Ginge Club

News and events from George Collingwood, children's author

Alleycat has a word

Very amusedAlleycat had a little word with me yesterday. He’d heard me talking and he knew I was contemplating writing a post that has nothing at all to do with cats.

“You know that’s not possible,” he drawled, “I can’t allow that, not in my blog.”

“I quite understand, Alleycat,” I said, deferentially. “Why don’t I start a new blog and then I can write about other things in that blog and carry on documenting the Ginge Club’s adventures here?”

“You mean you’d write about non-Ginge Club matters?” Alleycat was surprised; he obviously found the concept far-fetched and in rather bad taste; he wrinkled his eyes in disgust and curled his lip scornfully. “Surely you can’t be serious, old chap?”

I affirmed that I really was determined to depart from the norm and write about new things, and when he heard this Alleycat had a little smile at my expense. He narrowed his eyes and advised me to watch my step.

“I want you to make absolutely sure that the two blogs don’t overlap,” he said. “If you can promise me that I may give you my permission to divide your energies, but mark my words, I don’t want you slacking and the Ginge Club posts must always take precedence. I won’t tolerate anything less.”

Alleycat had made his humble wishes known and I had listened very carefully and obediently to his wise words. At least, that’s what I made him think. Later on we gave Pink the news, and she was really agitated and uncertain for about ten seconds and she wondered where it would all lead. With any luck it’ll lead you here.I'm worried, really worried!

The Ginge Club and the kestrel

HPIM0530Nothing much has happened in the Six Foot recently, except for the kestrel. It was seen hovering two days ago, and yesterday, all in a rush, it swooped down and took a pigeon from next door’s garden. Everyone heard the screams. Alleycat doesn’t mind kestrels, or hawks, unless they get too big for their boots and start to trespass on his territory. Some folk say that cats are the villains of the piece where Mother Nature is concerned (they’re always on the hunt, apparently, looking out for prey) but Alleycat isn’t like that.  He’s a sage, a meditative sort.  He says that it’s Mother Nature who’s responsible and everyone (cats and humans too) have to treat her with respect and understand that She contains them and gave them all their lives (nine if you’re a cat). If a hawk kills a pigeon, or takes a vole, well, that’s Mother Nature for you, red in tooth and claw. There’s nothing to be done about that sort of thing. It’s life. But Alleycat won’t tolerate conflict on his lawns. His lawns are private, sacred to his clan , and he maintains a careful watch on his fences and Bamber’s out all hours (he has his orders) patrolling the Five Streets and putting down markers, while Alleycat remains indoors and sleeps and thinks and lays his plans. The sentinelWhen Pink saw the kestrel she was pretty scared, I can tell you. But Alleycat sent Bamber on to the roof of the car-port, to keep watch on the perimeters, and that hawk hasn’t been seen since. He’s probably heard of Alleycat’s great power and understands there are better (meaning safer) places to hunt and trespass than Alleycat’s private lawns.HPIM0655

Ordinary moggies

Pink in the morningTime is a funny old thing.  It catches you out.  Memories come back whenever they please and sometimes they surprise you. They never go away, they only seem to.  Take yesterday.  I was at work, getting ready to go home, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I wasn’t there at all,  I was something like eight years old and the school bell was ringing and it was time to go home for tea. Alleycat says that time’s like a long dark corridor with a bright light up ahead.  If you look back you can see the past, the places you’ve already been, because the light is shining towards those things, but if you look ahead the light’s too bright and you can’t see anything because you’re blinded.  He’s full of wise sayings like that.  Sometimes he acts like an ordinary moggie, other times he acts like a sage.  Pink doesn’t act much at all, except like herself.  She’s very happy at the moment because spring has sprung, seemingly, and instead of basking under the reptile lamp on the kitchen table  she can start to wander at large from hot spot to hot spot in the house.

