Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Railway cats

As we tuck into our breakfast we spot that the train alongside us seem to be the home for a large family of cats (I believe the collective term is ‘clowder’ but I think I’d prefer ‘a haughty of cats’). I count about ten and clearly this is a regular spot as there are blankets and beds under the carriages and numerous bowls for food and water. These are a couple of the stripy ones taking some early morning sun, the black ones had all snacked on their breakfast and were off exploring. I’ve heard of ships’ cats but I’m guessing this was to curtail the rodent population and not as companions for the sailors but not about train cats. I’m not sure it would be entirely practical to also have feline passengers, there are certainly many nooks and crannies they could curl up in but I guess many of us struggle with walking down the swaying, listing train already but the possibility of a friendly cat winding its tail around your legs might just finish you off. The challenges of walking down the 1/3rd mile train when in motion are well known and one of the butlers recommended a simple technique. Hold out one hand in front of you and this will focus your sight and keep you balanced. It is comical to see various people trying the one handed sleep walking technique as they bounce of the wood panelling and the doors. This is probably one of the reasons we are told not to wear high-heels on the train, a rule I’ve pretty much ignored, it’s what you’re used to I guess!
“And when you creep into your cosy berth
And pull up the counterpane,
You are bound to admit that it's very nice
To know that your won't be bothered by mice -
You can leave all that to the Railway Cat,
The Cat of the Railway Train!”
Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat – Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – T.S. Elliot

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