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Mr Pussy’s Chair

August 8, 2017
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 old 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.

23 Responses leave one →
  1. August 8, 2017

    Love and hugs to Mr. Pussy.

  2. Jim McDermott permalink
    August 8, 2017

    He looks like the twin of my own fellow (named Yoda by the old lady from whom I inherited him). I’m not a ‘cat person’ by any means, but continue to be surprised by what good company they can be. Equally surprising is the fact that my own winged chair continues to be ignored by the furred rear end.

  3. August 8, 2017

    Nice story. Good to see Mr Pussy again. If only furniture could speak, it would be able to tell us a lot. I’m sitting here typing at the same mahogany desk, which was originally a dressing table, that I used as a kid – we have travelled a lot together! Valerie

  4. Kate Makowiecka permalink
    August 8, 2017

    My 19 year old tortoiseshell girl – Baby – was put to sleep yesterday. Reading about Mr Pussy today reminds me how much our cats reach into and link our memories, even the ones they weren’t there to help create.

  5. August 8, 2017

    Dear GA .. when I remarried I inherited two large uncomfortable settees covered in William Morris Willow Leaves pattern. Finding myself on my own they went to the council crusher to be replaced by more comfortable furniture for my old age. “Willow leaves” is recent memory but your words about your father really rang true with me. “My Old Dad Sid” is a blog destined for Mindfully Bertie soon. Sid would sit in his favourite tatty old chair playing with an old fashioned valve radio. Listening in the middle of the night to test matches in Australia. Don Cockell fighting Rocky Marciano. Thank you for sharing these memories of your parents

  6. Jean Clements permalink
    August 8, 2017

    Ah dear Mr Pussy, a companion indeed! Thank you for the update

  7. Greg Tingey permalink
    August 8, 2017

    “Hexadecimal” ( Usually just called Hex), who died last year, was often mistaken for a Black Russian Fur Hat … until her bright green eyes opened.

  8. August 8, 2017

    Delighted to see Mr P again, enjoying the sunshine. Our own black cat – Susan – is not a great seat user but happily curls up in the spare bedroom on a duvet that is plonked on the bed, exactly where the sun shines in. Wise girl.

  9. Malcolm permalink
    August 8, 2017

    Good to see Mr Pussy is still going strong.

  10. Lyn in Yorkshire permalink
    August 8, 2017

    Such a poignant piece. I have a tear in my eye ….

  11. August 8, 2017

    Priceless memories. Mr Pussy is priceless too. Thank you for sharing (and reminding me that I need to get new covers for the couch and chair in our sitting – or, as we up north name it, front – room. Why dispose of perfectly serviceable furniture?)

  12. August 8, 2017

    A salute to Mr. Pussy from two black cats who live in the Hudson River Valley in New York –
    Satchmo and Seymour. They “rescued” us and we are forever grateful.
    Thank you for a wonderful post today, as ever.

  13. gioconda permalink
    August 8, 2017

    I’m so happy to see Mr. Pussy comfy and warm in his nest from kitten days. Bless him and the home he’s known all his life! Thank you for this update on our beloved friend.

  14. Su C. permalink
    August 8, 2017

    The history of inanimate objects is powerful and your recollections of this chair make me nostalgic. I am reminded of my own relationship with my dad and the close times we shared around his chair, when he’d be listening to the blues on the reel to reel TEAC he brought home from Japan in the early 60s, following his first tour of duty in Vietnam.

    Thank you GA. Thank you Mr Pussy.

  15. August 8, 2017

    Poignant piece, dear GA. Thank you.

    I bought a deep green velvet footstool and cushion yesterday to grace my newly renovated writing space. I will think of you and your redolent tales when I use them.

    Greetings to Mr Pussy and condolences to the reader whose 19-year-old cat was put to sleep yesterday.

  16. David Bishop permalink
    August 8, 2017

    A beautiful piece of writing. Thank you.

  17. Sally Hirst permalink
    August 8, 2017

    I loved this post. These occasional, slightly more personal insights into your life are lovely to read and make the connection to you, as the author, stronger. That is why blogs are as interesting as books to me. I grew up with wing chairs too, and this made me wish I had also kept one.

  18. Richard permalink
    August 8, 2017

    Our local vicar was sitting on an identical chair when my mother said “have you been busy father John”. I was mortified as being busy meant going to the toilet in our house.

  19. Robin permalink
    August 9, 2017

    I have a blue velvet twin to Mr. Pussy’s chair. It is known as “Jack’s chair” around here,as my son’s dog “Jack” ( a darling black lab/ bull terrier mix) adopted it as his throne. during his extended visits. Much love to Mr. Pussy,keep that chair warm for G.A. for many years to come old boy.

  20. pauline taylor permalink
    August 9, 2017

    Lovely to see Mr Pussy so comfy in his favourite chair snoozing away, long may it continue.
    I also have some inherited chairs and I am sitting on one now which is one of four that were made for my great grandparents when they got married in 1850. When I first knew them they were in my grandparent’s home and they were covered in horrible black horsehair which I hated as it scratched my legs if I sat on them. Since then I have had them recovered in a faded rose coloured velvet and they still serve me well as dining chairs; made of rosewood they have upholstered seats and the backs have rows of four turned wooden spindles with another section of buttoned upholstery above. I love them and wouldn’t part with them for the world. One of them was the first place that our much loved tabby, Napoleon, chose to sit on when we first brought him home. Happy memories.

  21. Grace permalink
    August 10, 2017

    What a delightful read, thank you! Makes me appreciate both my beloved cat and all the inherited furniture in our home even more.

  22. Marcelle Garner permalink
    August 11, 2017

    I love cats but unfortunately I am not allowed to have one in the Retirement Village where I now live .I enjoy the stories of Mr Pussy Thank you.

  23. Stephan Glover permalink
    August 12, 2017

    Always good to hear Mr Pussy is rolling on. Best Wishes.

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