“Your cat black?” the quintessentially English man enquired as he strolled past our front flower patch.
I paused in my exertions sweeping Autumn’s leaves into a bag. “Yes,” I grinned.
“Little white bow tie on his neck?”
“He has!” My grin widened.
“Little chap’s been coming into our house and eating our cat’s food,” our neighbour volunteered without rancour. “Nice little chap. Was kissing one of ours on the roof last night. Ours don’t seem to mind him at all. ”
Aghast, I realised that Clive has been dining at two households, though the amount he eats in ours would feed a tiger, never mind a small black cat. Where does he put it all? And his secret life involved sauntering uninvited into someone else’s house. How audacious.
Anyhow, they’ve got magnetic collars on the cats, and a magnetic cat flap. So let’s see if that deters Clive’s sorties.
It was while I was googling cat flap solutions – in a vain attempt to curb my cat’s excesses -that I came across the most extraordinary gentleman and his cat, Ginger.
His name was Arthur Pedrick, and in the annals of Patent Examiners he is little short of a God.
No-one knows a lot about him. But it seems that the moment he retired from the United Kingdom Patent Office, he began inventing absurd, completely impractical inventions and filing patents for them.
Between his retirement in 1962 and his death in 1976 he filed 162 patents, each more wildly imaginative than the last. And manymanymany of them involved improvement in quality of life for his beloved cat.
One of the most famous was a cat flap connected to a nuclear bomb in space. Though the bomb was an after thought, and Ginger’s idea. Fitted with a colour sensor, it was dubbed chromatically selective – it would admit his own Ginger, but kept the black cat next door out in no uncertain terms.
Ginger and Mr Pedrick were the only two staff at the “One Man Think Tank Nuclear Fusion Research Laboratories”, and Ginger often added value to Mr Pedrick’s inventions by making comments and suggestions. It was his idea to further the colour sensor on the cat flap and use the concept as a nuclear deterrent.
Ginger’s wry comments were legendary. Like the following in in Initiating A Controlled Fusion Reaction Using Deuterium And Tritium Pellets In Imploding Bullets Fed With Powerful Laser Beam Pulses, where Mr Pedrick includes a note: “It being the opinion of my Ginger Cat, that those cats that you see sponsoring various brands of tinned cat food on T/V are just as hypocritical as the various actors one sees sponsoring on T/V various commercial products, and in fact my Ginger Cat prefers ordinary Corned Beef to most brands of Cat food.”
Ginger was not the only beneficiary of the prolific inventor’s prowess. Spectacles for chicken and massive curtains which can be let down in case of fire in a high-rise to smother the flames:the ideas were outrageous. And ingenious. And expert in poking fun at the patent system.
But I must make a note to tell the neighbours about the chromatically selective cat flap.