The Life of Tess

August 11, 2010

Tess was born in 1990 and died in 2010 at the age of 20. If she were a human she would have been 96.

Tess (and her brother Bobbin, who died at the age of 15… 76 human years) spent their first 8 years living in Northampton; an outdoor life, living in a garden and a garage.

At the ages of 8 in 1998 they came to live with me and my then girlfriend. They then became indoor cats. They didn’t do much. Neither of them got a job and they rarely helped wash the pots.

But they did like long horse whips. With the right kind of flick of the whip they would leap 4 feet in the air and do acrobatic back flips. Why did I have a horse whip? A 4 foot long one with a 12 inch whippy tassle bit at the end? Well… when I worked on Live and Kicking we and the other presenters were sent lots of mail. Most of it lovely and sweet. Some of the presenters, however, would attract a more bizarre type of fan. Val would go through all of our mail before we got it, in case there was anything unsuitable. She would then censor it, and then we would all demand to see it. It’s difficult to censor (or hide) horse whips. These weren’t sent to me of course. Nor Jamie Theakston. The horse whips were sent to Zoe Ball. Zoe kindly gave me a couple. For the cats of course.

So, the cats enjoyed a couple of years playing with a whip. This, and sleeping, took up most of their days.

Somewhere along the line my life changed and I ended up moving to Peckham. The cats came with me. Tess liked to climb into bed and curl alongside me. I would have to turn her around when she tried to sharpen her claws on my… you get the drift. Bobbin would always stay on top of the sheets.

Then things changed again, I moved, and I couldn’t take the cats with me. My good friend Sarah took them. Only for six months mind, whilst I sorted myself out.

I’m still not sorted out and so six months became years. Bobbin and Tess became Sarah’s cats as much as (if not more than) mine. But I would visit, and they’d appear nonchalant. They loved me really.

They both stayed with Sarah until the end. Neither of them ever got jobs, and, to the best of my knowledge, neither ever helped Sarah even with the most basic of household tasks. No pot washing, no putting out the bins. Nothing. Just sitting around, eating and weeing and pooing. This is what cats do. It’s no good holding it against them. No point in getting angry.

If Tess had been human her life would have been something like this:

Tess was born in 1914, the year war broke out. By the time the First World War ended Tess was four years old. She was too young to be conscripted into the forces and she has little memory of the impact war had on her. She spent all of it living in a garage in Northampton.

Tess lived in the garage in Northampton until 1962, craftily avoiding all of World War II too.

In 1962, at the age of 48,  she moved to London to live with me. I was only a baby, new born, living in Salford. But somehow it worked out.

She stayed with me until she was 70. And then, around 1986, she moved in with Sarah. I don’t know what Sarah was doing in 1986, but I suspect she looked a little like this.

Tess was upset, for a short while, when her brother Bobbin went at the age of 76 in 1990. She missed him, but she didn’t miss his cheeky goes at her with his barbed penis (it’s a cat thing, don’t blame me).

She then settled into a happy and long retirement. When Tess announced her retirement the common response was “how would we know?”

And so to 2010.

96 year old Tess decided to call it a day. She’d had enough. On the journey to the vets she whispered in my ear. It was difficult to make it all out, what with her raspy little lungs and her shallow breathing, but what I could make out went something like this:

Thank you all for looking after me. Thank you Simon, thank you Sarah. I’m sorry I never helped out much. I wanted to wash the pots but I just couldn’t reach the sink. I’m sorry I never helped out in those World War things, but I wasn’t really there. It’s just you, Simon, doing this cat/human year thing. Though it’s a shame I can’t hang on a little longer just to get something from the Queen. Take  care, I’ll be fine. I love everyone who has looked after me. Bye.

With thanks to Andrea for the use of her photos. Andrea lived with Tess and Sarah for a while and Tess loved sleeping on Andrea’s bed. You can see many more  of her photos of Tess here.

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Bye Tess

August 6, 2010

Tess 1990-2010 (pictured on the 3rd June 2010)

Tess has gone.

On Tuesday night I had a call from Sarah, my good friend and Tess’ ‘mum’. Tess had been sick and was really not well. I went over and as soon as I saw her I knew her time had come. In the car I held her in my arms rather than put her in the cat box. She had barely any life left; breathing shallow and quick, hardly moving. As Sarah drove I put my finger in her paw just to feel a reflex, just to know that she was still with us. The sweet thing managed a bit of a purr now and then.

I didn’t like having to sign a form giving consent to ‘humane destruction’. I know this is another term for euthanasia but… destroying little Tess?

She was 20 years old. That’s old for a cat. If she were human she’d be 96.

I want to say thank you to all those who have looked after Tess (and her brother Bobbin too, who died when he was 15) throughout her 20 years. Those who, whether it was for years or hours, looked after her:

Dermot, Julie, Lydia, Paul, Trev and family, Andy and Thomas, David and Charlie, Simon, , Vic, Emily, Nick. No doubt many more I’ve failed to mention.

Finally a big big thank you to Sarah. Tess came to you to be looked after whilst I sorted out somewhere to live. You maybe expected to have the two for six months? A year? Tess has been with you for at least a third of her life. Thank you for caring for her so.

I will write some fun stuff about Tess soon. A twenty year history… but maybe viewed through a 96 year life. That’s to come. And, should you wish, you can read previous Tess posts here.

For now, rest in peace Tess.

First pics

February 11, 2010

Here’s some pics I have taken with my new camera; a surprising and lovely gift from a very kind reader of my blog. I’m just getting used to it and so far have only used it in automatic mode, but as you can see it takes lovely pictures, even of beer.

