I owned a cat called Freddy while I was growing up. He was 17 or 18 when he died and I was away at university. I started dreaming about him regularly so i thought maybe I needed to make a book for him, about him, remembering all the good times we'd spent together. So I made my 'Freddy' book. Originally the book was made using digital prints on good paper and hand bound with lovely japanese binding. I finished the edition of 10 in 2004 and sold the books, but I wanted to make a more accessible edition of this book. So recently I decided to remake it as a photocopied zine.
I have these books at market with me and every time someone looks though them I feel happy that Freddy is being remembered! I still dream about him every now and then. Jeremy says he feels he's known this cat all his life too for all the talking of him that I partake in, even though Freddy died in 2000 and I only met Jeremy in 2005. It makes me feel warm and safe when I wake in the morning if I've dreamt of Freddy. He's almost become more than just my old dead cat, he's 'dream cat' and he often talks to me in these dreams in a very comforting way, almost like a parent reassuring a child.
Anyway, I've listed Freddy book on etsy and I'm going to leave some off in Sticky Institute, the zine shop in the Flinders Street subway, sometime this week.
Here is a poem that I fell in love with. It is one of the poems in the Australian poetry book I had the pleasure of illustrating last year. It reminded me of Freddy.
The Old Colonist by Andrew Taylor
Our old tomcat, with is weak heart,
anything over eighty, though once
menace of the whole district, preferes
to piss in the sink, in the frying pan,
on the vegetables.
Anything but go outside in the rain
and cold. Anything
than go at all. We house him
now in the laundry, on an old cushion
on the antique copper. He pisses
on the soap, finally on the cushion.
The laundry was a hazard of stale shit. Yet
when we scrubbed it with disinfectant,
hosed out the stink, encouraged clean air in,
he was neither grateful nor malcontent,
but with ravelled, unwashed dignity,
intelligent eyes, and ears alert,
from great age and it's obscurity
pissed on the ironing with deliberate intent.
six days later
Too old at last even to wash himself
his only thought was to be comfortable.
Mostly on the table under the vine
he lay on his side, watching all his years
slip quietly from him, kittens prowl
backyard and lane that had been once his pride.
His tail was a scattered skipping rope,
his haunches rejects of an Op-shop coat:
you almost thought the moths would pass him by
he was so tattered. Hardly weighed a pound.
He had stopped eating, would sniff milk. take
barely a bite to eat then turn away,
content that we had offered him the choice,
would purr when we coaxed him, but still turn away.
And yet he had his spirit to the end.
We used his table for our lunch, and found
him comfortable among the cutlery
minutes before the guests arrived - not once
but three times. Lunchtime yesterday. Our last
sight of him was a scornful rickety leap
over the fence, tail raised in a vague
vanishing salute. This afternoon
we found him, dead, ants beginning to swarm,
stretched in the sun, warrior to the last,
sprawled like an insult on the mayor's front path.