Thursday, 24 November 2011
Slow-worm, the Rise and Totter of Cat Rock
This is Samuel. He is eighteen months old and he was born at the Kit Wilson Trust shelter.
During the day Samuel enjoys sleeping; being kissed and stroked and snuggling as close as he can get. He has a purr that you can hear from the next room, a salmon pink nose and a Cheshire Cat tail. His fur is roughish on top and smooth on his undercarriage. When he stretches he spreads his toes like fingers.
He loves hunting. In summer he catches up to four mice a day. He growls when he brings them home, where he eats them quickly, sometimes chewing their heads while their back legs are still kicking. He is an expert surgeon, cutting deftly around the bits he doesn't like (the 'gutsies') and spitting them onto the floor.
At night when he leaves the house, despite our best efforts to keep him in, Samuel leads a very different life. Almost every evening he joins his friend Ozzy from the white house up the road. They go either to Ranna and Tony Hurst's field, or to the old shed at the bottom of our garden. There they rehearse with their band, Slow-worm. Ozzy is the front man and Samuel's on lead guitar.
In the band's early days, when the hens complained about the noise, Samuel, Ozzy and Smudge (on bass) played so quietly you could hear the sparrows sleeping. Unfortunately Muffin, the drummer, wasn't so considerate: 'F**k the feathers!' he would shout, while scooping out another paw-full of Gourmet Gold, dribbling meaty chunks as he chewed, chucking the empty sachet into the pond and hammering out a gravy-stained solo. When Samuel came in at dawn he was invariably exhausted and spent the rest of the day sleeping on his favourite chair in the bathroom. His paws flexed as he dreamed of chord shapes.
For a while it looked as though Slow-worm was going places. First the boys won Battle of the Bands at the Chiddingly Festival. After that came gigs in Brighton, Dalston and finally, at Barfly in Camden, where they were spotted by Colin Meloy, who'd come over from the US to look for a cat band to support The Decemberists on their UK tour. Samuel was beside himself with excitement at the thought of touring with The Decemberists: when he came home the next morning he shredded the carpet at the bottom of the stairs till the underlay showed.
The first two gigs in Glasgow and Birmingham went well. The many hours spent rehearsing paid off and the band sounded great. Even Muffin managed to keep his temper under control. At Bristol Academy, however, it all went wrong. During the after-show party, a young Siamese caught Muffin's eye. He had got through a lot of catnip that night and, when the girl spurned his advances, he lost control and stabbed her in the eye with a Webbox Cat's Delight. He was immediately arrested and The Decemberists had no choice but to sack Slow-worm.
With Muffin in rehab, Slow-worm needs a new drummer. The boys have auditioned a few local cats and although Hellebore, Samuel's step-sister, can hold a rhythm, she says she'd rather stay in at night, playing Thing-on-the-String and climbing the bookshelves. They've even tried working with Eddie, Ranna and Tony's Norfolk Terrier, but he gets carried away and chews the drumsticks; so auditions continue.
If you know of any talented young feline drummers in East Sussex or West Kent, Samuel and Ozzy would love to hear from you.