Sunday, September 7, 2008

the autumn stone

When our elderly family cat, Biff, suddenly contracted cancer in 2002, this was the song we played him on the morning my son's mother took him to the PDSA - the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals - to have him humanely euthanized. I stayed at home, but later buried his body.

At my own mother's house. Beneath a tree, the leaves under it thick as a carpet and smelling of October.

A forty mile round trip by bus with passengers fascinated and suspicious of infant sized rigor mortis in a knitted blanket. Like Mexicans chasing the border before sunset darkens the hard shoulder.

The prodigal son. Peered at from behind rain spotted windows.

This was my young son's first exposure to terminal illness, and death; and grieving.

Biff was a street smart cat who, in his prime, liked to seek out the smokey atmosphere of bars most nights. He would often come home at 4:00 AM smelling faintly of cigars. His fur still warm from an unknown neighbour's hearth. He was always quick to dismiss unwanted attention.

And he liked to get stoned.

Produced by Ronnie Laine.

Certain people will never accept a loved one revisiting their past.

They may pass it off as insecurity but it's seldom solely that, I think.

It is confusion as to who that person may or may not turn out to be; the crippling fear of both private and public reinvestigation. Of an uninvited past. Or headlights failing in the night and the dim prospect of parole.

A trusted face looking in the mirror - tyrannized - lip-reading,

"Fuck it, kemo sabe. Let's hit the road."

Sometimes it's easier just to let sleeping pets lie.

SMALL FACES: THE AUTUMN STONE from "Autumn Stone" 2 X LP (Immediate) 1969 (UK)





my daughter has had two cats, as different as night & day. the first, Darryl, was a lap cat & seat stealer who developed a large cancerous tumor on one kidney & succumbed to it. it was a hard lesson for Lao & it took her several years to decide that the pleasure of having a cat was greater than the pain of losing it, so now we have Tobee, who doesn't like to be held or fussed over much but just likes you to be there for him when he needs you, & to lie on the floor near him, his favorite relaxation.

In other animal related news, since you enjoyed Distorted Pony, I posted an update with links to their two other albums.

ib said...

(Sorry about the earlier deletions. Too much cider)


It's a hard lesson but I'm glad Lao has - albeit reluctantly - taken on the responsibility of allowing herself to care. Again.

Cats are beautiful creatures.

Me, I'm tired of the bonding and loss, but I know it's a good thing and something which should be embraced. My son keeps tropical fish now. If we had more space I would be more than glad for him to keep another cat.

Thanks for the links to more Distorted Pony. I really enjoyed that EP.

Mike said...

I think losing that first pet is one of life's most memorable moments. Though when I think about my first pet lost, I don't know if I remember losing the pet as much as watching those around me react as though I should have been much more upset than I was. It was a bird. I didn't care for it that much.
This Small Faces track is great though.

ib said...

Commendably honest, Mike. And understandable.

Apologies to people out there with a passion for budgerigars and parakeets, but I've never really understood the attraction. My mother was greatly aggrieved that I failed to be moved at the death of her own small caged bird, attached to it as she was.

I used to take some care as to whether to dispose of flies and other insects with extreme prejudice. I tried to be humane. Having accepted my home is infested with beetles - larder beetles, thankfully, not roaches - I am far less concerned.

I have given up conceding their rights as international prisoners of war.

Glad you liked the Small Faces track.

Mike said...

I think that is it, by the way, the fact that the animal was a bird. I kind of love animals, or at least I respect them. I don't eat meat, somewhat as a sign of that respect. But I don't understand caged birds at all. It just seems so unnatural, and what remains after a year or two is something less than a bird. Plus they are very, very dirty.

ib said...

Occasionally, in the thick of winter, we put out breadcrumbs on the windowsill for the pigeons. While not a huge fan of these flying rats, the humungous seagulls which frequently alight there to drag saliva over the glass while peering in with gimlet eye inspire a sense of awe and dread equal to the irritation.

It's like a visitation from Jurassic Park, 22 floors up in the sky.

I was vegetarian for a couple of years way back. My intentions were good, but I lacked true discipline.

Brushback said...

I liked reading this post, and I don't even really like cats all that much.

ib said...

Thanks, man. I like the fact that cats tend to value their independence, but, having said that, I like dogs too. I just wouldn't give one house-room !

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