THE thing about Sidney is that he can be so forgiving. He
purrs out his views on the world according to the climate.
week I referred to him as the killer cat of Meadow Lane, which was a bit unfair
really. He gave up that killing thing years ago.
all the characteristics of an Ibicencan cat. He's lazy when he wants to be, which
is a whole lot better than being indolent for no good reason.
gives off this aura
You just know he could get up and kill something if
he wanted to and especially if it's a bit frosty around the paws area. It's just
that today it seems like a much better idea to ignore the buzzing of the flies
and the incessant clip-clopping of the high heel shoes where the pavements haven't
turned to sand.
Sidney was the product of a forgotten wedding
anniversary years ago. She who thought the West End of San Antonio was a bit quiet
literally had kittens - at least this one - and brought him home on whatever the
date was with no clear idea of where she had got him. Or, in her case, gotten
Still, it healed the rift for the moment and
it later transpired he was a gift from a taxi driver.
those days, about 13 years ago, about ninety of Sidney's, he could crawl up my
lapel and wouldn't have looked out of place in an eggcup.
was rural then and the lane was his territory. Woe betides a rabbit or a rat.
Once a pigeon got in through an upstairs window and was trapped on the oak beams
with Sidney's baleful eye upon him. "Have a nice day, Sidney" gave no
real impression of what would go on, but the pigeon was gone and there was not
a feather in sight later in the nice day.
I see there's
a report out saying cats are crazed killers and can dispatch up to forty little
animals in a good week. Sidney's greatest tally was a bathroom full of baby rabbits
he brought home for fun. I was impressed with Samantha who got up in the night
then came back to bed and said she thought there was something I should go and
attend to. Hitchcock had nothing on Sidney's idea of what could go on in a bathroom.
must have found the entrance to the burrow and kept trouping off to bring them
home one by one.
Those were the drinking days and Sidney
saw me in all sorts of states, more often than not looking through the wrong end
of a bottle of scotch. But he would purr rather than demur.
know this sounds a tad bizarre, if not pretentious, but I once interviewed a cat
psychiatrist. Honest. He's got a book out called "How to Understand Your
Cat" and I took him for lunch.
I asked him why Sidney
would cheerfully let a neighbour's cat come in and eat whatever food he had left
in his dish. He's never been like a dog, wolfing down the lot, and likes to leave
a little on the side, if you get my drift.
Then he would
chase the intruder away.
"It's obvious," said
he who earned thousands of ECU's at a time advising elderly ladies about their
pussies. (Nice work if you can get it).
knows the other cat will run away once he's had his fill and Sidney can feel virtuous
about apparently having defended his territory without even having to fight."
left him (Sidney, not the cat shrink) with Nancy, the lovely old lady next door
when I went to live in Ibiza half his lifetime ago. I like to think he brightened
the last years of her life.
But seven years later when
I moved to Meadow Lane I got a call to say Nancy had died and Sidney was outside
with nowhere to go.
An hour later I was there and he was
sitting on a little wall waiting for me.
To the consternation
of some hikers changing their boots outside the Diggle Hotel, I got out of the
car and announced: "Sorry about that Sidney, I've just been out for a
bottle of milk."
We're back to that forgiving
He got in my car and though clearly petrified
(did you know cats purr both when they're happy and sad?) he came to spend his
We overlook some homing pigeons and I
went to see George, the neighbour whose pigeons they are.
used to catch pigeons in mid air," I said. "I hope it'll be alright."
do you know it has been.
There's no blood on the carpet
and he's still keeping warm.
The forgiveness is in his
eyes all the time, which makes me feel guilty.
see that he knows how I used to drink and he's forgiven that, too?