It was vicious. The size of a Jack Russel, the cat my boyfriend had back when I was a teenager was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, that is if Arnie was ever reborn as a cat, this would be the type of cat he would become. Not quite a Maine Coon, Tigger could have been a contender. I didn’t name the cat. It was my boyfriend’s mother that called him Tigger. Tigger had a spot that he liked to sleep in under the bushes that surrounded our garden. His spot was right next to the path outside our house. We knew Tigger was a bugger and that he liked to stalk dogs, but we never imagined that one day his exploits would become the subject under investigation by the local police.
I’d been at College all day and had arrived at the boyfriend’s house just before tea, Tigger was asleep at the end of the bed in mums’ room and purring for England. I always thought that if I could tape him I could sell his noises to the producers of Dr Who. I’m sure they could use the sound of the old asthmatic cat to good use as the heavy breathing of a Marsh monster or something just as scary. The tap on the door was steady and purposeful. That meant is wasn’t one of the many friends that used to call around. It wasn’t any of us, we were all in and Lou, Billy’s mum, my boyfriend’s mum, I suppose I should have introduced him first to avoid the confusion, well Lou looked at me, and I looked at her.
I went to the door. The old houses with the council house doors had a window at the top, and if you stood back you could just get an image through the frosted glass. This was without a doubt a policeman. His helmet standing tall enough to see as I went down the hall. I looked back at Lou, “It’s a copper,” I whispered forgetting she was deaf.
“Who?” she quizzed.
Instantly she undid her apron. It was like watching an old 50’s black and white movie. From washer woman to slick lady of the house in the flash of an eyelash. Pull strap, slip apron overhead, smooth skirt, brush hands through hair to create luxurious wavy curls, lippy on as she passed by the hall table and at the door looking groomed, and ready for anything. Wow she was fab.
The police officers were smiling and the WPC was trying desperately not to laugh out loud.
“May we come in, Madame?”
“Of course, officer.”
Did my jaw drop, did I visibly look stunned at Lou’s sudden command of the English language? Where was the “Ok duck, wha’da want.” The North London accent had dissolved into a rather up town Peggy Mitchell.
We went through to the parlour, otherwise known as the front room.
“It’s not Billy is it?” I had to ask.
The ice broken and the fact that Billy hadn’t wrapped himself around a tree or been arrested for being an idiot, again, Lou and I sat down. Lou sat in the arm chair and the WPC sat next to me on the settee.
“We believe you own a cat.”
“Yes, Tigger.” Lou looked puzzled.
“He’s upstairs on the bed. So, if you’ve found one, it’s not him.” I chirped up.
The WPC giggled and looked up at the other officer who was still standing. He reached into his pocket and brought out a notepad. “Is he a big Ginger Tom?” He asked.
“Yes,” I replied, would you like me to go and get him.”
Shock covered the PC’s face, “NO, no, no, that’s Ok leave him where he is. We wouldn’t want to disturb him if he’s asleep.”
“So what’s the problem,” Lou was getting edgy. Now Lou was a formidable woman, standing at a full 4ft and 11 inches she had been a home help since she had left her full-time job at the post office. Most of the people she helped were in fact younger than her. She could lift six bags of shopping at once, carry them from the bus stop to the front door, and not break a sweat. Her shrill normal, North London voice was enough to put the fear of the devil in any man when she was riled and I could see she was starting to head in that direction. As could the PC. He hurried along.
“We’ve had a report that your cat has attacked a one Adeline Griffin (name changed to protect the victim)”
“Attacked,” I laughed, Lou shot me the look. I stopped laughing.
“Yes, Ms Griffin has made an official complaint regarding, erh…Tigger.”
“What kind of complaint, what do you mean attacked?”
“Ms. Griffin alleges…” at this point I was looking for Jeremy Beadle to jump out and shout, you’ve been framed…. “that Tigger,” the WPC stifled another giggle, “alleges that Tigger jumped up her leg and attacked her whilst she walked down the joint pathway on a visit to Mr Brown” (Lou’s next-door neighbour)
“Jumped up her leg.” The full fury of Lou Martin came out, and so did the Londoner in her. “She was carrying that good for nothing rat of hers again wasn’t she?”
“I can’t rightly say.” The officer replied.
“She carries that damn dog in a basket and it yaps as she walks up the path. What do you expect a cat to do if it’s being taunted by a bloody scruffy little bitch? And by the dog.” Lou added.
“Madame,” the PC raised his voice as he spoke. “Madame it is my job to inform…”
The door creaked, just a little bit, just enough to cut the air and turn all eyes toward it. Tigger walked in, tail held high and stopping, he stretched before sauntering towards us. He purred furiously. You see Tigger loved nothing more than strangers. He could use his charm to elicit strokes and belly rubs. He walked towards the WPC and without a by your leave and with no encouragement from her, leapt up on to her lap, knocking her back into the settee. Distraction achieved, Lou calmed down, the officer continued. “Is this Tigger?”
“Yes.” I told him.
“Doesn’t look vicious.”
“He’s not, just doesn’t like dogs. Hates Ms Griffins dog the most. She never puts him down.”
Coughing the PC regained his composure. “Well I’m here to warn you that you have to keep the cat under control. If we have any more…” Tigger mewed as he rolled over and the WPC started to rub his belly… “If we have…isn’t he adorable, may I?” The officer bent down and stroked Tigger’s head, who gave an appreciative purr. “What I mean to say is, we can’t do anything about this matter apart from tell you that he needs to be careful.”
“If he was a dog, we would be able to arrest you and then take him away as a dangerous animal, but there is nothing we can do about a cat.” The WPC added.
Lou served tea and biscuits and the officer sat at the dining table. He described the fact that Ms. Griffin had sustained scratches to her legs and was asking for compensation for the tights that Tigger had ripped. Lou took out her purse and handed some money to the office. “This should cover it.” She said.
We had a bad ass cat and we were proud of it. Tigger was petted and the WPC regretted having him on her lap. You see Ginger Toms shed hair and her blue skirt looked rather orange by the time she was leaving.
I was reminded of Tigger today as I say a woman carrying what looked like the basket from the front of one of those old-fashioned push bikes. In the basket sat a scruffy little dog with spiky hair.
“Tigger would have made mincemeat out of that bitch, and the dog, was my first thought.”