Inspired by a visit to St Katherine’s Dock
20 August 1999
PART 1 (Me)
A beautiful white little pussycat
With a comical flat little face
Once found he’d been bought
By a very rich sort
Who lived in a pretty cool place.
It was right by a City marina
Where the key-words were money and boats
With buildings of glass
Making statements of class
And each yacht like a palace that floats.
Now the beautiful white little pussycat
(With his eyes of magnificent blue)
Was pampered like mad
And so found that he had
Lots of time without too much to do.
He would stroll down the steps of his mansion
And sit half asleep in the sun
And occasionally stir
From inspecting his fur
To seduce a few tourists for fun.
“Oh look, what a sweet little pussy!”
“Oh look at his soft fluffy tail!”
Rub up to a shin
(Oh so soft on their skin)
And his ears would get scratched without fail.
Then regularly in the mornings
And sometimes again after tea
He’d walk round the docks
And across both the locks
Making sure all was as it should be.
The blue boat was there as expected
The red barge was still in its place;
Nothing had moved
Which he hadn’t approved,
So he strolled on with dignified pace.
A snack from the riverside cafe,
A check on his friends at the pub;
Just purr and look pretty
And sweet little kitty
Was sure to be offered some grub.
But then came the day he discovered
That something appeared to have changed.
He rapidly noted
That all things that floated
Had been seriously rearranged.
What was the cause of this outrage?
A huge pleasure craft was moored there.
Half speedboat, half liner,
It couldn’t be finer –
The plaything of a billionaire.
Such grandeur, such style, such refinement,
Our pussy had not seen before.
The charming young kitten
Was seriously smitten
And decided he had to explore.
He sat and observed from the jetty
The owners head off in posh cars.
While bodyguards fussed
The tourists discussed
Who they were – royalty or pop stars?
PART 2 (My sister)
The beautiful white little pussycat
Awoke with a start from a nap
This seemed very strange
His fine bed rearranged?
No! – a deck that moved down and then up!!
And memory flooded back to him
Of a choice that with hindsight seemed rash
Of the need to explore
The craft moored to the shore
With a leap at the end of a dash!
He’d slithered on polished fine whiteness
Then gone down below for a look
Explored plush decor
Then wandered some more
His nose into every nook.
Enthralled by the luscious surroundings
He’d paid no attention at all
When engines did thrum
(Expense makes small hum)
And the craft sailed off into a squall.
And now the boat tossed as it travelled
And his ears and his tail stood up straight
He flew to the stern
But to his great concern
He saw that he’d left it too late!
At first he was seized with a panic.
Oh what would become of him now?
His pampered existence
Receding in distance
He signalled distress with a meow!
But then a strange thought crossed his cat mind,
As Tower Bridge passed overhead
This may be quite fright’ning
But could be exciting!
He might see the wide world instead!
So the beautiful white little pussycat
Placed his fate at the whim of the tide
Hailed ‘London farewell,
Where I go who can tell’
And snuk into a cabin to hide.
Head resting on paws he grew sleepy
He dreamed of adventures to come
Of exotic climes
And exciting times;
A world traveller he would become.
Cat lore told of feline adventures
He’d not be the first to do that.
Hadn’t there once been mince
And slices of quince
Shared at sea in a boat by a cat?
And now he was newly awakened
Refreshed and all set to explore
His nose sniffed sea air
And he went up to stare
As the bow broke the waves with a roar.
The sea-going puss became hungry
On air he’d not stay sleek and fat
He’d just turned to look
And seek out the cook – when
‘Hey look!’ cried a voice ‘There’s a cat!’
PART 3 (Me)
A security guard was approaching,
Soon followed by more of the crew.
Now he was surrounded
By faces astounded –
It was time to decide what to do.
Stowaway, vermin and health-hazard
Were the words that insulted his ears.
Threatened by harm
He would need all the charm
That had set him apart from his peers.
He meowed and he purred with such coyness,
A performance like never before.
I’m too cute, he implied,
To be thrown off the side –
Please keep me until we reach shore.
He was melting their hearts, he was certain,
When fortune turned up to assist.
