By Chris Wilson
Dear Ms Katishka Tabymov
As this is the first time we have been in contact some might deem it socially correct for me to be pointlessly formal and drone on for hours about our common ancestry, and how wonderful my master and mistress are to myself and my family. Mercifully ancestral hogwash is avoidable as, according to my contacts at the Feline International Tracking service, F.I.T.S by any other name, you know far more than I have ever known, and as regards my master and mistress they really are quite charming, so I am very happy for you to meet them. I shall introduce them properly when the time is right, but now, slumped on their sofa after an abnormally heavy Saturday night on the tiles they need their rest, the poor dears, and there is so much more that needs to be told. So first thing first, who we are, what are we, and then what in God’s name are we doing in England.
The tracking service has, I understand, given you the bare facts as to how we got over here but who, might you ask, are we and, and what of our personalities? My name is Clawsinska Irena Williams, but you can call me Clawsie. Though I’m not proud of my surname, it may at least convey that I am married to an English cat, and he is called Tommy. I do apologise for such dereliction of duty as regards choice of partner, but you must understand that, unlike our mutual homeland and mainland Europe, the choice of partner over here is somewhat limited. At present he is to the left of me, snoring away merrily, but to my right I am being closely watched by three pairs of very observant eyes.
One pair, looking at me with slight care and trepidation belongs to my first child Tomaska. He is a gentle child, and ginger haired he is more like his father than me, but still part Russian to a degree. Beside him though sit my youngest two Kitoshka and Katerina, Kitty and Kati and they are just wonderful! Known throughout the village as the Terrible Twins they have a temperament and a magnificent blue/grey coat hewn out of the Russian plains. Oh they can be sweet and sensitive, when they want to be, they can even act like ladies, when it suits them, but behind such niceties there lies a fire in their bellies that will never go away. Where they get this from I am sure I cannot say, but it is both theirs and our salvation, for like an eternal flame it quietly glows inside all three of us and, bred through generations past, it will light the way for new generations to come. Tommy, of course, was dreadfully stuffy about the pairs demeanour, waffling on, at excruciating length, as to the need for social conformity, principles and morality, ladylike behaviour, honour, duty, and the acquisition of at least some social airs and graces. Above all, he explained, the twins needed to do as the English do; after all, he tells me, they are English. Tommy can be very sweet at times, but also very unobservant, as I have told him so, quite bluntly, on several occasions. Genetically they may of dual lineage, however regrettable that may be, but in every other way they are Russian and in that respect nothing will ever change. So that, somewhat concisely, is my family, you will hear more about them as time goes on; but now I wish to move to third and final part of this letter. What bought us here, and why did we stay.
Humans can, at times be quite wise, and although their rough-hewn chunks of wisdom are often no more than the screamingly obvious, they do at times sound quite intelligent. One of their many ideas is that a bad workman blames his tools, and in our particular instance some might say that this is true. Such an interpretation though is rather cruel, for what can you do if such tools are either unsuitable within their current environment or even worse downright faulty. Our initial reason for moving was Mother Nature who, at times can be very cruel. You see my mother was getting a little old by then, and though still smooth, sleek, and supple, and still a great fighter of the Russian plain, she was finding that not all of her body was in total harmony, and therefore relocation to warmer climes was urgently required. As she said, the vast empty plains are all very good, but after a certain age natural body functions take a little longer and trying to urinate in a howling blizzard at minus 40 deg C can be very painful and difficult indeed.
The course of nature never runs smooth, so as part of her unending cycle we have no complaints, but our move to England really caused us pain. Mechanically it all revolved around our diplomatic masters, please see enclosed letter, but in reality, it really revolved around our very own dear, but not so sweet, old Uncle Benny. He seemed so genuine by post, as did the somewhat grubby postcard that he sent us. The problem was that both the card and Benny failed to tell the whole story. His letter spoke of great culture and cuisine, certain isolated elements of which are undoubtedly true. The postcard showed blue seas, happy bathers, and sun drenched golden sands, which is equally true, for a few days of the year. What both failed to mention however was the English climate, the terrible propensity for understatement and irony, and worst of all the ability within these shores to turn good into evil; especially where food is concerned. I do not blame the postcard, as it had no life or entity of its own, but Uncle Benny’s contribution was entirely different, and his actions were never to be forgotten or forgiven, and this was to be clearly shown when we met him at the airport.
