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Some Thoughts on Chairman Miaow
 
by Revlac
I must confess that hitherto I have had little trouble in compiling these trifling efforts. It was, I think, O Henry who first replied, when asked from which source he obtained his stories, 'Knock on any door'. Well, up to now I have only had to peep in at my own window, but I must confess that inspiration had temporarily left me when, some evenings ago, I sat down to open the assault. My daughter was youth-hostelling somewhere on the Isle of Wight, my son was visiting a radio-minded crony, and the head of the house was gossiping to a neighbour. None, that is, until I became aware of the baleful stare of the one member of the Revlac ménage to whom - perhaps unjustly - scant reference has hitherto been made. I refer, of course, to Sir Thomas Ginger, or, as lately he has become known Chairman Miaow. The 'Miaow' part purrs for itself, so to speak, and the 'Chairman' title stems from the fact that, though there be seats a-plenty available, the one coveted by this feline rogue is always the very one which is occupied.

He joined us from the RSPCA at a trifling cost of 5s and sundry scratches which took some time to heal. He was some six months old at the time and, after a welcoming repast and a thorough examination of the premises, began the old familiar takeover in which all animals indulge. The house being large and rambling, there was always a room to his taste; the garden, abounding with trees, was his paradise. It still is, in point of fact, and many an unwary fledgling has found to his cost that assaults on my seeds have a swift and terrible retribution. There are, of course, other cats, but none I swear with such a personality as this marmalade mouser. He observably follows conversations when he is in the mood, and we found it necessary to avoid any slighting reference to his presence or habits in order to avoid the look of ineffable scorn which then suffuses his features. You will recall that Dr Johnson had a cat named Hodge, and when, with Hodge seated firmly on the doctor's ample knees, reference was made to another cat's handsome appearance and demeanour, the good doctor was forced to make instantly the comment that Hodge was also a very fine cat. Those who doubt the tact of the Lichfield Luminary should think again.

A fair indication of the discrimination which is exercised by Thomas on all occasions is that he positively abhors those various and dubious concoctions which are marketed under seductive names and in tins which bear the representation of all manner of cats in transports of joy at the richness of the contents. Thomas knows better. When necessity has compelled his supper to consist of something out of a tin, he favours the bestower with a contemptuous look which clearly indicates that if we are taken in by the blurb on the label, he is not; if we think he is going to ruin his internal arrangements with Grimsby deck-sweepings, we have another think coming. He favours a dish of tea with his breakfast, which he prefers to have served in our bedroom. On completion, he cleans each fierce whisker with the greatest punctilio and then decides which bed he will favour with his presence till lunchtime. My son's bed, which is invariably encumbered with odd bits of wire, screwdrivers, and other radio impedimenta, he eschews with contempt, but my daughter's couch is a prime favourite. The impatience exhibited by this sagacious animal when he finds her still in residence during the holidays at an hour far later than he considers seemly has to be seen to be believed.

The books say that cats should be fed twice daily. Thomas has not read these books. With the cunning of the species, he appears in the kitchen whenever he feels peckish, apparently in extremis for want of nourishment. His tail droops, his eyes appear not to focus, his whiskers sag. It is at such times that my wife, being able to see through her family with the greatest of ease, recognises his deception and, unless she considers the time ripe for a little something, propels him into the garden with cries of 'Out, you dratted cat'. He bears no malice, but makes sure he is observed eating the crusts put out for the birds to give point to his need.

In his younger days, when he desired admittance to the house, it was his custom to perch on the window-sill outside our bedroom window and utter piteous cries. Well-meaning old ladies have been known to ring the bell and say, 'I don't wish to worry you, but your pussy appears to be trapped on the window ledge. It is much too high for him, and perhaps you have a ladder?' During this cri du Coeur the said poor pussy had reached the ground by a series of death-defying leaps and shot down the hall, leaving behind a bemused pensioner, an infuriated housewife, and a trail of dirty paw-marks.

Now, at 13, he is a trifle aldermanic, rather more prone to sleep, and greying round the ears. He crouches for a little while longer before scaling a wall, and impudent birds can approach a little nearer without being overwhelmed. Occasionally there is a flash of the old spirit and he will chase a wind-blown leaf. But he seems to say the years are there. He still sits on the garden wall to greet the mixed infants as they leave the local school and clearly accepts the caresses of the five-year-olds with as much pleasure as he always did. He still cat-naps through the noisiest TV programme, although he finds it difficult when Miss D…y S……d is giving vent to her musical feelings. Perhaps he detects in her voice some echoes of far-off days when, with sundry friends, he had a group of his own. He still greets us with the greatest of pleasure when we return from holiday, and takes a lively interest in the family's behaviour even to the extent of tolerating my son's preoccupation with things mechanical which disturb his sleep. Like all cats he is aloof, affectionate, and oddly understanding at times.
As I write this, he is clearly anxious to have me stop and show some sign of affection, and I can see that he wishes to approve the script. Dratted cat he may be, at times, but I can't think I've ever spent 5s to better effect.
 

(This article by Revlac appeared in the Savings Banks Institute Journal: Volume 11, Number 4, October 1968. Revlac was the nom de plume of Harry Calver)