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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Friday, October 09, 2009

an unlucky kitten finds a good person

I've been reading Robert Roberts' A Ragged Schooling: Growing Up in the Classic Slum (New edition: Mandolin, 1997). This autobiography of a childhood spent in the poorest districts of Salford, UK during the Edwardian era is gripping, sympathetic, and by some alchemy of Roberts' character and talent, only sad in the shadows. But even many of his grimmer childhood observations and experiences are warmed by the care of the truly great figure at the center of the tale: his mother. A shopkeeper, well read, mother to 7 children (and frankly as well to a charming, alcoholic husband), she calmly kept to her own home. Yet every so often the ugliness beyond would intrude, and she would always have an answer.

One day she even had an answer for a kitten in a bad way, brought to young Robert by a schoolfellow (you'll find this story on p. 83):

Once, in a narrow entry that ran behind the street, Iggy wandered up to me with a black, snake-like object that jerked stiffly on his hands, then lay still, staring. I stepped back, afraid.
"It's a kitten," he said. "Some rotten pig's rolled it in hot pitch off the road! Now it's gone hard."
"What - What can we do?" I asked.
"Your old lady," he said, "she's the one." (Ignatius, for some reason, held my mother in awe and always assumed I feared her too.) He came with me to the entry end and I took it in at the back door. Face set, Mother examined the dreadful offering. "Put it down," she ordered at last. Then, going into the shop, she scooped up a lump of lard and dropped it into the frying pan. Soon we were kneading warm oil into the kitten's fur, after which she washed it with soap and water.
"How's the moggie?" Ignatius asked later.
"Like a lump of wool now!" I told him. "We're going to keep it," which seemed to please him.

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