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Mr Pussy’s Chair

September 24, 2014
by the gentle author

Mid-afternoon in Spitalfields, Mr Pussy snoozes

Is that an old fur hat on that chair in the corner? You would be forgiven for making such a simple mistake, but in fact it is my cat, Mr Pussy, slumbering the hours away in the armchair that is his ultimate home, the place where I first laid him down as a tiny kitten and the place where he has spent more hours of his life than anywhere else – even if it has now moved over two hundred miles from one end of the country to the other. It is Mr Pussy’s chair.

My mother bought this chair in 1963. She had been married five years and had a three year old child, and she was still struggling to furnish our house. She was patient, doing without and waiting until the opportunity arose to acquire suitable things. She had very little money to spend but she wanted furniture that would last, and the passage of time has proved she chose wisely. I think she bought this chair in a sale and, although I do not know if it can truly be memory on my part, I see her searching among the cut-price furniture in the shop and filling with delight to discover this handsome Queen Anne style wingchair that was within her budget.

It was a deep green velvet then and one of my earliest memories is of standing upon the seat, safe between the wings of the chair, and reaching up vainly attempting to grasp the top. I yearned for the day when I would be tall enough to reach it, for then I should grown up beyond my feeble toddler years. The chair seemed huge to me and I could climb beneath it comfortably, much to my father’s frustration when he was sitting in it on Saturday afternoons and attempting to take note of the football results from the television, in order to complete his pools form and discover if he had become wealthy.

He never became wealthy yet he never gave up hope of winning either, sitting in this chair and filling in the football scores every Saturday, for year after year, until he died. Just a few weeks after his funeral, I bought a small black kitten for my mother as a means to ameliorate her grief and the tiny creature slept curled up in the corner of the armchair, seeking security in its wide embrace. It was his earliest nest. By now the green velvet had faded to a golden brown and the cushion has disintegrated, so that if a stranger were to visit and sit down quickly upon it they would fall right through the seat. Yet this did not matter too much to us, because we kept the chair exclusively for the use of the cat who did not weigh very much.

Eventually, to rejuvenate the chair, we had a new seat cushion made and a loose fabric cover of William Morris’ Willow Leaves pattern, which is still serviceable more than ten years later. Once my mother began to lose her faculties in her final years, I often sat her in it that she might benefit from its protection, when her balance failed her, and not fall off onto the floor as she did from chairs without wings. After she died, it became the cat’s sole preserve and it still delights me to see him there in the chair, evoking earlier days. It is almost the last piece of furniture I have from my childhood home and, although I do not choose to sit in it much myself, I keep it because I can still see my father sitting there doing his football pools or my mother perched to read the Sunday supplement.

One day, I mean to have the armchair reupholstered in its original deep green velvet but until then, by his presence, Mr Pussy keeps the chair and the memories that it carries alive. I realise that Mr Pussy is keeping the chair warm for me and I am grateful to him for this service that he offers so readily.

36 Responses leave one →
  1. September 24, 2014

    Misty eyes here. Thank you.

  2. September 24, 2014

    I love Mr. Pussy! Having a regal kitty myself, I cannot resist all the wonderful cat stories and photos you put up on Spitalfieldslife. Cats and writing go together well I think. Now… if I can just get my feline to do anything as useful as warming my chair. I suppose she is good at bringing home wildlife, since she began life as a homeless mother fending for herself in the wilds.

    THANKS for your great blog.

  3. Erica W. permalink
    September 24, 2014

    Oh, how I love the Mr. Pussy posts.

  4. Catherine permalink
    September 24, 2014

    Mr. Pussy has excellent taste in furniture!

  5. September 24, 2014

    Hugs and kisses to Mr. P

  6. September 24, 2014

    Beautiful, Gentle Author. Mr. Pussy is lucky to have you and the chair. You must be just about my age. The story of the chair is especially poignant to me right now as I’m caring for my father, who had a stroke a week ago. His cats are looking forward to his return home. When I stopped by today to pick up a few things, one was in his chair at the table and the other was in his chair at his desk. Waiting.