Our problems began as soon as the plane touched down. When you arrive at your destination you desire, often more in hope than expectation that several factors will be in place. You wish to arrive in safety, to do so at a respectable time, and hopefully the weather will be at least reasonably kind, and lastly you wish to be welcomed with a degree of hospitality and respectability. In our case things were just a little different. First we arrived at six in the morning, never a good time to arrive anywhere, second it was raining, not uncommon over here, and finally, once free of our travelling companions, we were greeted by our very own long lost Uncle Benny. There he stood, with a three day old Danish pastry in one hand, and moth eaten union jack in the other which, through tears of uncontrolled merriment he waved mercilessly in our direction. Peeling himself greasily from a nearby pillar this pot bellied, mangy, flea ridden, lousy excuse of a relation staggered slowly towards us.
” Welcome to Britain!” he spluttered;
A shower of saliva and stale pastry shreds pouring from his rancid jaws.
“Welcome to the land of sunshine and smiles!”
Some joker was our Benny, but not for long, for as he lay prostrate upon the ground, his stumpy little legs sawing the air, my mother moved in for the kill.
Just one swipe, that’s all it took, just one oh so glorious, well timed, immaculately delivered, power packed Cossack clout; straight between his invitingly spread back legs. My dear some things are just meant to be, and boy oh boy it was just wonderful. His agonised screams of pain rang out for all to hear, and it gives me great pleasure to report that such first impressions proved somewhat lasting. His wife left him because on the grounds of failure of marital obligations, his role within the choir changed from baritone to castrato, and it is with more than one reason he now is called Benny the Chaste. Chased in life and chaste by nature; this is a set of twig and berries that will never rise again!
A passing customs officer however, who seemed just a trifle annoyed, supported him. Why I simply do not know; we thought the sight of a pot bellied moggie running hell for leather though the V.I.P lounge was quite entertaining; especially when he became enmeshed in a floor polisher; why it as was even turned on at the time. What maybe didn’t help of course was when he head butted the corgis. These ridiculous creatures seemingly belonged to some Queen or another who, being rather upset, told our now infuriated custom officer all about it, over and over again. The result of this we were soon to learn for rather than performing a heroic or noteworthy deed it transpired we had not only done the wrong thing; whatever the right thing may have been, but actually broken every rule in the blessed book, plus a few other rules that had yet to be recorded. Regrettably nothing this good lasts forever, and for our misdemeanours we given a long period of quarantine. This might sound somewhat unpleasant, or a little unfair, to your ears but then I don’t suppose that you have ever been in England, or in quarantine, so in reality it wasn’t quite as bad as it seems.
Like so many artificial systems put in place by humanity, it is a curious notion, but the theory roughly runs as follows. If it is feared that the entry of an animal or object may be potentially detrimental to the good health or safety of the resident community, it is deemed appropriate to isolate that threat for a variable period of time so as to asses, or if need be to annul, any danger that may be found. Thus it is that if you as a cat, or any other animal, arrive within the British Isles, you are detained within various centres in order to ascertain whether you are infectious or dangerous in any other way. The period of detention varies depending on the initial point of travel, and the level of personal documentation, but all told such a system works quite well, except for one small but very important detail. If you wished to run an insane asylum, who would you put in charge, and who would be the patient? Would you really wish the lunatics to run the operation, and then ask such deluded souls to administer treatment to the staff? Only a fool would do so yet is this not the case with quarantine.
To put it simply is there any more dangerous animal than a human, or has any species any greater potential for destruction than humanity itself? If this is so and logically I feel this has to be so, then would it not be wiser to incarcerate the whole damn lot of them. Look at our situation for example, and all will become clear. I admit we caused havoc at the airport, I accept that a black-eyed corgi is scarcely handsome, and a sour faced owner even less so, regardless of potential rank or lineage, but what other crime did we commit, what disease did we bestow upon the world? We did not threaten a nuclear holocaust, we have not caused famine through deforestation, war, or climate change, and as regards disease we arrived with full accreditation and references. So why then should we or any other animal be so treated when the system operatives are clearly capable of so much harm? Here I rest my point as other matters are arising, for my conscience is pricking me, and reminding me of our somewhat individual activities during this passage of our lives. So it is that I know take you into darkest and deepest Southern England, and to a well respected quarantine quarters, which after our delicate manipulation, may never be the same.
