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.
- Reg can be seen on Google Street view here.
- You can read about our visit as observed at the time in “Majesty and Wonder”.