“I Am a Cat”

Well, I’m not, as a matter of fact, a cat but I have recently been reading a book with that title by the Japanese author, Natsume S?seki, written at the turn of the Twentieth Century.

Originally published in ten instalments in the literary magazine Hototogisu between 1905 and 1906, I Am a Cat is a satire on upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era, portrayed through the eyes of an “unloved, unwanted, wandering kitten”. And it’s very amusing in a wry, philosophical sort of way; easy to dip into and with a storyline that’s more a string of anecdotes and observations than a rigid narrative structure.

I’m enjoying it; the observations on the superiority of cats over humans are really quite droll, especially if you know even a little of how cats behave; and with it tonight I’m also enjoying some 2000 Long Yuan Hao Yi Wu Mountain raw puerh that I got as a sample from Yunnan Sourcing. Very nice indeed, and my first ever puerh: the smokiness, dried fruit aromas and lasting flavour are quite intense, and not what I was expecting at all.

Okay, so that’s Chinese tea, with a Japanese novel, itself translated into English: but it’s Thursday night and it’s been one of those weeks…

The city of cats and the city of men exist one inside the other, but they are not the same city

The text in the subject of this post is by Italo Calvino, one of my favourite writers.

Why that as the subject? Well, as some of you will know, we have two cats, Bob & Hamish, who’ve lived here since last Summer. These two brothers are by turns acrobatic, majestic, proud, frustrating, adorable, confusing, confused, unreasonably clever, unfeasibly stupid and constantly surprising. And I’ve grown very, very fond of them and their quite different little personalities.

This is Bob…

He is the black one.

…and this is Hamish…

He is the black and white one.

I don’t have too many photographs of them as they tend not to pose well for the camera! But I’ll keep trying.

It now seems strange to me to think I’ll be 36 this year and yet I’ve never had cats before nor any other pets. The last eight months have seen me climb a hugely entertaining if rather steep learning curve, but with Jill’s help I’ve been getting there and now I can’t really imagine Bob & Hamish not being around.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure Calvino was right. I can see the gates of that other city; I just don’t think I’ll ever see inside.