Friday, July 30, 2004


Daisy the cat was born on 1st May 1987 and was put to sleep on 21st September 2006. For nineteen years her story was my life, my life was her story. Let's stick to her.

Records are incomplete from the time of her birth.. I was living in Tooting at the time (Ansell Road, next to where the garage was, a few dooors from the "second hand shop" that specialized in nasty hifi) and I drove down to Brighton to collect Daisy and her brother Tom from Satan - they were the only progeny of Tabitha, who was herself a "gymslip mother" being less than a year old. That's cats for you. I do remember my motivation for getting them: I felt I was rootless and that the responsibility of having cats would provide some stability. My mum and dad had moved from Epsom to Glasgow among other contributors.

So I collected them in my fancy car of the time but on the way home to Tooting, while the two tiny kittens were in a basket on the back seat, an illegally overloaded Volvo overshot the end of a side street and buried itself in the side of my beautiful Alfa. Which was then revealed to be made of "not-really-steel", a metal composed of paint on the outside and rust on the inside. He didn't have any insurance. Three years later (I think it was to the day, more or less) I got a third of what I paid for the car. It's still the most expensive car I ever owned.

Anyway, Tom and Daisy were happy in Tooting. I lived with two nurses and a painter and they indulged her (Daisy used to bring shrews and voles as presents for one of the nurses) and the was a garage next door, they could spend a lot of their time under cars. Especially when I wanted to get them in. But I wasn't very happy in Tooting, and we moved to Brighton.

We lived in a house in St Martin's Place off Lewes Road: not our finest hour. I was working as a roadie at the time and was away a lot, and Tom and Daisy had a stomach disorder which manifested itself in small piles of runny cat poo everywhere. We were living with two lesbians and an Aspergers sufferer, and they ignored the excrement so on my return I had lots of crap to deal with. Eventually I fixed their stomachs by feeding them nothing but chicken mince for a month: I think I can still remember the smell of it cooking.. yes, dis-gus-ting.

Me and Aspergers were supposed to take over the tenancy of the house with a hippy idiot and an asylum seeker but that fell through (surprised?) so I was a bit scuppered. As it was, I ended up moving to Hull and renting a flat off Pearson Park with a crazy woman I met on the road. We stayed in Hull for a year or so I think. I used to cook for hippie buskers (as Borlotti's, after the beans) - they would perform during the day and come round to ours and pay for a veggie dinner. I remember Tom got hit by a car, but it just broke one of his teeth and made him woozy for a day or so. The first of the 'extra' cats, though, came from Hull - Joe-who-had-the-most-beautiful-eyes and who deserves his story to be told.

I got him from the hippies - some loser had taken him on at about six weeks or so and then failed the responsibility test, locking poor Joe in a cupboard without food or water. The hippies found out and knew I had cats of course so I got another. Joe emerged blinking with huge knots in his fur (hugely amusing the hippies - a kitty with dreads) and the most beautiful eyes - blue and green and deep. But going without food had made him greedy, and he from that day always ate all the other cats' food as well as his own. Poor Joe - he was about 3 or so he developed a tongue infection and got a bit ill, then he got hit by a car and thrown in a skip (my mum didn't tell me that for a few years). He's buried in my mum's back garden. He had the most beautiful eyes ever, amazing green hurricanes of colour.

We moved further up north to Edinburgh, which was very cold and dreich, as they say up there. More cats - at one point I had five. One of them was Joey, a runt kitten I found in the wheel arch of a VW camper van in a street on the south side in Edinburgh where I used to go to buy vegetables.

Then I moved back to Brighton via a stay in Glasgow, but the cats stayed there with my mum as outside cats living in her outhouse and very rarely coming in: finally the tyranny of the litter tray was over, and the world was their toilet. I stayed with Jon & Carry in Brighton when their youngest child was born, then collected Daisy and Tom and we were together in Brighton again. We moved in with Aspergers in a bizarre house - very dark and gothic in a kind of stone-cladding way. Dirty, but big - lots of space for the cats, and they needed it.