I could be cruel and name the establishment concerned, but decency and compassion stop me from doing so, as they were such an accommodating bunch, albeit somewhat unwittingly so, and though the offered sustenance was at times as tedious as the daily routine, they did at least try. God bless their little cotton socks, they behaved most dutifully, they really did, and as such that is what made our little plan of action to easy to instil. When you first arrive in such an establishment the first thing you recognise is the crushing sense of order. This is soon followed by an equally heavy sense of tedium. Compliant to the alleged benefactors in seemingly every possible way the detainees or guests as the wardens termed it sat mute and largely silent, just waiting for their next slab of food. We then entered the scene, and gradually things began to change.
It only took a few weeks for us to discover that one major problem within the centre was quite frankly sex; or to be precise the hitherto lack of such pleasures within the local animal community. Oh it was fine for our guardians, as they had ample opportunity to pursue such pleasures, and by God how they did so, and in so many different ways, but what of us sex starved detainees; what chance did we ever have. Well very soon that was all sorted for with the aid of several most accommodating ladies within our community and with careful disguise and planning, harmony soon prevailed. All would have been well if it had not been for Sex Pot Siamese Susie and her unrestrained passion for ginger Tom.
Her owners were high powered Greek Ambassadors you see, and when their sweet little Susie proudly presented them with her litter they were not very amused. We thought the kittens looked quite sweet actually, I mean Siamese at one end and bright ginger at the other really is quite fetching but even we winced when Susie and Tom walked proudly forward, their respective tails entwined lovingly high in the air. Well soon the truth came out and that earned us a further spell of remedial detention, but unfortunately we carried on from there.
Our next little venture was the supply of liquid refreshment, particularly of the alcoholic kind. I would like to report that we brewed our own liquor, but though raw materials were readily available the appropriate equipment was much harder to obtain; especially considering where we were, but with a little ingenuity a suitable supply chain was soon in place and in full working order. How so my dear; well its really very easy. Fortunately our guardians, though sweet and ever so willing were also very unobservant and though several of our communication trails had been blocked following our previous escapade many lay undetected so access to the wider community really remained very easy indeed. Once out nothing could be easier for less than a mile away lay a poorly guarded trout farm, and even closer a farmer who just so happened to grow and like potatoes. Oh he loathed eating his produce but the liquid he turned them into, well that was quite different. So it was a simple battering system began, we supplied trout, he supplied the booze; an extremely good time was had by one and all.
Serenity never lasts very long, but for two or three month’s happiness and security reigned supreme. Stupefied by moonshine, stuffed full of trout, and bedecked by the sweet cherry blossomed spring it seemed that nothing could ever go wrong, but greed affects us cats as badly as our masters and, almost inevitably, things went just a little too far. It only lasted a week but short though it may have been, sweet it defiantly wasn’t, although the final dénouement certainly was somewhat tasty. The spark came from our farmer, and his “special” Easter brew; God bless the guy, I know he only meant well, but what he could not have envisaged was the daylight raid at the trout farm. Up until then our little expeditions had gone unnoticed, but you try putting sixteen cats, all as drunk as skunks, into such an arena; quite simply all hell broke loose; even more so when the pose were tracked back to quarantine, trout and booze in hand.
The blame, quite fairly, fell on us, so despite having a slap up trout dinner, they decided we simply had to go. They sympathised with our predicament, being as we were so far from home, they enjoyed the trout, and the liquid refreshment strategically placed by their side, and they admitted, quite freely that once we had gone life would never be quite the same; but enough was enough; we had simply gone too far. Our new owners were sourced and thus it was the day was set for our departure; it was time for us to go.
If only their 10yr birthday bash had been held one day later, if only they had at least kept it quiet, and if only they had less of a penchant for somewhat aquatic styled buffet and sherry trifle; why the poor saps played right into our hands, we really left in style. The day began well for our masters, and all seemed well for we all seemed quiet and docile, and not a cloud hung in the sky. By midmorning all was prepared, and a sumptuous buffet; nay banquet; lay ready and waiting for the good the great and the glorious to come.
