When I was about seven I had
a black and white cat named ‘Horse’.
Named after Footrot Flats, it had the
inverse colours – actual black’n’white
rather than white and black and it
had the complete opposite personality too.
But that didn’t matter. I loved that comic
strip and the cat’s name was going to be Horse,
A lovely cat. Friendly. Wonderful. My first
real pet. (We had a dog for a bit before that
but it was my brother’s – and when he realised
he was no pet owner at all my folks organized
to re-home it).
One night there was a huge party up our street,
cars everywhere – and the cat never
made it home.
The next day we got a call to say that the
cat had been hit and the driver had delivered
it to the vet.
They’d kept it alive on a drip. A very expensive
I found out at cricket later that morning. My mum
came down to give me the news.
They had decided that really we would need
to get the cat put down – put to sleep. No pain.
Just a long rest. Because the alternative was
an operation where there’d be plastic discs and
new (fake) joints and pins and rods and most of
it didn’t really mean a lot to me at seven – but I could
guess that it sounded severe.
There was no real chance of a smooth ride – it was possible
she’d die anyway or be in pain. So my folks
had decided she needed to have the big sleep. And they were
telling me in that way where they wanted me to feel
like I was making the decision; being guided without
really knowing I was being guided.
(I think I knew).
I picked up my bat and headed out to the middle of
the pitch. I whispered to myself that I was off
to hit a six – for Horse. For the cat. The fucking cat,
about to be put to rest, was going to get a six hit for it.
I was out first bowl.
Swing and a miss.
Went home. Read some Footrot Flats.
Had a little cry.
Got told to harden up.
And so gave that a go.