Back in the year 2000 I was a small feverishly working cog in a shiny advertising agency, and over shared work dilemmas and glasses of wine, became good friends with work colleague S. She had a lovely house in Islington (one of those split residencies – we were the top half, another family below), and, since I stayed over a lot anyway, asked me to officially move into her spare room and I leapt at the chance – yeay! Great company, beautiful room and the pleasure of living with two gorgeous little curious cats as well – Abigail and Ginger.
I have a confession to make here to the family that lived downstairs. Yes, our cats were the Koi Carp Killers of Newington Green. The family downstairs had the back garden, and a pond (known to cats as ‘the sushi bar’). Nothing more alarming than the sound of the cat flap repeatedly banging in the dead of night, as that meant one of the cats was trying to bring in a ‘present’. We were never quick enough to save the ‘presents’, and usually would find something unappetising tucked around the house the next day, like a fish head. One Sunday me and S decided nothing else was happening and cracked open a bottle of wine at midday. We were on our second bottle when the man downstairs rang the doorbell. I have visions of S standing valiantly at the doorstep, wafting wine, and trying to exonerate our cats from their killer reputation. No they hate water, she said sincerely, all the while knowing that both cats were not scared of it at all, and could no doubt be found at that very minute diving gracefully into the pond while we were diverting attention at the front.
S moved back to South Africa after a couple of years, and asked me if I wanted to keep her cats. By now I loved them to bits and so said of course - an emotional response not really based on the practicalities - but I was too attached to be practical. I was moving in with good friend C, and so arrived on her doorstep complete with meowing baggage. Luckily C was pre-warned and loved cats, and marvellously put up with the fact they made loud demands to have access to all rooms of the house, including wardrobes of black clothing. I meanwhile cycled to and fro from the pet shop with their heavy cat litter in a rucksack, and they rewarded me by mostly using it correctly. This worked for a while, but after a year we had me, C, C’s soon-to-be hubby, his two cats, and my two cats all under the same two-bed roof, and after yet another all out cat attack over the territory of the living room, I decided I perhaps better ship out and take the cats to my mum’s.
This worked very well – my mum loves the cats, they love her, and they all keep each other company. The cats have a garden, and space to play – but it meant when I left to live with J I had to leave them behind, as we couldn’t afford a place with a garden. It broke my heart to leave them, but why upset the status quo when everyone was happy? I used to cycle home just to sit with them for an hour or so, and play with them so they didn’t forget me.
So being back home has a silver lining, I am back with my cats, and they are as lovely as ever. They are great cuddlers – Ginger has the world’s loudest purr, and likes nothing better than to nudge his head under my chin as he settles in for a hug, and Abigail loves sitting on my shoulders - she gets in raptures of delight at being the highest thing in a room. I love them to bits, and I like to think they love me too.
Happy 10th Birthday!