It was mother’s day 1980 something or other, and my daughter’d said “Come over for lunch mum.” She makes a fuss of me now and then. I’m quite independent really, but I do like being spoilt occasionally. So over I went to Punnett’s Town for Sunday lunch. It’s always so nice to see the grandchildren – so well-mannered, and my daughter’s pleasant husband – a good deal nicer than the one I had, who turned out to be “the wrong one.” Such a let down. You make a bad choice and you wish you could start all over again, but by the time you find out it’s a bit too late. Such a messy business. Anyway I was lucky to have my 3 lovely daughters. So something good came out of it all. But that wasn’t the only good to come out of it.
After we separated I did something I’d always wanted to do. I went to college and studied music. I’d always played a bit, sung in the choir at the Grammar School, that sort of thing, but at last I had the time to do the thing properly. I'd sung in a couple of local choirs for years as a “low woman singer.” My little joke - but it’s true. I never could sing those high notes. When I was 12, our music teacher said “Hands up if you play the piano,” so a few of us stuck up our hands. “You, you, you sing alto”, she said. And so my fate was decided. I was an alto through and through. Well, more of a bass baritone really.
With one choir we travelled abroad - to Germany and Switzerland, joining with other choirs, meeting new people. We got quite good at communicating using our strange version of sign language - with the help of a few words of pigeon French or German, thrown in. Of course, most of them spoke English, as they do, which is just as well because… have you ever heard Swiss German? Quite impossible! (slight pause) But really it was the music that drew us together, that spoke to us. One time when we were giving a concert in a church, we sang How Great Thou Art in English whilst the congregation sang it in German. (SING 1 verse of How Great Thou Art - Eileen, Sarah, Gina - Jane in German) It was a bit odd but the voices blended well. There were a lot of “Scherns” and “dankers” and a schnapps or two after that I can tell you.
Where was I? Oh yes, I was telling you about visiting my daughter on Mother’s day. It was a lovely lunch – my favourite, roast chicken with parsley and lemon thyme stuffing and all the trimmings, and afterwards, sitting in the easy chair by the fire my daughter gave me a plant. Pretty pink one, if I remember correctly – a fuschia or begonia. I can’t say I didn’t like it, but I was a little disappointed. I’d never say, but it was one of those cheap ones that you pick up in the supermarket. Anyway, for some reason we got to talking about cats. My daughter asked me how my cats were, then she started reminiscing about all the cats we’d ever had, which of course got me going too. I love cats. We always had cats and dogs when I was little. They were part of the family. I do like having them around. Such company. So there I was ranting on about all the lovely pussy cats I’d known – tabbies, Siamese, long-haired, short-haired –a Maine Coon - did you know they were bred from Racoons and have stripey tails? ….. when my daughter interrupted and said, “Mum, would you like another present ?” “Depends what it is”, I said, a little warily, and in walked my youngest granddaughter holding the most gorgeous Russian Blue you’ve ever seen. “He’s a stray, mum” ( a little nervously )my daughter said as my granddaughter handed him to my waiting arms. Oh I was overjoyed! It was like being shown your baby for the first time. He was so regal. Slim and sleek with a blue coat that shone in the firelight! I loved him straightaway, and he settled onto my lap as if he knew that I was his future. “His name’s – er - Henry,” my daughter said. I could tell she was a little worried that I wouldn’t like the name. “Henry?” I said softly, and he looked up at me, his eyes blinking with pleasure as I stroked his back. “Henry it is.” I proclaimed. “A perfect name for a Royal cat.” After all I think cats should have proper names - not silly names like Tiddles or Bluey.
Henry was with me for 8 years. He was my mate.
But when I moved here I had to find a couple to look after him. It broke my heart. You see we’re not allowed pets here.