Impossible Exchanges: Reg, the Lincoln Cathedral Cat

 

IMG_0469

 

This is part of the “Impossible Exchanges” thread, an opportunity for fact to cross into fiction. And maybe back again?

 

Lincoln, UK. April 2013

Whilst on holiday in Lincolnshire a couple of years ago, Si and myself decided to combine a visit to Lincoln cathedral with a spot of geocaching.

Close to the northwest corner of the cathedral is a cache. For non-cachers, a couple of terms below need explanation: GZ means cache location and muggles are non-cachers.

If you want to know more about geocaching, try visiting this Geocaching Guide.

 

But back to the exchange….

We had been searching the GZ for longer than we would have liked, given the number of muggles in the vicinity. Si asked for the clue again and I read it out – I’m not going to give it away here, that would be breaking geocaching etiquette. He was still perplexed. We both were.

All of a sudden, he started to grin, like the idiot he isn’t (or so he tells me). Not grinning at me exactly, but at my ankles. Well, just behind my ankles to be precise. Leaving me perplexed on two counts.

Then I felt something familiar on my lower leg and looked down to see a splendid tabby and white cat rubbing itself against my jeans.

We both crouched down to say Hello, and gave the chap a tickle behind the ear. We decided it was a chap on size alone. After much purring from our new friend, with that familiar cutesy voice reserved for pets and infants, I asked,
“Do you know where the cache is old chap?”

Of course I do, but if you don’t stop talking to me like a baby I am not going to help you.

“Good Lord! A talking cat!”

Good Lord! A human who understands!

Like triumphant cachers in a city centre, we both scanned the area to see if anyone else was aware of our discovery. Then asked

“So, you can really talk?”

Oh yes, but please keep it to yourself. I don’t want to draw attention to us. Do you promise?

We both nodded. “Guide’s honour” I said.

The cat stared at Si, and you?

“I wasn’t a guide, but you have my word”

 

Another scan of the square revealed that no one was paying us any attention. Phew!

“Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your name? Do you live in the cathedral?”

You can call me Reg. Everyone else does.

Reg yawned, stretched and sauntered over to a nearby bench. We followed him, then we all sat down. Si, Reg and me.

To answer your second question, no, I do not live in the cathedral, but I like to think of it as my study. It’s a magnificent building, don’t you think?

We agreed, thinking back to when we had entered the knave earlier in the week. We were both brought to tears by the serenity to be found in such an immense space.

“You are lucky to have such a palatial study”.

Oh yes, but that’s only part of my abode. I have a comfortable bed and the promise of regular food with my keeper, but I am blessed to be able to roam around this part of the city. People adore me and I like their company, but I’ve never stopped for a proper chat until today. Thank you for catching my attention.

“Well, you caught our attention”.

Are you cat servants yourselves?

“We used to be, until last January. A particularly special old boy did us the honour of his companionship for over 10 years. Let’s just say that we are between cats”.

Reg appeared unimpressed with this terminology, BETWEEN CATS? He asked pointedly.

“Sorry, we re currently not in service“.

That’s a shame. You should put that right as soon as you can.

“You are probably right, but he was so special that it will be difficult to find the like again”.

Then don’t look for the like. We are all different. Beyond our paws and soft snouts there are different personalities. And I’m not probably right, but definitely. By the way, do you have any treats on you?

We shook our heads.

Shame, next time visit the cheese shop in St Martin’s Lane. Splendid place. Not that they would welcome me, but should you be passing this way again I would welcome a little piece of their wares.

“We’ll bear that in mind”

See that you do. There are several good food shops around the Cathedral quarter and not far beyond. You should take you time to explore this area. Beautiful buildings. Copious amounts of history.

There was a slightly awkward pause, then Reg cocked his head to one side and gave us a long hard stare.

You are probably wondering how it is I came to be able to talk. What you should really ask yourself is how you are able to hear me.

Then he nodded towards where the cache was hidden and winked at us. Not a two eyed cat blink but a very deliberate left eyed wink. I’d never seen a cat do that before and to be honest, I found it quite disconcerting.

And with that, he jumped down from the bench, and chased after a leaf caught on the April breeze.

 

MinG

  • Reg can be seen on Google Street view here.

 

Advertisements

Impossible Exchanges: Woman at the Supermarket

Fear Of The Lord

It was just another ordinary Wednesday. I had popped into our local supermarket on my way to work to buy lunch. I was just about to leave the lobby area when I heard a haunting voice warning about “the storms”.

The anxiety in the voice was clear and I would normally have feigned deafness and quickened my step towards the safety of my car. This time I glanced to my right. The voice was that of woman, about my age, huddled over what I assumed to be a baby, telling it of her fears.

