One day, some time ago, as I walked toward my home from the bus stop, my thoughts were interrupted by the honk of a horn and I turned to see my father’s car and all my family in it. The door was thrown open for me to join them the rest of the way home, and so I did. The door was closed and the car moved on and a second later a large cloth bag was handed to me from my sister who sat in the front passenger seat of the car. “We got you a present,” said my Dad. “Don’t open it until we get home.” The bag was a little warm. I started to poke at it in order to ascertain, without looking, what might be inside. “Don’t squeeze it!” my sister exclaimed, almost grabbing the bag out of my hands in panic. So, perplexed but under orders not to peek, I sat with this warm bag in my hands the few seconds it took to get home.
When we arrived home, I was allowed to look into the bag. Opening the top up I looked inside to find two tiny and very frightened eyes looking out at me. A kitten! A tiny kitten, shivering and terrified after her long journey. I had been asking if I could have a cat for some time now and now it had arrived unannounced and in a bag!
After about a fortnight of deliberation I finally named my cat. To me, as an ardent fan of T.S. Eliot’s poetry, the naming of the cat seemed an important matter and one deserving much thought. Several good names were suggested, among them Pox, Dr. Christmas Jones, Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Cat but I finally decided to call her φ after my favourite number. Various theories have been advanced by members of the family to explain φ’s name, including that her name is the second word of “fee fie foe fum” and that her name comes from the line in a soliloquy of Hamlet “Fie on’t! ah fie! ’tis an unweeded garden”. I often get funny looks when I explain the origin of the name. For this reason the cat is usually referred to as “Cat”.
Due to an almost insatiable appetite φ is considerably larger now than she was then but no less charming than she was as a little kitten. It has come to light that she is quite deaf, as is the case with many white cats. As such nothing fazes her. I turned the vacuum cleaner on once to do a little cleaning and rather than flee the noise, as most cats would have, she hopped onto the base of the machine and rode around on it as I tried to clear the room of her pervasive white hairs. She will plague you with mewing as you sit reading a book on a Sunday evening and not relent until she has sat on your lap and been rubbed and stroked until she falls asleep. If you leave the wrong door open you will find a hot little white ball asleep on your bed when you return in the evening. If you turn on a light in the room she will chase the shadows it throws for hours, and never grow tired of the Sisyphean pursuit. She is cuter than a red button on a little girl’s coat. She is, all in all, a very wonderful cat.