A short Shaggy Cat novel
It’s My Birthday
It all begins in Camden Town, London. The year is 1986. A good year to be born. I call it the calm year, because on my birthday the following year we had a hurricane. But that’s jumping too far ahead.
I sometimes I find it hard to picture my first home. But I’m going to try. Imagine a tall rundown old building. Hundred of people years old. At the end of the street there’s a veterinary college and hospital. I recall the distant sound of cats and dogs, and other animals. Calling out in the night. Its no fun being in hospital, that’s what they were saying.
They called the street after the college: the Royal Veterinary College. Royal College Street. Two doors the other way was a huge hole owned by the Post Office. People are funny, they make holes and leave them empty.
I was born into a litter of five; at the end of the garden. In a shed full of tools and paint. Whenever I catch the smell of a freshly painted thing; I’m back there in the shed. Snuggling close to Mum, and my brothers and sisters. Chickens lived in a wire cage next to us. And apart from the soft purring of my family, it’s the sound of their clucking that follows the smell of new gloss finish. I had no idea it was unusual to keep chickens in a city garden. But what did I know; at two weeks old, apart from the soft underbelly of my mother.
When I was three months old; Felix, the man who lived in the broken down house took my brothers and sisters. I never found out what happened to them. Mum whispered to me that night. Don’t worry son, he likes you, you’re safe. She knew what it was like to have her babies taken. Later I realised that she was happy for them to be going to better homes. Posh homes, some of them. But on the night they went, I cried all the same. Mum was the sweetest smell I’d ever smell; so I pushed my face into her. I breathed her in. It helped, it made me feel safe.
Not long after my sisters and brothers had gone, we moved into the house. Felix put food on the kitchen floor, and made a bed for us in the front room. He was old and wore old clothes. When I first learned the word eccentric I thought back to Felix. I got to see a world very different from the garden. Cars rushed by, and people were generally absent. On the other side of the street, houses a mirror image of ours, only cleaner, looked back.
A flap on the Kitchen door , allowed us to roam. Because all cats really need to roam. Nobody taught me to do this. I just wandered. Instinct I suppose. I just got to be free. Our territory was between the Post Office hole and The Royal College. An ally ran between two of the houses. But mostly they were joined together. Terraced the people call them. One garden led into another.
A couple of Yuppies lived next to the big hole. That was Felix’s word. One human looks very much like another. But lord they did smell different. The woman wore perfume, and the man, her wore it too. They had a long empty garden and kept no animals outside or in.
At ten months I was older and bolder. The winter was over and it was much more pleasant outside. I began peeking inside the Yuppie’s home. Curiosity I suppose. Instead of a Kitchen I saw a bedroom and dining room. At that time, I’d not seen the front of their house, so had no way of knowing their kitchen was part of the front room. Small, modern and never used I found out. Everything inside was neat, tidy and new. Including the people. Their skin was smooth, and glowed brown. Sometimes they held parties in their garden. Where lots of tidy looking people would talk and drink and eat. One day I was taking a peek next door and noticed something had changed.