Tuesday, 21 December 2010
a) Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat. T.H.E Cat. A TV show I watched when I was around 12 years old.
“A reformed cat burglar, former acrobat with the circus. Years on the road taught him to be silent, stealthy and ruthless. Moving through the night dressed in black with only a knife for protection.” After each show I'd don my black woolly jumper – which itched like the devil - dash outside and practise springing off walls and fences then try, unsuccessfully, to throw my little penknife so it would stick in a tree. If I had a thrupenny bit for each time I had to reassemble that little penknife I could have bought the matching black pants.
b) When I was six, we, mum and I, lived in a flat attached to a private nursing home. The private nursing home was itself attached to a country manor. It was a serious country manor sporting numerous bedrooms, WC's and a huge team of servants. The owners of the manor owned the nursing home. Mr and Mrs Green. Lovely people who fed me on Sundays while my mum worked as a midwife. Anyway, the cat: it roamed the extensive grounds (as did I) was very fluffy, very white and deaf as a post. I would attempt to sneak up behind it - which was incredibly difficult – and touch its tail. My reward – when I at last managed the feat - was a loud mewling noise and seeing the cat shoot vertically three yards straight up in the air. Hey, gimme a break, I was six and the only kid for miles around.
c) I had a woman friend who wanted to go over to America to visit her parents. Would I house-sit and look after Mr Fussy her cat while she was away? As her place had a TV, a shower which sprinkled one with clear water instead of some brown substance, armchairs instead of deckchairs and mushrooms in the fridge and not growing from the walls, I thought about it for seventy-five milliseconds or so before saying, “Hell, yes.”
Morning one, after a wonderful night's sleep between crisp white sheets, I showered, dressed, cerealed, was careful to lock the door behind me as I left for work, then noticed the furry black and white and very flat carcass in the middle of the road.
I will never forget that phone call I had to make about the demise of Mr Fussy. “Hi Anne. What's black and white and lies in the middle of the road? No, not a dead nun ...”
d) Arthur is a cat I actually owned. I say “owned”, does one ever “own” a cat? He was white like the TV cat of the same name. He lived with me in a VW camper van is I toured the Groot Karoo in South Africa. His thing was to find a tortoise, wait patiently until it stuck its head out to see if all was well, then pounce and separate the aforementioned appendage from its body. He'd then sit and scoop out the meat with his paw. He'd sit on the dashboard as we drove along and even accompany me on foot when I went exploring. Arthur got sick when we were in the middle of nowhere. He began moving really slowly and had rheumy eyes. The last I saw of him he was being dragged away by a Cape Fox. I found a leg, buried it and cried. I stopped my 'walkabout' after that and headed north to Jo'burg.
e) When I was about ten, in England, mum got a black and white cat. She asked me to name it and I decided to call it Mrs Todd. Ten years later, in South Africa, mum met and married a Scotsman called Jimmy Todd. She became Mrs Todd. Cue the Twilight zone theme tune.
That's me and cats. So far.