A sweet little girl
Ran up in a whirl
And he found himself scooped up and kissed.
“Papa, oh papa,” cried the darling
“Oh please let me keep him! Say yes!”
“Of course, dear, whatever,”
Said Daddy, who never
Refused his spoilt daughter’s request.
So the cat once more became pampered,
Fussed over, praised and adored.
From vermin promoted
To pet, on whom doted
Every last person on board.
Relaxed on a luxury cruiser,
In permanent holiday mood.
He’d really struck lucky,
Because he’d been plucky,
Especially when it came to food!
He ate at the little girl’s table,
From a priceless, antique silver dish.
Morsels of steak
Polished off with cream cake,
And of course a wide range of fresh fish.
When they stopped off at foreign locations,
Like Marseille and Rome and Cairo,
On a tour of the City
The precious white kitty
Would almost always get to go.
Churches and ruins and monuments,
Palaces crafted for kings.
Statues and fountains,
And beaches and mountains,
He saw and enjoyed all these things.
But the morning soon dawned when it happened
That fate chose to step in once more.
For this rather spoilt cat
There was no question that
A little surprise was in store.
They were moored by a pretty Greek island,
One of the Dodecanese.
A beautiful spot,
It was gloriously hot,
And surrounded by sparkling blue seas.
The yacht-set had all just been swimming,
And in truth he was tired of their talk.
Gossip and prattle,
And rude tittle-tattle;
He decided he’d go for a walk.
He leaped from the boat to a jetty,
From the jetty strolled onto the sand;
On into the town,
Where he paced up and down,
Surveying the lie of the land.
Then all of a sudden – he saw her,
Peering out round a blue and white wall.
Her ears pricked up high
And a look in her eye
That he couldn’t quite fathom at all.
She was sleek, almost scrawny, and ginger
A typical Greek island cat.
In the golden sunlight
It was love at first sight,
There was no doubt at all about that.
To his pleasure she took a step forward,
Bold, but a little unsure.
And then she spoke out
With a passionate shout,
And such words as he’d not heard before.
“I knew that you’d come, I was certain!
I wished and I hoped and I prayed!
I’ve tried to take charge
But the group is so large,
We need somebody who’ll be obeyed.
The seabirds foretold of your coming,
They told me, your leader draws near.
The donkeys all knew;
They were right, and it’s true!
The one who will save us is here!
Will you come with me to where we’re hiding,
Will you follow me up to our hill?
We’re in such a mess,
I’m a maid in distress,
Will you help us, oh cat? Say you will!”
Well, the beautiful white little pussycat,
Who was really quite proud and quite brave,
Said “Dear lady, okay,
I will come, lead the way.
Adventure is all that I crave!”
PART 4 (My sister) 2015
The way led through narrow old alleys,
That twisted in shade through the town.
Then up steep parched grasses,
So high he could scarcely look down.
He followed her up to the hilltop,
Where stones leaned in an old cemetery.
Then she fin’ly did stop,
And lay down with a flop,
In the shade of a gnarled olive tree.
And around them from every shadow,
Having hidden just out of sight,
Came animals galore,
Then more, more and more,
Creeping forth through the harsh island light.
There were all sorts of bedraggled creatures,
Cats, dogs, of every size.
Thin, old, sick or lame,
The one thing the same,
Was the look of despair in their eyes.
He didn’t know what they all wanted,
Was puzzled by talk of foresight,
And locked by their gaze,
Through the hot island haze,
Felt doubt he could help with their plight.
He glanced at his new love with fondness.
He wanted to help if he could.
She’d enchanted him fast,
He was hers to the last!
He yearned to impress; to do good.
Then the beautiful white little pussycat,
Who from princes had surely been bred,
Resolved in his soul,
To make helping his goal,
And he raised up his proud, regal head.
“What is it that ails you?” he questioned,
“What is it that has been foreseen?
If I’m able I’ll do
What I can to help you.
I’ll be your king if she’ll be my queen!”
With one voice they cried out and responded,
“It’s water we lack, we’ve great thirst.
This island is dry,
Slight rain falls from the sky.
And humans and crops they come first!”
“The omens they told of great dryness
Of animals parched ‘neath the sun.
