Tuesday, 7 February 2012


My husband buried Luther Blissett in our garden.

It wasn’t the actual footballer, you understand. That would have been illegal and...well...weird.

No, it was our cat, Luther Blissett, that got interred in a hole and covered up with earth.

The dubiously-monikered moggy - inherited from an unreconstructed Watford fan who had named him after his favourite club striker from the 80s - had been a lovely pet. He was a very patient animal, more akin to a dog than a cat. If you called his name, he’d rouse himself from wherever he was sleeping in the house, and report promptly and dutifully to your lap for a cuddle.

My daughter loved Luther. So when, at an advanced age, he became frail and ill, and we had to have him put down to save him any further suffering, I thought she’d be devastated.

I had a little talk with her, as Luther looked on from his basket, purring. I put on my very serious voice. “Luther is very ill, sweetheart, and Daddy is taking him to the vet’s in a minute. He’s going to have some special medicine that will make him go to sleep forever so he doesn’t hurt any more.”

She looked at me, impassively.  I said: “I think you should give him a stroke and say goodbye.” She shook her head. “No, it’s all right, Mum.” And with that, she hopped off the sofa and went to fetch her reading book.

I’d like to add that this whole conversation took place to the sound of a spade scraping through soil, as in my husband had decided to dig Luther’s grave before he took him to be put down. I was tempted to hold my hands over the doomed cat’s ears, but then decided this would be completely ridiculous.

Fast forward an hour. My husband, hairtrigger gravedigger, returns, and walks back through the house with Luther’s still warm body wrapped up in a rug. Suddenly, my disinterested daughter was FASCINATED. “Mummy, Mummy, can I stroke Luther? Can I touch him? Can I say goodbye?”

I let her do what she wanted. Which was obviously the slightly scary, but somehow thrilling act of touching a dead cat.

She really did love him. I showed her the photo printed at the top of this page (which I hasten to add is a picture taken when Luther was healthy and alive, just in case you were wondering), and she beamed and said: “Oh, Luther was the best cat in the world, wasn’t he?”

But the details, the mechanics, the logistics of his death, didn’t phase her in the slightest.  Neither did me flushing Rocky the newly-deceased shrimp from her aquarium down the toilet a few weeks ago.

“I’m not upset, Mum,” she said. “It’s not like Rocky was a cat.”

Video is Leftfield - Shallow Grave


  1. That's made me feel quite emotional.

    I have to say this is an immensely touching blog. It is not specific to PWS and has a much wider reach, detailing not just the challenges of bringing up a child with physical and learning difficulties but also the little joys and charms that offset those challenges and, I hope, make the whole thing worth while.

    Keep up the writing it is inspiring.

  2. The springboard for Sugg's (excellent) one man show My Life Story was the death of his elderly cat on his 50th birthday (that's Suggs, not the cat). We've said goodbye to several moggies over the years as they make their onward journey. Your delightful daughter sounds as if she's the sort who'll cope magnificently as and when it happens again; you will get another, won't you? Luther Jnr?

    1. Much as I love having a cat I doubt we'll get another, John. Luther cost us an absolute fortune in vets' bills. And I know you can get insurance, but once they get old somehow they're never covered. Work is a little sparse in these times of austerity, unfortunately!
      We've gone for the fish tank route. We could replace all 10 of those little blighters for about £25. And no poo to clear up, either.

  3. Don't talk to me about vet bills. The only thing with fish is they're not ones for sitting on your knee when you're feeling a bit down.

    I can't recommend Suggs' one man show highly enough btw. It's like an extended True Stories Told Live. And he sings Lola with just an acoustic guitar for accompaniment.

    1. Watching the fish is quite relaxing, though. I sit on my daughter's bed and have a little chat at bed time and we watch them swimming around. It's nice.

      I love Suggs, and his show sounds great, but it's not touring anywhere near me, unfortunately.

      Still, all this talk has convinced me I must now find a way of shoehorning in some Madness into one of my blog posts :-)