Of all the wars in which this nation is currently engaged, the least covered in the media, discussed on Twitter, or made controversial reference to by the Deputy Prime Minister during PM's Questions is the War of the Fleas.
This is because the War of the Fleas is a comparatively small war, being fought on quite a localised front, id est down the posh end of Broad Street in Penryn.
(All of Broad Street is *quite* posh, but this end is posher due to its being situated opposite The Square, which is the poshest bit of Penryn by far, and doesn't really take kindly to being overlooked by the scuzzy-by-comparison houses that comprise The Posh End of Broad Street, but there we have it, that's how the medieval town planners laid it out in 1259 and there's no going back now.)
And when I say 'down the posh end of Broad Street' I really mean 'in our house', aka Casa Patroclus, or, if you prefer, Blue Cat Towers.
If one were to follow in the mighty footsteps of A.J.P. Taylor and cast about for the origins of the War of the Fleas - for its inciting incident, if you like - one would be hard pressed to identify anything as definitive as, say, Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939. No Archdukes were bitten outside no. 42 during any of Penryn's many parades. No tiny aeroplanes emerged from the Western skies to destroy the yuppie flats in the recently-gentrified Inner Harbour. The fleas are not - as far as I can tell - evolved robots returning from hundreds of years in exile with a nebulous plan to annihilate the human race. I have no idea how it started, or how it got to the point I am about to describe.
For readers, I am ashamed to tell you, earlier this summer the situation reached a low ebb for the motley band of human and feline fighters whose wretched lot was to strive valiantly, day in, day out, against the indefatigable hordes of tiny, biting invaders. There were casualties, many casualties, on both sides. Hundreds of fleas were teased from their hiding places among the cat's fur to meet a boiling, salty, watery end. Hundreds perished in sweeping aerial attacks of R.I.P. Fleas. Biological weapons designed to annihilate the fleas' children and their children's children, yea even unto the tenth generation, were strategically, then indiscriminately, deployed. A sheepskin rug had to be thrown out.
To no avail. Like H.G. Wells's Martians, still they came.
Your human and feline heroes had to change tactics. High-tech weapons had failed. Blanket bombing, carpet bombing, bathmat bombing, all had failed. A short-lived offensive which involved transporting individual fleas to Falmouth in the car, then depositing them in Church Street Car Park, proved to be environmentally and logistically inefficient. It was time for something new.
Enter the parcel tape.
Parcel tape, as it turns out, is a pretty effective anti-flea weapon when deployed judiciously. Favourite tactics include:
1. Sticking strips of tape across the carpet, then removing the lot - and any adherent victims - in one satisfying wrench.
2. Watching, waiting, watching, waiting for a nasty leaping beast to get on to the cream-coloured sofa, then swooping from above with a pre-cut section of tape. Result: instant sticky death.
3. Romantically scanning each other's limbs and clothing for errant fleas, then either a) leaping into action with a pre-prepared section of tape or b) wildly shouting 'tape! tape!', in the knowledge that one's other half knows by now exactly what is signified by this stirring war cry, and will respond by passing the nearest roll. (N.B. not to be undertaken while guests are present.)
It has been quite a miserable summer, all told, not helped by being heavily pregnant for most of it. But now we have reached if not the end, then perhaps the beginning of the end. For today the War of the Fleas entered a new phase, marked by the emergence of an exciting new game that may soon be sweeping the nation. I will spare you the intricate detail of Dirt or Dead?, but suffice it to say the winner is the player who can most accurately distinguish between a) a small piece of black fluff and b) a Corpse of the Fallen.
The cat, meanwhile, has taken to living a shadowy twilight existence under the garden table and refuses to set foot in the house. But soon, all will be back to normal. I hope.
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