At one point there, I suddenly realised I hadn’t seen, let alone touched, a cat for the longest period I could recall. Strangely - or perhaps not so strangely – it hit me with a flush of sadness. Of all the many things that were wrong, just for a moment, this seemed like the worst.
Cats weren’t the only thing denied me. I was captured in a sensory void, made worse by the constant sick-making bromide of banal television, and the thousand tiny limitations checking my thought and my movement, and the faint but constant smell of putrefaction.
All around me, the drone of communications between alien minds. Robot shells stalking the perimeter, some containing the ruined vestiges of human intelligence – not unlike daleks, I suppose – daring not to expose themselves in such a hostile environment.
Just to stroke a cat, just to hear its welcoming brr. Such a simple thing, a lovely thing that adds just a dusting of pleasure to the day.
And all the other things, the micro-things, the hundreds of them, which we use to add that little bit of comfort and pleasure to the harsh flow of life. Foods, scents, textures, personal rituals. And if they are denied, suddenly, en masse, if all the colour is suddenly drained from our field of vision, it sends a crack through the soul.
Once, a friend of mine was opining on the death of Michael Hutchence. Apparently, during the period Michael was going out with the Danish model Helena Christiansen, he was involved in a motorcycle accident. As I recall, they were leaving a restaurant in Copenhagen, when he was struck down and injured in such a way that his sense of smell was either lost or severely reduced.
My friend explained that this was much more than it seemed. For a start, Michael was something of a bon vivant, who savoured the products of all the senses. Wine, for example. I was told he was getting heavily into wine on a connoisseur level. Now, when you lose your olfactory sense, it affects your taste as well; the two, as I understand it, are synergistic. Try holding your nose when you eat; you’ll see what I mean.
This culling of his senses, as it does to many, resulted in depression. The same depression that was to play a part in his death.
All the sights and sounds and tastes and touches. They sustain us. They sustain me. We have two cats here at our house, as readers of this blog may already know, and all those random encounters, the petting, the nuzzling and the feeding, watching the small one chewing at the buttons on my shirt, watching them wrestle after breakfast time, watching the balance of their lithe bodies … well, they have a place in my life. They raise my spirits. Just a fraction. A sweet little fraction.
And I missed it. Along with my family, my friends, my work, my routines, my house, my room …
It's such a tiny, but poignant thing, our alliance with the cats.