Friday, August 18, 2006

secret kitty

This is Button. In Frome, all the dogs are called Jenson and all the cats are called Button. I named Button this morning after she (or he) nipped through the front door while I was talking to a neighbour. Apparently Button has been left behind by some people who've done a runner from the estate, so if you live in Frome and you want a cute nearly-kitten cat, then it seems like this one's going begging. I don't know if they're the same people who left the outside sofa and the crashed hanging baskets.

Button wants to move in with me, but that's no good. I'm allergic to cat hair, I'm never here, I'm not allowed pets, and besides, I think we'd compete for the same social role. Also, I like all the creatures that Button roams around killing. So when I left for work, Button had to go too.

Still, I did feel the pull. Button was extremely tactful, not asking for any food, not bothering me while I was washing up, just having a look round and then settling down in silence. (There was some minor trouble with a potted plant.) I've never known a guest who was so quick at grasping social niceties, so perfectly decorative.

We need company so much, but not everyone can manage relationships with other people. We crash in language, in bed, in parent/child incomprehension. They all go away. We don't know we're lonely, but we're so, so lonely. Then, one day, in walks Button. Button seems to appreciate the hoovered stairs, the counterpane smoothed free of any wrinkles and the scatter-cushions. Button sits and watches us fussing at the sink. Button's eyes go sleepy, Button is completely relaxed. It's a long time since we saw someone truly relaxed in our company.

Cats used to have a job as mousers, but now they are a parasite species. Our species needs a superfluity of maternal feelings and therefore by some fortune or other there'll always be quite a few people who have the feelings without the use for them. That's an ecological niche for any animal who can accept this superfluity of love. Just as, since we cleared Britain of larger carnivores and then moved off the land ourselves, we created a new niche (bursting with excess venison) for any animal that would be discreet enough to keep out of human byways, a niche now inhabited, as some think, by Button's larger cousins. (And since that curious animal stalked me on Long Knoll one dusk, I guess I think so too.)

[Title in honour of Catherine Daly's free and bewildering eBook Secret Kitty]



At 8:30 pm, Blogger Yves said...

Excellent. Glad to see the lack of sentimentality coupled with a more profound appreciation of our fellow-creatures.


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