Déjà vu

Pink portrait 2I don’t believe in  déjà vu, but I like the theory. One of my aunties who enjoyed being the centre of attention was being shown around a Scottish country house; she pointed at a portrait of Arabella Stuart and exclaimed That’s me! She was half way up the stairs at the time and had to be caught in mid-faint by the rest of the tour party.  I don’t believe in time travel either, or reincarnation, though if I did they’d be the same boring old thing, like remembering yesterday.  Alleycat knows more about the hidden kingdom than I do, but he only knows the theory.  We talk of these matters often, usually at midday, when he’s at his most sleepy-headed and leisurely. But Pink’s the only one of us who’s ever (so she claims) been to and fro in time, and she doesn’t know how she did it and can’t repeat the experience, so that’s no good. ????????????????????? Alleycat says that if time flows just one way you can’t expect to travel to and fro in it independent of the moment in which you happen to exist.  He has lots more to say, about stretching time out and making it flat or round like a loaf of dough, but all of these things are far beyond me and I just pretend to understand and nod my head when he’s talking.  Apparently his idea is to pop time in the oven, bake it a bit, then eat it and know everything there is to know about every possible instant. Whatever he pretends to believe, Pink’s the only one of us who’s ever accomplished the deed of travelling beyond the present, and this is her version of the story (at least it’s chapter 4  of it).

The Ginge Club and the Pirates

Professor PinkPink’s been nagging me to publish an account of her adventures with the pirates, and because she’s a persistent little brute, I’ve decided that the only way to silence her is to let her have her own way.   I’ve agreed to write down the whole particulars, leaving nothing out except the whereabouts of Alleycat’s treasure cave, and that only because there is still treasure not yet brought to light. In the end she’ll probably force me to finish the story and publish it here in its entirely. She’s offered to dictate it to me chapter by chapter as the weeks go by and here, to get the ball rolling, is a link to the first 3 instalments.

The pirate (Barty Sharp) who figures in chapter 3 sailed with William Dampier and had a rather interesting career.  In something like 1697 (I forget the exact date) he returned from the sack of Panama and was arrested at the request of the Spanish Ambassador, put on trial, and escaped hanging by a hairs-breadth.  Having cheated the gallows, he purchased a derelict hulk that had been virtually abandoned on the shores of the Thames, fitted her out and hired a rag tag crew of scallywags and ne’er do wells, who sailed their rotten vessel into the channel, stole a flock of sheep from a farm in Dover and straightaway sailed for the West Indies, capturing a more suitable vessel en route.  It was probably around this time that he crossed swords with Susan Skew and met his match, so to speak. All this is supplied from memory. I read an account of Sharp’s adventures years ago in the Hakluyt series, but I haven’t checked the details in ages. There’s more about him in Basil Ringrose’s South Sea Waggoner, which you can find quite easily on the Web, and a few reference in Lionel Wafer Secret report, but most of the rest of the information you’ll find is quite inaccurate and if you want the truth the best thing would be to ask Pink.  She probably knows as much about him as anyone in these days.

The reptile

Pink's shadowIt’s ages since we posted (sorry) but we’ve had a bit of trouble with Pink. First off, she started pulling out her fur and we couldn’t stop it happening.  She was nearly bald in the end.  Then she stopped eating and we couldn’t make her start again. Alleycat and Bamber were worried, but there was nothing they could do and they expected us humans to put everything right.  Pink was so low she wouldn’t let us take her photo, but she agreed once that we could photograph her shadow (it’s up there at the top). Little by little she got better.  We brought her heaters, but that was no good, we purchased costly blankets, and she rejected them all, the fleeces, the silks, and even the mousseline. Then, one way or another, she gave us to understand that she required flowers, soft, scented flowers, so flowers were purchased, and after the flowers we had to supply her with golden saucers of full fat milk every other hour.  Pink yawnsLittle by little she started to improve, but her hair didn’t grow back until we sourced (at her explicit request) a reptile lamp, the sort of thing that snakes and other sorts of cold blooded critters love to bask beneath.  Once we’d provided her with all these things; the flowers, the full fat milk in endless supply and the reptile lamp she started to improve and now, I’m happy to report, she’s totally recovered.Sitting pretty

