When I was little I used to go to call for Mario after I’d had my tea. Mario’s family were Italian and ran a guest house and he was never ready as they were always having a big proper mamma-mia Italiano dinner that could go on for hours. I usually had instant mashed potato and crisps so that took me two minutes and then I’d walk to Mario’s and I would sit in the guest lounge and watch TV while they ate and fought and danced and loved.
One day I’d had my tea – probably Smash and tinned meatballs – and I was walking to Mario’s which meant going down a hill and then up a hill. At the bottom of the hill I saw a kitten in a car park. I did this walk everyday and I had never seen the kitten there before. You know? Or any kitten there. I registered it. It was out of place. I thought, that’s unusual, a kitten in a car park.
I got to Mario’s and of course he was only on his third course so I went to watch telly. They used to have lost animal bulletins on Channel TV and whadayaknow! Fucking lost cat, small and black and lost from Beaumont which is less than a mile from where I’d seen the cat. A reward was offered. I became super excited and waiting for Mario to finish eating whatever the fuck it is those people eat was Hell.
Eventually he did finish and we set off. He didn’t believe me but the fucking cat was still where I’d seen it! It was all too good to be true. We captured the kitten and I had it under my jacket while it tried to kill me and we went to a phone-box to phone up Channel TV. They told us that an old woman owned the kitty and gave us the cat’s home address and we set off across the beach. As I’ve said it wasn’t far but it was far enough for us to begin to dream.
As the woman was old we decided she almost certainly had a classic car collection in her garage and all things being equal it was impossible that we wouldn’t be given one. Me and Mario were car nuts at the time, even though we were probably only ten or eleven. It was definitely going to be a car. It was obvious. Or at the very least a great big pot of cash – enough with which to buy a car. That walk across the beach to Beaumont was just the best even with the cat scratching the fuck out of me.
We found the house and the woman was indeed old and she invited us in all delighted to see her cat but then she immediately launched in some spiel about how she wasn’t a rich woman so that was an anticlimax. It was pretty much the first thing she said. She didn’t even have a garage. She had wasted her life. She explained that she only got £40 a week. “Oh,” I guess we said. We weren’t bartering or anything – we were kids, she could have just kicked us out but she must have mistook our expressionless faces for a tactic and in the end she gave us £40 which was a fucking load of money to us in those days. More useful than a car. We were made up. We got the bus to Funland and spent the lot on Pole Position and chips.
The next morning I was lying in bed listening to the radio when the DJ says something like, “here’s a funny story, yesterday a woman had lost her cat and after seeing an advert two young lads returned it to her and collected their reward and the woman was feeding the cat when her own cat walked in, so if anybody’s missing a cat contact…” I didn’t think about returning the reward – it had gone for one thing – and when I told Mario about the radio he laughed like a drain.
Anyway, the point is that whole cat thing actually worked out pretty well even though that woman wasn’t even rich. Gertrude the Whore is rich, I’ve seen her house. She does have a garage and it’s probably rammed with rare cars – what else could be in there? – but as she’s a woman she doesn’t even know what she’s sitting on. She won’t be in for more cat-food for a couple of days yet though and that gives me time to plan.