Saturday, 4 January 2014
This may sound silly but this cat is one of my treasures! She's got to be 50 this year, if she's a day.
Many moons ago, when a small child living in a small Dorset village I often walked into the village with my sister who is 11 years older than me. We always passed a hardware shop which filled its windows with all sorts of things from plumbing bits and bobs to trinkets. There I spotted a pottery ornament, a row of cat and kittens, and it took my fancy. As far as I was concerned that would be the end of it, my parents would no more have bought me the ornament than let me fly to the moon. It probably only cost pennies, but there it was, in the window when I passed and to me, it was mine, except I couldn't touch it.
This all happened when I was probably 5 or 6 years old, perhaps 7 - my sister left home to train as a nurse at the (now, Royal) London Hospital when she was 18 and I was 7. It was around then that she went into the hardware shop and bought me a present. Ooh, my excitement when I was given it, it must be the cat and kittens I had coveted for so long. I carefully opened my parcel and there was .......... the cat above. My heart sank. It wasn't 'my' cat and kittens; we'd been looking at different ornaments in the window.
I'd been brought up never to show emotions, they would make me 'a show-off' or 'ungrateful', and it came in handy this time as I beamed with 'pleasure' at my gift. I have never told my sister that she'd bought the wrong cat! Even now I can beam at the most unwanted gift, I have been trained well.
Years have passed and she's still here. Friends and partners have often remarked that I should put her in the bin or the charity bag, often giving me another ornament to replace. I don't have many, if any of those other ornaments. Sorry. No I'm not - I had to choose when space was limited and I chose her. She hasn't a name.
As I stared out of the bedroom window at the dark clouds and rain this morning I saw her, always there, often ignored. She's not valuable, except to me. She's not even fine china. She's not a recognisable brand, just being marked 'foreign' in red on the bottom.
Would I have kept my cat and kittens this long? I can still remember what that ornament looked like - the legacy of a stroke some years ago is that I can remember things from the past with incredible clarity but you'll need to wait several decades before I will remember what I had for breakfast yesterday! Cat and kittens? Probably not, I can't think that they would have help my attention for so long. But the blue cat, the Carmen Miranda of the feline world? They'll be throwing her out with many other things after I've moved over the Rainbow Bridge followed by many cats and dogs that waited patiently for me and probably asking 'what did she keep this for?'
Memories are priceless. When I got to 7 and my sister 18, many things changed and with it my life. I became an 'only child', the last to be at home. Those who know my family will understand what I mean. This morning, looking at the cat, many happy childhood memories returned. To the cat, I thank you.
Have you a worthless treasure? Share yours.