Saturday 10th September
I mentioned in the book that I have a cat, little Puddy-Tat, as I call her. My mother, as you know, seemed to collect cats like some people collect acquaintances. During the few years I lived alone with her, the house was almost overrun with them. At the time I almost hated them, with their ingratiating habit of rubbing themselves up against your leg whenever they wanted feeding, added to the fact that most were waifs and strays and their toilet training left a lot to be desired. It never appeared to bother my mother, who, forgetful as ever, would leave their litter tray un-emptied for days on end. I resented the fact that the cats were the only thing my mother had any love for, she would pick them up and stroke and cuddle them all the time. I cannot honestly ever remember her showing the slightest interest, or anything approaching love, towards me. Not as a child anyway, I must admit that she quite surprised me when everything went wrong between Grandma and I, and she was quite sympathetic. But it almost felt as if it was all too late by then; where had she been during my childhood, where was she when we left Cyprus and I was suddenly without a father, why didn’t she start to love me then?
So why on earth did I become the owner of a cat at all, do I hear you saying? Well it was an accident, as most things in my life seem to have been. I never wanted a cat, or any sort of a pet really; we used to be abroad for weeks at a time every summer, so to have owned a pet would have been either incredibly difficult or quite cruel, as it would have had to have been left behind. About three years ago; Edward was quite ill by then, and we both knew it was only a matter of time, it was late at night, and one of my neighbours knocked on the door and asked us to help in an emergency. She was leaving for a holiday in the morning and her cat-sitter had let her down, could we possibly look after her cat for two weeks, she had tried everyone else. Without thinking we said yes, no problem. Edward really took to the cat, and seemed to derive great comfort from stroking her as she purred on his lap, and though I knew it would be for a short time only, as soon as our neighbour retrieved her cat, I went out and bought little Puddy-Tat for him. And now she is mine, and we are really quite good friends. We seem to understand each other, each respecting the other, and not impinging too much on one another’s territory.
So in the evening I too derive great comfort when little Puddy-tat rubs herself against my leg, and as I open my arms she jumps up on my lap to be stroked.