CATS upon the stage

cats the musical
The return of Cats to the West End stage has revived the old argument: Was T S Eliot a genius or a twat. This article may help you decide

On the back of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s successful revival of cats there was an article in The Daily Telegraph over the weekend about the poetry of T S Eliot. here’s a taste:

Fifty years after TS Eliot’s death, the beauty of his verse shows how poetry can be appreciated before it is understood, by Allan Massie

The record-breaking musical Cats is singing and dancing again. The run of the new production has been extended – and there are plans to take it to France, Germany and Broadway. Yet when it was launched in 1981, even the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber wondered if he were out of his mind. A musical with no plot and the cast dressed as prancing felines, the lyrics drawn from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, light verses written by the otherwise famously difficult poet, TS Eliot – what could possibly go right?

Of course everything did, gloriously. It ran and ran and ran, and it still works today. [ …] I find myself thinking I would have liked to have had some such explanatory aid available when I first read The Waste Land 60 years ago. That was more than 30 years after its first publication, and yet it still seemed strange and baffling. I understood very little of it and was puzzled by its abrupt transitions. Yet, on reflection, I am not so sure that my perplexity was such a bad thing. It meant I had to surrender to the poem.

The comment thread followed the usual pattern of any discussion on the works of Eliot and that other literary wanker James Joyce, both of whom admitted that they wrote with the intention of being understood by literary or classical academics.

The sheeple who will believe anything sombody who waves an academic qualification around tells them to believe came down in support of the dogma that Eliot was the genius who dragged poetry into the modern age.

The other camp consisted of those who love poetry and read it regularlyand generally thought Eliot a pretentious, condescending elitist snob and an all – round twunt. Here’s my favourite:


When I was at school Eliot’s Wasteland was part of our A level English studies. Many questions were put to our English master on it, one of which has stayed with me when one of my classmates asked; “Instead of writing this, why didn’t this guy just top himself”?

One reference that came up several times was to John Carey’s book “The Intellectuals And The Masses” which is an exposé of the new elitism of the academic class.

Here’s one comment that recommends it:

Eliot’s poetry is quite deliberately obscure; the dense allusions to, and quotations from, other literature are designed to encode into it levels of meaning that make it inaccessible to all but the most highly-educated. This was a reaction to the rise of mass-literacy common to many modernist writers; they actively wanted to preserve literature as the preserve of a small elite. I highly recommend John Carey’s book, ” The Intellectuals and the Masses” – it’s quite extraordinary. None of this makes The Waste Land and Prufrock any less masterpieces – but in context, they are the last-ditch fight by the literary set against paperbacks and the sort of people who think Kipling’s “If” is a great poem.

It Might Look Cute But It Can Be Bloody Annoying…

So you go onto You Tube or the LOL cats sites and you look at the vids and the pictures and you either laugh or go “awww”, but when you’re trying to watch the recording of the tennis and a cat jumps up for a stroke and whilst you are satisfying its need it is actually standing on the remote control, puddinging so that when you look back at the screen it is actually on super fast forward and whilst when you left it Andy Murray was struggling a bit at 1 – 3 down, he’s now actually lost the first set. Thanks Hamish.

And then you’re trying to work on the laptop and LC jumps up and the next thing you know the display has turned through 90 degrees and you don’t know what he pushed with those great size 9 paws of his so uou don’t know how to undo it….

As I say there’s cute and there’s bloody annoying.


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Graeme Swann’s Cat

What is it about Graeme Swann and cats? A couple of years ago Swannie was in court on a drunk driving charge.

Whilst he admitted that he had been drinking earlier in the day, he told the court that when he got home he realised the builders had re-laid the floorboards leaving his cat trapped underneath. He immediately jumped into his car and hared off to the nearest DIY shop to purchase a screwdriver so he could remove the recently replaced floorboards and release his cat. (A Shaggy Cat Story)

Attending a function recently a punter enquired as to the well being of the aforementioned moggy.

Swannie had another tale to tell.

Arriving back home he saw a flattened, furry shape lying stil in the gutter.

Distraught, Swannie scooped up the lifeless feline and proceeded to bury it in the back garden. He then retired to the kitchen for a slug of solace and to mourn his departed pet.

He was very surprised then when said pet strolled back into the kitchen.

He’d buried somebody else’s cat.

We can only hope the rapidly interred cat was actually dead and not just snoozing.

What Is It About Cats?

What is it about cats that turns otherwise reasonably intelligent people into marshmallow brained idiots.

In the less prominent news this morning was the story of a British couple who went on holiday to Egypt, became enchanted by an Egyptian stray cat,named him Omar (now there’s inagination) took him in and spent £6000 on transports vet’s bills and quarantine fees to get him back to the UK.

What is wrong with British stray cats? you might well ask. There isn’t exactly ashortage of mooching, yowling, exponentially multiplying unwanted cats in our cities and they are free and while they may be just as disease ridden as Egyptian stray cats at least the NHS is familiar with the diseases they carry.

Anyway, back to Omar. After he was cleared through quaratine his adoptive mummy and daddy too him home. And Omar promptly effed off and has not been seen since.

