A family of cat philanthropists

From tattered Medieval rags, Tudor ruffs and codpieces, to Victorian corsets and parasols, the kindred blood of my ancestors all have one common trend…..  Beside them is a cat… Probably secretly planning their demise.

A lot of behavioural footprints left by parents are filled with the steps of their children.

Children who see their parents smoke are more likely to smoke themselves. Fact.

Children who see their parents acting as cat philanthropists are more likely to become cat philanthropists themselves. Also fact.

I’m a cat philanthropist, and you can blame my parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents, parents for it…..

There is a saying that a home without a cat is just a house.

I don’t believe this to be true. I’ve been in plenty of cat free homes and they feel just as homely as those with cats.

The only difference is, in a cat free home, the wafer thin ham in the fridge is for human consumption, and there is no ’emergency’ tin of tuna in the cupboard.

I do believe though that a cat lovers home without a cat is just a house. My parents home, the home where I spent my childhood is testament to that. My first cat was called Jaffa. He was the first family pet if you ignore Adam & the Ants, the collection of goldfish won at a fairground… They weren’t really pets and Adam ate all the Ants after a few days anyway, so basically it was just Adam the goldfish. Not much fun.

Jaffa was a beefy ginger tom.  Strong, obstinate, belligerent, cantankerous and intimidating…. All the qualities of a good cat. Quite late in Jaffa’s life, not long after his retirement, after he’d hung up the chain of his professional duties as Mayor of the cat council on our street, we had an addition to the family. Sox. My Sox.

The story of how Sox came to live with us is a remarkable example of fate working at it’s best. Sox was mine. And I was hers. I loved Jaffa whole heartedly, but Sox was the first cat I formed a profound beautiful bond with. No better illustrated than what happened the day she passed away.

Jaffa had taught me the basics of understanding the complexities of the feline mind, but Sox polished my skills to a level of expertise.

I always got the impression that Jaffa just tolerated my brother and I most of the time because we just happened to be already living in the house before his arrival.  He could see my parents were quite fond of us, so trying to rid them of us was probably quite futile.

Sox on the other hand was genuinely affectionate. A lady. We could sense each other’s mood  instantly. We knew when a tickle under the chin or a rub against the legs would make it all better,  or whether to stay the hell out of each other’s way.  I could tell from her meiow, her brrrt and her purr exactly what she wanted and needed, and she could tell from my tone exactly what I wanted and needed.

Some advice… never laugh at a cat. Cats have the amazing ability of knowing exactly when you are talking about them and in what context. It’s usually when they are fake sleeping. One ear is tilted in your direction, one of their eyes is ever so slightly open and the tail is delicately swishing at the tip. Classic neuron receptor pose.

Don’t be fooled, as to the untrained eye, this looks like a normal sleeping cat. Behind the scenes though, there is a hive of activity. Their brain is processing everything you are saying and filtering anything they can use at any given date in the future into a long-term memory bank. It’s the part of a cats brain called the “Infinite recall lobe”.

Think twice before you regale the amusing story of when the cat stretched and fell off the back of the chair.. If it’s in earshot, it will know you’ve told. By earshot, I mean if your cat is within a ten mile radius of you, it will know you’ve told.

This is why a content purring cat will suddenly lunge at your unsuspecting hand as if someone has just screamed “Chaaaaarge” in it’s ear.. She’s just remembered that November last year you stepped on her tail accidentally when you went to the toilet in the middle of the night. She saw it as no accident.

A cat wouldn’t tell you if your skirt was tucked in your knickers, or you had toilet paper stuck to your shoe, but would surprise you with a bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine when you’ve had a bad day.

A cat won’t text or return your calls for weeks, but will then turn up at your house unannounced for a coffee and a gossip….. and not mention the 17 missed calls and 36 texts she’s ignored of yours.

A cat keeps you guessing.

A cat is the best pet in the world.

There are some days in your life you’ll never forget

Sometimes, there are days you don’t ever want to forget. Days so perfect that if you could paint a picture of how you wanted it to look, it would look like that. If you could write the script for that day, it would be as you’d have written. Days you’ll want to preserve from every test and trick that time has. Sometimes these are days of great significance, sometimes these are just normal days. Either way, if a thief came into your mind trying to steal your memories, these are the ones you’d gather up behind you to protect with all your strength.

