Scene: A busy coffee shop in an equally busy railway station in South London. One woman is sat at a table, smoking. Another runs towards her off the concourse, yelling “Miaow, Miaow, Miaow”. Smoking woman grabs her and they dissolve into miaows, hugs, laughter and tears.
This is their (and Thomasina’s story) …
Well, there I was just minding my own business, doing my job and then I met a lady called Seaneen who came to work for me and some years later we had a Madup and at that Madup I met a wonderful set of new friends and through one of them I met a lady online called Ali who writes an amazing blog and then she posted a blog which grabbed me by the balls (this one http://purple-noise.blogspot.com/2011/01/beginning-of-end.html) and cutting a long story short, with loads of laughter, snorting and tears later … I got involved with 5 Quid for Life (http://5quidforlife.org.uk/) and then one day I was asked to help rehome an unhomable cat, who was 12 years old and whose owner had become bedridden through illness and whose family had been unable to find her a new home or a rescue place.
Heart in mouth and stomach like lead, because I knew what the chances were I would find her a home, I posted details everywhere.
So Titflasher has been an important part of my online circle since we went through the Great Crissmuss Floo of 2010 together, sharing coughing fits, comparing tissue prices and nagging each other to keep our fluid levels up [including a debate on whether ginger wine counts as fluid]. Since then the “rhino in ballet slippers” has been a constant source of laughs in my life, not to mention being awestruck at her sterling efforts to save the humble cabbage from extinction…
It’s not uncommon to see Titflasher make an appeal for a homeless animal, and my usual response is to go “aww, poor little thing” and re-post the appeal to spread it a little further, knowing I can’t really help much more than that. However, the second I saw Thomasina’s appeal, I knew I would be adopting that cat. I stepped away from the laptop to see if the feeling would go away – it didn’t.
I emailed my closest friend for a second opinion and checked she didn’t think it would be a bad idea – she didn’t. I checked back to see if there were any offers of help from other people, there wasn’t a single response. I looked at the photo with those beautiful green eyes and melted a dozen times over.
Somewhat nervously, I sent Titflasher a message, saying I was interested in helping. Nervous because I knew Titflasher wouldn’t say yes to just anyone rehoming this kitty – she’d already made it clear this one was very close to her heart and I knew her standards would be high. However, she was as pleased as I was that this was possibly going to have a happy outcome, so when I managed to pull myself down from the ceiling I emailed Tom’s carers and started to make arrangements.
Now – I have some rules about rehoming … I never home a pet without meeting the person in person but Ali is special. I knew she would not take a pet on without giving it considerable thought. I also knew that she had had cats before. And it was such a perfect match I could hardly believe it. So I put Ali in contact with the family. And they made arrangements to meet on Saturday at 3.30pm so I could be there too.
There was just one problem … I did not know what Ali looked like. So instead of asking her for a photo (how sensible would that have been, huh?), we agreed to meet up at a coffee shop at the station and identify each other by miaowing. Yeah, I know, how old are we? :-D.
After a hectic few days kitty-proofing my flat [I’d heard the new arrival had a penchant for flinging ornaments around “just to see what will happen”] and shopping for the essentials [such as fluffy things on bits of string tied to plastic fishing rods… gotta get the important stuff] it was Adoption Day. It was also the day I was to meet Titflasher for the first time, a long-overdue event.
May I take this opportunity to apologise to the customers of that South London coffee shop for scaring them – the sight of two women simultaneously hugging, crying, laughing and meowing would’ve been enough to put anyone off their lunch. I think a few of them were looking around vaguely expecting to see a TV crew filming a long-lost relative programme.
It was a big occasion for both of us so we each turned to the safety of our respective substances of choice – Titflasher had a fag while I went inside to find some caffeine. May I take this opportunity to thank the staff of that South London coffee shop, who took pity on me when I picked up the tray and it started rattling like a broken washing machine. After the third attempt at trying to pick up the tray without shaking from sheer emotion, the guy clearly decided he didn’t want to risk mopping up our order after he’d made the effort to pour it, so he carried it outside for me.
We had just half an hour before we were due to meet Thomasina, which we filled with much squeeing and kitty noises, along with checking out every tall goatee-adorned man who walked past to see if he could be concealing a cat about his person. Not to mention Titflasher informing me I apparently look “exactly like I thought you would look”; not the first time I’ve been told that which is a strange phenomenon given I don’t post photos online!
Suddenly, all too quickly, it was time to meet the owners. We had both been keeping a spare eye out for a tall man with a goatee (ye gods, why didn’t we just agree to wear purple wigs or something?!) carrying a cat box. Neither Ali’s nor my eyesight is wonderful. We had had a near miss with a tall guy with a goatee carrying a Marks & Spencers bag.
Despite the fact P, the family member had said they had bought her a new carrier, we both agreed it was unlikely it would take that form. But maybe it was the only thing available after the riots? Anyhoo, there was no divine black with one white whisker catty face stuck out of the top of it so whoever he was had a lucky escape from two cat-crazed felines females rushing towards him going “Squeeeeeee”.
Poor old P himself, however, had no such escape. Eyesight and purple wigs notwithstanding, our built-in kitty radars enabled us to pinpoint the poor bloke from over the other side of the station, and as we made a beeline for him the relief of the customers as we exited the aforementioned coffee shop was palpable.
Fair play to him, he took it on the chin and didn’t seem in the least bit fazed by two meowing women advancing on him… Someone else keeping her cool was Tom herself, who dealt exceedingly well with being stuck in a plastic cage with strangers staring in at her. Brief discussion and handing over of important things like vaccination records and kitty treats and lives were changed forever.
So we decided to go for a coffee, Ali went to check the platform for her train and I got us some drinks. P settled Thomasina in a quiet corner next to us. As we chatted, P connected some of the dots and realised that his niece was the ex-girlfriend of my ex-husband and he lived in the same block as they did in SomethingSuburbSouthLondon and his brother also attends the … yes, indeed. That out of the way, we learned a bit more about Thomasina and her life.
A rather emotional bunch of people then wended their way onto the platform. We continued to attract stares as we chatted, shed a few tears and Ali and Tom got on the train. We waved them off and I went back outside for a rather large cigarette. I then giggled, snottied and snorted all the way home on the bus.
It is weird sometimes how lives can interlink. My ex-husband’s ex-girlf’s nan’s cat is now safely homed with my friend who I met through the mere chance of employing someone years ago and staying in contact with them. I guess some things were just meant to be …