Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Pushkin and Her Royal Highness

Here is a chapter from Pushkin's memoirs - his version of meeting HRH Princess Michael of Kent.

‘I think there must be a world out there,’ mused Pushkin, placing a claw thoughtfully on the side of his nose, ‘that is bursting with curiosity to get into the Oratory and find out what my world is really like.’

One Sunday morning our house was invaded by the police; they even brought sniffer DOGS with them. My Human told me that it was all because a real live Princess was going to visit us – Princess Michael of Kent.

Being of aristo-catic blood myself, I was determined to meet her, only to find that my Human had shut me in my room. I suppose he thought I would have frightened the sniffer dogs too much. So, I devised a plan. I decided upon a strategy to allow enough time for me to slip out of my room when he came to check on me. As I jumped on the chest of drawers, I knocked over two pieces of fine porcelain which, luckily for him, were unbroken as they fell on the bed.

Everyone knows that cats are far too discerning to break valuable china. ‘You naughty pussy,’ he said, as he began to put the plates back on their stands. That gave me the chance I was looking for.

I was out of the door like a bolt of lightning and galloped determinedly down the corridor, with my Human in hot pursuit. ‘Don’t worry,’ beamed a friendly looking bodyguard, ‘the Princess adores cats and she would love to see him.’ When I heard these words my confidence grew to immense proportions. I fluffed out my mane to look its magnificent best and waved my tail proudly in the air as I mounted the library steps.

I could hear the hum of human voices. ‘Did Cardinal Newman manage to read all of these books?’ chimed a lady’s voice with a German accent. ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised,’ said Father Paul. There stood the Princess, wearing clothes very like mine, and she was wearing diamonds. I always wear collars with diamonds myself and it was marvellous to meet a kindred spirit with such similar taste.

I made a dramatic entrance into the library. I ran in a big arc and let out some tuneful yowls. ‘He is so beautiful!’ she gasped with delight. ‘Let me hold him.’ She glanced towards the camera men. ‘Photographs, photographs!’ she commanded, and the photographers were happy to oblige.

From that moment, all talk of Cardinal Newman ceased and the conversation turned naturally to the subject of cats. I was delighted to hear that the Princess had recently opened Battersea Cats’ Home, so that my less fortunate relatives would have a roof over their heads.

Since then, Princess Marie Christine and I have become firm friends. I believe she always talks about me when the occasion arises, and we send each other Christmas cards. I always sign my name in my best paw writing and my Human addresses the envelope. This encounter was enough to ensure my place in history, but other honours were to come, to my delight and amazement as you will see.

If you want to read more tails of Pushkin, you will have to buy his book Pushkin the Pontifical Puss: Tails of an Oratory Cat.

Text and illustrations © ST PAULS.