“The storms are coming. They will be bad. We all need to take cover”.

The baby, on closer inspection, turned out to be a holdall, and as our eyes met, I knew instantly that the forecast snow was the least of her problems. This is definitely the point where I should have produced an awkward smile and headed for sanctuary.

I was on my way to work.

I had deadlines.

My parents warned my about talking to strangers.

She was talking to herself.

She was shouting at passers-by.

What if she had a knife?

I had pressing deadlines.

I wouldn’t normally do this.

I walked towards her.

I sat down on the bench, next to the holdall.

“Oh I don’t think it will be that bad. The media like to whip up a story when there’s no real news.”

She didn’t mean the snow. She knew about the snow. That would pass. Her storms were beyond measurement by Beaufort. She asked me my name.

I lied. “Jennifer”.

Her name was Jennifer too and she was 47. My age. She said, that despite appearances, she wasn’t homeless and thanked me for not patronising her with the offer of a cup of tea or coffee. Besides, both were evil in her eyes. Poison. She came to the store daily to pass on her warnings. Messages from a higher place. People normally ignored her, but she could see that I believed her. Believed.

There was a pause as we took each other in. We aware of only each other and our reflections in the perfect plate-glass which surrounds the lobby and shielded us from the biting wind.

“I don’t know if I believe. What are the storms?”

Ignoring me, Jennifer outlined her life so far. She came from a caring family and had left school with a good education. She worked in insurance for over twenty years, then set up as an independent financial advisor. She lived alone in the centre of the town, in a lovely apartment overlooking the park. She avoided her neighbours. They were self-centred, media obsessed retail junkies and worthless.

“They must have some good qualities”.

Giving me a piercing stare, Jennifer reminded me that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

“Yet it was the basis of your career for so long. It provided for you and I expect it helped you buy your apartment?”

Jennifer said that this contradiction fuelled her inner storm. She did not live a life of excess, enjoyed the simple things, but could not let go of her comforts bought by dubious means.

“But you were providing a service to people. Products that they wanted for their own security”.

To satisfy their greed, to provide false hope, to protect them from their own stupid actions when they should be more responsible. Consequences are lessons to be learned. Many forms of insurance are just self-denial. They allow fools to continue unchecked. The weak and the meek couldn’t or wouldn’t buy this illusion, and the fools prosper.

She paused. Financial products make money from money, not from honest hard work. No materials. No finished product. There was no craft in what she had done. The storms were coming and I had to prepare myself.

“Where are the storms?”

Inside you.

“Storms of the mind? Of the soul?”

Precisely. I had to choose. To continue my apathetic existence, surrounded by and feeding greed and ignorance. Or to fight against it. I had to choose. Just as she had chosen.

“But have you? You still have your apartment. How does that fit with the storms?”

She said nothing.

I looked to the floor, thinking about my own house, career, car, possessions, savings. My world, in financial and material terms. I had not come by them through craft. Arguably I had used skills, but those skills had built increasingly efficient systems to put hundreds, perhaps thousands, out of work. My path had been similar to Jennifer’s.

I looked up. She had gone.

All that was left was my own reflection in that perfect, spotless, plate-glass.

MinG

Endless Impossibilities…

The most recent post from the blogging101 course has probably been the most inspirational one for me. I have enjoyed the various exercises, but I felt that my blog was lacking direction. I knew that I had things to say but I wasn’t sure exactly what and why. What would I write? And why would people continue to follow and read?

The idea of building in a regular feature, filled me with dread. How could I keep that up? What common theme? But the suggestion of looking at what had brought the most positive responses gave me a “eureka” moment.

 

I was so excited in the car hat I started talking to myself, and selling myself the idea.

 

This might only be based upon limited feedback (I don’t have many followers), but it created that spark which had eluded me for the past week or so. The inspiration came from an earlier post : Dear Sweet Impossible You.

My theme is “Impossible Conversations” (this is a working title and may change). The basis is a series of conversations that have not taken place and, for various reasons, just cannot. They might be:

  • A discussion with a person who I only met briefly, but who I found inspiring and/or interesting in some manner;
  • A conversation with an inanimate object;
  • A tribute and response to and from someone who has touched my life without our paths ever crossing;
  • How I imagine a chat with an animal would be if we could have such an exchange;
  • What I might learn from a tree or building who had seen their surroundings change.
  • A meeting with someone special who has left my life.

There are endless possibilities, and I find the idea of blending a real encounter or experience with fiction to create an impossible exchange that could have been.

I’ve started work on that first conversation…

 

More later,

MinG