Thompson and Martinet

Thompson and Martinet

Thompson and Martinet

We acquired our first cat over thirty years ago. I bought it from the pet shop in Cliffe High Street, and it was one of two black and white kittens in a big cage in the window, eyeing up the hamsters with more than just passing curiosity. Twin sisters, apparently. I chose the smarter looking one, paid my £5.50, and left with the kitten in a cardboard box. Needless to say, when I got home, I was in trouble. Not for buying a kitten, which was what I was supposed to have done, but for leaving the other one all on its own in the shop. It was too late to go back and get it, so we returned the next day. If we’d thought they’d be delighted at the reunion, we couldn’t have been more wrong. From the moment the cardboard box was opened on the second day, the two little kittens became a squawling bundle of black and white fur rolling across the carpet as they attacked each other. After a lot of discussion, during which Grant and Cutler and Brighton and Hove were rejected as names, we called them Thompson and Martinet, after A J Thomson and A V Martinet, the authors of A Practical English Grammar. Like the kittens, they were both female (The As stand for Audrey and Agnes). As far as I know, Audrey and Agnes didn’t spend their entire lives fighting. They probably didn’t have tapeworms or huge fleas, either.
When our daughter was born, the cats were aged four and a half, and compared with the baby, they suddenly appeared old and wise. They were also appalled at the tiny crying thing that we brought home from the hospital. However, the tiny crying thing learnt to crawl, a talent which we only discovered when we found her eating cat food with her fingers. It’s possibly understandable. I’ve never sampled cat food, but a boy I once met told me it tasted like fish pâté, after he’d come home from the pub and found what he thought was a plate of fish pâté in his mother’s fridge. In the spirit of scientific enquiry, I did try baby food. I’ve never tried eating dishcloth, but the spoonful of baby food I tried tasted exactly as I’d imagine dishcloth to taste, if you could be bothered to put a dishcloth through a blender and turn it into brown sludge. In the interests of giving our daughter something better to eat, I mashed up some rice in the remains of a chicken vindaloo. She golloped it down. Unfortunately, my wife caught me feeding it to her (she was about five months old – my daughter, not my wife, obviously), so I got into more trouble. It’s no wonder people grow up with problems when they have mothers who’d prefer them to eat dishcloth instead of curry. How many dishcloth houses do you see on the average High Street (Cliffe or otherwise)?
By the time we moved back to Cornwall the cats were five and a half, and my daughter was able to toddle after them, which they found terrifying. On the plus side, she’d lost her taste for cat food, though I still regularly found myself in trouble for feeding her real food. “It’s got salt in it.” That’s why it tastes nice. “She might choke.” Cat food wouldn’t do that, then. As far as I could tell from Marti (which was what Martinet had become shortened to), cat food made you throw up on the landing, or just inside the front door when guests were arriving.
On the journey here, one of the cats crapped in the back of the cat basket, and my daughter was sick, though I suspect it was the chicken tikka sandwich that my wife bought her for lunch in Salisbury that was to blame, and not cat food. Moving may be stressful, but once they were here, the cats loved it, running around in the garden and chasing birds. Marti continued to throw up, on one occasion in one of my slippers. I saw it as I was getting into bed, and I congratulated myself on noticing it then, rather than putting my foot in the slipper in the morning. Unfortunately, when I went to throw the slipper full of cat sick in the bin, I stepped in the hitherto unnoticed pile of cat sick on the carpet, in my bare feet. Such is life.
Some books

Some books

My daughter is now twenty-six, with two cats of her own, and Thompson and Marti are buried in the garden. However, among my many books I still have a copy of A Practical English Grammar. Thank you Audrey and Agnes.

9 thoughts on “Thompson and Martinet

  1. Brilliant post!! Laughed a lot and related to much of it. DD also ate cat food, and our current two, supposedly brother and sister, scrapped and argued from the day we brought them home, and still continue to do so at the ripe old age of 17. Love the erudite names.

    • Haha. Thanks, Carol. Glad you liked it. Most people don’t remember Grant and Cutler. One of the books in the photograph came from there. I won’t tell you which one.

  2. I’ve had a load of cats over the years, with names ranging from Sharaz Jek to Abraxus, although my favourites have always been big ginger boys. Er, cats, obviously, you knew that, didn’t you? I’ve currently got three, Cal, Abs and Ambrose, and the only things that eat catfood are the chickens. Although DD used to drink out of the horse’s water trough…

    • Thanks, Jane. We also have three cats. Elvis, Huw, and Maisie. Maisie isn’t strictly speaking ours, she’s my daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s sister’s cat that we’re just looking after. We’ve been ‘just looking after’ her for several years now.

  3. Why haven’t I been here before? I’ve laughed myself sick over this post – okay it’s not quite that bad, but I’ve definitely got a tummy ache now. Brilliant, Mr P! You have a real talent for making me guffaw. Maybe this is partly because I have been through just this kind of musing myself…And the crawling toddlers with an insatiable taste for things they shouldn’t have – in my case, dog food and toilet water…And the remains of said dog’s gluttony on the landing that got trodden in – luckily not by me, or we probably wouldn’t have a dog anymore, which we do. Sorry, I’m rambling. I do that a lot. Anyway, lovely post. Loved it!

    • Haha, Val. Glad you liked the post. There’s a link you can click on the ‘blog’ page of my website that will warn you whenever there’s a fresh post. If only there were something similar for pet sick.

      • I’ve put you on my blog list, so you will pop to the top when you do a new post 🙂 I’m more of a blog fan than I am of Twitter or FB. I’m a bit too slow for the quick fire repartee on Twitter …haha, rather like my old barge!

  4. Pingback: The current crop of cats | Francis Potts

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