Of a cat of white beauty,
Who’d sail, do his duty.
Get us water!” they begged, “you’re the one!”
The puss was awed at the challenge.
He couldn’t bring rain from the sky!
The journey’d been distant
The fates not resistant…
It was here that his destiny’d lie.
White puss racked his brains at the problem.
To salvation the group must be led.
An idea burst forth in his head.
PART 5 (Me) 2015
The beautiful white little pussycat
(Who right now was a little less white)
Told the animals to wait
While he investigate
A possible end to their plight.
He’d thought of the spoilt girl who loved him
And whose Daddy was loaded with cash.
There must be a way
To get him save the day
By parting with some of his stash.
So the cat set off fast to the harbour
Where the summer sun glistened and shone,
But when he got there
He could only stare
For the yacht and its saviour had gone!
They’d left him behind! What of friendship?!
And loyalty?! No thought of that!
His plot was now thwarted,
His mission aborted.
So much for the plans of a cat!
Turning back from the marina,
More than a little perplexed,
He sat in the shade
Feeling very dismayed
And wondering what to do next.
A stroll through a restaurant kitchen
Yielded an adequate feed,
Then he wandered around
With his ear to the ground,
Hoping for some sort of lead.
He eavesdropped on tourists and workmen,
He snooped round the local Town Hall.
He had a look-see
Through an office or three,
But found nothing useful at all.
Eventually he struck lucky,
With a bookshop which (after a nap)
He happened to pass
And there, stuck on the glass,
Was an old archaeological map.
He sat himself down by the window
And studied the sheet with great care.
It seemed to his mind
He might just maybe find
A secret or two hidden there.
Retreating back up to the hillside,
He thought hard about what he had seen…
…While the sky grew more black,
…While he ate one more snack,
…While he patiently licked himself clean.
Next morning, with fresh poise and vigour
He returned to his animal clan.
They meowed and they brayed,
They barked and they neighed,
“Can you save us? Please say that you can.”
He leapt on a rock, a true leader.
He puffed out his chest, full of pride.
“You must all follow me!
For there’s something to see.
Come now, and stay close to my side.”
So they followed him out of the valleys,
They followed him over the hills;
Along roads, around towns,
Over bridges, through downs,
Across plains that were dotted with mills.
Till they came at long last to an area
They had none of them been to before.
They were worried and sad.
Had their leader gone mad?
They wondered what was in store.
Looking around at the landmarks,
Was one quite excited white kitty!
Oh yes, it was clear,
That all around here,
Lay the ruins of an old human city.
“Look there,” said the cat to his minions,
Pointing out a large sunken dell.
“In this ancient spot,
By that big broken pot,
Is a deep and forgotten old well.”
“Dig now, I entreat you, my comrades,
As fast as you can, and dig deep.”
The dogs gave a yelp
And the cats ran to help
And the earth soon built up in a heap.
They dug till their paws were all blistered,
They dug down with all of their might.
Then – a trickle, a gush,
A gurgle, a rush,
And fresh water sprang up into sight!
The animals cheered in elation,
The pussycat sighed with relief.
There’d been so much at stake
But now, with this new lake,
They were all happy with their new chief.
“You’ve done it,” said Queenie, “you’ve saved us!
Now we’ll never be thirsty, I think.
We will all spread the word
Till all creatures have heard,
They can always come here for a drink.”
For some weeks King Cat roamed his kingdom,
Enjoying the taste of success.
The new watercourse
Was a brilliant resource
For the whole of the island, no less.
But one day there sailed into the harbour
An interesting, seagoing ship,
And he found that his thoughts
Turned to faraway ports;
A big part of him yearned for a trip.
The Queen Cat stood proudly beside him,
Exuding a nice healthy glow.
“It’s alright,” she said,
Rubbing up to his head,
“I knew that one day you would go.”
So the beautiful white little pussycat,
Left his throne and the island behind.
Said his goodbyes
While turning his eyes
To the future, and what he might find.
Of course he would often remember
The Greek cat with whom he’d been smitten.
And he would’ve been glad
If he’d known that he had
More than one quite delightful white kitten!