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A LEGENDARY PUSSY February 11, 2010

Posted by markswill in About me, Navel Gazing.
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Arthur is dead.  The news shocked and saddened me as, with a few notable and possibly disingenuous exceptions, it did everyone else on my street. Arthur, you see was master of all he surveyed along Broad Street, the gently sloping strip of tarmac which he bestrode with a leisurely if imperious gait as he visited the various households whom he favoured with his presence during his waking day. But Arthur was by no means entirely self-centred and indeed rewarded those who favoured his presence with both attention and modest affection. Even more so if you fed him and let him sleep in front of your fire or alongside a radiator for an hour or two because Arthur was, of course, a cat.

And although I’m (obviously) no pet-lover, this gives me a rare excuse to write about my favourite pussy, because this was no ordinary feline. A large, although by no means obese example of the species, Arthur was distinguished by his pure white coat and a brace of oddly truncated ears that had in recent years been ruthlessly clipped to remove tumours that might otherwise have spread elsewhere and ended his life even earlier. Arthur nominally lived in the town’s main, indeed arguably only tourist attraction, the impressive and perfectly preserved early 19th Century Judge’s Lodgings and Courtroom where he had been employed for 13 or 14 years as a mouser, but he sauntered from house to house as it suited him, mewing loudly at your door if he fancied a feed or a nice lie down in the warm. Many winter evenings he ended up in the pub where he had a love/hate relationship with the landlords – or more accurately the other way around – checking out his saucer behind the bar before sauntering over to the fireplace where he’d plonk himself down, if necessary giving anyone else who had the temerity to hog the heat the evil eye until they got the message.

Acknowledging but not with overwhelming unction the stroking, head-rubbing or any of the other stuff people do to curry favour with cats, Arthur made friends with anyone who made friends with him and if he saw you during one of his frequent excursions down Broad Street, he would stride languorously up to you with few choice words of cat-speak and stop awhile for a stroke, often crossing the road to do so. Which of course was ultimately his undoing because he was pretty deaf… although I have actually seen Arthur sit down to preen himself in the middle of the road of a summer’s day completely unconcerned by the car – mine as it happened – that he’d obliged to halt whilst he attended to a flea or two. Arthur, you see, was well aware of his boss cat status on Broad Street, but carried it with good and gentle grace, unlike the car which ran him  over on Sunday night.

Arthur, as a dashing young tom (i.e. with ears intact)

 

Okay, I realise this is pretty tenuous, even fluffy stuff (sic) for a self-important scrawl such as this, but Arthur’s death did give me pause for some weightier thought on the nature of legend. Blue plaques on the walls of all the houses Arthur lived in on the street have already been suggested and perhaps given their considerable number we could get a bulk discount. Someone else suggested taxidermy and mounting the resultant effigy above the fireplace in the Dukes Arms, but I fear that might be deemed tasteless. But whatever may or may not be erected in his memory, Arthur’s legendary status is guaranteed hereabouts – which is more than I can say for, well for just about anyone I know.

Which is a rather salutary realisation. Indeed unless you’re in the debatably fortunate position of hob-nobbing with an untypically humble martinet of industry, or one of those slippery-tongued opportunists fewer and fewer of us elect to run our bankrupt nation, or perhaps a rare and genuinely enduring artist of whatever stripe who might still exist in this ever bleaker cultural landscape, well who do you know that merits a plaque, a statue or other suitably tangible commemoration? Well although I can think of perhaps one or two friends worthy of such a memorial, those similarly inclined might be so few in number that we could run only to a modestly engraved headstone. Having said which, there are quite a few self-regarding chumps I and indeed you probably know of who’d justify a good stuffing – and ideally well before they finally pop their clogs.

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Comments»

1. rachel - February 12, 2010

An obituary for a cat would be rather eccentric, if it werent an obituary for Arthur. How weird and yet lovely that we all cared about him so much! Thanks Mark, I enjoyed your blog.
But I heard, at Eldas Coffee House, that Arthurs ending was an unfortunate accident that was properly dealt with, not a hit and run. If so, that point needs correcting. On behalf of the driver.

2. OldHack - February 12, 2010

You old sentimentalist you!

3. Paul N. Blez - February 12, 2010

Mark, was it by accident or design that you resisted the temptation to write that Arthur’s passing gave you “paws” for thought?!
Sorry.
Blez

4. Alex Ramsay - February 12, 2010

Tribute duly paid on my own blog http://alexanderramsay.wordpress.com/

5. Martin Craig - February 12, 2010

Having been won over by a similarly legendary neighbourhood cat at a previous address I can quite see your point. When we moved to this remote spot we found a cairn in the garden and were told it marked the burial place of the cottage’s former cat, so we thought “r’spec, man” (as all good body poppers do) and planted some primroses nearby. There’s another cairn on the fell marking where a shepherd is buried, so it seems to be the local custom.

Anyway – who says that we blokish blokes can’t get in touch with our blokish feelings? (blows nose noisily, but not sarcastically). So I’ll raise a glass to Arthur & thanks for spreading his story so widely, a memorial in itself.

And I think we readers deserve credit for not picking up on your provocative title. I’m still amazed that my spam filters let it through.

6. The Judge's Lodging - February 13, 2010

Thanks for the lovely words about Arthur, Mark. We miss him terribly already. further to Rachel’s comment, the driver was extremely upset and came straight to get us. We are hoping to get a fitting gravestone made for him to go into the garden outside the museum.


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