Being AWOL

We have three cats. Bagheera (Bags), Gin and Tonic.

It’s been many months since we last saw Bags. He disappeared over the allotments one day and found the stash of birds, rats, mice and other tasty vermin there far tastier than the dried food he received from this quarter. He became the rodent killer of the crop-plots with the resident Bill Sowerbutts and Professor Alan Gemmell from Ashton-Under-Lyne styled horticulturalists, loving him for his services rendered to their mini veg gardens. They even renamed him Stumpy. 

From historical perspective, animals living with us tend to have ailments. Not through any intended misdemeanours on our part I hasten to add, but from their own accidental and unfortunate natures. Removal of his aforementioned tail has done nothing to curtail his abilities in climbing trees to raid bird nests or dull his penchant for exterminating the creatures that inhabit holes and burrows in railway embankments that border allotments adjacent to the station.

This isn’t to say that he didn’t always have a wandering spirit, because he did. As the train station was less than five hundred yards from our house, he would cross the main road, negotiating the thundering busses with an air of disdainful nonchalance, to the pavement on the far side where school children would pass on their way to catch the morning train. He would then proceed to walk in front of groups of them, flopping down to have his tummy rubbed. When he’d had enough of that group, he would wander back down the road until the next group of children passed by and perform the same routine all over again. Tart!

So Bagheera is long gone to the sidings and allotment sheds over the road. Long may his new-found heaven last as his glossy coat and supple body prove he is exactly where he wants to be in life. He no longer comes home, even for a short visit and I guess as time has passed, he has forgotten how he was rescued and given safe lodging when he was tiny and scared. He has grown in self-confidence and matured into a well-developed creature with a very particular skill set. He will find, and he will kill.

Moving swiftly and inexorably on, to discuss Gin and Tonic. Quite frankly, I don’t mind if I do. The sun is past the yardarm somewhere in the world so bear with me as I pour a cheeky glass. A straight glass might I add. None of this balloon or bowl type with fruit and umbrellas floating about like flotsam jetsam in gay abandon. No, it is the straight, tall glass for me, thanking you kindly, kindly thanking you sir.

Back to *sip* Gin & Tonic *sip*.

Rescued from living in a garage, we house trained these two creatures to not do their business wherever they happened to be standing at any given point. They caused no end of grief when first with us as they had no idea how to cope, living in a house with people. Although they were sisters, they each had very different characters. Neither was what you would call a lap cat. Admittedly Gin was the more homely (in the English meaning of the word) cat, but Tonic was definitely on the cat disturbed spectrum! “Don’t be looking at me, don’t be touching me, don’t even recognise my presence. I am not here. Ever. Full stop.” Tonic would stalk about, not giving any eye contact, but occasionally looking at you as if she was working out how to kill you and eat you for her next meal “with some fava beans and a nice Chianti!” 

Both Gin and Tonic have left for pastures new. Time will alone dictate as to whether they ever come back and stay. They reside, at this present moment, in a neighbour’s house, two roads over where they are fed moist cat food and allowed to sleep on the beds. Evidently we were not treating them in the style they wished to be accustomed to and they both high-tailed it to a far superior establishment without even a backward glance.

So all three cats have deserted us. Gone AWOL. Gone in search of their heaven. When we leave for France, I’m unsure of whether they will be on board, or turn their collective noses up at the very thought of travelling with us to another country. Who knows? 

Our three cats have dreams that outstrip what we can give them. Just as our three children are following their dreams and leaving us, as they should, to go in search of their slice of heaven, we too will soon be off to our little farm in France and, whilst recognising that the grass is not always greener on the other side, without having dreams, what is life? 

If life is to be a never-ending journey of discovery and self-discovery, then we’d better get started. It’s never too late to learn new tricks and explore this wonderful opportunity of life that we have been given. 

Even for those of us who aren’t as mobile as what we once were, there are still places to explore through computer technology, film and television. 

Today is too soon to hang up our boots. Strap up your metaphorical laces, follow in the steps of our three pussies and let your mind travel the world and the seven seas.

Some of us will have found what we are looking for, others will still be looking. It is all part of Life’s Rich Tapestry in that we are all creatures of self-betterment, aspiring to something great and then proving we can achieve it. 

Bagheera, Gin & Tonic aren’t so much Absent Without Official Leave, as Absent With Official Leave. 

Go, be free. Follow your dreams. Be the best and most amazing version of yourself that you can achieve.

Carry on Regardless!


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