Rosie and Jim: The time I bought a house that came with a ‘free’ cat

This week, there's an editorial health warning on Rosie's column for those suffering from SAD, while James tells a delightful tale of an unexpected lodger who he found in


Immediately after waxing lyrical about the joys of Autumn, I got on a plane and flew several thousand miles around the world to the Maldives, where seasons in the traditional British sense aren’t really a thing.

In the Maldives there’s a warm dry season and a warm wet season; efficient, easy to work with. In the UK, we have four seasons and bridge seasons in between them and sometimes multiple seasons in one 24 hour period.

As my plane came into land at Heathrow, around 6.30am on Monday morning, the pilot cheerily announced that there were clear skies over London and the outside temperature was… four degrees. The entire plane groaned in unison. We’d departed London in the Autumn — enjoyed nine nights of 30 degree heat, sunshine and warm wind — and returned to find it in the icy grip of winter.

During those nine nights, I stumbled across what must surely be the finest bit of real estate in the Indian Ocean. The Private Reserve, a four-bed, overwater villa complex at Gili Lankanfushi — a hotel on its own island, a twenty minute speedboat ride from the airport.

Reader, I tried to move in there and then, but couldn’t quite stretch to the $10,000 a night asking price, so I’ve started a crowd-funding campaign.

The multi-tiered, sprawling, rustic fort of a villa (all bleached wood that looks like it just appeared from the ocean in perfectly-worn style) is 500 metres off the coast of the resort. You need a little boat to reach it. There’s an infinity pool, stretch nets suspended above water that shimmers fifty shades of blue, and a water slide. If you made it to the end of that sentence without donating to my campaign then I can only assume that you don’t have a heart or any sense of fun.

Back in London and back to the mindless slog of looking round flats with no pools or slides or hammocks, I did wonder what life would be like lived half in the ocean, barefoot, salty and sticky and skin taught from the sun. Expensive, I suppose. So no change there.

I have a cat. As some of you may have noticed, when keeping a keen eye on this column of mine, I recently moved into my own home. As well as the usual white goods that were left behind (fridge, washing machine, oven), so too was left behind a white cat. Whether he qualifies as good or not changes on a daily basis.

The mornings usually begin by me being awoken at 7:30am to some shrill screaming from a large Maine Coon that has deposited itself about 6 inches from my face. This will not stop until food has been delivered. As alarm clocks go, it is irritating but effective. It has been recommended that I close the bedroom door while I sleep, but all this does is encourage the cat to start screaming and banging on the door from 3am onwards. There is no escape from Ted.

After his breakfast, Ted then decides that, actually, sleeping isn’t a terrible idea and promptly passes out on the sofa/bed/random box for about 6 hours, while I sit in front of a computer making money that I can, in turn, use to buy him cat food. A vicious circle. Occasionally, he will wake up and come and wail at me about not having enough kibble. He does usually have enough kibble, but unless said kibble is directly in the centre of his bowl, it may as well not exist. This is not a bright cat. It is, however, a very cute one. Mostly

By the time the evening rolls around, I usually endeavour to join Ted on the sofa, where we watch TV. He seems to be fairly interested in Squid Game, despite a significant lack of any seafood, but very much dislikes Seinfeld.

In an abstract sense, living with a domesticated lion/puma/cheetah/whatever is quite a strange thing to do. I have always been more of a dog person than a cat one, but in hindsight I am very glad Ted and I crossed paths.

He is responsible enough that I can leave him when I need to go out on the town. He can (mostly) feed himself. He’s very popular with visitors. And having kept him alive for the past 3 months, it’s pleasant to know that I myself am responsible enough to keep a pet.

Best of all, he will be fantastic company for the ensuing dark winter evenings. TV recommendations welcome.

You can catch up on Rosie & Jim’s previous columns here.