The day before the one in question, we had become aware of another presence insinuating itself into the tranquil peace of our home. This is a rare period of the year when there are very few birds in the garden and so individual bird calls are more easily distinguishable. As I lay in bed in the early morning, hovering between sleep and waking, I found myself intently listening to the insistent song of a lone bird which was chameleon like in its similarity to a small cat crying. How varied and wonderful is nature, I reflected, as I slowly raised myself to start another day. The bird song, which continued, relentlessly, through the morning was beginning to lose its charm to the point when I knew who would kill cock robin. Looking up, I scoured the branches of the trees in the garden for the feathered pussy-tit, but to no avail. It was only as I looked down that I noticed a tiny creature looking up at me, perfectly imitating the bird song to which I had previously been listening.
Our married life has been filled with cats, all of them now dead. There must be an ethereal Boot Hill filled with cats who came and died at the Stowells. I am not good at being sad and each of these deaths caused me a great deal of that emotion, to the point where I don’t want any more so I shouted at the tiny creature and shooed it out of the garden before it could take my heart. Jenny was already leading a clandestine Fifth Column in support of the kitten, ably supported by Nancy, but I stood firm and sung Kumbaya, even though my principal opinion of that anthem is that it sounds like a crap scrabble hand.
The last kitten free day dawned and I steeled myself to stand firm against the waves of cajolement and bribery. We had now noted that the kitten was outside the front of the house and closer inspection revealed that it was sheltering beneath our car, in which I was about to drive away on various commissions. Jenny came out of the house with me to ensure that the kitten was clear of danger before I set off but, although there was plenty of aural evidence to establish the presence of a kitten, there were no visual indications to confirm this. I lay prone on the road, moving in an organised fashion to examine each quarter of the terrain beneath the car to be sure that the little heart breaker was not trying to end my marriage by purposely lying under a wheel. The all clear was sounded and I started the car but, even over the engine noise, a cat’s crying could clearly be heard. A full cavity search of the interior of the car was undertaken and revealed nothing. I had a feeling that this kitten’s ancestors might well have been the most ingenious of “priest hole” designers who drove the searchers to such extreme ends of frustration that burning the whole house down was their only recourse. I duly started to stuff petrol soaked rags into the petrol tank but realised that I had things to do and places to go. I jumped to the stirrup, and Joris and he….I should have called him or her Joris, come to the think of it. Once in the saddle I restarted the car and yes, you’re right, the fucking miaouing was still going strong and seemingly very close to me and I wished that I didn’t care. I can never find the bonnet/hood release because the name makes me think of Little Red Riding Hood/Bonnet and I forget what I’m doing. Once found, the release was released to reveal a tiny cat sitting on the air filter. Molly is now resident in our outhouse, where she lives in the lap of luxury. I think I shall get on very well with this cat as he/she ( we’re still not sure) looks as though it will be happy to live outside which is a sign of a very independent cat which I already love.