Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Swinging Cats and Bearskins

If I had to choose between cats and dogs, dogs would win on points. I mean, I like the look of cats, well, most cats. I like the way they move. I admire that certain aloofness and the seductive purr. I don't like the way they wail in the middle of the night, having forgotten their key. I don't like their habit of leaving pernicious presents in flower beds and vegetable plots, for others to grab unsuspectingly whilst weeding. And news like this, doesn't help either.


Dogs probably clock up just as many negatives, so it must be a childhood experience that's responsible for tipping the scales. I would have been about six or seven years old, and had been sent to leave a loaf of bread at a house in our village. The house, at the end of a rough track, belonged to a middle-aged woman and her brother.

My instruction was to leave the loaf in a bread bin, on the bench, in a lean-to shed that adjoined the house. The shed was only lit by a small window above the bench, and it took a while for my eyes to focus. I stepped, gingerly, towards the spot where a white enamelled bread bin had been placed. I lifted the lid and set the loaf down inside.

As I was making for the door, something caught my eye. Now, given the array of odd objects that were scattered around the shed, hanging from nails, or strung up with binder twine, I wasn't that surprised to see a Guardsman's bearskin just out of the shadows, at the opposite end of the bench to the bread bin. Wow! I just had to get my hands on it; maybe even try it on. I reached out and raised it by grabbing two handfuls of fur. My mind was full of me, as a soldier, as a tall uniformed Guard at Buckingham Palace. I felt a surge of courage, invincibility even. Until, that was, the bearskin unfurled in my grasp, grew swiping claws, and attached itself to me, screeching and crying with a ferocity that shook dust from the ceiling.

I've never been exactly sure which of us had been most frightened. It may well have been the cat. I remember the thud as it ran headlong into the door I was so keen to shut on the whole episode.

I wonder if it actually outlived its owner?

13 comments:

  1. I can't tell what I thought I saw when I looked at the miniature version of your image. Thank heavens you grabbed something else entirely. ;-)

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    1. Thank heavens, indeed, Merisi!

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    2. Still has the same effect on me, days later. ;-)

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  2. We have two cats next door to us. Their owner has a paved garden so the cats are straight over the fence to deposit their gifts in our garden. We've given up on growing vegetables.
    Did you also know that cats kill more of our British wildlife than anything else?
    I don't like them, but I would never harm one, and we owned one for sixteen long years.

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    1. Hey, Lynne, you managed to get through!

      I didn't know that cats kill more of our British wildlife than anything else, but then when I think of how many cats I see on a daily basis...

      Our daughter's neighbours have two cats. Since the arrival of Monty (chocolate labrador) they tend to cross the garden much faster.

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    2. I'm not a fan of 'em either. And it doesn't make any difference if the owner's garden is paved or not, apparently. They don't mess their own space.

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  3. After that early experience I'm not surprised you don't like them. I lean more to cats than dogs (and get very fed-up with the dogs down our street that bark all day) but now I don't have a pet, too restrictive.

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    1. After our dog died, we vowed never to have another pet of any kind. I agree, far too restrictive.

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  4. I'm a cat person myself, but my husband always says that if a cat were big enough, it would eat me with no compunction!

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  5. Not a cat fan myself, although do admire the beauty of their movement.

    Main gripe is that those little jumping things that make a home on them seem to like me too and I have a very allergic reaction to their bites, usually requiring a course of ABs...

    Anna :o]

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  6. We are cat lovers, but our cats (with one exception) have always been housecats. Some would say this is unnatural, but we find them to be great companions, and this way there are no fleas, no half-eaten trophies and no garden deposits.

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  7. Poor cat!

    I'm a rabbit person. I love cats except for their habit of killing wildlife. I have started to like dogs since making friends with so many of them during my voluntary work along the local river. But rabbits, well, they are just wonderful

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