Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Neverending Story and the Family Cat

Meet Prezzioso.  

Not the greatest photo in the world, but I couldn't get him to sit still!  What's the old saying?  Never work with children or animals?  Well.  It is funny how cats know that you're taking their photo - or are at least up to SOMETHING - they certainly get agitated when the iPad goes up.  Of all the cats whose photo I have taken (and I have taken a lot, which qualifies me to be a mad cat person according to a recent Facebook quiz I took), not one has reacted positively, or even ambivilently.  Prezzioso was mid-tail lash in this shot, which is a fairly typical reaction - they just KNOW.  

Anyway, I digress. 

Prezzioso is New Cat Friend #3, following Billy's demise last summer.  He belongs to my landlady, who is crazy about animals in general - we have three cats, two dogs, three sheep and an as-yet uncounted number of chickens.  After Billy died, Prezzioso, his mother Babar and the crazy, autistic runt of the litter Mia, slowly started adding my little flat to their territory, and regular visits from all of them now ensue.  I've discovered that Babar really likes diced bacon, Prezzioso has a really weird thing about sitting on my digital keyboard, and Mia can't be trusted not to make really disgusting messes in hard-to-reach places if left unattended.  They're all wonderful in their own way, even Mia, and I'm always happy to see them.  

Prezzioso is a bit of an adventurer, spends most of his time outside and has only recently started visiting (hence his status as #3).  He's a very beautiful cat as you can see, and has a couple of features that are quite unique.  First is his eyes, the lines either side of them that look like eye-liner and give him quite an Asian appearance.  Second is that he has a mane!  I don't know whether it carries any significance for domestic cats, but it puffs up as proudly as any lion's.  It's not the greatest angle there, but you can see it in the picture.  

Anyway, this afternoon I was getting ready to go to a rehearsal and I was drinking a cup of tea in the kitchen.  Prezzioso was sitting almost exactly where he is in the photo, and I was spoiling him as usual - scratching the back of his neck where he likes it, and stroking around his face and throat.  At one point he turned his head to look right at me and sort of blissed out - he shut his eyes really slowly, and together with the fact that he's got a square-ish sort of jaw, in that instant he looked for all the world like a puppet.  Not just any puppet though - a muppet, or something a bit Jim Henson-ish.  

..... Hang on.  What was the name of that ..... thing from the Neverending Story?  The big, white salamander ..... thing.  *Frantic Wikipedia search*.  Falkor the Luck Dragon!  Omigosh, that takes me back.  *More Wikipedia searching*  Wait - The Neverending Story was a BOOK?  And a GERMAN book at that?  Clearly no-one gave me that memo when I was seven.  It was around the age of seven or so that my big reading stage kicked in as well, I used to read more than my mother could give me.  I was right into fantasy fiction too, although that was a habit that actually ultimately spelt the end of my reading stage because I got myself into a rut with it, and there's an awwwwwwful lot of crap in that genre.  Either way though, had I have known about The Neverending Story I would have absolutely devoured it.  It's great to find out about it now though, and particularly to find that it's by a really prominent German author not long after I've moved here, it'll be great to read it.  It can't get on my bookshelf fast enough, frankly.  

Did that movie freak you out when you were a kid?  It certainly did me!  All that metaphysical stuff with bad vibes destroying everything, swamps killing you if you get depressed and worlds being saved by bullied, nerdy kids reading books.  Agh!  I can remember leaving the cinema with my Mum and having a long, earnest conversation about the Nothing, what it was and what it meant.  Strangely enough, a fleeting moment with a cat this afternoon reminded me of all of that, and that strange mix of confusion and fascination that I felt as a small child.  It has stayed with me all day.  I can't be sure, but I think seeing that movie might have been one of the earlier moments when I contemplated the idea of something ..... other.  The idea that maybe we're not alone, or that there's ... MORE, somewhere, somehow, and that we dont - can't - really understand it.  There's not much about the world that a seven year-old kid really understands when it comes down to it, but I was a very serious, intense kid, so much so that I worried my mother no end - I'm sure seeing that with me didn't help things much!     

I often wonder about the road less travelled, and how lucky I am that I get the opportunity to re-visit this stuff.  I've had a reasonably productive day by my standards, and still I'm able to spend the time writing all this down.  There's no way I'd be able to do it if I was still a corporate, and/or with three kids and a mortgage to pay.  You win some and you lose some with lifestyle and career choices - but I do appreciate the opportunity to have a good THINK from time to time.  I'd be lost without it.  

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