  7. September 24, 2014

    Thank-you, Gentle Author, for such lovely post- truly touching. I feel like Mr. Pussy is keeping not only the chair warm, but your heart warm with the fond memories of your childhood and parents. The chair speaks to the potency that a simple, yet familiar object can have for us. In addition, your sweet cat is also that link, by the continuity he’s had with your mother as well as this very chair where he spends most of his time. Please give him a little scratch behind the ears for me, won’t you please?

  8. Victoria permalink
    September 24, 2014

    This is one of the most moving articles I’ve read. That chair carries so many memories and holds many more future ones. When you began to describe the wings , my mind was transported back to when I too was a child; each evening my mother read my sister and me a bedtime story (we both sat on the kitchen floor to hear this) and our favourite one was Enid Blyton’s The Wishing Chair. It was winged and took the children in the book to many different lands. I’m sure it was a chair just like yours. I’m glad like all your other readers to have post about Mr Pussy, and gladder still that he led you to write about your chair.

  9. September 24, 2014

    Beautiful chair, beautiful cat, beautiful story. I confess that despite my general admiration for your fine blog, I am most of all a lover of Mr. Pussy and your writings about him!

    Also I think the William Morris cover is very beautiful, and hope you won’t be in too much of a hurry to get rid of it. Mr. Pussy doesn’t seem to be doing it any harm, whereas I can tell you a cautionary tale or two about what even the most gentlemanly of cats will do to velvet…the noise sounds like R-I-I-I-P…

  10. Greg Tingey permalink
    September 24, 2014

    Loud purrings (?)

  11. September 24, 2014

    Long Live Mr Pussy!!

  12. September 24, 2014

    May Mr Pussy enjoy many senior moments in his wonderful chair! Valerie

  13. Will permalink
    September 24, 2014

    could it be a Parker Knoll?

  14. Claudia Fisk permalink
    September 24, 2014

    What a gorgeous chair and I love the Morris ‘Willow’ pattern. I have curtains of it and a sofa covered in it plus several other Morris fabrics and wallpaper. It never ever dates. So Please do not throw out that fabric if you do re-cover it- send it to me!
    Seriously, I would stick with that or another Morris design but not the old green velvet.

    Love your blog,
    Claudia

  15. September 24, 2014

    What evocative memories you have provoked.

    I too had a childhood which involved a chair, such as this one. Transported from suburban Surrey to rural Kent, via storage, during a period in the Far East. Together with a matching two seater winged settee, and originally brocade but re-upholstered in … green velvet!

    Kent proved a little stifling for the teenager me. The romps through orchards and feeding Gypsy owned nags with windfalls, were a thing of my childish past.

    I remember, though, sitting moodily in said chair, listening to James Alexander Gordon and watching the flames flickering, in the fireplace in front of me.

    Your writing is the literary equivalent of smelling freshly cut grass :)

  16. September 24, 2014

    I am pleased to see that I am not the only one with interior decor of unvarnished bare boards and unplastered walls!

  17. September 24, 2014

    Wonderful story — and as I said it before: This much is certain: In my next life I’ll be a cat!

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  18. Rupert Neil Bumfrey (@rupertbu) permalink
    September 24, 2014

    Wistful evocations………………

  19. Patricia Celeveland-Peck permalink
    September 24, 2014

    Very moving and the empty chair picture said a lot –

    Do you know the painting The Empty Chair by O.B MacCammon? It shows an Irish wolfhound waiting patiently, head down, by an ornate chair for someone who will not be returning.
    Particularly poignant to me as I bred those gentle giants at one time.

    What is evident though, is that as everyone loves Mr Pussy stories so much you should put them together in a book….Please do it for all us Mr Pussy fans

  20. Candice Lyons permalink
    September 24, 2014

    What a lovely posting this is — it brought tears to my eyes. Mr. Pussy is lucky to have you and you are lucky to have him in your life.

