Friday, December 16, 2005

A winter's tail

A nice winters day to day, sunny, bright, clear and crisp. No wind, purr-fect I lazed on the conservatory roof. The sun's rays reflecting off the glass warmed me through to my bones. I surveyed my territory from my lofty outlook.

Our neighbour has been gardening. She has redesigned her garden has been at it for months beginning in the spring. Apparently she is to have friends over from America. So axed was the white lilac, sawn the flowering bay, ripped out the jasmine. The hedging grubbed. And with the plants went the birds the mice, my dinner! I reckon she wanted to make the-other-side-of-the-pond buddies at feel at home, well they would if they are Vietnam vets after a napalm attack.

Anyway apart from the aesthetics -which as you are becoming aware I am a cat of refinement and good taste, the hunting is totally hopeless, too much open ground and quite frankly most of the wildlife has evacuated. We used to have a black bird with a white eyebrow (I kid you not,) and when he cocked his head to look at you you'd swear he was raising that eyebrow in the "oh really!" expression. But he didn't make it through last years winter, and not because he was any one's snack but because he was just old. I have noticed, when I'm in stand and stare mode (as in Wordsworth,) a black bird bobbing about with a white patch on his head reminding me of a wide centre parting or a narrow mohican. Son of I expect.

Speaking of hunting, at this time of year Martin - the male human of the household- goes on the Cadburys hazelnut whirl hunt. This is a Christmas annual event that starts at the end of October and lasts until the end of December. Last year he managed to bag two boxes. This year so far every expedition has ended in dismal failure. I sympathise and empathise, when a badly judged spring or a misplaced paw let you down it does make you cross with yourself. But when there is no prey well what can you do but lament? And Martin does a good lamentation.

"bloody cadburys."

"What sort of marketing's this?"

"Every year it's the same."

On and on.... that's part, I think of his festive season address, a bit like the Queen but louder (much) and with a cockney accent in fact nothing like the Queen more Alf Garnet.

Last night I stared at the sky through my glass ceiling. A wonderful invention glass, a great design a conservatory, you're outside when you're in and warm when it's cold. I was tucked in my cardboard box snug on a tarten blanket. Anyway the moon last night was huge, as large as... well bigger than I'd ever seen it. A big orange disc in the sky, very comforting... or should I put ginger ball? I've written both now. Oh well you choose. It was the largest it's been for eighteen years apparently and according to radio 4.

Talking of discs or round things one of Martin's stocking fillers is a his-and-hers cat badge or button called pretty cool for the she cat, and cool cat for the tom cat. Now if they were ginger they would be just too purr-fect .......!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Autumn leaves blew winter was coming.......

If only we could know the so short a time in which to enjoy, and savour every second, luxuriate in every brief idle caress.

I chased browned leaves that danced across our garden.

Spring to autumn. I wish I had the experience to know this was the 'top of the milk.' I wish I'd known it, recognised it and rejoiced in it But to me this was my norm. I enjoyed it. Only with hindsight do I know this fleeting time was the best time.

Gertie and me had a routine of comforts and habit. She worked in the dockyard, got up early in the morning. She had a large chrome plated clock with huge chrome plated bells and a big hammer that would beat those bells into submission every morning at six.

I slept on the small landing outside of Gertie's bedroom door. The grating clanking and whirring of those gears and cogs would alert me every morning as they flexed and tautened for the bout of the excruciating din. I followed my pre-emptive strategy, I stretched, rearranged the whiskies, nudged Gertie's door open and sprung onto her bed. I would gently comb her hair with my paw and most times but not all times she would reach out and move the lever that would quell the bells.
Gertrude would say to her sisters,
"That Ginger he can tell the time! Gets me up better than any alarm clock!"

Tea and toast, milk and Friskies: our breakfast. Gertie would leave at 6.45 and spend the day cleaning, and after shining and polishing, brushing and sweeping she would leave her work at 3.30. At four pm the key was turned in the lock. Gertie was home. Her large leather bag filled with shopping, contraband and always a book: a novel. Her purse tucked down so the bag smiths wouldn't nick.

Tea: crumpets and tea, or cake and tea. I unfortunately, for I would love to have shared the table with Gert, hate the smell of tea but I was served milk and sometimes top of the milk and just occasionally she would give me slivers of toast oozing with warm melted butter that I would lick from her fingers.

Halcyon days.

That autumn morning gears shifted and cogs whirred, I stretched and washed. I combed Gert's hair. Cogs clanked. And I combed. Wheels turned and I combed. Grindings. Combings. I stretched my claws and combed.

"Gertie," I said in her ear.

Clank! comb, whirr. Gertie lay still, even as the cogs were for the first time in four months loosed. The bells hammered into clamouring arousal. The strikes so many shards of glass piercing my head, and Gertie. Gert laid quite still.

Later much later a black van arrived. She was carried out between two men raised high. I accompanied her down the narrow steep stairs and as they paused to open the front door and after I'd heard the discussions as to what they thought were the best options for 'the cat,' and when the door was opened for Gert's last exit, jumped out from behind the last black suited man and watched from the corner of the avenue as Gert was loaded onto that black windowless van, I followed her as she travelled, chauffer driven, ran along side, called to her, to

Her carriage turned left, I jumped the forecourt walls, 500 yards. I was racing to the end of the road. Stamshaw school. She would have had to have turned left? Gert was nowhere and I was nowhere. I just knew this was a last day. My routine was over. ... Autumn leaves blew winter was coming......

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's Friday; It's Fish.

I was found by an old lady. She was intending to call her sister Gladys from the telephone box near Alexander park in the city of Portsmouth. This intention was replaced with another better intention. Me. I was four weeks old. I had blue eyes and was the colour of the amber necklace that adorned her large soft bosom. She was just about to put her index finger in the hole marked six when she was distracted by the discarded chip wrapper moving towards her galoshed foot.
"Dear god!" she exclaimed.
I stuck my delightfully pink nose out from the pages of the The Sun.
" Good grief."

Other terms of endearment followed. I have that effect on people; It's the recognition of appeal. Finally I was raised high and thrust to her heaving breast. She wore a woolley cardy darned at the elbows. She smelt of Johnson's lavender polish. I snuggled. I felt warm and secure for the first time in a long time. I missed my mother. I missed my brother. I started to cry in sad remembrance. Her heart beat faster. My tiny claws clung; tightening to her. Her heart beat faster still.
"Lets get you home Ginger, she said."
She put me inside her cardy grabbed her purse from the shelf and heaved the heavy red iron door open.

Fresh air. Stale urine and fried potatoes now a smelly memory. The grass at the park had just been mown. Ozone drifted from the shore. Lime trees fit to burst. Sweet smells. I snuggled but kept one eye on where we were going. Not far. Cross the road. Straight ahead, 100 yards sharp left into a little cul-de-sac. Number twelve had bright orange paint work and dark green rendering. The lurid colour scheme compliments of Portsmouth Dockyard. Red lead the undercoat for the ships of the Royal Navy, the dark green I have to this day no idea of its use, blue or even grey I could understand but green! in the navy?

I was given a saucer of milk and a couple of spratts, it was Friday and I learned Getrude was high church and that's what you had on Fridays. Fish.

I was warm and full bellied, my ears were being stroked I purred happy for the first time in a long time. 'Always look on the bright side of life.. da do, da do da do da do do doooo...'