Cat And Mouse Science

Back in the day when I was bringing children into the world, health scares for pregnant women had moved on from Listeria and were centred on Toxoplasmosis, a disease found in the faeces of cats and dogs. A health professional even suggested that it might be a good idea to get rid of the four cats at one of my early consultations. However I kept the cats, apart from Max who contracted leukaemia, but replaced him at 7 months pregnant with Wicket, a totally un-housetrained farm cat, and enjoyed robust health through both my pregnancies and delivered, at least until relatively recently, two robustly healthy children.

I read in the paper on Monday that once again the scaremongers are fixating on Toxoplasmosis and cats.They claim there are 350,000 people a year at risk of infection. That sound quite scary doesn’t it?

Now as I recall back in the early 90s the symptoms of Toxoplasmosis were described as feeling unwell, coldy, fluey, that sort of thing but then they also included blindness. So you might just feel ill for a few days but there again if it was severe you could end up blind, so worth thinking about and making sure you observed appropriate hygiene standards when emptying the litter tray for instance.

However the latest outbreak of Toxoplasmosis symptoms start off with blindeness and go on to include brain swelling, mood swings, schizophrenia, dementia and suicidal tendencies.

And where have these rather more terrifying effects been observed in sufferers of Toxoplasmosis? Well, not actually in humans, of course, because you can’t infect humans with a disease just to observe the results.

They have been infecting mice though. And observing the mice’s behaviour. And finding that after being infected the mice behaved, “strangely”.

Well of course they did, just take any man and a small dose of cold virus and they are so miserable they’d quite happily jump out of a tenth floor window, so infecting a mouse with something that’s going to make them feel a bit iffy for a few days, of course they are going to act strangely.

They’re probably going to be listless, lying in their nest all day long and moaning about how ill they feel,they’re shivery, they’re hot, they can’t breathe, their head hurts, their muscles ache, they’ll just lie here thank you and maybe watch some re-runs of Tom and Jerry and just have a little nibble at some cheese as they’re not really hungry but you’ve got to keep yor strength up, feed a cold and all that….

You get the picture. It doesn’t sound like hard evidence to me so all you cat lovers, no need to have Tiddles put to sleep for the sake of your own sanity and continued existence, just observe basic hygiene and you will all probably be fine.

Lola and the Cat Woman

Yesterday, human Mary Bale, aka The Cat Woman, was fined for causing unnecessary suffering to a cat after a video of her dropping a tabby cat, Lola, into a wheelie bin outside her home was posted on the internet by her human housemates.

Lola was thankfully unharmed during her 15 hour ordeal, but is still too shaken to comment about her traumatic experience. Perhaps we will never know what really went through her mind inside that dark wheelie bin.

Next door’s cat, Tina, told us she keeps looking in on Lola to make sure she is doing OK. ‘At first she wouldn’t go out the front flap, let alone sit on the wall enticing passer’s by to stroke her. I had to keep popping in with field mice and sparrow’s to make sure she was eating. She’s getting better but I think it will be a long haul’.

Spike, a neighbouring cat and close friend of Lola, said ‘she’s never been the same since the incident’. He added ‘Now, I’m not dumb, but I can’t understand why she walks like a woman and talks like a man’.

Lola is reportedly checking into the Cattery for a break to rest and recharge her batteries, although her new agent Cat Clifford has dismissed reports of an addiction to Feliway since the incident.

We at MEOW magazine wish Lola a speedy recovery.

Ding Dong Din, Pussy’s In The Bin

A shocking story in the news today regarding a grey-haired, plumpish, middle-aged woman going to stroke a cat and then casually tossing it into a wheelie bin and walking calmly off up the street.

The shocking part about this, of course , is the perpetrator. Who would expect a grey-haired, plumpish, middle aged woman to gratuitously attack a cat?

The cat certainly didn’t.

We sent Hamish Ratcatcher down to hear Lola’s side of the story.

HR; Good afternooon Lola. How are you recovering from your ordeal?

Lola: Oh it was terrible Hamish. I was shut up in that bin. I didn’t know if the bin men would be round. I had visions of being tipped into the back of the bin wagon and then crushed to death.
My little heart was beating twenty to the dozen, I can tell you.
I was calling out for help, but nobody heard me, and if they did they didn’t realise I was in the bin.
It was so dark and it was quite smelly.
Then I was needing a pee and a poo. Oh that was really awful. I had to go eventually, but then I was standing in the mess and everything. You just can’t imagine.

HR: Indeed not. Now can you tell us how it all happened?

Lola: Well I was just sunning myself on the wall, like I always do. This woman comes walking along and she looks at me, but not funny or anything, just a bit friendly. So I stood up and arched my back, saying hello, you know? She seemed quite nice and she said “Hello Puss” and she started stroking the fur on the back of my neck. It was all just nice and friendly you know.

I never expected what came next.