The weekend just gone was one of these occasions. The weekend celebrated an important event. The Christening of my beautiful Goddaughter.

Rewind about 8 years or so….

I was walking to my car from work one Friday evening with the intention of going to the gym. It was a summer’s evening with a clear blue sky. The perfect beer garden weather. Whilst walking past a pub, there was a lady from work sitting outside. We’d exchanged pleasantries in work, had the odd polite chat, but we didn’t know each other. This lady asked if I wanted to join her for a drink. (I feel I must add, that she wasn’t drinking alone in the pub, she was with a group of colleagues!). I accepted…… Fate must have been late clocking off from work that day, because accepting that drink has led to accepting a life long friendship.

You know how sometimes you’re describing people or telling a story and you’ll say “My friend’s mother or husband or sister” etc etc… I don’t do that when I’m describing these people. I don’t do that because I describe them as “my friend”. Because they are. A friendship struck over a beer with one person has led to a friendship struck over a lot of beer with an entire family.

I think a test of a good friendship is when you feel comfortable enough just to sit in their company. Like you do with your own family. You don’t have to speak, you can just sit… I can do that with these friends. I can just sit. I enjoy their company, I love their stories, I appreciate how dear each of them is to me.

Fast forward to present day…. When my friends gave birth to their 2nd child in September, they asked me to be Godmother.

Now, you can never underestimate what an honour this is. When a parent asks you to be a Godparent, what they are saying is “We trust you”… “We trust you with the most precious item God has given us.. Our child”..

As part of my christening gift, I wrote my Goddaughter a poem and had it made into a book. I wanted something she could have for life to remind her that I will always protect her and guide her. The message I wanted to convey was that being a Godmother is more than just a title, and lasts longer than just the christening day. It lasts a lifetime. I’ve spoken in earlier posts about passion, well.. passion helped me write that poem. I’m passionate about being the best Godmother I can. I’m passionate about doing the best I can for my godchildren.

I had two copies made, one for me, and one for her.

What I didn’t expect was for my friend to read it out at the church before the service. My friend said that they had wanted to respect the time and effort I had taken to write it and wanted to share it with everyone… That’s the kind of people they are.

It’s actually quite difficult for me to put into words how that made me feel. I sat in the church with my Goddaughter on my lap hearing the words I’d written to her spoken aloud for the first time by her mother.. My friend. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so humbled and yet so proud at the same time. It was perfect.

Every word we speak creates a vibration, which is why we should always choose our words carefully. It’s like when you throw a pebble in a still pond. The water level in the pond rises, and changes because you have added to it, and the ripples created continue far beyond the point of impact.

That’s what happened Saturday. Part of the world’s vibration rose and changed, caused by my words, my dedication to a beautiful little girl. They exist now.  They were spoken, with perfect emotion and perfect emphasis. Somewhere in the universe, their existence is causing ripples. Good ones I hope..

As for my friend, I didn’t think I could have any more respect and admiration for her than I did already… A truly remarkable, strong, beautiful, wonderful person.

Usually the tide of time brings waves that crash over you so quickly, you wish you could stem the flow to make sure your savour and enjoy every moment. On Saturday, time was very kind to us. It dripped slowly and carefully. If you could look inside every droplet, you would find smiling faces and warm-hearted emotions from wonderfully good people. If you could hear every droplet fall, you would hear the echoes of laughter, the chatter of good conversation and spoken words of affection.

Saturday I became a Godmother for the fourth time, so the following is dedicated to my three Godson’s and my new Goddaughter….

I found a fairy in a jar.

When I opened it and set her free, I asked her to do something for me in return. Find you. Follow the path that connects me to you. A path where our footprints will be forever found.

I asked her to sprinkle fairy dust on your soul, so you may always have spirit in your heart and magic in your thoughts. I asked her to splash a fairy teardrop on you, so you may always feel your emotions. I asked her to whisper words of affection and encouragement into your ears so you may always hear the good echoing inside you.
I asked her to catch your wishes in a net and put them by the side of your bed in a jar, so as you grow older you’ll never forget them.
I asked her to light the paths in front of you with fireflies so you will always know the right one to take.
Finally I asked her to take a piece of my heart and drop it in your pocket. It is now yours. This way you will know that you are protected and loved by me. Always…

I did this so you know, fairies and Godmothers always go hand in hand together”

Monster hunting, fast cars and jungle trekking

Wednesday evening I found myself chasing monsters, driving fast cars and trekking through a jungle.