The spirit of the lamp

The sun lampPink’s playing up. She’s wants to dictate more of her adventures, but I haven’t had time to write them down and she feels I’m slacking.  That’s rich coming from her, the laziest cat in the Five Streets. Anyway, she’s ordered me to stick in and press on regardless of other commitments.  I’ve told her it’s Christmas and I might have to break off and drink some mulled wine or eat some strong cheese, but she’s impatient with that sort of thing and simply won’t tolerate it. This morning when I got up she was waiting for me on the kitchen table with her head in the angle-poise lamp.  She thinks that if she sits there she’ll have a bright idea.  It’s as if the lamp’s lighting up her brain as well as lighting my table, and Pink’s such a strong-minded little cat that she can probably make the light do anything she wants, including inspire her, just as she can require me to write when I ought to be eating Christmas cake. Maybe she’s right, because while she was boiling her brains and egging me on to listen to her, I managed to get another chapter done in draft  and here it is.It's nice and hot here

The great dictator

Looking down her noseIt’s been a while since I blogged, but I’ve been hard at work on a story that Pink told me while I was sleeping.  She crept up close while I was dozing in the armchair and whispered in my ear and said I’d better get on and write up some of her better adventures, not the latest ones, but the ones she had when she was younger.  Pink isn’t altogether stupid.  Mostly she just pretends to be silly because it means she can avoid difficult and lengthy tasks by claiming they’re beyond her.  But she’s clever really and she knows stuff.  She was quite right about the story.  I’d been letting things slide and it was high time I got to work.  Here’s a link to what she dictated.  While I was writing it Pink perched somewhat cheekily on the back of my office chair and watched what I was typing, in case I got anything wrong, and if there was anything she didn’t approve of she chirruped a warning and told me to blot. Pink makes a friend

The brains of the outfit

Who's kidding whoWe hear tell of cats who went on adventures  and travelled far and wide, or cats who bravely opposed injustice and fought for freedom, but in general cats have little truck with that sort of thing.  Now and then Alleycat and Bamber go out into the world and show themselves to the neighbourhood, but Pink never goes out at all, and that’s why I  think she may be the brains of the outfit.  None of the rival cat families ever come into Alleycat’s garden, because if they did Bamber would be straight out of the cat-flap to engage them in heated discussion, and if Bamber failed to impress them Alleycat would plod out and ascend to the top of the highest fence post and stare at them. The sentinelThat usually does the trick.   Pink on the other paw stays indoors all day and all night, profiting from the other cat’s exertions.  In the cold weather she has prime spot in front of the hearth and she’s allowed to sleep wherever she likes without being disturbed.  She can even walk over the heads of the dogs on her bony little feet and they know quite well that they’re not to complain.  Pink, for all her pretty ways and her silly habits,  may, in truth, be the most Machiavellian and formidable cat of all and easily the cleverest warm-blooded creature living on Nine Foot Way.  And that’s a frightening as well as an amusing thought.The brains of the outfit

Alleycat’s sage advice

Pink encircledAlleycat went missing and there was no sign of him for a day and half. He didn’t show up until yesterday morning.  No one knew where he’d gone to and when he came back (he always comes back) he looked fitter and stronger than he’s been for years. Obviously he’d been invisible, and whilst invisible he’d seen the solution to the problem of the bears.  The bears must have sensed that their reign of terror  was coming to a close, because they all came out and encircled Pink and surrounded her in a little bear-army on top of the kitchen table.  Pink telling off the head bearThen Alleycat whispered something in Pink’s ear, and a moment later all the bears were flat on their backs and Pink was in control.  Pink in controlAlleycat let her have all the glory, but I’m sure she wouldn’t have been able to overthrow the bears without his sage advice.Pink and Alleycat

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