Readers of Friday's posting will already know about the sad tale of Samson, the giant ginger cat from across the road from me, whose owner, Jeanne, died recently. A few of you have asked for an update, and I'm very pleased to say that, yesterday, Louise, a workmate of Dee's, and her partner, Daniel, came over and collected him from Jeanne's house. He was sitting by the fire when we were shown into the living room by Jeanne's son, Jonathan, and looked a little glum, but was soon up on Daniel's lap, purring and biting him affectionately (if a little painfully): a puddle of cat with a beatific head on top, demanding to be brushed.
"You need to go on a bit of a diet, fella," said Daniel.
"We have been trying to feed him a bit less recently," said Jonathan. "But he does still expect a chicken wing every day."
"Do you want to go away and think about it for a a couple of days?" Dee asked, not wanting Daniel and Louise to feel pressured. But Daniel had the facial expression of a ten year-old who'd just been given the choice of when to open his Christmas present: on Christmas Day, or on December 23rd.
It was obvious that there was only one way this was going to end: Samson was going home with Louise and Daniel there and then. Promptly, Jonathan disappeared from the room, and returned with Samson's toys: one of the biggest scratching posts I've ever seen, all manner of balls, esoteric mats, catnip creatures, brushes and what I can only describe as possibly the world's first cat skateboard. I'd felt certain that that had to be the lot, but another two journeys followed, the final one bringing forth a set of special coasters Jeanne had had custom-made, emblazoned with Samson's face (see below). I only just held back the tears at this point, remembering just how much Samson had been loved, how worried Jeanne had been last year when she lost him for half a day and came over to ask me if I'd seen him (she later found him under - completely under - her duvet), and how she agonised over the thought of him crossing the busy road outside. Somehow, looking into Samson's big dumb happy moonface, "road sense" was not the first phrase that sprung to mind. Often, Dee and I would carry his placid, backbreaking form back across the tarmac when we found him loitering by our bins looking confused, like some geographically-challenged runaway from Feline Fat Camp.
Fortunately, Louise and Daniel live on a very quiet back road. But it must be tough for Samson right now, who, until 3pm yesterday, was probably still wondering when Jeanne was coming back, and how much free range poultry she'd have with her when she did, and is now probably wondering why he's in an unfamiliar house with three new furmates (Louise and Daniel's cats, Ellie and Daisy, and their small dog, Rosie).
"It's more tense here than a Gaza negotiating table. We're teetering on the brink of peace with a unilateral cease-claw from Ellie and Daisy," said Daniel last night. But from what I know of him, Samson is a maker of love, not war - although not, thankfully, in any literal sense - and he should settle in after the inevitable period of setting out the ground rules. Daniel and Louise recently formed a strong bond with Garvey, a cat they took in when Daniel found him at the college where he works - until, finally, heart-wrenchingly, after many, many weeks, Garvey's owner came forward and claimed him. The signs were, particularly when Samson was stretched out on Daniel's lap, that he will amply fill the gap left by his predecessor.
Samson: more of a Mac person, really.