellington by train – though we’ll have to get out at National Park and bus the rest of the way – the track’s washed out and unusable. We’ll take refuge in Te Papa most of Saturday, I suspect.

As a spot of bonus karma, one of the trees in the backyard blew down in the storm last night. This is what you get when you kill your cat.

In other news, what I affectionately refer to as ‘Day of the Locusts’ is this coming Monday. It’s when all the students arrive – first day back to University, eager to spend 20 minutes cramming themselves into the woefully inadequate lifts in the Faculty of Arts building. The newbies will be getting yelled at for only taking the lift a couple of floors, thereby slowing it down for everyone else, and lift rage will ensue. Happens every year. I’m surprised there have been no fatalities.

My office is on the 15th floor. It’d be quicker to climb up the outside of the building.

Time to go pull the plug on the family pet. I miss him already.

But sorry about all that rain…