Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scarlet O’Hara.

In the May issue of the Bugle Tim finishes his piece with a bit of reminiscing as to how things were ten years ago when the bugle cost 50pence. He mentions a young fella called Jeffers who managed to write an article about a favourite hound without any ‘giving out’! ‘A wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse’ its said, so, with only dull cross fire taking place in political circles, this young fella will take the hint and change the subject matter and do a bit of reminiscing himself.
For as long as I can remember cats and dogs have always been integral parts of our family. These animals could be divided into two sections; the yard cats, wild as all get out, and the domesticated ones, who had the privilege of living indoors. The yard cats varied in numbers; present number five, but sometimes got up to twelve or fifteen. Their purpose was to keep control of rats and mice. Wear, tare, and age, was the controlling factor in present and past times. The same criteria applied to dogs on the place. The outdoor dog, always a sheepdog, lived outdoors, with the exception of a very special one, and I once had a gundog who, when nobody was looking, managed to sneak inside from time to time. By accident or design, I can’t say for certain, some of these animals attached themselves to specific family members. Scarlet (a cat) attached herself to me. Maybe it was because when our family sat down to eat my chair was nearest her sleeping basket hence the nearest human to cadge some grub from. Sitting patiently but at full alert on my shoulder, when food was being transferred from fork to mouth a paw would reach out and the forkful of food would transfer to Scarlet’s. This procedure caused spillage and eventually my Mother, a patient woman, put her foot down; if I was that concerned about the cat’s welfare I could get down on my hands and knees and eat with her at her bowl, on the floor!
She was named after Scarlet O’Hara the principle actress in that classic film “Gone With The Wind” which was showing at the time in cinemas countrywide. Vivien Leigh was the real name of the actress and she played opposite Clarke Gable (Rett Butler). A real beauty she was, and so was our Scarlet. No fancy breed of cat just an ordinary tabby, but her markings were distinctive, and what really set her off were a white front, white paws, and a white tip on the end of her tail. Pretty ordinary for a tabby you might say, but she showed them off with style and a regal haughtiness.
Cats are independently minded creatures and don’t show the same attachment to humans as dogs do, or so we’re led to believe, nevertheless when one shadows your movements indoors or outdoors, and at the first opportunity jumps up on your shoulder, or curls up on your lap purring away to it’s hearts content that to me spells attachment, and so it was with Scarlet.
As most readers know, our house is a long way from the public road, a quarter mile give or take a few yards, and before cattle grids were invented there were two gates on that quarter mile; one at the road entrance and the other one at the entrance to a wood approximately half way. In those days a bicycle was my mode of transport and coming home between the hours of eleven and midnight, probably from the pictures in Kilcullen, Scarlet always greeted me at the second gate. Perhaps it was the click of the gate latch that announced my arrival, for when I pushed the bike though she would appear out of the boxwood tail straight up and purring to beat the band. I would pick her up, put her on my shoulder, mount the bike, and continue the rest of the way. How long she would wait there for my return I’ll never know.
From small kitten to full adult female is but a short space of time and she produced her first batch of kittens on the end of my bed. I awoke sometime in the small hours to the sound of kittens squawking and turning on the light beheld herself looking as pleased as Punch and fully stretched out, while a bundle of furry creatures struggled to get at the food bar. Come daylight my Mother went spare, and the lot of them got a quick dispatch to her basket in the kitchen.
I could end this story by saying that Scarlet gave me her full love and devotion, but that might draw the ire of another female, so I’ll conclude by saying that from a feline prospective Scarlet was top of the pops! Yrs Jeffers.

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