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The life of Mr Pussy

January 30, 2010
by the gentle author

Every night, Mr Pussy sleeps at my feet just like those dogs you see curled up at the feet of effigies on medieval tombs. There is a sheepskin, strategically placed across the corner of the bed and this is his rightful place. Sometimes, when I roll over in the night, my feet meet the reassuring resistance of a solid lump and I know it is Mr Pussy. At first light, he wakes, climbs down and then strolls along to the head of the bed, full of the joy of morning, and miaows in my face. Commonly, I open my eyes to confront him eyeballing me and then I turn my back on him, rolling over to sleep further because this may be five in the morning. Mr Pussy is full of optimisim and delight at the new day and cannot understand my reluctance.

Mr Pussy’s disappointed response will be to scratch half-heartedly for a little upon the side of the bed to encourage me to rise. Once this avenue is exhausted, he leaps in one bound onto the oak chest of draws, where I place my watch and rings at night. The thunderous plonk as Mr Pussy lands upon the chest of drawers always stirs me from my slumbers because I know what comes next. A little tinkling, a little scraping and a little scratching, as Mr Pussy manoeuvres my possessions to the edge of the chest of drawers in preparation for knocking them onto the floor. As I lie there in a half-slumber, I am trying to remember if I left my phone on the chest of drawers or not. So I roll over in bed, sitting up, and our eyes meet as Mr Pussy looks down at me accusingly, because he expects better than this sleepy-headed disinterest. Mr Pussy wants me to get up. “Pussy!” I yell in a melodramatically over-reactive tone, throwing back the covers as if I am about to rise. Mr Pussy jumps down and runs from the room, eager to be the first into the bathroom – but I am too smart for him, I pull back the covers and return to sleep. It works every time.

I know what Mr Pussy wants, because sometimes I play along if the fancy takes me. Mr Pussy wants me to rise when he does, so he can follow me into the bathroom to lick the pools of water in the shower, then return to the bedroom to observe me dressing. Once this is complete, he runs to the head of the stairs and pauses, preparing for the moment of triumph when we run downstairs together to embrace the glorious day. If Mr Pussy’s desired scenario does not to take place then he skulks off out of the house in frustration, as happened the other morning when I woke to a frenzied screaming in the back yard. Mr Pussy was halfway up a tall willow with his hackles up, snarling, eyes popping and generally letting rip like a wild predatory beast. At the top of the tree was a young brown cat clinging onto mere twigs. Mr Pussy had pursued this poor creature that had invaded his territory until it had nowhere left to run, just like those fearsome pirates of old who made their adversaries walk the plank.

There is no doubt Mr Pussy has his dark side. The pet shop owner who sold him to me in Mile End years ago told me that he had been rescued as part of a litter from an East End street. I took the cat, who was the size of my hand then, to Devon on the train that night. My notion was that a kitten would be a consolation to my mother, who was recently bereaved, but he caused havoc, running around the house screaming and smashing things. Even the neighbours complained, asking her to keep her cat quiet. Although, at first, he was not quite the joy I had anticipated, I told myself that a cat problem was preferable to a bereavement problem. It was an exorcism, and sure enough, over his first year, he settled down under her placid influence.

I knew my mother wanted a female cat and when I entered the shop, one kitten ran up to me. I realised, in a moment of mutual recognition, that this was the one. The owner assured me this was a female. My mother named the kitten Rosemary and it was only after a year, when we sent the cat to be neutered, that the plain facts were revealed. I broke the news to my mother, “Pussy is a boy.” Immediately she responded,“That’s why he is so bossy!” with characteristic insight. This was when he first acquired the name Mr Pussy, indicative of his early gender confusion. He was never Rosemary again, except very occasionally when we chose to tease him and Mr Pussy responded with filthy looks that could make Silvio Berlusconi look clean.

Now, years later, my mother is gone and Mr Pussy has made Spitalfields his home. When I leant out of the window last week to confront Mr Pussy in the tree here, I only had to yell “Pussy!” and a transformation came upon him. The wild beast vanished to be replaced by my domestic cat once more. Mr Pussy came running back into the house and we performed the morning ritual just as he likes it. I respect Mr Pussy for being his own creature and as long as we can maintain the pretence of a pet and owner relationship, I am prepared to accept his animal instinct that is wild at heart.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. susan permalink
    January 30, 2010

    Beautiful black and white shot of Mr. Pussy in a tree. Wild and mild in one package of domestic cat.

  2. mcneill permalink
    January 30, 2010

    “Mr Pussy wants me to rise when he does, so he can follow me into the bathroom to lick the pools of water in the shower … ”

    My favourite Spitalfields Life detail so far! Haha! I demand a photo!

  3. Peter permalink
    January 30, 2010

    ……thankyou again for your daily offering;todays illustration is great,but,are you certain that it’s not the work of Rob Ryan?
    best regards……

  4. Susan permalink
    January 31, 2010

    Hey, Mr. Pussy isn’t a b&w photo anymore! With digital photography, nothing is no longer as simple as black and white…

  5. gary permalink
    January 24, 2013

    devote everything to mr pussy, hes interesting

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