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Friday, 4 June 2021

Cats on a mission

Cover Artist: Gerard Whyman 

The Murenger sells a good pint of Sam Smiths. It also has stronger stuff under the counter judging by ‘Tails of Phoebe and Mags Worthington of “The Mew’s” Belgravia.Think Lucia and Mapp on acid, Hunter S Thompson’s ‘Fear and Loathing in Vegas’ channelling E. F Benson. It’s what I love about The Murenger, the eccentrics it attracts, (myself included) Within those walls there is something in the air, mercifully not covid, that sparks gentle weirdness.

As the Forward in the book states: ‘The ‘Tails’ originated in the period 2005-09,’ amongst a group of writers who enjoyed working together. The ‘Tails’ were later circulated via round robins, revived during lockdown and now finally published. I should add I had no part in this, a project begun before my time. In fact, until the book was presented to me, I had no idea of its background or how it was all put together. 

So, how best to describe it? First of all, it’s not a children’s book, not with lustful mice like Podge Ogilvy Innes III  or characters like Lady Leonora Cooperwhitty, one ‘of that class of women who enjoy being on top of men, women, children and elephants.’

Lady Leonora 

Not someone to trust with a gun

Think 'The Famous Five' meet ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ in a world that oscillates between Scotland and Belgravia; a world where cats, opera singers, Russian spies, gangsters, and feline family trees interact, a hallucinatory whimsy that needs to be read in a firm Scottish accent. 

Cats on a mission

Toffs up to no good

For Paval Zoubok, “Collage is the cut, the tear, the rupture and the overlay of our contemporary culture. It is the hybrid language of urbanity – the remixed, recontextualised, and wholly built from the fragments of daily life.” He was explaining a new school of art.

Lady Katrina Ogilvy Opera singer and cat lover

A disturbingly erotic cat

In this sense, ‘Tails of Phoebe and Mags Worthington of “The Mew’s” Belgravia’ is the literary equivalent but set in the interwar years. In this world, characters like Podge Ogilvy Innes III (a mouse) Dimples Dennistoun (a nanny,) Dame Sheba Gingers, Babs McTooth, and Phoebe and Mags Worthington (two cats) have a series of loosely connected adventures in the 1920s. Archive photos side by side with beautifully drawn Cats blur the line between different states of seeing: the mundane and the almost impossible. The book should be read with “Three bottles of 1907 Heidsieck Champagne Gout Americain,” the favourite tipple of Olga the White Russian cook.

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