I was at the Whittington Hospital in Archway last week to discuss what to do about my five kidney stones. One of my neighbours, an elderly Irish lady called Madeleine, enthusiastically told me to keep them in a jar for good luck. I mentioned this to the consultant and he said it sounded sick.
He also unexpectedly told me to lie down and shoved a finger right up my bum, which I found disconcerting but at least I now know that my prostate is in tip-top condition. Being a regular watcher of breakfast TV I’d been starting to think that under the skin I was probably full of rot and slime by now and that it was perhaps best not to know what was going on. On 9th December I get a camera slipped down my urethra to check whether the bladder is okay as I was passing blood recently. Presumably it won’t be an SLR.
As I was leaving the hospital I passed this interesting looking stone effigy of a cat.
It turns out that this was the very spot on which Dick Whittington was standing when he heard the Bow bells of London urging him to ‘turn again, Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London’ and fulfil his destiny. He was famous for having a black cat and all his possessions tied up in a handkerchief attached to a stick. Not the cat, of course.
He’d been walking despondently up Highgate Hill at the time, on the way home after having as he thought in the vulgar modern parlance ‘not made it’, when what we now call London was just a lot of separate towns and villages. In the legend he is supposed to have had his home in Gloucestershire, but if he was returning there from London then going up Highgate Hill would have taken him in the exact opposite direction. Whatever. Needless to say, the real Dick Whittington was never a tramp.
The pub next to the stone tries to cash in of course, although I doubt whether many tourists make it this far from Central London unless they’re on the way to pay homage at the grave of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery.
Thrice Lord Mayor of London
1397 – Richard II
1406 – Henry IV
1420 – Henry V
Sheriff – in 1393
I don’t think my own cat, which drifted in here from the garden a year ago and settled down permanently, would follow me anywhere, unless there was lots of food and comfort involved. She does show enormous affection, however, but I suspect that’s just manipulative behaviour to keep the nosh coming along. She licks my fingers for the salt, no doubt, and when she stares longingly into my eyes she’s just thinking about jellied lamb. I’ve become cynical about pets and people.
Either cats are vacuous creatures programmed only to eat and sleep, or else they really do know everything. I suspect it’s the latter. It’s eerie sometimes in the evenings when she suddenly jumps up and seems to follow an invisible someone or something around the room with her eyes for minutes on end before settling down again. Returning to the urinogenital theme on which I started, it gives me the willies.