Cats Claret, Simon and Ceausescu were a motley trio. Claret, soot black with an accidental mark of white on his right front paw, looked almost perfect. Svelte and agile, Claret was the most noble looking of the three. Unfortunately, he had a tusk like tooth growing around his lower lip contorting his almost perfect cat face into the visage of a monster. We loved him nonetheless, and as children our mother regularly told us tales of Claret on, what we now we realize, were very unlikely cat adventures in the environs of a dairy farm. At the time however, we were entranced by every word.
Where Claret’s farm adventures were unlikely, Simon was equally an unlikely farm cat. Of all the kittens born on that farm, Simon was the most unusual in that he was born a Siamese kitten in a litter of tabby cats. Angry and terrifying with a flexing paw that reached across rooms to scratch you, he could spit venom all the way to China. His anger however, was justified. Simon was beautiful. His fluffy coat gave him a blueish grey aura differentiating him from his mud coloured siblings. His piercing blue eyes and tiny black pupils gave ample warning of his anger but as children this never deterred us.
We chased Simon. We chased him again and then we chased him some more. Trying to catch and cuddle a cat that never, ever wanted to be held was always going to to end badly. And end badly it did, each and every time. Scars of Simon have begun to fade but they were a great source of competitive comparison as young kids. Children who chase a cat in order to cuddle them probably never deserved Simon’s response but children who pursued him aiming to incur battle scars deserved everything we got.
Ceausescu was the least memorable of the three. Indeed, I don’t remember him at all. I have no memories of scars, chases or cuddles. But I do remember my siblings and I named him on Christmas day 1989. The Berlin Wall was crumbling and the brutal Romanian dictator was removed, if you like, from existence. In celebration of the opening up of a gateway to the Black sea, we memorialized our nondescript and easily forgotten tabby cat him with a naming ceremony bestowing him with the title Ceausescu. Unfortunately he was named post humorously.
On Christmas morning 1989 Ceausescu had, through a unfortunate series of events, hanged himself in a trap set by young children aimed at catching rats. Why my then very young brothers were trying to catch rats now escapes me but it was clearly a piece of engineering that worked. Poor Ceausescu became entangled in the trap and at the same time as Romania reclaimed itself as a nation for its citizens, our tabby lost his life.
Sensitive to the horror the cat must have endured, we named him Ceausescu. Retrospectively the name is somewhat insensitive to the citizens of Romania having endured horrendous oppression under the dictator’s regime. Nevertheless he has been immortalized and his last horrors marked as ones comparable to the execution of a terrorizing oppressor reminding me of children’s awareness of global events and their sensitivity to the horrors others endure.