It was the shimmering pink feather that gave the game away, nestled within the fronds of her fur. Oro came home after a night out, an exhausted Max following slinkily behind, the coat between his ears curiously flattened.
The cat community around our neighbourly streets form a distinctive cast and after months of observation, the picture came into focus.
Oro, our golden-eyed cat with a seductively feline roll of the hips was not always thus. Her minxy mooch is the legacy of a kittenish fall from a high window. Now it stands her in good stead, for as the Moll of the Hood she couldn’t be any other way; her languorous limp makes Marilyn Monroe look understated.
Max was once a kitten so sprightly and beautiful that we asked our vet if his provenance was anything special. “Your cat is the feline equivalent of a London taxi,” we were advised. Unbeknown to us (and him) his future was sealed.
The secret lives of Oro and Max have now come to light and they make interesting reading. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the cast that makes up their mystery world of nocturnal feline frolics.
The first revelation and exception, took me quite by surprise. Shortly after arriving at our house Old Lara, the resident hound-across-the-road, used her lugubrious face and barely discernible wink to tempt both our cats to her open window. We thought she was merely extending an innocent invitation to partake of the ham her owner placed upon the sill. Oh no. Lara it transpires is something of a ringleader, the recruiting officer behind the decadent underground activities into which Oro and Max have been inevitably drawn.
The next surprise, was the identity of the lithesome roof-top cat on the adjacent streets. No ordinary mog, this is Surveillance; appointed as intelligence designate his slate-grey pelt serves as camouflage, whilst his parapet position provides the panorama from which he may warn the Pussy Posse of untoward threats to that evening’s events.
Moving to Columbia Road East, we find Boudoir, a mystery character. This supremely fluffy white pussy lies languorously atop car roofs. With heavy-lidded green almond eyes she exudes sensuality, is reputed to be great fun and much disliked by our own Moll, Oro. Boudoir is I believe a regular at the local speakeasy, the key to this whole mystery.
Upon Baxendale Street there is Tuxedo, a black cat with white bib who can be seen riffling through bins late at night, most notably those outside restaurants and take-away joints. A restaurant critic by day, Tuxedo is keen to work and once his culinary inquiries have been satisfied, he pads across to Durant Street where the underground speakeasy lies in wait beneath an upturned boat, abandoned in the garden of a house whose blinds remain forever drawn. Already appropriately attired, Tuxedo slips seamlessly into his second job as Security.
Max has already left the house and runs to a wall on Durant Street, where he dislodges a brick, in actuality a rectangular orange light which he fixes between his ears. The tile illuminates to reveal the letters M-A-X-I. Nose in air he concentrates momentarily, then trots away to meet a siren call from a street or few hence. His feline passengers dressed to excess will sit atop his broad back and be gently deposited a discreet distance from their underground destination. Free to collect the next party, MAXI once again pricks up his ears, tunes into another passenger cry and disappears into the night.
Oro meanwhile, wends her wonky way around the corner to a distinctive bin from behind which she retrieves her shimmering pink feather boa. Throwing it carelessly around her slender neck, she pads nonchalantly to the fence from behind which her destination calls. Belying her immobility, she scales the dizzy height and drops silently to the ground beyond, which is where we must leave her for what goes on here is not for our eyes or ears.
The hottest ticket in town, this feline Speakeasy is run by a personable panther whom no one has seen in daylight hours. The Invisible Impresario retains his anonymity admirably although rumour has it that he is of Scottish descent and founded his less than legal nightery from the proceeds of his Glaswegian Grocery family’s legendary potato empire. My enquiries into the activities that take place within Invisible’s underground gaff have yet to be satisfied.
And what of Oro and Max? As I write, they are asleep upon the bed, to all intents and purposes two perfectly innocent and insouciant cats. When I uncover more, dear reader, you will be the first to know.