All creatures great and small, two-legged and four-legged, running away from someone or something, tended to end up as flotsam and jetsam washed up against the gashed rock hills and errant bush that formed the city limits where I grew up.
Such was the case with the well-bred, waylaid and ultimately strayed Mr Scrawns, our cat.
Like so many creatures seeking refuge at the edge of the badlands, he suddenly appeared in the light-of-day one day. He’d been scavenging on bread crusts, hernias hidden beneath matted fur slung low under his belly, with a broken jaw that left his tongue extended in an unnerving first-impression hung-over but quizzical look, the end of which was rough to the touch like a piece of crispy fried bacon wizened in the sun.
He was according to the vet, quite well-heeled for a stray, a Birman ?, a relatively uncommon breed to fall upon hard times. Upper crust living on crusts. He even had real leather ears. He’d either been hit by, or thrown from, a car and ended up living on the edges of society before he wandered into our lives and asked for a bit of help in the form of some grub and lodgings.
Thereafter to us he always had a bit of mystery about him. He was peerage, a remittance man, a raconteur, kinda classy. His quizzical look and distended tongue that hung to one side came to resemble a cigarette-holder at the corner of a toffs mouth.
My most vivid memory of Scrawns is of the cat door snapping shut one night and him running up and down on my bed while I was trying to sleep. To the point where I just couldn’t take it any more and with the words: “For fuck’s sake Scrawns, stay still !” turned on the light to see him looking at me from the other side of the room with his head tilted quizzically and his tongue hanging free, and an equally quizzical rat about his size sitting on the bed next to me. It was the rat that had been running up and down my bed that I’d been patting and trying to settle down. Scrawns had kindly brought him inside so I could meet his new friend.
Unfortunately Scrawns died (peacefully) some time ago now. Upon his passing my brothers and I hauled a big-ass piece of rock from some road battering works and had a plaque made up for it that we stuck down with super-glue.
It read: ‘Scrawns Bush. With magic tonguey and matted fur, from the bush we now inter.’
It may not be known as ‘Scrawns Bush’ on official maps, but to us that place will always be known as ‘Scrawns Bush’ in our hearts.
Here’s looking at you kid. So long old-fella.