Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cruelty to cats!

Oh dear . . . if, in the near future, I'm hauled up before the RSPCA, may I call upon you to speak in my defence?

As you know, Rupert and I went to Ham House yesterday for Ian's belated birthday celebration. We arrived, just before eleven, in the pouring rain. It was definitely not a moment to stroll around the garden. Huddled under umbrellas, we hurried to the shelter of the Orangery, and went inside for a cappuccino.

The cafe was deserted. Rupert settled himself happily on his chair whilst Ian and I sipped our coffee - they make particularly good cappuccinos at Ham House - and caught up on our news. Slowly, people drifted in. Slowly, the tables filled. As they did so, the grey clouds rolled back and, just as the forecast had promised, a welcome sun shone down from a stormy sky.
We must have been there half-an-hour when the sun outside proved inviting enough to tempt us out into the gardens. Rising from my chair, I attempted to transfer Rupert to his carrying bag.

Rupert had been thoroughly enjoying himself. No-one had noticed him, sitting quietly on his seat, and he had been having a wonderful time watching the activity. The last thing he wanted to do was to get back into his bag and, as he thought, go home.

And he said so! From being a totally silent cat, he suddenly became extremely vocal! The talking in the cafe instantly dried up, and a sea of surprised faces turned in our direction!
Could I get Rupert into his bag? Not on your life! He yelled his indignation . . . he hissed his indignation . . . he gave an Oscar-winning performance of a cat not wanting to go home!
Everyone was staring in shocked amazement at this unexpected pantomime.
"I'm so sorry," I apologised in embarrassment to the room at large, "I'm afraid he doesn't want to go home . . ."

Did they believe me . . . ? I don't think so. But, if they did, what terrors did they imagine this poor cat enduring in the privacy of its own home . . . ?
Their expressions were far from approving!

Finally, one woman rose to her feet and came over to see what was going on. To my relief, she fell for Rupert on sight!
"Oh . . . isn't he beautiful!" she exclaimed.
Mollified by this admiration, Rupert ceased to yell and blinked happily at his admirer. I took advantage of this cessation of hostilities to whip him into his bag.
"How old is he?" asked this new member of Rupert's fan club.
"Seventeen," I said.
"Good heavens!" she was flatteringly amazed, "You'd never think it."

By now Rupert's spirits were completely restored, and we hurried out for a happy walk round the garden.
As you can see, by the time we returned for an enjoyable lunch in the open air the indignant, yelling cat was no more than an optical and aural illusion!