Tuppence

Leftovers day, Campers: or repost day, to call a spade a spade. Here’s a soul I loved.

Every now and then, in one’s life, one is lucky enough to find a soul mate. A like mind which tesselates with one’s own.

There was one I loved, and who loved me.Β Who was in no way human.

When Kit Kat was about three or four, I left teaching for a while.

I took a post on a newspaper. Bang went the early exit of the punters at 3.15pm, poof went the holidays. Spare time became a very different commodity, now I was surrounded by hungry newshounds baying for round-the-clock exclusives.

With our human minds, we reasoned Kit Kat must be feeling awful lonely.

In retrospect, this was an inordinately foolish conclusion. That cat walks on her own, always did. But we were young, we had no kids, and we imprinted so many of our fears and desires on a small angry tortoiseshell, blithely ignoring her infinite fury and hatred of company.

We contacted the Cats Protection League, who came and pronounced our house sufficiently cat friendly. Despite the glares of the incumbent feline.

We have just the cat for you, they said. He had grown up a feral, but unlike the rest in his considerable litter, he had done something very rare: he had crossed the Rubicon from wild to tame.

His name was not one ounce like him. He should have been called Jet, or Scythe, or Yaotang-Shi. But because the lovely ladies at the CPL were simple and affectionate souls, they called him Tuppence.

It is true that he was black and white, like any British moggie: but he had the heart and soul of a chinese warrior.

We hold to this day that he was descended from those distinctive, fierce temple cats of Siam. He held his cheekbones high: his eyes gleamed emerald: his glossy fur shone.

I should add that he had bucked teeth: became unflatteringly portly; and had an unhinged air about him which could be quite unsettling.

The day Tuppence arrived, his deliverers let him out of the box, and all we saw was a black streak and then nothing for about four days.

Someone did come to collect the food: but whoever it was, we never saw them.

In the pitch black of the fifth Kentish night, I woke to feel something breathing on my face. Peering into the gloom I could just make out a triangle teetering precariously above me. The newcomer was checking out the locals.

A few days later we passed on the stairs, and he decided to trust me. I put out my hand, and he came to be stroked.

And once he had crossed the barricade, imagine the avalanche of affection! We were immediately fast friends, this passionate warrior and I.

When we moved to an 18th century cottage in Cornwall, it took Tuppence a while to adjust.

It was a stunning place. The back garden looked out on a 12th century church and farmland which was restaurant to some 30 cows.

I will never forget the moment Tuppence was allowed out into the back garden. I saw him sitting on the tall post at the bottom, watching the cows. He was trying crazily to compute. What in the name of all that is holy….

Even the cow moment did not compare with the day we found Tuppy on the thick shelf windowsill at the front of the house, his eyes held in a tractor beam by a new visitor.

The cottage down the road kept some rather glorious chickens. The cockerel had taken it upon itself to swagger up to our garden, like some 18th century dandy, sporting outrageous auburn tail feathers, which flirted with the breeze.

Tuppence was slavering. But the size – that size held him back.

One morning Phil and I heard a large, louche, succulent fly buzzing brazenly around. We were still dozing in bed.

No-one felt like getting up to vanquish the bluebottle. No-one with two legs.

We heard Tuppy run, and launch: and the lazy buzzing ceased abruptly. Moments later we heard him chomping contentedly. His table manners were never polished.

When a small wired Cornish cat came to live with us, Tuppy adopted her, worrying for her welfare, shepherding her around. He was like a pacing father, watching for her return when she stopped out at night to sample the local wildlife. He even helped her across the road to the local mouse field.

He is no longer with us: his kidneys began to fail, and I held him and cried softly as my good friend left me. For months afterwards I could swear I felt him get up onto the duvet to curl in the space around my legs.

Just occasionally, maybe once in a lifetime, like minds are not necessarily human. I miss this little one even today.

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39 thoughts on “Tuppence

  1. special companions always remain in our hearts, don’t they?

    as black is the common consequence of the siamese outcross, his dad could well have been some pampered stud who escaped for a bit of rough trade

  2. He does look like a descendant of Siam. I love the collar which matches his eyes?

    How did Tuppence take to Kit Kat though? Or did Kit Kat continue in her own solitary ways.

      1. Ps: sadly the above pin-up character is not Tuppence: he died before I began to tae regular photos.I’d never have had the taste to team him with the collar… I’ll look out one of him but it won’t be great….

  3. I make it a point to try and never reflect on past pets and the sadness it brings…when all I have to do really, is think about a past human friendship; usually leaves me laughing instead.

  4. Thank for for helping me recall every one of my little lost loved ones this morning, Kate. A lovely tribute to Tuppy, and to all the furry creatures we’ve loved and lost.

  5. I’m not a cat lover in the usual sense (for me, it’s always been horses), but I do admire them a lot. Your Tuppence sounds a wonderful cat, and an ideal soul mate. And as always your way with words delights me, as here: farmland which was restaurant to some 30 cows. !

      1. it’s OK! (I did post about it… sort of assumed you knew and this was an empathy post in a way!)

  6. Beautiful! With just a drop of sadness. Your grand love with Tuppence reminds me of mine with my Siamese princess, Una. She left us too soon, and with a large desolate hole in our household, yet even now years later I sometimes think I see her out of the corner of my eye…

  7. many memories, Kate. Your cats sure survived a lot of life changes with you!
    And survived being severely harassed by Daisy, too!
    Thanks for the memories. I didn’t see this the first time
    Love Dad

  8. Thank you Kate for expressing my own heart song about our two furry loves that passed away some 8 years ago. I couldn’t have said it better myself and wept unashamedly over my morning tea – a very special piece!

  9. Very nice, Kate. I love cat tales, and the spaces that the cats fill when they are around, and the spaces they leave when they aren’t. Spudley calls around to visit every day, but neither of us own each other. I have friends who I haven’t seen in years, but it feels odd if I haven’t seen Spudley for a single day.

    1. Good old Spudley. They are definitely spirits of place, aren’t they, Tom, wandering round and collecting souls who show promise. And who possess a bottomless feeding bowl.

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