Once upon a time in the badger household, the only baby was furry, round, and be-tailed. Once, she had been a cute, tiny kitten, with a head far bigger than her body, and a penchant for climbing curtains. She was called Mog, and her mummy loved her very much, letting her sleep under the duvet, and always making space on her lap for her darling little pusskins, even when she was on the loo:
Nearly four years on, and several giant sacks of cat food later, the little Mog who used to climb up mummy's trousers and into her arms had mutated into a furry sphere. She became so round that, while licking her bum, she would often topple over onto her back, and then not be able to get up again, thus:
But still her mummy loved her, and even as her pregnancy lump grew, she still made room for Mog on her lap, and tickled her big furry tummy, and helped her get back up when she got stuck like a flailing black and white beetle on her back. She was still the furry baby of the house.
And then Lumpy arrived.
Lumpy wasn't furry, and had a distinct lack of tail. He smelt of milk, rather than fish, and seemed utterly incapable of licking his own bum. He was clearly not a cat, and if he was, he was a crap one. And yet mummy and daddy seemed very interested in him. So much so that he was on their laps almost all of the time. Mog was perturbed.
Why had they brought this strange, noisy, hairless pink creature into the house? And how long was it going to stay? Mog initially showed her displeasure by refusing to sleep in her usual place on the bed, pointedly taking up residence on a dining room chair every night. But a week on, and Lumpy was still there, in his special bed right next to mummy and daddy, making his shocking noises at all hours of the night. Further action was clearly needed.
First, she considered eating James. Mog was good at eating. It was what she did best. But mummy and daddy never left Lumpy alone long enough for her to eat him effectively (he'd take a lot of chewing, she reckoned). Also, his head was unfeasibly large (98th percentile, dontcha know) and Mog didn't think she could get her mouth open that wide. And, crucially, he wasn't covered in gravy.
She decided not to eat him. Just yet.
Instead, she would ignore him. She moved back onto the bed, and refused to budge, even when Lumpy screamed as if his paw had got stuck in the catflap, or mummy kicked her in the head as she clambered in and out of bed at 2am. And, she started to reassert her territorial rights. She would reclaim the lap. Whenever Lumpy was sitting on mummy's lap (which was ridiculously often), Mog would go and sit there as well, ignoring the fact that there was no space for her, and simply pushing her furry body up against Lumpy's back, digging her claws into mummy's legs for good measure.
This worked reasonably well, until Lumpy brought out his secret weapon, vomiting lavishly all over Mog's tail.
This was clearly war.
Lumpy may have won the first battle, but Mog would not give up. If he was going steal her rightful place on the Mummy Lap, then she would simply invade his territory. One morning, while mummy was distracted tending to one of Lumpy's noxious smells (why he couldn't use the litter tray or the garden like any self respecting individual, Mog would never know), Mog entered the nursery and took up residence in the cot.
Okay, so Lumpy didn't actually sleep there yet, but still. It was a gesture. There was only space for one baby in this house. And that space was Mog shaped.
Yet mummy did not seem to understand the political message behind this protest, and simply turfed Mog out, shrieking and going on as she tended to. So Mog went back, and this time hid underneath the sheet. Ha ha haa. I is a cunning.
She was turfed out again. With even more hissing and shrieking. When Mog tried to claimed Lebensraum on the play mat, the same thing happened.
Mog had never been given a play mat of her own. Never. Or a psychedelic bee, for that matter. Her invasion was failing, and mummy and daddy seemed to be favouring this young upstart. It was all most distressing. Radical measures were called for.
As they seemed so responsive to Lumpy's shrieks and squawks, Mog would imitate them. At four in the morning, while mummy was yet again cuddling the usurper, Mog did her very best imitation of Lumpy crying. So effective was it, that mummy came running downstairs, to see who had deposited another baby in their living room. Yet as soon as she saw that it was Mog, she simply said something that sounded a bit like 'duck' (mmm, duck. In gravy.) and aimed a half-hearted kick at Mog. Imitation had also failed.
Becoming increasingly desperate, Mog decided to introduce a campaign of terror. She could not head up this campaign herself, of course. Oh no, she was too clever for that. Instead, she tracked down the cat known as 'The Shadow'. The cat so dark and secretive that no one had ever managed to capture her properly on film. Whenever a camera appeared, she morphed into a black, shapeless blob, barely identifiable as a cat.
It was the perfect disguise for the perfect terrorist. The Shadow struck early one morning, while mummy was still lazing in the bed, cuddling the Lumpy again. She streaked in like a bolt of black lightning, flying along the side of the bed, before slipping, falling, and knocking over the full pint of water by the bed. All of this was intentional of course. And not clumsiness and idiocy as mummy may claim.
Mog and The Shadow returned to their secret lair to plot further. From now on they would go underground, or, rather, under bed. They would strike again, in time. But what form that strike would take, or when it would happen, who could tell. Their chief weapon would be surprise. Fear and surprise. And a fanatical dedication to gravy.
And as for Lumpy? They would let him believe that they had reached a truce. For now.
Then they would have another go at eating him.