CATS

Rufus (also the lost ginger kitten of Dalberg Road)
Rufus was my nan’s cat at Dalberg Road in Brixton. He was a big black neutered tom of indeterminate origins, with a little spot of white fur in the bow-tie position under his chin. Highlights of his career include losing a toe from his back foot to a car in the road outside (he didn’t miss it too much as he leapt the fences and walls of Brixton and Robertsbridge) and a rather splendid death – after a full breakfast and a good stroke, Rufus passed lying on the lawn on his back in the sun. We should all go so softly. A good boy, and the first cat I ever knew.
For a long time I had a memory of a small, unnamed ginger kitten that came to Dalberg Road and almost immediately disappeared – very occasionally I would have a sad dream of him, but that’s all – until my brother confirmed his existence recently (thanks Daif, 56 years? Really?). I hope he made good in the world …

Lully
My first cat, and what a splendid cat she was. Her mother was a farm cat in Robertsbridge, and Lully was one of four kittens born in the hay barn. On one memorable day, Lully’s mother disappeared across the valley, reappearing later on with a big, fat, dead hutch rabbit, which she divided into four for the kittens. Omnomnom. She was a sweet-tempered all-black cat with yellow eyes, and it was she who first demonstrated what has become known as the ‘fits’ – ears back, tail at half mast and eyes wide, followed by a ten to fifteen minutes of dashing in all directions. When Ma and Pa Walker died, Lully went to live with Mr Bugden, mother’s old boss, and lived out her life with him … but she died like a gunslinger, losing a fight with the traffic in the dark of the night in Little Common …

Gillibrand
Once there were four – Peason, Grabber, Molesworth and Gillibrand, the four kittens of Tansy, a long-haired ginger queen from Burwash. His mother was beautiful and so was he, and quickly made his tiny mark in the middle of Lully’s basket in Robertsbridge, while she sat outside it, looking on in disbelief. He liked a cheese sandwich and a night out in the wilds of Scalands Farm, but was always back for breakfast. He was the first cat I knew who would sit in companionable silence on a sunny step and watch the world go by. When Ma and Pa Walker died, he went to live with Hannah’s grandmother in Southampton, and enjoyed a ripe old age …

Doug & Dinsdale
Essentially two halves of the same cat – Doug was Dinsdale’s evil twin. Dins loved company, strokes and a warm house, whereas Doug liked the dark, windy nights when he could stay out and fetch back a rat from the railway line to drop at your feet. They came as kittens to the flat in Egerton Park Road, grew to maturity in Sidley and enjoyed their prime in Hastings at Railway Cottages. Too many cats in the house led Doug away to live with an elderly gentleman (they both were by then) but Dins saw out his life there. Good boys, and Hannah’s first word (after ‘joos’) was ‘Didni’ for Dinsdale …

Polly
Polly was wild, very wild indeed. Was a third cat a good idea? Probably not, especially as it turned out that she was pregnant when she arrived, which made her so protective that she all but drove Doug and Dinsdale out of the house. She made her bed in the wardrobe and had four kittens – two little black girls, and two tabby boys, but then had to go back to be rehomed with her daughters, leaving us with two tabby balls of fluff … now read on …

Reg & Wilf
… and then there were four! Reg was nicknamed ‘Peepo’ when he was tiny, as one eye opened some days before the other, and Wilf had a fabulously long tail, which we would see long before we saw him – like a periscope in the undergrowth. When Ginger Billy appeared, Wilf gradually looked elsewhere and found solace with a nearby catless couple. Reg was with us for keeps, though and lived a long and happy life with Hannah and her mother in a variety of locations. He was a good boy.

Ginger Billy
Butch Cassidy: ‘How’s that song go again?’
Sundance: ‘Ginger Billy with his ginger willy …’
Butch (laughing): ‘That’s it, ginger willy …’
Such a good boy, and the first short-haired ginge to really make his mark. He grew up with Hannah and had a purr that you could hear upstairs when he came home downstairs. I loved him thoroughly, but when my marriage collapsed I had nowhere to take him, and he was adopted by a lady in Hooe. I still think of him now (and still sing the song) and I hope, frankly, that he lives on even now, hopping from Lazarus pit to Lazarus pit and spreading an empire of transcendent evil …

Felix
Small, sweet blackie-whitie with a bent ear and a sweet face. He went with Sarah and Hannah to Little Ridge and lived out his cattish days on the pavement in the sun …

Jinxie, Sooty & Simon

Tuvok (also Neelix)
For Tuvok – click here and here
Neelix was a big, bold, fluffy tabby but he was just too much for Tuvok, and for the urban environment. He had to relocate his enormousness and his fabulous savagery to a farm in the country, where sheep began to disappear on a regular basis, they tell me …
Tuvok’s other names included ‘The Claw’ and ‘Gettim Toove’

Sarek
For Sarek, click here
Sarek’s other names included ‘The Ginger Ninja’

Khan
For Khan, click here

Ezri
For Ezri, click here

Tiberius
Mr Tiberius arrived in the spring of 2015, and was a most unusual and interesting chap. His specialties included eating, growing, eating, scampering, gnawing on new loaves of bread, catching mice, flies and other creatures, pitiful meowing in the absence of a fifth or sixth breakfast, leaping like an all-in wrestler onto poor Mr Khan, eliciting squeals from the same, looking longingly at Ezri, who gave him very short shrift … and so on. He was big, moderately friendly and very long when stretched out. A good boy, and sorely missed in the dark of the night … more here

Jadzia & Sulu
Bloody immigrants! Click here