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Bonzer Words!: A Catastrophe

Before our marriage, we agreed that while there might well be plenty of children (we finished up with seven which, I must admit, were a few more than we had in mind) there would definitely be NO CATS...

Tony Kearney tells a tale of acute embarrassment.

Tony writes for Bonzer! magazine. Please visit www.bonzer.org.au

I have no recollection of consorting with cats during my childhood days. Cows, pigs, horses, hens and dogs, yes. Cats—no.

That is not to say that we did not have any. It is quite possible that there were some slinking about on our property, tormenting and then killing innocent and peace-loving little rats and mice. If there were, I took no notice of them.

My wife informs me that her family had a cat and a dog and that I must have seen the cat during our courting days. I have to say quite categorically that I remember the dog (a pip-squeak named Flossie which I occasionally bathed) but have no memory whatever of any cat.

Before our marriage, we agreed that while there might well be plenty of children (we finished up with seven which, I must admit, were a few more than we had in mind) there would definitely be NO CATS.

Indeed, so insistent was I about the matter that I prevailed on her to include in her marriage vows after the words, "I promise to love, honour and obey", the words, "and not have any cats in the house."

At that stage, my-wife-to-be was most anxious to obey my every order and to satisfy my every whim. I need hardly say that this happy state of affairs did not last very long.

In the early fifties, we were living at Rose Bay, a new suburb on the Eastern Shore, in which we were among the pioneer settlers.

I arrived home one evening to discover my wife, who was seven months pregnant on this occasion, almost hysterical. The lady next door had presented us with a female cat without giving her any warning or chance of refusal.

My reaction was swift and decisive. We were going to the pictures in the city that night and I put the cat in a bag with the intention of releasing it on the other side of the Tasman Bridge where I knew that, female cats being in the minority, it would be welcomed with open arms (and that is a euphemistic way of putting it) by the numerous tomcats which inhabited the area.

As I drove the car out, there to my horror I saw the lady, obviously waiting for a bus to take her into town. Being a gentleman, I had no option but to offer her a lift. So I had two passengers in the back of the car, which, for the record, was a 1938 Ford V8.

Our journey proceeded smoothly for about two minutes. Then the lady moved her feet and, in so doing, stepped on the unfortunate animal. It let forth a blood-curdling screech. "My God, what's that?" she asked. "Oh, it's only a cat," I replied with as much aplomb as I could muster in the circumstances.

A deafening silence filled the car and the lady never spoke to us again. Fortunately we left the Eastern Shore shortly afterwards.

I am sure that the cat had a better time consorting with the toms on the Domain than she would have had if she had remained with us.


© Tony Kearney

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