Ismael, was going to sell me a car, a Citroen C15, the Andalucian Land Rover. The advantage the C15 has over a Land Rover is that they are cheap and available. So basic, they can be patched up by anyone with gaffer tape and a spanner and keep going a bit for decades. There are always ancient, battered, patched up, workhorses for sale in the sierras. Ismael’s wouldn’t start, so I went round to his garden to see it.
When he opened the door in order to demonstrate how there were no front seats and the window would need to be extricated from the door frame there was mewing from a big cat and about eight kittens which had taken up residence in the seat well. Although he did get the car to the farm some weeks later, I didn’t get it. It broke down on the track and stayed for a month before it was towed away. But I did get a couple of the kittens.
I was hankering after a troubled refuge dog but after being told often and forcibly that without cats the farm will be inundated with mice once the cold weather starts, I vaguely relented. Anyway, the minute I saw the cat which hereafter will be called ‘Bob’, I liked him a lot, so that was one. And the she-devil cat, henceforth to be ‘Joan’, shot off into the wood store, and all efforts to get her out by groping around blindly in the dark were met with hissing and clawing. Bob dashed in and hid behind her in the murk, and it began to rain. Ismael left with a cheery wave. In the small hours of the morning the kittens, lured by string and a newspaper ball, switched location to a dark area beneath the settee where they huddled in miserable silence while I fretted about food, milk, litter trays and whatever else cats wanted.
Like their forefathers they are brother and sister which doesn’t seem right, but I’m told that’s normal. They have gained weight and confidence and seem happy with things generally. Bob is dark, slow and soft, and Joan, white, sharp and fast. Neither show any inclination to go mousing, and actually, because of their size and the amount of owl activity these nights, they’re still kept inside rather than thrown out to prowl the various hollows and sheds from whence the rustling currently emanates. One of my neighbours has 50 hunting dogs, and Fernando says if his own dogs – now down from four to three after the pitbull killed a big one in a fight over the labrador bitch – see the cats they’ll get them.