Two small problems, they forgot to lock the door, and we gained access to the room. Imagine if you will twenty inebriated moggies rampaging through a heaped buffet table laid out for a party of sixty, and little more needs to be described. Oh it was wonderful, but then things got even better for only ten minutes later our guardians arrived. We were in the front vanguard so my salmon and dill vole au vent should have struck first, but with unerring accuracy a cream éclair flew past my ear and deposited itself on the nose of the lord high and mighty chief who stood, shocked and bemused, before us.
Did more follow, did we carry the day, why of course we did, for though the battle raged for over half an hour, and though the opposition mounted two quite decent charges by using both water and foam fire extinguishers, such counterattacks could not hold us and victory reined supreme. Even such fun though cannot last forever and thus it was a new day dawned and finally we met our soon to be new masters who, slightly cautiously, greeted us later on that day. For now my dear I hope you will forgive me if I put pen and paper to rest, for though I would carry on I can hear the terrible twins singing the red flag to a visiting Bishop; dear God I hope he doesn’t understand Russian. Sorry Katie I really have to fly.
Love Clawsie Williams
P.s please find enclosed a copy of a letter forwarded to me by F.I.T.S. they say they have sent a copy to you already but just in case it has gone missing I enclose it all the same. My excuse for the vodka, the scarf and the hat is simple. I was both desperate and thirsty. You try living over here for a few years. Under the circumstances I think my behaviour was really quite acceptable. God Bless them all at F.I.T.S, they know not how much joy, or how much comfort, they bring.
Dear Ms Katishka Tabymov
All of us at Feline International Tracking Services, established in 1955, are proud of the work we do, and it is our contention that, if supplied with adequate information, no animal lies beyond our reach. During fifty years of service no client has ever left us feeling disappointed, and our offices have only radiated calmness, peace and joy. That was up until six months ago, as it was then we met Clawsie, and from the moment of her arrival our lives have never quite been the same.
Rich of character as pure of breed Clawsie surprised us all as she swept into our London offices, as quite frankly we had never seen anybody like her before. Apparently Clawsie and her mother had come over as part of a group of cats bound for an international cat show which had been organized by her Russian diplomatic service, but having grown rather bored of their somewhat meagre rations, and having driven their escorting guardians to despair they metaphorically slipped her leash or travelling case to be precise, and bestowed themselves on our fair if admittedly damp lands. From what Clawsie told us a somewhat dubious English Uncle was also involved but Clawsie, in her own words, shall tell you more. Once released from quarantine by their current owners, Clawsie and her family now reside in a sleepy corner of Southwest Britain called Upper Tiddlecombe. Why they were ceased to be entertained and incarnated at Her Majesty’s pleasure I will leave Clawsie to describe, but from what we can gather life, since she and her mother arrived in England, has never been easy for their new owners, and from what we have seen it never shall be so.
Why such difficulties, well because Clawsie is just Clawsie and quite frankly we simply don’t breed such characters here. When she first graced our premises, or to be more accurate crashed through our reception area, and our newly painted doors, we knew in an instant that trouble had come to town. It wasn’t her poise that surprised us, breeding tells and as a Russian Blues; pure bred of course, she had it all, but it was akin to seeing the Queen of England as drunk as a skunk of gin after a day at the races; quite frankly her demeanour fell horribly short of her breed.
If nothing else cats of such a breed are meant to be elegant and full of poise, and rather like being granted an audience with royalty you expect civility, grace, and style. Later on we were to recognise such qualities, but not on that first day, for Clawsie really put on a show. She tried to be regal, she really tried but you cannot do so when, tripping up on a bedraggled I love London scarf you stumble blindly into a room, while your three-foot union jack top hat slides remorselessly over your nose.
Why she was so attired, only she can explain, and how she had got hold of such a large bottle vodka we were never to learn but Clawsie is just Clawsie; and if she brings as much joy into your lives as she has bought into ours well, you will feel something so very special; something so very special indeed. We must go now as other clients require our services, but take care of our Clawsie, she seems so very far from home, and in desperate need of both family and friends
All at F.I.T.S
P.s Do you know if you can get your paws on a crate of Clawsie’s vodka. For many years our organisation has been operating on a teetotal mandate and principal, but now we have met Clawsie and, for purely medicinal purposes, shared a drink with her, we feel that something as good as that really ought to be passed around. Please don’t tell Clawsie though; our bosses we don’t really care about, but Clawsie is somewhat different, and we feel she might get just a little bit annoyed