With my trusted sidekick beside me, we hunted the monsters out and stunned them with a Buzz Lightyear gun. There were lots of them. They were on top of cars. On the dangerous road. Down drains. On top of buildings. They were everywhere… There’s one!.. Bzzzz… Stunned him with Buzz’s gun… There’s another one!…. Bzzzzz….

Then we drove cars. Really fast. Performed death-defying stunts. Jumped over other cars. Flipped onto our sides then back again. Wheel spun. Skidded. Dangerous stuff, but we were never in danger.

Then we lived in a jungle and spoke to elephants, lions, giraffes and hippos. We grazed on leaves from tall trees, We sat on rocks. We drank from the river…….

Wednesday, I spent the evening playing with my friend’s 3-year-old little boy.

Play is such an important part of a child’s development, but have us adults forgotten it’s importance? Has adulthood with all it’s pressures, responsibilities and worries stifled the pure enjoyment we used to get from just playing.

I’ll put my hand up right now, and admit that I still enjoy playing. I enjoyed stunning monsters, I enjoyed racing cars and I enjoyed living in the jungle.

I enjoy entering a land of endless creativity. Boundless imagination. Limitless fun. For a short while, its pure escapism. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it?

I’m a normal responsible adult. I do normal responsible adult things.

But….. I do like to daydream.

Maybe that’s why I’ll quite happily sit cross-legged on the floor and play with my niece & nephew, and my friend’s children….. Maybe that’s what has earned me the very honourable title of Godmother to four very beautiful Godchildren.

A lot of my friends now have children. I don’t, but I’m not one of these friends who feels duty bound to interact with their friend’s children. Neither am I one of these friends who has slowly distanced themselves from their friends with children and just surrounds themselves with similar circumstanced friends.

I’m one of these friends who understands that when you are spending time with your friend’s children, you are in the company of the most precious item on Earth to your friend. You are in the presence of something that your friend, the parent, has such natural, immeasurable and sometimes inexplicable love for. Love, stronger than any diamond and worth so much more too.

If you love your friends. You’ll love their children too. And I do.

I take an interest in the lives of my niece and nephew. I’ve never missed a school concert, or a birthday party, and I don’t ever intend to. I help with homework, I babysit, I play shop, I play house, I play board games, I read books, I do jig-saws. I colour in, I cut-out, I play football in the street, I play cricket in the summer, and I’m a legend on Cooking Mama on the Nintendo DS.

My niece and nephew have their own brilliant, wonderful, unique, quirky personalities, but sometimes I catch a glimpse of something familiar. A certain look, a little mannerism, a smile, a frown. It reminds me that something beating inside of them, beats inside of me too…

Take the time to smile, find the time to laugh

Humour, to me, is one of the most attractive qualities. I look for it in people, so it’s no surprise that all my friendships/relationships are with people who really make me laugh. I am also blessed with a very funny family. Peculiar and ‘ha ha’.

Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by people who are funny? Laughing is infectious. FACT.

If I think about my relationships with colleagues in work, the people I have the most connection with are those who make me smile and make me laugh.

I love wit, I love sarcasm, I love slapstick and I love nonsensical random surreal humour.

Laughing is good for you. Laughing is healthy. The science behind it is that not only does it release endorphins, it helps your heart too. It improves the blood flow to your heart in a similar way exercise does. So, technically, laughing is exercise. Now surely, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to give yourself a good humour workout.

There are hundreds of benefits to laughing, so it baffles me that sometimes my more natural reaction to situations is to be frustrated/annoyed/angry/impatient etc…

So, for 2011, one of my aims (I prefer to call them aims & goals rather than resolutions) is to take the time to smile more, and find the time to laugh more. We all face challenges, we all have obstacles, but what separates us is how we react to them.

My aim is to try to find humour in whatever life throws at me. The one perfect example I have of already doing this, is the day of my Grandfather’s funeral.

