Home   News   Article

New addition brings back childhood joy

By Jamie Stone

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Jamie Stone: 'I am a sadder and wiser man'.
Jamie Stone: 'I am a sadder and wiser man'.

WHEN "seeing a man about a dog" it really is most disconcerting when you become aware of a small purring presence at your back, sitting on the cistern, and then placing a small white paw on your ear by way of an offer of concerned help.

Or when: "Good grief!" – she was up the curtain like a pinkish grey rocket. Startled, I drop my poached egg as I rush to disentangle her prickly feet from Charlotte Gibson’s fantasy in fabric.

Earlier, muzzy in a semi-sleep at 6.15am, I had stood in her bowl as I searched for the sugar. Teach me not to wear slippers. This Monday the sugar was on its side, all over the top of the fridge and down the back.

"Come quick – she’s up on the seat and reaching in!"


"Ding dong, pooh – pussy’s in the…" She was more careful after that.

It’s like a miniature hurricane, having a kitten in the house. And while exasperating at times, there are times when we fall about with laughter.

A sheet of bubble wrap is her latest joy; she stalks it, pounces on it, fights furiously – and then suddenly breaks off to turn her back and delicately clean her foot. Nothing so unbecoming as to wrestle with a piece of common plastic would ever cross her mind; and then she glimpses her foe and the battle is on again.

The Co-op bag, which she would get inside and hurtle around in (to the astonishment of visitors), is now the forgotten toy.

Hattie ("the cattie") has arrived. And you know, it’s been a long time.

I was playing over by the dairy when I heard them shouting for me.

"Come quick – it’s Bella and John Mackay. They’ve got something special for you."

What what? I ran back to the farm house wondering what it could be.


Oh my goodness, there in a cardboard box was the most perfect black kitten, complete with white paws and bib. I was utterly entranced. My own kitten – and right away I called him "Kitteny" (well, I was brought up in the Highlands after all…) and he was one of the best things about my childhood. I adored him unreservedly, including after he grew up and became a hard-bitten old tom cat.

"Mr Wow" was what my father called him – because of his penetrating loud "meow!" when he wanted your attention – and as his ears got more torn and his face scarred, and he spent longer and longer intervals away from home, it became clear that he was also something of a feline Lothario, one who incited extreme jealousy amongst other tom cats.

"Ah, Mr Wow, I see you’ve been in the wars again," my father would chuckle knowingly as he lit his pipe.

A few months later, a mysterious loudly purring female cat appeared amongst the hay bales. Shortly she had eight tiny blind kittens – four black with white bibs and socks. "Gosh, they look like Kitteny!" was my five-year-old exclamation. Such is innocence.

I had almost forgotten just how much happiness a pet can bring until Hattie joined us.

"Oh damn, she’s knocked the flowers over again." But when she chases a tiny ball of silver paper round the kitchen table, and then dances like a ballerina as she flicks it in the air, she is something else. Quite distracts me from my Sudoku in fact.

And what happened to the eight kittens? It was one of mother’s more artful ideas.

A joint birthday party for me and my cousin (the one I wrote about last year, the one who fell into the liquid dung) and at its conclusion our guests were each given a makeshift fishing rod and told to dangle their hooks down from the landing above to where unseen hands attached "going home presents".

A baggie of tablet! A balloon and smarties! And now and again – a wee basket, with a kitten in it…

"Oh, Mummy Mummy – it’s what I’ve always wanted!!!"

I remember the cold fury with which some of the parents took their charges home.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More