    Candy

  21. joy permalink
    September 24, 2014

    A lovely story of the chair and Mr.Pussys life.
    I have a similar chair ,my Dads start in it by the open fire when as child I always sat by his feet cuddling his legs. When he passed the chair become my Mums then sitting in front of the Gas fire.
    The Chair is now in my Kitchen mostly with the ironong on it ( as now) . when I feel low or in need of a cuddle and reassuring I sit in the chair and can almost feel my Mum &Dad

  22. Jay permalink
    September 24, 2014

    What a lovely story. Thank you.

  23. Pauline Taylor permalink
    September 24, 2014

    How comfy Mr Pussy looks, and how much I agree with all the sentiments expressed here again. Coming to your fascinating blog after everyone else always leaves me with very little to add except that I enjoy all that you write GA, and a catch up with Mr Pussy is especially welcome. Thank you.

    I should give the green velvet a miss if I were you, the chair looks fine as it is to me!

  24. Mike Brown permalink
    September 24, 2014

    A very warm and lovely story. Long live Mr. Pussy!

  25. Susan permalink
    September 24, 2014

    That was wonderful! I had to blink several times to clear my eyes to finish reading to the end, remember a green velvet chair my parents once owned and my parents as well, with the long line of cats through the years who fought them for possession of the seat cushions.

  26. Cydney permalink
    September 24, 2014

    Thank you. I enjoy your blog very much.

  27. Marianne Isaacs permalink
    September 24, 2014

    I spent the day at kelmscott today . I am sure that mr Morris would greatly approved of Mr Pussy sleeping on his willow pattern fabric .

  28. Katya permalink
    September 24, 2014

    Every new Mr Pussy post is a joy to read and smile over…how astute your observations of cat-ness are. But, Gentle Author, when you DO post a new chapter in the life of this stunningly handsome feline, I am compelled to scroll down and re-read each previous post in order to sop up the tidbits this creature has put on offer, and which you have so enchantingly recorded. So thank you, and Mr Pussy, of course, for allowing me to get nothing done for the good part of an hour.

  29. Caro permalink
    September 24, 2014

    I’m always so pleased to see a post about Mr Pussy but oh dear, the picture of him curled up in the chair, then of the empty chair underneath did make me catch my breath..

    Thank you for this beautiful, moving post. At a time when my widowed mother has been moving into a smaller house and we’ve been having to say goodbye to some much-loved furniture, this really struck a chord.

  30. Barbara Lance permalink
    September 25, 2014

    Dogs have owners – cats have staff!

    From a staff member, and happy to be one.

  31. September 26, 2014

    Only loosely related to this blog post by virtue of the William Morris fabric, but the William Morris museum (a former home of Morris) in Walthamstow, East London, recently underwent a huge renovation and is a must see for anyone interested in Morris.

  32. Barbara permalink
    September 26, 2014

    Have identical style chair ( in green stripe ) which belonged to my late mother and identical black cat called Rolf ! We race each other for occupancy of said chair and Rolf usually wins. Your Mr Pussy posts are delightful and I look forward to hearing more about his ” domestic” arrangements .

  33. Chris F permalink
    September 26, 2014

    As I sit and write this comment, my black & white cat ‘Scruffy’ luxuriates in my padded leather swivel office chair with comfy cushion, whilst I perch on a buttock deadening folding wooden version! Oh well!!

  34. September 28, 2014

    I enjoyed this glimpse into the Gentle Author’s life – thanks!

  35. September 28, 2014

    Lovely piece about Mr Pussy and the chair. I think this looks like a Parker Knoll, quite possibly a Penshurst model. I’m doing some research into Parker Knoll, and am collecting stories about memories of Parker Knoll furniture so found this so interesting and moving.

  36. gioconda permalink
    August 7, 2015

    The beauty of furniture is in the memories it holds of the loved ones who occupied it. Your understanding of life and the expression you give it make your posts a treasure.
    May Mr Pussy grace your furniture and your life for many years to come.

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