The Cat’s Mother’s affair with JRR Tolkien’s Gandalf began in 1976, at school. Her class teacher read the story aloud, to the English class; she recalls listening, rapt, to every last syllable of Bilbo Baggins’ travails. To the then thirteen-year-old, yet-to-be Cat’s Mother, Gandalf’s presence was significant and omnipresent; other characters, she confesses, faded into obscurity, so much so, she had to be reminded by Belladonna Took that she is Bilbo’s mum.
The Cat’s Mothers feline fanaticism is not a secret, but when Menagerie Mum discovered that one of her rescues was expecting, the Cat’s Mother was resolved not to be tempted. Magic Melon and Princess Pearli had no need for an interloper to upset the recently established equilibrium. Melon had not long recovered her sense of humour and “forgiven” The Cat’s Mother for Pearli, and before her, Rosie.
As the birth approached, The Cat’s Mother was kept informed and was duly advised on Saturday, 15 October 2016, that the fecund feline had produced four kittens: before midnight, three black, and in the early hours of the following morning, a single little grey and white male. The Cat’s Mother instantly dubbed the grey, “Gandalf”, telling Menagerie Mum that it was a good thing that this feline birth had taken place some 1,000km from McGregor….
Four days later, The Cats’ Mother was in Jozi to work with Menagerie Mum and was taken to view the squirming new arrivals. The little grey might have been born last, but he was already assertive, letting all the world know that he was going to be in charge.
The Cat’s Mother returned home, still resolved not to have a wizard in the house, but Menagerie Mum had other ideas and orchestrated a seduction designed to melt The Cat’s Father’s Heart.
The Cat’s Mother was less subtle: “You know, it might not be such a bad idea to have a male cat in the house.”
“It could help with Monster Cat.” End of discussion.
For a while, anyway.
Gradually, and over the next few weeks and a month, the discussion continued; Menagerie Mum’s machinations continued. Stories, videos and pictures of kittens – mostly a little grey and white one.
The name had stuck. Then one day, The Cat’s Father’s resolve broke and The Cat’s Mother excitedly broke the news to Menagerie Mum: Gandalf was, indeed, needed to cast a cloak around The Sandbag House, to protect Princess Pearli and Magic Melon from Monster Cat.
Eventually, on 19 December, Gandalf was on his way – under the watchful eye of Menagerie Mum’s Second Born.
It’s a long trip from Jozi to McGregor, necessitating an overnight stop before The Cats’ Mother and Father would collect Gandalf at the set rendezvous so that Menagerie Mum and family could continue their journey to Cape Town.
Gandalf wasn’t overly phased by his long journey home and arrived wearing with the largest, smallest bell-adorned collar to be had, added to which was is identity disc. He instantly began exploring. When he wasn’t exploring, he had to be with The Cat’s Mother – even when she was in the kitchen – so her apron became a papoose and Gandalf, a joey.
Gandalf arrived just five weeks ago. What a time it has been. He has certainly cast a spell over The Sandbag House. Princess Pearli left home and took up residence with lovely neighbours and their guests. Melon made herself very scarce and found cool nests somewhere in the depths of the garden, staring the wannabe wizard down – from a distance.
Gandalf had begun weaving his “magic”.
And this was just for starters. By the time Menagerie Mum and the boys returned a week later, to spend some time at The Sandbag House, the usually relatively tidy space had been turned into a tip. “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you had a toddler in the house!” she exclaimed.
Not far wrong, she was. Gandalf plays with his food and then takes great glee in helping to sweep up the mess!
As a young woman, the Cat’s Mother graduated to Lord of the Rings and has read and re-read all the books more times than she can recall. Strangely, she has none of them on the bookshelf, something she should remedy, particularly as there is now a “real” Gandalf in the house; and Lord of the Rings is overdue for a read.
More tales to follow, including Gandalf’s fondness for tea.