Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Dear Reader,

I had a post for the letter C of the A-Z Challenge, all lined up and saved away. I liked it, although it needed some work. I looked at it again this evening and realised it would be better used under another letter, once again I am writing on the fly, as it were. 

I have a memory to share, it was certainly a catastrophic event in my life. More importantly, catastrophe begins with the letter C. 

So, to begin, I must set the scene. This memory is from my childhood, I am fuzzy on exact dates as I was quite young, but judging on the ages of some of the combatants involved this must have happened in the mid to late 70's. I was an only child, in a typical mid-terraced Victorian house in the place of my birth. This shouldn't have been a special evening, it was much like any other. Having returned home from school I sulked about some homework and piano lessons, had played out with some other kids and was now watching TV with Ma and Pa.

We had cats, several, over my formative years. I don't know why, but my memories of these cats seems a little different to the perception that I have of cats now. Whether it was because I was smaller than I am now, or whether there were just too many cats in our house at the time, or whether some of them were just plain old and cranky, I don't know. The cats I own can do little wrong, apart from the odd misdemeanor. The cats of my childhood seemed capable of torture of small children (me), random pscychopathic episodes and extreme violence aimed at small children (me, again) and fights so unbelievably intense that as a child I thought Bugs Bunny cartoons (substitute the rabbit and the coyote for a cat and another cat) were censored. An example follows if you are unfamiliar.

Granted the cats of my childhood rarely had deliveries from Acme delivered in big wooden crates labelled explosives but they had plans. Their plans were more straightforward but equally effective. Normally Cat A, who we will call Tinker, would be sleeping. Cat(s) B, who could be called Ginger, or Benjy, or sometimes both, being younger, would rudely awaken Tinker. Tinker was the oldest, most cantankerous and violent cat I knew. I still have scars on my hands which I can attribute to Tinker. Tinker was old and Tinker was mean. Tinker was not a social cat, he was not a social anything. The plans of Ginger and Benjy would result in two possible outcomes:

  • A huge standing fight, which involves paws becoming a blur, claws fully extended, if Tinker makes a hit, Ginger and / or Benjy back off, licking their wounds, sometimes all the way to the vet. Tinker goes back to sleep, one eye partially open.
  • Ginger and / or Benjy gain an upper hand, presumably because Tinker has not fully woken up yet. Consequently a house-wide chase ensues, which continues until one or the other either reaches a defensible position, like a high cupboard, escapes to the garden or gets a swipe resulting in a vet visit.

I had sort of become used to this. We had cats. They were mostly violent. Occasionally you got caught in the cross-fire. I would watch wildlife programs like Survival on TV. When they talked about big cats like Lions and Tigers. I thought ours were much more scary. This was true.

Returning to the plot... A confrontation occurred upstairs, which resulted in the second bullet-point listed above. On this occasion, it was just Benjy who has stirred the monster that was Tinker. We listened to the howling, followed by the running. We watched with interest as the battle entered the lounge. The running reached the television where Tinker was now cornered.

A historical note about televisions is required. Currently televisions are svelte, attempting, like a good supermodel, to become thinner and weigh less everyday. This was not always the case. Back in the age I am describing a television had three dimensions. It was made from components like valves and tubes. Also, it was very heavy at the screen end and deceptively light as you went further back. Weight distribution was assuredly biased toward the point of the action, i.e Coronation Street.

I mention Corrie as I am quite sure this was on at the time. The time being, the time of the catastrophe. So, Tinker is on top of the telly. We know the telly is about four foot deep and weighs about nine tons. This style of fight has played out on the telly before. Tinker fights and some cat goes to the vet. Not today. Tinker is in flight, not fight mode. This involves navigating a path over and behind Benjy, who occupies the other half of the telly. A dramatic leap is attempted by Tinker which takes his body over Benjy, Benjy, although initially surprised, mimics the leap whilst turning through 180 degrees to continue the chase. These mighty leaps require significant force to be propelled in one direction.

From now on, things seem to slow down. As Tinker leaps the telly is pushed forward by the force impelled by Tinker's back legs. The TV tips forward a little, but then starts to rock back to its gravitional centre. Benjy responds, catapulting his younger and stronger body through 180 degrees in pursuit of Tinker. As a result the TV does not return to its centre, it is propelled forward again, past its centre of gravity. The TV, the centre of our little world, and Corrie descend face first from the TV stand to the floor. There is a huge crash followed by silence. The cats have escaped, oblivious. The TV is unhappy, probably dead. The silence that followed is actually a noise, a hissing noise. Escaping gas! The TV has fallen on to the supply pipe feeding our only source of heat in the house. It is Winter. We have no TV for three days and no heating for two days. 

It was truly a CATastrophe that rocked our house to its core, I will never forget it. The cats were fine, both escaped with no injury. The TV was replaced, along with the pipe which supplied our gas fire. I could tell even as a child that this was a BIG deal.

Anyhoo, perhaps the reason this is all so vivid in my memory is that I have recently had the pleasure of returning to the scene of this catastrophe. Whilst there I managed to grab some photos of the combatants. When I was little they were old and dangerous. They, it turns out were kittens too.

I am Kitten! - Tinker, before my time.

Tinker, in colour. Note the unhappy pose on his "companion" .

Ginger - I was small and cute once.

Benjy - I was always this good looking.

They don't look so scary do they? They were though. They could disconnect Coronation Street and the heating in a single argument. They could, and did cause a catastrophe.

More tomorrow Dear Reader as we plunge into the dastardly world of the letter D



  1. Hello Brian,

    What a great post! I love cats. I think this is my new favorite blog! I will definitely be back to see what you dream up for the other letters, and to read more of your lovely writing. I am following now.

    I am doing the A to Z Challenge as well. Take a peek at my blog too if you get a chance! I write humor, or at least I pretend to.


  2. Awesome post! I love A-Z though I am not participating, but love reading!

    See you for "D!"

  3. @MOV:

    I will certainly be over soon. Glad you liked it and glad you like cats too I can't help posting about the damn things

    @Crack your Whip:

    Halfway through A-Z now, ask me again at the end of the month if I love it :)