A thing of great entertainment but of no practical use at all, my father said, is a gizmo. And we had a Gizmo. It was sold to my mother as a male Seal point Siamese in fact it was a female Chocolate point and a total runt.
It was only kept alive that Christmas because Granny let it sleep curled up on her neck and in years to come that was her favourite place - to be perched on someone’s shoulder just underneath a chin – a place she felt safe. Luckily for a Siamese even she was quite tiny.
Gizzie was possibly THE most annoying cat in history and as my father said no practical use at all. But she was entertaining.
Despite being virtually dead that Christmas Gizz did manage to create and inspire all kinds of legend. There was the episode with the Christmas Turkey, which even now some 22 years later is recounted as part of our family’s yuletide ritual.
Dad was on duty that year in York and so since we would be spending the day at HQ manning the phones it was decided that our Christmas meal would be done a day early. Mum - her of the like-it-and-lump-it school of cookery – had surpassed herself and for once the meal was quite edible and we were all looking forward to seconds - a huge cause for celebration. Dad got up and went to the kitchen to fetch the turkey to carve again. It had been placed on the dresser out of reach of Gypsy our Labrador and should have been perfectly safe. But we were now the proud owner of a cat.
In the middle of a lull in conversation we suddenly heard the most dreadful oaths emanating from the kitchen, a roar, then a crash, a clatter of toenails and further shouting and swearing.
Quite rightly we all shot out of our chairs and headed full tilt to see what had happened.
There was Dad manhandling the turkey, shaking it up and down – no mean feat when you realised it weighted about 20lbs without stuffing. I think I thought he had gone mad. Granny just said: “Timothy!”
Dad turned to us quite red in the face and still shaking the turkey. “The Effing cat is inside!”
We looked and sure enough you could see her tail sticking out the end, all fluffed up like a bottlebrush. She was not going to shift.
We heard the most dreadful muffled blood curdling yowling from inside coupled with chewing noises, gulping and the cracking of small bones. While still being shaken the damn cat was continuing to eat and if that were not enough telling Dad just what she thought of his dreadfully rude behaviour!
I loved that cat and we all miss her; in fact sometimes when I open the airing cupboard at home I expect to see her peering at me from the darkest depths of the top shelf where the spare linen is kept.
It used to be a rare treat to check out that cupboard when she was alive, you were never quite sure what you would find - a shrew, sometimes partially eaten sometimes still alive, a headless pigeon, sometimes just entrails dripping across the once pristine linen sheets. But you always got a welcome, a yowl and chattering and of course you had to reply saying yes you did agree it was far too wet to go outside and wasn’t in awfully cold. Sometimes that would be it audience over, at others she would deign to join you by jumping lightly from her elevated height onto your shoulder. – a privilege as always..