Andrea and Samantha requested animals. Andrea, smiling ones. Well, Tess always smiles. Inwardly. Trevor Hickman wanted a tiger. I’ll work on that, but for now here’s a lion. John Southern, Suvvo on Twitter, asked for an empty pint of Timothy Taylor.

I see this as the start of a bizarre project that could last all of a few weeks.

20 year old Tess sits by 2 month old Noah

Animals

Glass all full

Glass all empty

Tess

October 26, 2009

Yesterday I visited my cat Tess. She doesn’t live with me but is looked after by some very good friends. She’s their cat too. She’s a shared cat, though cats, were they able, would deny belonging to anybody.

She’s old now. Nineteen. And tiny. She weighs just under 3kg. Her brother Bobbin died a few years back at the age of fifteen.

Bobbin-b&w

Bobbin

Tess may miss him. We don’t know. They used to cuddle up with each other, but then Bobbin would always take it one step too far and try and have his way with her. I never knew what to do. Should we impose our morality on our cats? Tess would always sort things out with a high pitched meow and a whack. I couldn’t blame Bobbin; he deserved some fun after having vets do their business down below many years ago. I was always amazed and surprised that he still had the urge.

And then you find out more things. Who knew cats had barbed penises? Not me. So Tess, I’m sorry I didn’t stop him.

Tess is doddery now. She’s totally deaf and fairly blind but otherwise in reasonably good health considering that, in human years, she’s 173. When I saw her a week ago she had a little siezure of sorts. It could have been cramp, or rheumatism, arthritis, a stroke. She stood up and all one side of her had gone dead. She could only walk sideways and she kept bumping up against the wall. After a short while she recovered.

She has difficulty getting up and down stairs. She can’t jump up on to beds or sofas anymore, but she can fall off them.

Yesterday she was in good form. I spent a bit of time with her, trimmed her claws and combed her fur. She’s pretty good at taking care of herself and grooming, but she’s old, so she doesn’t mind a bit of help.

And she’s found a new friend, though I think it was the sun that was the attraction.

Tess-3

Tess-2

Tess-1

Bobbin 1991-2006

Bobbin 1991-2006

Well, when I say the news, I of course mean the Daily Mirror. All of these stories are in today’s Mirror:

“Cat Rosie survives cruel airgun attack”.

“Three teens arrested on deer death”.

“Grandma is savaged by angry gulls”.

“Rider hurt in horse horror”.

“Mahmoud Ahmadinejad buys puppy to show World he is an ok guy.”

Watch it, mum!”– A clumsy duck steps on one of her own ducklings.

Ok, one of them I made up, but five animal stories in one day? What’s going on?

Four of them cancel each other out; terrible abuses by humans on animals (cat and deer)- animals then fight back (horse and gulls). Now this may not be much comfort to Delphine Mutch (yes, that’s Delphine Mutch, Mrs. Mutch, who was attacked by the nesters in Weymouth) but let’s take a Gaia-ian approach to these stories. (No, I haven’t a clue what I’m on about, but what goes around comes around blah blah blah- one day a dog’ll flush a kid down a toilet, that kind of thing).

The odd one out is the duck on duck attack. Thankfully it was an accident. The mother duck was ushering her ducklings away from a swan when she squashed one under her foot. When ducks turn on each other for no apparent reason, that’s when we should worry.

Coming back briefly to the puppy in the pipe story. That was yesterday but it’s still a big deal. Do you know of this tale? A four year old boy flushes his puppy down the loo. Before I carry on, know this; the puppy’s fine. See the amazing rescue attempt here. It made me cry.

Anyways, the four year old said he wanted to wash his puppy. Hmmm. Obviously he should have asked his parents first. They may have suggested a bowl or the sink or the bath (if the puppy even needed washing at all). But he didn’t and instead chose to wash his puppy in the place where he’s just been taught to wee and poo. Would you? Poor little four year old. I suspect he put his puppy in the toilet and flushed it just for fun, to see what happens. That’s what we do when we haven’t quite grasped consequence. And then… then… then… when he realised, when he saw the puppy sucked down the u-bend, wagging his little tail goodbye … then… when the puppy doesn’t come back… then… Oh dear, I bet something kicked in. Then I bet the little fella ran to mummy screaming and crying.

Poor boy. Poor puppy. But all good in the end. Well done, DynoRod Man. And well done for doing it for free.  (Obviously you get all the publicity and so on, but regardless, well done!)

the guardian‘s jumped on the animal bandwagon too. They’re saying cats are daft. Or rather scientists are. You can find out the science here.

Well, that’s not news! Anyone with cats knows they’re daft animals, dafter than dogs. My two cats, (the much missed Bobbin pictured above and his sister Tess- still going strong at the age of 19- that 457 in human years), are and were remarkably stupid. Those who know Tess may object (and quite likely will) but…

Oh, then alright, I acquiesce. Tess is lovely. She’s deaf now. Or just plain rude. She never comes when called, doesn’t look up when you enter a room, and spends all of her day sleeping. Ok, she’s clever.

Tess, Bobbin's sister. 19 now.

Tess, Bobbin's sister. 19 now.

Tess likes Haruki Murakami

February 10, 2009

tess-haruki-21

tess-haruki-1

but tires easily these days.

Hello, it’s a Tess test

November 7, 2008

Bobbin and Tess

Bobbin and Tess

So, this is my first entry, and it’s just a test really. A Tess test. That’s Tess on the right… still alive and over 18 years old. And on the left, her brother, Bobbin. He died at the age of 15. Poor old Bobbin.

What better way to start than with a pic of my cats. Not just mine. My good friend Sarah looks after Tess (she looked after Bobs too) and I get to visit my shared cat.

This is all for now. I just want to see what a post looks like and if it is all working. I am not a computer boffin. I am a computer buffoon.