51. Pussy

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On last night’s evening stroll I sat awhile in the dark by Great Waltham’s WW1 memorial, and was joined by a little companion. A black and white cat that has convened with me at the same spot previously. He/she loves to be stroked and tickled.

It took me back to the miserable wet night in December 1971 when Gordon Banks saved the penalty from Geoff Hurst (Blog 41). While the highlights were on TV we heard what sounded like a cat meowl outside the front door at Bowers Gifford. I took a look, to find a stray black and white kitten looking bedraggled and lost.

So we took her in. We had quite recently lost a dog to old age, and Phyllis took Fred (as Neil named her) to her heart. She had the run of the fields at the back, and the undivided attention of four Godiers.

A decade or two after Fred, and living in Chelmsford, I had the pleasure of looking after Milly, and then Sushi and Doodle. When they were sadly departed, we forgot about cats until late 2010, when Lauren insisted that her life would be incomplete without a kitten. That was a tricky ask, as we were renting, and allowed no pets, but Lauren outmanoeuvred us through dogged persistence.

Somehow we ended up with three male kittens: Bob, Peter and Pastille. The latter duet turned out to be female, and Peter got pregnant, so we renamed her Pippa. Before this, Lauren and Josie wanted another kitten, Daisy, who has stayed a girl. Pippa then begat Henry, Scruffy (now Rosie), Charlie and Toby Lerone, but we sold Toby Lerone and Henry got run over (Blog 36).

I wrote him this elegy, entitled ‘The Tank’ (because he was a stout lad).

When you left, you took a piece of my heart with you

Pride Rock is looking empty.

One less bowl at the morning feed.

 

That proud dark chest, flecked with white.

That rumbling purr, vibrating benevolently.

 

Laying in the sun, by the Buddha

In you would trot, at any kitchen noise.

 

I miss your appetite

I miss your slight wobble, as you sat, looking,

With unconditional love.

 

No more Henry on my desk

Rubbing our heads together.

 

A rose grows over your memory

See you in another life

My forever friend

 

We’ve still got Pastille, Bob and Daisy, plus the three ‘blacks’, as we call them, Pippa, Rosie and Charlie. Pastille is the fussiest, and needs plenty of raw chicken in the winter to keep her coat healthy. Bob is a tart who will be intimate with anyone. Charlie is feral, and lives outside in the summer. Rosie is elegant, and identifiable by a tail that ends in a question mark. Daisy is a loner, who bullies the others. Pippa is low maintenance, with a purr that could be the universe itself vibrating.

And I am a pussy magnet, according to my wife. Below, Bob and Charlie on my lap, and Pastille guarding my halo. It’s blurred.

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