Surprising yeah?

I’m not trying to make light of this situation. Losing a loved one is the most painful ache you’ll ever feel, and I loved my Grandfather immensely and miss him dearly. He was hilariously funny. If I had to describe him in three words, it would be firstly, sarcastic.., then witty… and finally.. tall!

The day of his funeral, all my immediate family had gathered in my Nanna’s for a private service before the church. After the service the vicar approached our side of the room.

Vicar   –    “I’m so sorry for your loss, which one of you is Auntie S? “

Turning to my Auntie M


Vicar   –    “Are you Auntie S?”

Auntie M   –    “Yes”

Vicar   –    “I’ve heard a lot about you”

Auntie M   –    ” Oh right”

Vicar   –    ” So Auntie S, Your staying with your Mam whilst we’re at the church

Auntie M   –    “Yes I am”

Out of the corner of the room, the real Auntie S lifts her hand and quietly says


“Um, I’m Auntie S”


The vicar continued to engage in conversation with Auntie M
Auntie S trys again, but slightly louder


“Um, I’m Auntie S”


This time the vicar hears her and swings around to speak to her.


Vicar   –    “Sorry, You’re Auntie S”?

Auntie S    –   “Yes”


The vicar quite perplexed swings back to Auntie M and asks the question that we were all starting to wonder..


Vicar   –    “Oh sorry, Why did you say you were Auntie S”?

Auntie M   –    “I don’t know! I panicked”


The Vicar smiles, and turns to face Auntie S


Vicar   –    “So you’re Auntie S and you’re staying here with Mam?”


At this exact moment, my cousin enters the room from the kitchen


Auntie S    –   “Yes, and that’s my son, he’s been sleeping with my mother”

I have to clarify at this point,  this was a completely innocent, innocuous remark, and the next minute was spent with Auntie S explaining what she had meant. All she had meant was that my cousin had been sleeping over in the flat to keep my Nanna company.

Rather than crying into a tissue as I had been, I was now using it to stifle my laugh.

My point is, as painfully emotional as that day was, when I reflect on it, that part always makes me smile, and it always will.

It made a sad day bearable. I smiled that day when I didn’t expect to, and I laughed that day when I thought it impossible to. I’ve no doubt in my mind that standing alongside us, doing exactly the same was my Grampa.

And that, is my inspiration to seek out the humour in life’s events and do more smiling and more laughing.

Grandmothers will always do the best they can for their grandchildren….

OK,

This is my first post and I think I should start by admitting a secret that only two people know. Myself, and my Grandmother.

My secret?…. When I’m out of the house everyday I ask my Grandmother to look after my cats for me. That’s it. That’s the secret.

My grandmother doesn’t live with me, or nearby, I never see her, but I know she’s been. Everyday.

My grandmother died 5 years ago. But I know she’s been. Everyday.

Whilst its liberating to say that out loud, it now forms part of the external me. The part that others can critique, judge and form an opinion on.

It no longer just exists inside me. The part that only I can critique, judge and form an opinion on.

This bizarre daily statement started 18 months ago when I came home and found my little kitten out on the main road, covered in oil from being stuck under next door’s van. I hadn’t planned to go home as I was due somewhere else. I was indicating to go right, but for some reason I turned left for home first.

As I stood at my front door, I heard a pitiful mieow.  On further inspection I found a pair of scared, inky black eyes staring at me from under the van. I called her, she came and I picked her up. She was trembling, dirty and disorientated. I was now trembling, dirty myself from holding her, and confused….

I didn’t understand how she got there, but I did now understand what made me go home first.

15 minutes later the owner of the van jumped in it and drove away. If I hadn’t gone home at that time, then……….. who knows….

Since that day, every morning when I leave the house, I tell my cats that Nanna will look after them today.

I believe it.

With unfaltering faith I believe it.

I have nothing scientific to back this up. Just a spiritual belief, gut instinct, and faith. Faith, the most important of all. Pure faith that it is so.

I’m not naive or stupid enough to think that it provides  immortality for them, but it gives me peace of mind. Peace of mind that even from beyond the grave, Grandmothers will always do the best they can for their grandchildren.

Thank you Nanna…. God bless you xx