It was roughly 10.30pm on a warm evening last May, Tash and I had just returned from swooning at Johnny Depp at the local cinema to celebrate my birthday. Infact no celebratory excuse was needed, my birthday was just a co-incidence you see this was practice. As a married and an about-to-be-married woman, we were seasoned swooners. It’s not something you can do well in the throws of youth.
Under the sulphur-orange glow of the street light we made our way down her driveway and paused to find the front door key.
“Hello mate, where are you?”
Working at The Arc (Animal Rescue Charity) Tash battled not bring work home with her. This meant not filling her home with abandoned puppies and unwanted rabbits. However one vaguely psychotic but utterly adorable kitten had beaten her into submission. Bo would often sit in the darkness beneath the Volvo and swipe at my ankles as I passed by.
“Come on mate it’s late, you need to come in now”
A big furry face peered cautiously from round the back of a back wheel, with even bigger, desperate eyes.
“Ah Tash, it’s not Bo, come see.”
“Oh, that’s my stray”
“Yeah he turned up here asking for food about three months ago. I put food down for him hoping he’d stick around and I’d be able to get him into work, to get him checked out, but he just ate and left. It’s odd actually I’d been to the cinema that night too”
He was in a bad state then and a worse one now. A long haired cat, he was full of dreads, huge clumps of matted fur. A tentative stroke along his back felt like like running your hand along iron railings; all ribs and spine.
He smelt terrible too.
None the less he was up for fuss, lots of strokes infact while Tash served up a dish of tasty treats. He attacked the bowl with the ferocity you would expect of an animal that hadn’t eaten properly in months, and the second.
Tash, dear Tash is a woman of astounding determindness which at times can leave me a little frightened.
“Right, I’m not letting him get away again. We’ve got to get him to the centre and sorted out. I’ll go get a cat crate. Keep your eye on him”
Lots of sniffing and some purring later and he amazingly had let me pick him up.
The crate arrived, as did the elbow-length leather gauntlets.
It was then that we discovered that dinner had given him renewed vigor, this cat was not happy about being stuffed into a plastic box. Some time later, after the lid was secure and Tash had got her breath back I rang home to let Leaf know I was going to be late back and the spitting, hissing, furry reason why.
So unhappy at being in the crate, so violently terrified, that this poor, emaciated moggy was making the crate jump along the floor. The only way to get him to The Arc was in my car and there was no way I was prepared to run the risk of him breaking the brittle plastic catches whilst I was at the wheel.
So into a metal dog cage went the cat-carrier and cat. He was taken, Hannibal Lecter-style, to the sanctuary under the veil of darkness.
Days came and went. I couldn’t stop thinking of him. Deep inside me the magpie child who picked up abandoned trinkets from the floor was shouting “HE BELONGS WITH YOU! HE’S YOUR TREASURE”
Leaf and I visited the noble beast who had become known as Dylan. After much deep, heart-searching discussion;
“Can we keep him?”
We set the wheels in motion to bring him home.
Tash gave us some sage advice regarding how to introduce him to the house which worked fantastically. Over time he adopted the name Noggin after the wonderous Oliver Postgate’s sagas of Noggin The Nog, a gentle Viking King. It’s also the English term for a carved wooden drinking cup. (One day I will succeed in carving one of these and will share the process with you)
All this happened 8 months ago. Now, he is very much my boy, he’ll tolerate Leaf’s lap, but only until mine is available, he sits in the kitchen when I’m cooking and enjoys walking the field edge with Moog and I. But mostly he loves curling up in warm places, not hurrying over anything and softly snoozing. I like to think he’s pushing the memory of last years’ winter out to sea for a true Viking burial.