Tom and Daisy had never been what in a human you would call 'close' - when they were really little they used to huddle together for a bit of protection but as adults they fought like, um, cat and cat. Lots of lurking and leaping, pouncing and prancing, scratching and biting, ambushing and hijacking - catfighting. But, they had stuck together up to this point.

Cue the return of our landlady from Thailand and her boyfriend from a Japanese prison. They got a kitten, who got fleas, the whole house got fleas. Daisy developed a strategy which involved touching the floor at as few points as possible: Tom fucked off. He'd shown a lax attitude to ownership previously, adopting an entire block of students in Glasgow, but this time he was offski not tomski, never to return. This would be around 1993.

A few months later the rest of us left after receiving death threats from the formerly incarcerated boyfriend. Well, he never threatened the cat in writing, but he did me! A couple of rentals later and I bought a garden flat on Springfield Road: there was a garage opposite again, Daisy used to pop across and beg for bits of sandwiches from the mechanics. I was lucky enough to meet Becky, and she moved in with me. She isn't crazy, I have been lucky this time.

We got another cat, Millie, in 1999 and we got married in 2001. We moved into our present house in with the two cats and started to plan a family - and we thought what a lovely name Daisy would be for a little girl, if we were lucky enough to be blessed with child. It seemed impractical to have a cat and a child with the same name, though, leading to exchanges like:

Where's Daisy? On top of the door (the cat would climb onto the top of a door whenever a dog came round, or some child-related threshold was passed). Or up the pear tree. On the changing table, in the cot (that last applies to all three of them, Millie most of all) - you get the picture, it would be confusing. Here's a picture of her in the old car seat.

Anyway, the decision was kind of taken out of our hands. When I was impregnating Becky on holiday, Daisy was movin' out. We got back to one cat where previously there was two. It turned out she had gone to live across the street in a basement flat, eventually along with another white cat. They put in a cat flap, and we got used to seeing her occasionally in the street.

Nine months later, as is the plan, we had a daughter and called her Daisy. Nine months later, to our surprise, Daisy the cat came home again. She'd popped in a few times during the interveening eighteen months, maybe stayed over once or twice, but this was a surprise.

She was sixteen or seventeen years old, by this point. Not bad for an old cat with hardly any teeth (she lost them to gingivitis a few years ago, Henry the vet whipped them out - she only has a few left, but she does fine with them).

When she first cam back, she took to sleeping on the first stair immediately underneath the stair guard, so everytime you went past there was no room at all. She'd never been much of what you would call a 'house cat' - in summertime she would hardly ever come in - but she wasn't going outside. The downstairs toilet was her toilet too, but after we kept that shut she would aim for the litter tray (with her eyes closed, I think, judging by her inaccuracy).

We weren't sure at this point which (if any) of her senses were still functional: was she blind and deaf or just extremely good at ignoring humans? Is there a light still on behind the pretty eyes? Some said she had come home to die (I said that if she carried on sleeping on that stair she would ake someone with her) and that she was senile. Either or both may be true, but she's holding her own. Daisy is crawling now, (told you it was confusing) and thinks it's hugely funny to sit on any cat or dog she can.

After a couple of weeks, she raised herself off the stairs and went and slept on the post thing outside our house for a fortnight (during the two weeks of sunshine we were allocated this year). This was better than the stairs, but there were a couple of incidents which me and Becky found quite distressing, not showing humans in a good light at all.

As soon as our mini-summer ended, she moved back inside, where she still
is now. She sleeps on the top floor mostly, unfazed by bashings she sometimes get from DaisyBaby. This is a picture of her looking down on me.

1 Nov 2006. Cat has a dislocated hip. Henry the vet thinks I really need to consider having her put to sleep.
2 Nov 2006. After an xray, it's determined she has dislocated her hip in an unusual way - one that causes little damage to the hip gristle and joint, can be put back without anaesthetic, and doesn't need to be strapped afterwards. She has to be confined [in the office] for a week when she comes home tomorrow. She had just moved out as well, sulking back to No 23 after she was put on a course of antibiotics (Beck kept finding soggy pills in the hall).

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