Saturday on the Couch – A tale of cats and dogs

May I pass a couple of names by you? TS Eliot. John Galsworthy. If it’s OK, I’ll offer a few

May I pass a couple of names by you?
TS Eliot.
John Galsworthy.

If it’s OK, I’ll offer a few words of my own before I leave you in their good care. I make no claim, as does one current US Presidential candidate, to having “good words” so I’m more than happy to hand over to a couple of old masters who most certainly do.

I include these photographs of two ‘furever’ friends, our last cat Tess and our last dog Mitsi. Many of us have favourite pets. I must admit to being more a dog person than cat but as soon as I say that, Tess the ginger cat became my closest home companion as I was losing my wife.

SOC4Dog  Tess, Posing

You see, Mitsi the Japanese Spitz was very much my wife’s girl. I was accepted while ever I fed her and stripped her coat (although this was often a matter of discussion as to wants and needs).

Tess tailed me wherever I went and engaged in my every activity. I’d go to my shed to my seedraising area to take out, say, a tray of brassicas. Entering the door, a ginger flash would race past and take up position on the bench. Before I chose the appropriate tray, she’d bounce up onto my shoulders and begin her personal rendition of a broken motorboat – loud, and in my ear.

Thus serenaded, I’d head out to the nice friable garden bed she helped prepare the previous afternoon. Poking a hole in the soil, then squeezing a seedling from the tray and putting it in the hole, I’d ask, “Right spot?” If I got a sharp “Meow!” I knew to prod another hole and place it there. “All right?” A continuing purr (or the excuse for one), and I could go on planting. We had great success in our garden, Tess and I!

Which is all by way of introduction. I love animals, but am not alone in that.

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in 1888, three-times great-grandson of Andrew Elliott (yes, different spelling), one of the jurymen in the Salem Witch trials. Eliot had many cats in his life. He wrote a volume of nonsense verse about felines that became the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats. I almost used The Naming of Cats but changed my mind (you can always check it out for yourself).

This, then, is the link to Eliot’s whimsical poem, Macavity, the Mystery Cat. I hope you enjoy it.

A hundred years ago, over a 15-year period, John Galsworthy wrote three novels and two interludes commonly referred to as The Forsyte Saga. A barrister and member of the British upper class, the work was imaginative, taking an almost capricious look at his own people. Although whimsical in character, the books were brilliantly written and some of the most entertaining major works of all time. I’ve read them three times over sixty years.

Maintaining my link to pets, Galsworthy’s passage from the first book, The Man Of Property, describing the death of a dog, a loved family member for eighteen years, contains some of the most beautiful prose ever written on the subject.

(NB – Please ensure you have a full box of tissues close by as you read this.)

The complete story can be read here.


Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T S  by TS Eliot and The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy are both available from Dymocks.