If it had been a gang of kids or a young man in a hoodie, I would have just jumped down on the other side of the wall like you do. Keep yourself out of trouble. I always listened when Mum told us kittens about Little Tommy Finn and what he did to that poor cat, putting her down the well. Who knows what would have happened if that nice Tommy Stout hadn’t come along and pulled her out?
But you know, my Mum said look out for yourself, don’t put yourself in danger, was calling it out over her shoulder as she was crossing the road that day…, but that’s another story.
Anyway, like I said, this lady seems friendly and she looks the type that should you start going visiting she’ll soon be putting out a saucer of milk and some titbits.
The next thing I know, she’s got me by the scruff of the neck. “Oh no”, I’m thinking, “she’s going to cat-nap me. She’ll be stuffing me up her cardie and taking me home to live with at least 24 other cats in a rancid semi that smells rather…er catty”.
But no, she calmly lifts up the lid on the wheelie bin, drops me in and puts the lid down tight.

I was in there for hours. I could hear my owners calling for me, but they couldn’t hear me.
I honestly thought I would die in there.
I was so relieved when the lid was lifted up and I saw Samantha, my owner, looking down at me.
I tried to tell them what had happened, but it is difficult when they insist on speaking Human and you can only speak cat.

“What happened to you?” she said. “How did you get in there? Did you manage to get the lid up by yourself and then you couldn’t get out? Oh you silly puss, we were so worried!”

And all the time I’m yowling away trying to tell them about this batty old bird that tricked me and dumped me.

Finally I remembered the CCTV cameras they have to keep an eye on the car. I managed to get Darren to have a look at it and he saw exactly what happened, so now they’ve put it up on YouTube and it’s been in the papers and on the news, so everyone will know there is a cat-hating, psychopathic, old bag on the loose.
I shouldn’t be surprised if she can’t get out of her house tommorrow, her garden will be full of poo and her flower borders’ll be scratched up and she won’t have had a wink of sleep what with the Toms caterwauling on the shed roof and everything.

And then the RSPCA will be coming round.

Hopefully when they catch her they’ll put her in a wheelie bin on a warm night, with no food or drink and no way out for at least 15 hours.

HR: Well thank you for your story, Lola.

Police have warned all felines in the area to be on their guard and not to approach any humans they don’t know, especially if they look like innocuous middle-aged ladies.

A Shaggy Cat Story If Ever I Heard One…..

The England spin bowler Graeme Swann appeared in court this week charged with drunk driving.

Swann was spotted by police driving a Porsche in an area prone to burglaries, which I didn’t realise was a stoppable offence but there you go.

The police decided to pull Swann over for driving an expensive German car in between the hours of midnight and daybreak, or so I imagine.

However Swann initially sped away but then pulled up at the side of the road, where he emerged from his vehicle brandishing a screwdriver and yelling “It’s not for what you think!”

The arresting officer claimed that Swann’s speech was “slightly slurred”.

Swann however had a ready explanation for his slightly odd behaviour.

Having returned home by taxi from a night out with friends he discovered the builders, who had been carrying out work for him during the day, had inadvertently managed to trap one of his cats under the floorboards.

So far so good, as a cat owner I know these things can happen, our plumber managed to trap one of our cats under the floorboards when he was fitting the gas pipes.

Swann looked desperately for a screwdriver to loosen the board and retrieve the cat, but funnily couldn’t find one in his own home. Perhaps the dog ate it?

So thinking on his feet he jumped into his car and high-tailed it to Asda, purchased his screwdriver and was on his way home to release the cat when spotted by plod.

The police did check the veracity of this story.

However they still decided to book him for having slightly slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and a blood alcohol level of just 3mg over the limit.

I wonder how many burglars were carting off the family silver in how many houses whilst plod was persuing this one?

Jerk Marinade… First Catch Your Cat

Sometimes you read a story and your mind boggles at the information not given.
So it was when I read of the driver charged with animal cruelty after he was stopped by police and found to have a live cat marinating in oil, peppers and chilli in the boot of his car.


Was the boot of the car full of the marinade?

Or was the marinade in a container?

If so how was the cat kept in it?

Perhaps the marinade was in a large tupperware box?

With the lid on?

Then how come the cat was still alive, it should have either suffocated or drowned.

We did get an answer as to why the man had a live cat in a marinade in his boot though, as I’m sure you’ll all be relieved to know.

He was going to cook the cat and eat it as it was bad tempered.

However he didn’t say whether it was bad tempered before he put it in the boot of his car in a marinade of oil, chilli and red peppers.

Din Don Din, Pussy’s In The Bin

At 4:30 am No One Can Hear You Scream

Once upom a time we had a cat who was a brilliant mouser. Now we have cats who are brilliant at bringing mice into the house, but as with all today’s youngsters, they get bored and abandon their playthings after a few minutes and wander off to do something else, lie in the sun, have a bit of a clean up, go out into the newly harvested field to find a small rodent to play with…
Came downstairs this morning, 4.30am.
L.C., the youngest cat, was sitting on the dining room table staring intently up at the right hand end of the curtain pole.
In the gloom from the landing light I studied the pole. Couldn’t see anything, I glanced along it’s length. There at the left hand end of the pole sat a small mouse.
“You are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard,” I admonished the cat. Then I picked him up and held him up to the curtain rail.
Whereupon he deftly extended one paw and flicked the terrified mouse off the rail.
Right onto my head…
At 4.30am no-one can hear you scream…

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