There was a man of 35 who lived with his mother, never married, and he had a pet cat which was the pride and joy of his life. He hardly ever went out other than to get the shopping, just doted on his cat. He even followed it in the garden to protect it from other cats and dogs, and looked after his mother. One day his less reliable brother came to visit, and said “Look Ted it’s about time you had a break, you should go away overseas or something, have a holiday. Here’s some brochures. you choose where to go and I’ll arrange it, and I’ll come and look after mother and the cat while you are gone.”

Well eventually Ted’s brother manages to convince Ted to go. Ted eventually finds the hotel in Austria where he is to stay, and as soon as he gets to his room he phones home, his brother answers the phone. “Hey why didn’t you tell me no one here speaks English, by the way how’s the cat.” “Cat’s dead” says his brother. Ted immediately faints under the strain and bangs his head on the edge of a chair.

It is late the next morning before Ted is sufficiently recovered to phone home again. His brother answers the phone. “Hey” says Ted, “You handled that badly yesterday, you could have broken the news more gently.” “How” says his brother, “If the cat’s dead, the cat’s dead”. “Well” says Ted “You should have done it in stages. The first day you say The cat’s got into a bit of a scrap and it’s climbed up onto the roof, the neighbor’s getting a ladder to get it down. The next day I phone you say I took the cat to the vet they’ve patched him up and kept him in for observation. The next day when I phone you tell me the injuries are serious and they’ve put the cat in the cat hospital. And finally on the fourth day you tell me the cat is dead. You got that?”

“Yeah” says his brother “I think so”. “By the way” says Ted “How’s mother”. “Well” says his brother “Right at the moment mother’s up on the roof, phone me tomorrow.”