I have noticed for some time now a wee black and white cat sitting as it does at the rear wheels of a small white car. The car, which never seems to move, is located in a little car park adjacent to sheltered housing, just down the road from me. I, nor any of her admires – she has many – has any idea where she lives, though I sometimes spot a women looking furtively out through half-closed blinds in the sheltered housing complex and wonder what part she might play in the mystery. I have even given some consideration to the car actually belonging to the cat.
I thought that she was my discovery, however, when visiting the bottle bank adjacent to the car park to deposit the week's spoils, I noticed a couple walking toward me and the woman furtively glancing in the direction of the car. 'Is it the cat you are looking for?' I asked. She nodded with a worried look saying she hoped, though absent, what I now realised was 'our' wee cat, was okay. Right on cue, our object of affection strolled out from her observation post under the back wheel arch. 'Aw', we exclaimed in unison. This is no ordinary cat. I have since learned that she actually pursues people walking past, inviting and sometimes even forcing them to give her attention and play with her. I challenge anyone to resist.
Another theory I have about her permanent station adjacent to or under the wheels of the small white car is that she is looking after it for the owner. You know, like when you (used to) go to the football and park in a nearby housing scheme, and no sooner had you pulled up, the weans would be at your window with the familiar 'can ah watch your car mister?' To which the definitive (and sensible) response was, 'Aye, ah'll see ye after the gemme', and on that phrase the deal would be struck.
With the likelihood of the new football season seeing the return of fans to stadia, I have been thinking of developing an app designed to put the car user in touch with the watcher in a convenient manner, cutting out the uncertainty around availability of space and the inconvenience of having to drive around all the local schemes to find a place to park. I think this one has legs and could be scalable across Scottish football and beyond.
So, the cat. An undoubted wee princess, she remains an enigma to her followers and admirers. We don't know exactly where she lives and I have now spoken to a number of people with one theory or another, however, none have proved definitive. There is no doubt whatsoever that she is the boss of the car park, which she patrols with authority and if she wants your attention, well... In the absence of a name, I call her 'the wee cat that sits guarding the small white car, in the car park adjacent to the sheltered housing'. A mouthful, I know, but definitely well-earned.
The wee swamp is functional if, perhaps, somewhat lacking in elegance behind the sturdy, ancient walls. It functions as a sanctuary, enfolding in its simple embrace the thin veneer of civilised behaviour. The only other adult creature is the cat, and I know my place.
Elsewhere, the veneer is in tatters. But here in the wee swamp, sanctuary translates in practical terms into various freedoms, modest in scale and character but real for all that.
Freedom to turn on the telly and listen to an aid worker in Eritrea explaining that they are now taking food from the hungry and giving it to the starving. Free, also, to marvel at the children of the Recycle Orchestra, too poor to live anywhere except on an enormous rubbish tip in Paraguay, happy to play violins and cellos made from oil drums. (Meanwhile the avocados freighted in from Paraguay are staying cool and fresh in the fridge.)
Free, always, to recognise buccaneering mendacity when it presents itself with much fanfare and elbow bashing; narrow self-interest made no less vulgar for being trumpeted, with no irony intended, as progress towards a better world. Green!
Not so the black convoy of 12 SUVs navigating the narrow lanes of Carbis Bay, the helicopters and Navy ships, the cruise liner dieseled in from the Baltic to make sure 1,000 police lacked nothing in the way of comfort.
Other freedoms are curtailed while the delta virus seems not to be curtailed and the misdemeanours of our rule-makers flourish unabated.
Free to turn off the telly, coorie down behind the sturdy walls and contemplate our freedoms, what they cost, and who bears the true cost.
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