Sunday, 17 March 2013

Yorick The Foundling

This is a sad tail of self administered offspring separation therapy, and it all started when I was home alone.

A lot of things go wrong when I am home alone. A month long period of separation resulted in a bad case of food poisoning, a very painfully stubbed toe, and something else that my mind has since rejected. But these were minor temporary traumas. The food poisoning passed – explosively from every orifice, the stubbed toe turned a wonderful electric mauve and the nail valiantly stayed in place, and the other thing clearly righted itself because I remember nothing of it. But the latest mishap has had a much greater and longer lasting result.

It was a dark and stormy early afternoon and something at the gate post was exciting the dogs. An active something that was not allowing them to get too close. The immediate thought was snake – this from a previous similar experience where “snake” in dog language was simply not understood, with potentially lethal consequences. Closer inspection however revealed a pair of large liquid, iridescent eyes framed with grey hair and punctuated with a heart melting little pink snub nose, and a savage spitting mouth that said – “touch me buddy and you are toast”.

“ . . . a large pair of liquid, iridescent eyes framed
with grey hair and punctuated with a heart melting
 little pink snub nose”

In a household of three excitable dogs and two elderly irascible cats a kitten is not a bankable proposition, so I did the heroic thing and decided to take the dogs for a walk. This cowardly action was supported by the logic that if the thing had found its way to our gatepost surely its mother would find it and usher it back to the maternal nest. Let nature take its course I reasoned.

We went, we four. We walked and swam. We chased sticks and Dassie. We drank some beers and returned home three hours later, bushy tailed and rosy cheeked and slightly drunk; generally refreshed and well prepared for an evening of idle TV grazing.  Around 8 o’clock Zodwa (our home help) introduced herself with a gentle knock at the door and said,


“Yes” I replied

“Can I have some cat food?” she asked.

Quick as a flash I guessed that she was not trying out another Jamie Oliver recipe, because through the fug of more postprandial beer my mind was shrieking – kitten! The bloody mother gave up her search too early - and my stomach felt hollow.

“Kitten?” I asked.

Yes” Zodwa replied.

“Oh, Damn”, I sighed.

We shovelled some of the food normally meant for elderly irascible cats into a bowl to tempt the little mite from the wheel arch of the Hearse (don’t ask). It was suitably tempted and attacked the food with delicate gusto. With trepidation I picked the animal up and said to Zodwa with what I felt  was exemplary generosity,

“Here you are Zodwa, you’d like a cat”

She said nothing.

“I'm sure you’d like a cat”

She said nothing again.

“We'll pay for the cat food”

Her third reply was as expressive as the previous two, and the hollow in my stomach deepened.

So we bonded. Me and this forlorn foundling, and I vowed to capture this moment, this beginning, on camera. Several self portraits later the idiocy of this endeavour became apparent as the only one I can reproduce amply illustrates.

“So we bonded” Classic example of a reason
not  to “capture the moment”

“Put it in the bathroom”, Margaret said on the cell phone.

“I have done, but it might get lonely”

“Well make it a bed then”

“I have. I’ve given it a blanket”

“A box? Give it a shoe box”

“Oh, right. It fell into the bath and couldn't get out, so I've made a ladder out of the shower mat.”

The muffled response on the other end of the phone was difficult to interpret.

“I’ve made a ladder out of the shower
Clearly I had much to learn, and this was going to be a long journey . . . . .

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