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Cats – as well as The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ kitten

2020 April 30

Albert and Tommy looking out for certain animals outside

As readers realise from my writing and comments, I am a Londoner born and bred. Part of my East End family came here in the late eighteenth century from Pomerania under the name of Sallnow. I wrote about them in my London Stories many years ago. But Hackney, as it was in both my childhood and adult life, started to change in various ways this century. By late 2014 I then moved to Hastings. The cats have seemed to like it better than Clapton but until the last number of weeks I have often considered moving back to London – apart from many regular visits.

Probably for the first time living here has seemed more pleasant! The sea too has been calm and watchable, though the seagulls are lacking in food. The cats seem to have watched animals just passing by rather than the usual awful cars. For me there has been time to focus more on writing. In different ways I have thought again about the presence here of Robert Tressell. From the upper window I can see one of his temporary homes – apart from the sea nearby (and the parking outside Morrisons…) The British socialist writer worked as a decorator and sign-writer while living in Hastings and St Leonards . He began writing his book The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists in 1906. The book has often been thought about in many ways.As Alan Sillitoe wrote “it is the book that won the ’45 election for Labour” as well as giving a statement that the book “…has as its theme the class war.” The politics in the book have been ignored by many people today including both new leaders in opposite groups. If the book has not been read in a while it might be challenging for the current themes.

And if you read it a while back perhaps look this time at the presence of the starving and wet black kitten rescued by the hero Frank Owen. On meeting Frank’s son the “little outcast began to purr.” He quickly went to sleep and continued to live there in the family. In this current time it’s almost good to see that cat litter, and certain brands of cat (or dog) food sell quickly . At least people are trying to look after the animals they live with. It’s not surprising that this emotional relationship seems more important than being supposed to acknowledge certain humans incapable of positively running the country.

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