Almost everyone loves a good mystery story. However, when the mystery story becomes part of one’s daily life, then the question arises who the culprit or culprits are.
When one has children and pets in their abode and things become broken or misplaced, who is the real culprit? Like the sonar of the bat, parents focus on the child.
If there are children, parents can size up which one or ones could be guilty of misdeeds. Grandmother’s precious Ming vase laying in pieces beside the Steinway piano or the Smith-Noble drapes hanging unevenly in the living room invite accusation.
All the while as the child or children are subjected to the inquisition, the feline member or members of the family lie watching the unfolding drama with a certain Cheshire grin, which goes unnoticed by the upset adult in the room. Adults are cats most able assistants (unwittingly) in covering up their crimes.
In T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats he uncovers the shenanigans and sophistries of the feline members of society in all of their infamous and inglorious misadventures and deeds of havoc wreaked on unsuspecting humans. Who would suspect a cat of such intrigue and mischief.
Now, it is true that children are not always the angelic cherubim of the empyreal order. Sometimes, they are the incarnations of mythological harpies who in their rambunctious play can wreck their stable milieu and rob their mother of her lingering sanity.
Going back to the cat, it is in their nature to be the ancient plague of misfortune if they are so inclined. It is this inclination which is hidden so well behind the purr of innocence emanating from the soft furball.
T. S. Eliot’ tale of Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer who are described as “a very notorious couple of cats” is apropos when things happen in an abode like mother’s missing Tiffany pearl necklace or the Yankee Pot Roast has been scurried away from the conventional oven for a sumptuous feast—not by the humans but by the cats!
As the book says about these matters:
“Then the family would say: ‘Now which was which cat? It was Mungojerrie! AND Rumpelteazer! –And there’s nothing at all to be done about that!”
Perhaps, the most notorious cat in the book is the criminal mastermind Macavity. As described:
“For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity…There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity…the Napoleon of Crime!”
With Macavity no secret is safe, not even at MI6. Attempting the capture of the feline at the scene of the crime, not even James Bond or the Naval Criminal Investigative Service could find Macavity because “Macavity’s not there!”
Macavity is the true heir of Isaac Solomon. Unlike Solomon, the capture and exile to Tasmania of Macavity is out of the realm of the possible for this lawbreaker of man and nature.
So, humans have to endure the escapades of Macavity and his skilled accomplices, of which Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer are definitely members of the organization. Of course, any feline companion could be the harbinger of Macavity.
T. S. Eliot has written an excellent book about our feline friends and foes. The original artwork by Axel Scheffler is superb if you obtain the original book; it is a must to have in one’s bibliotheca.
However, one must guard this treasure of cat’s lore like the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault of Germany), because if you have a feline or two in your abode, do not let them read this volume or listen to it be read to children.
For it will add to their feline mischievous romps and you will be the sorrier for their enlightenment in the dark arts of diablerie.
G. D. Williams © 2020