The second she arrived home, and put her key in the lock she remembered the message. As she walked through the door empty-handed, the cat looked at her with utter contempt. Call yourself an animal lover! She knew straight away what Sinn Fein was thinking,
“Really, you forgot? It wasn’t much to ask, was it? One fucking can of Whiskas, that’s all I wanted, Now I’ve got to walk back up the bloody stairs at my age, and she did, in total disgust.
Now I know what you’re thinking, Sinn Fein, weird name for a cat and so it’s origin probably needs some explaining. The cat’s name actually had a bit of a history, although obviously not as much of a history as the organisation itself.
The Mother had acquired the cat many years ago from a friend in need. The friend in question was already beginning to outgrow her one-bedroom flat. It being full with her, her partner, a baby, four rescued cats and an extensive collection of vinyl; there was no more room at the inn. So, at about four months old Sinn Fein left her temporary accommodation in Southend for her forever home in London. Originally a rescued cat found living in an old tyre in the park. Sinn Feinn was very lucky to be alive, not least given her love of climbing tall trees, and then falling out of them.
As the arrival of the cat had been somewhat unexpected, no one had given much thought of a name for her. For two long weeks, she was simply called Cat. The Mother had not been particularly worried about this; after all, Aaron had been, “The Baby” for almost 3 weeks. But eventually, the mother agreed that ‘The Cat’ did need a name.
One night, while at a friend’s place in Forest Hill, the subject of cats’ names somehow arose. Her friend happened to be distilling Rhubarb Gin in the kitchen at the time, while she was sat on the balcony having a spliff.
“Right, this is going to take a while,” Larissa shouted from the kitchen.
“So, by the time I finish I want you to have come up with a name for that kitten, or it’s going to be kitty forever!” Kitty Forever, could that be her name, probably not. So she began going through pet names in her head. She thought about her dead pets from the past, friends’ pets, animals on the tele, even pops star names, but came up with nothing.
Then her friend had suggested,
“What about something a bit different, something Irish maybe.”
She spent the next ten minutes, smoking her badly rolled spliff, which went out several times, and thinking up Irish names. Finally, she finished it, took one last look at the amazing view of London from the 14th floor and announced,
“Sinn Fein, I’m gonna call her Sinn Fein that’s quite unique, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I was thinking something more like, Cillian,” said her friend
“God no, that’s a boy’s name! No, I’m going to stick with Sinn Fein.”
Of course, in the cold light of day, she’d have her doubts, but she wasn’t about to change it now, after all, she’d felt like she’d put a lot of thought into this name.
What she hadn’t put a lot of thought into however was the implications of naming a cat after a left-wing Irish republican political party. Later she’d discover the joy of standing on the doorstep at midnight, trying to get the cat in by repeatedly shouting its name. And then there were the awkward trips to the vets…..
If someone had to choose three words which summed up the mother, one of them certainly would have to be resourceful. She didn’t know what the other two might be and didn’t want to either. She knew one way or another, she’d find something for the cat to eat. Drunkenly she began to search the fridge for anything that might pass as cat food; without success. She then quickly moved on to the cupboard. She clattered around for several minutes moving unloved tins of prunes, kidney beans and some out of date curry powder, who even knew that could expire. But sadly, there was nothing for the cat, not even a tin of Tuna. But then, just by chance, something caught her eye. Eurika, a tin of mock duck, hiding cheekily behind some spelt flour. Although technically cats weren’t vegetarian, Sinn Fein had demonstrated through her love of Linda McCartney pies that she was blissfully unaware of this. She probably would not even notice she was eating a tin of gluten rather than a can of meat and animal derivatives.
On a normal day, the mother would have no problem using a can opener, but today was quite different. Fairly pissed and in need of the toilet, opening a can seemed to demand a particular skill set, a skill set she did not possess. After a few attempts, she managed to open half the lid but then accidentally dropped the tin open on the floor. Never mind it’s almost done she thought, and she put her middle three fingers under the metal lid to bend it upwards. But she was sloppy in carrying out what should have been a simple manoeuvre and carelessly managed to gash her fingers. Instantly blood began to seep out, and fall in large, glistening droplets onto the floor
For a second or two, all the mother could do was stare, She could not believe that a few fingers could produce so much blood, it’s not like she’d cut them off, had she? She went to the toilet in search of toilet paper, but of course, there was none. Panicking now she rushed back to the kitchen to find a tea towel, blood dripping all the way. She grabbed the nearest one to hand which happened to have a map of the British Isles on it. Then, she wrapped it as tightly as she could around her fingers. She looked at the cat who had now stopped meowing and was licking the spots of blood on the kitchen floor, great she’s a bloody vampire thought the mother. That would explain the attempts to fly out of trees.
After the pain had subsided a little, she unravelled the blood-stained cloth and looked at the deep cuts across her fingers; she knew it was bad because there was a blue tinge to the wound. She did not know why this meant it was quite serious, only that it did.
She also noticed that the tea towel wasn’t actually that clean Afterall. As well as her blood which had covered a lot of sea, all of Cornwall and most of Devon there were numerous other stains on it too. There was quite a lot of baked bean juice just above Liverpool. Also, what smelled like orange juice around the Scottish Highlands, although it could have been tropical punch. Should she go to the hospital? Did she need a stitch or two, a tetanus maybe? Nah I’ll be fine thought the mother.
What she did need to do however was find something to bandage up her fingers in the absence of any plasters, something else she also needed to buy. Ah, she was in luck, she spotted a clean pair of knickers on the radiator. She wrapped the knickers around her fingers and then used a hairband to secure the underwear,
The Mother smiled to herself at her resourcefulness. I’m like a modern-day Florence Nightingale, she thought, I bet I’d have been a brilliant nurse in the Crimean.
With that she went upstairs, stretched out in her bed after her exhausting day and fell asleep, the cat that is. The mother, on the other hand passed out in the front room watching Peep Show while polishing off the last of the Amaretto. Well, it’s medicinal, isn’t it?