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In Mr Pussy’s Chair

August 18, 2018
by the gentle author

With your help, I am producing a handsome collection of stories of my old cat, THE LIFE & TIMES OF MR PUSSY, A Memoir Of A Favourite Cat to be published by Spitalfields Life Books on 20th September. Below you can read an excerpt.

Support publication by preordering THE LIFE & TIMES OF MR PUSSY and you will receive a signed copy when the book is published.

Click here to preorder your copy


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.

With your help, I am producing a handsome collection of stories of my old cat, THE LIFE & TIMES OF MR PUSSY, A Memoir Of A Favourite Cat to be published by Spitalfields Life Books on 20th September.

Support publication by preordering  THE LIFE & TIMES OF MR PUSSY and you will receive a signed and inscribed copy when the book is published.

Click here to preorder your copy

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Leanne Teves permalink
    August 18, 2018

    This makes me want to cry all over again. For one Mr. Pussy. For the “Mr. Pussys” I have had. For the marching of time…that stops for no one. Not our pets, not our children and not ourselves.

  2. August 18, 2018

    Another lovely story of Mr Pussy – this time with his chair. I love these stories and am looking forward to receiving my Life and Times of Mr Pussy’ book very much. Is there a sequel though – do you now have a new cat – and does he/she sleep in this same chair?

    Why are so many of us obsessed by domestic cats? I think its more than unjudgemental love. A beloved cat touches awakens something deep inside us – a spiritual aspect – a memory of new born innocence. It is something to do with a profound respect for another living being that only cats, in my experience, can make you feel. This despite the fact I am allergic to them and can only have dogs these days. But I long for a cat and the Mr Pussy stories always leave me feeling I have once again entered that world of pure love and innocence.


  3. August 18, 2018

    The empty chair, with vestiges of Mr P’s former presence, is particularly touching.

  4. Paul Loften permalink
    August 18, 2018

    I was born in Stoke Newington and we lived in the bottom half of an old house with an overgrown garden and my first memories are of an old ginger cat, Amber that came regularly to visit . He would sit in the overgrown garden on sunny days and we would give him a bowl of milk and stroke his long fur. What a clever fellow he was . A long time has passed but I shall never forget that cat.

  5. Greg Tingey permalink
    August 18, 2018

    Where does Schrodinger curlup, usually?

  6. gioconda permalink
    August 18, 2018

    Another piece that begins with a cat in a chair, and goes forward and backward in time until the strings of past and present are fused into one. Every thing and every one in the Gentle Author’s world come enhanced with loving memory and eternal presence. It is for this that I await my copy of “The Life and Times” with warm anticipation.

  7. Richard permalink
    August 19, 2018

    My parents bought two of these in the 1950s and I have one now. Still very comfy. I always thought they were Parker Knowle chairs.

  8. Janice Fisher permalink
    August 22, 2018

    I eagerly look forward to your book about Mr Pussy. I had two sister cats Bonnie & Misty who also adopted an old armchair. They bought such joy to my life.They were two rescue cats and like you I adored them. I also had for many years a little stray cat that adopted me and looked just like your Mr Pussy.I do hope one day you will have another little cat. I love your East End articles as my roots belong to the East End. I am compiling my Family Tree and I find your articles add so much to the life and times of my Ancestors. Thank you for all the research that you share with us it is ajoy to read. Take care.

  9. Stephan Glover permalink
    September 22, 2018

    My signed copy has just arrived. Saturday afternoon at the pub reading the Gentle Author. That is living!

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