litter loads of them. So it seemed fitting to cap off the year by heading to Amsterdam - a city that puts up its stray moggies in a glorious houseboat. But even more endearing is the surreal Kattenkabinet - a museum that celebrates man's ability to fashion feline-themed pinball machines, porcelain paperweights and zoomorphised mannequins - futile, time-consuming and expensive endeavours, but endeavours born of the power of love. The results are charming, unfathomable and please-let-me-out-of-here-oh-no-I-can't-find-the-exit creepy. As Borat Sagdiyev once said; entry, please, as I reveal four hand-picked highlights:
Exhibit 1: The cat pinball machine
Exhibit 2: Death cat 1
When your cat dies, the obvious course of action for the disturbed is budget taxidermy. And by that I mean cutting off the deceased pet's hair and whiskers, chucking away the carcass and re-attaching the hair to a crude wire-framed cat body resembling aged asphalt decorated with run-over pigeon. If a cat could live to 100, this is what it would look like.
Exhibit 3: Psychedelic Teletabbies
It's a little-known fact that Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, despite their cumbersome frames and juvenility, successfully nurtured two young pyschotropic Teletabbies; the playmates of young Noo-Noo the vacuum cleaner (who was understandably perceived as more television friendly). Fortunately, the pair have been brought to the Dutch public's attention by the deranged Mr/Ms Van Der Steer/Steed. Unfortunately, the painting hasn't received the attention it deserves due to its X-rated nature. The phallus-resembling tail, come-to-bed eyes, body language - it makes you sick to the stomach, which is why the curator couldn't bring herself (she is a she; I checked) to hang it properly.
Exhibit 4: Death cat 2
Tucked away in a non-descript corner is the gloriously-pink death cat #2, an incongruous choice of colour for an exhibit that's so obviously dead. Perhaps he or she was an alcoholic. Other possible causes of death: asphyxiation; not being able to move towards food/water due to an absence of limbs.
The perfect antidote to the Kattenkabinet's surrealism is the Tropenmuseum (if you're an uncultured monoglot like me, which you are, that means 'museum of the tropics'). Blissfully, there aren't any cats here - but there are the rare opportunities of decorating your sorry head with a Shabba Ranks haircut, running a Middle Eastern café and discovering in a little too much detail puberty rituals in Africa. Marvellous.