Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A purr-fect evening in honour of Pushkin

As promised, a more detailed report on Pushkin and the Princess...

The Birmingham Oratory hosted a purr-fect celebration to mark the publication of Pushkin’s memoirs, Pushkin the Pontifical Puss: ‘Tails’ of an Oratory Cat.

In the presence of HRH Princess Michael of Kent, Fr Anton Guziel (P.A. to Pushkin and Parish Priest of Birmingham Oratory) welcomed over 120 people who had gathered to congratulate Pushkin on his literary achievement.

Entertainment was provided by children from the Oratory School as they sang, 'Oh, I want to sing about Pushkin' and 'Pontifical Puss' - two songs composed for the evening. Members of St Paul’s Girls’ School performed Duet for Two Cats by Rossini.

Fr Anton and Peter Raven (the young boy featured in the book, to whom Pushkin recounts his memoirs) read an extract from the book before presenting Princess Michael with the official launch copy.

In accepting the book, Her Royal Highness spoke of how important cats are to humans. She told us that one of hers had recently gone to Cat Heaven, having been with her for 19 years, and would no longer be able to send Pushkin a Christmas card.

The book recounts Pushkin’s early life in Birmingham, time spent in Fenton, his return to Birmingham where he encounters HRH Princess Michael of Kent (in Pushkin’s own words, She-who-wears-diamonds) and Pope Benedict (He-who-wears-white). It reveals how, during the latter encounter, Pushkin outwitted security guards to be with the Holy Father, who made him 'Grand Arch-Cat of all the Oratories and Cardinal Puss in Pectore'.

As with the honour bestowed upon him by the Holy Father, Pushkin took the evening at the Oratory in his stride. He made several appearances, at one point resting very contentedly on the lap of Her Royal Highness.

In his speech, Stephen Moseling, Publishing Director of St Pauls Publishing, explained how the famous saying of the acting fraternity 'Never work with children or animals' does not apply to the world of publishing. He said, "Until now we had several bishops, a couple of cardinals and a pope, but to be able to boast of having the ‘Grand Arch-Cat of all the Oratories’ is indeed a great honour for St Pauls."

Amongst those thanked at the launch were the Sisters of the Carmel of the Magnifi-cat, Wolverhampton who provided the illustrations for the book.

As a sign of his benevolence and dedication to his responsibilty as ‘Grand Arch-Cat of all the Oratories’, Pushkin has kindly decreed that he will not be keeping any of the money raised from the sale of his book (not even to buy diamonds). Royalties will go towards the maintenance and upkeep of the Oratory church.

Before she left, Her Royal Highness kindly consented to having her photograph taken with representatives of St Pauls.

Photos courtesy of Philippe Lefebvre.
Illustrations © ST PAULS.