Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SOLTI (1 September 1999 - 19 August 2014)

Solti's chief-of-staff writes:

Today we bade farewell to the best cat in the world. Solti - Sir Georg for short - has been our beloved companion through the roller-coaster of the last 15 years. Life won't be the same without him.

We're trying to think of all the good times we shared with the animal who was named after Tom's favourite conductor and lived up to the original Solti's reputation more than any feline should be able to. He was an indefatigable optimist and I reckon he shared with the great Hungarian maestro the motto "NEVER GIVE UP".

He had a passion for Wagner: he'd always come in, sit down and purr, paws tucked under, ears at the ready, and especially if it was one of "his own" recordings. He was also a happy, if unbidden, assistant to my piano CD reviewing: he hated bangers and would vote with his paws at the sound of a nasty player.

On one occasion my editor from Hodder came to dinner; he came in through the cat flap carrying a live mouse, which he deposited proudly at her feet to thank her. As mouser, he was keen, but not obsessive; scrunched-up silver foil would do equally well for a game of pawball. The only time he ever brought me two mice on the same day was on my 40th birthday.

He would join in all goings-on in the house and wasn't above invading our occasional salon concerts, especially Viv McLean and Sue Porrett in Divine Fire in which he miaowed his approval half the way through. Having developed a call that could be heard through the violin and piano being played together, he used to make his presence felt during phone interviews to far-flung (and other) places and has therefore miaowed at pianists in Argentina, conductors in Russia, composers in Barnes, opera singers in Germany and violinists in Vienna, to hint at but a few.

He'd welcome us home, curled up on the doormat, or meet us at the corner of the cul-de-sac for a quick dash back to his territory. He loved the sun, the hotter the better, despite his lavish fur coat; but he also loved to sit on the mat in the porch and watch the rain. Indeed, he liked to go out in the rain, get completely drenched, then come charging in, demanding to be dried - the cat equivalent of going to the salon. He kept me company through countless lonely patches of orchestral absences.

Of course he would preside over our annual Ginger Stripe Awards here on JDCMB every 21 December. As these events were often attended by the likes of Mendelssohn, Wagner and the Schumanns, I see no reason why he should not continue to do so, from the silken cushion in the sky.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sponsored his cat-food in the past couple of years. Your enthusiasm, faith and kindness has been enormously appreciated and those sponsorships that still stand are still, of course, up in the sidebar in the appropriate spot, which will remain the Solti Sponsorship scheme, in his honour (though now you might like to sponsor my chocolate supply instead, and I am going to need plenty of it).

Solti died today after a short illness, but he will live forever in our hearts. I am leaving his blog, Paws for Thought, online as a tribute.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Freya and the golden cat food

Seems that my friend Freya Osborne from Downing Street tried to vote with her paws yesterday. She went for a wander and turned up a mile and a half from home, on the other side of the Thames in Vauxhall. Ironically, it was a homelessness worker who found her, called the number on the name tag and watched her being driven home by a chauffeur. Full report here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osbornes-cat-freya-chauffeurdriven-home-after-being-found-by-homelessness-worker-9443699.html

As you know, Freya is the goddess whose golden apples keep the Ring Cycle's immortals equipped with eternal youth. When Wotan lets the giants Fafner and Fasolt take her away to be their housekeeper in payment for the building of Valhalla, he and his family and pals soon find they can't manage without her.

Cats have this effect on families, too - possibly even on politicians.

As Mr George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is passionate about his Wagner, I'd take an educated guess at the origins of his kittykat's name - and Freya the Feline clearly has an important job to do in national government: she has to keep them all eating the golden cat food. (Not that they seem to need much purrsuading.)

Meanwhile Kate Jones, her rescuer, made the following vital point. Please remember it.

"Found – on the streets of Vauxhall. Not everyone is as lucky as Freya. George please stop cutting homeless services."

Thursday, January 09, 2014

My favourite game

My chief-of-staff finally got herself a decent phone that can record uploadable videos, so here is ME playing MY FAVOURITE GAME. And winning it, heheheheheh.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Happy new year!

A very catty new year to everyone from my Chief of Staff, The Master and, of course, ME, Sir Georg!

Since I last wrote, all has not been well in the cul-de-sac. Poor Maurice, as per my last post, has met with a very sad fate under the wheels of a speeding car (which didn't even stop after hitting him). Arthur, King of the Close, has also left us, succumbing to kidney failure at a ripe old cat-age. We miss them terribly. My girlfriend, Scarlett, is still very much alive and purring, though, and has a lovely way of zooming out towards you from all sorts of unexpected points on the street. The other good news is that since June, I have won all my fights, emerging unscathed (if fluffed up) on every occasion. A sobering thought: with Maurice and Arthur gone, I am now Senior Cat of the Neighbourhood. This is a Very Big Responsibility.

Meanwhile it's almost too cold to go out for longer than is absolutely necessary, so here is a lovely video from The Guardian about stock-taking at London Zoo. Fabulous film of the penguins and some close relations of Aleksandr Orlov. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


...I've been taken severely to task for that last post, by Maurice at No.1.

Maurice is a very large, grey cat who is heavy on his paws, suffers from arthritis and can't move much. He asks how I could possibly have neglected to notice that the 'unrealistic' grey cat in Act II of Falstaff is him?! He looks up and about and purrs when necessary; it's a real star turn and not so different from mine, except that he doesn't bite anybody. He is deeply offended by my comment on his acting ability, and I am obliged to offer him a full and open apology right here, right now, because he is twice my size.

One thing makes all of this even spookier than I'd thought: in one scene, Falstaff is wearing Tom's slippers. Big leather flipflips, and quite unmistakable. I don't take them with me, that's for sure, so I can only assume Maurice pops round to get them before his helicopter arrives half an hour after mine (he's on stage later).

My COS is very uncomfortable and is asking how come director Richard Jones came snooping down our cul-de-sac to research his production when we don't even live in Windsor?!?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pawstaff at Glyndebourne...

Questions are being asked. So, after much consideration, I have decided to come clean and tell you about my new starring role in Falstaff at Glyndebourne.

If you attend, you will see a ginger and white cat curled up on the bar in The Garter (well, where else would you expect me to be?), responding happily to Falstaff's expert ear-tickling, biting Pistol and somehow restraining itself from helping itself to toad-in-the-hole pub grub. It is not electronic. It is not a glove puppet. It is not "animatronic" (whatever that means). No, no. It is ME. You can just glimpse me in this photo, behind Pistol's shoulder on the extreme left.

And in act III, I am in the window, watching the antics from a position of perspective that only a cat can take. We don't count the large grey windowseat cat in act II, of course - that one just isn't realistic...

The question I am being asked, mainly by my chief-of-staff, is: how do you do it? "How can it be that when we set off for Sussex, you, dear Solti, are on the bed in the land of nod, and when we return many hours later, you're waiting at the door, meowing as if you've never seen a bowl of Iams before? If that is truly you, how come you get home before us?"

Ah, CoS, what you haven't yet seen is my private helicopter. If you ever bother to look up from your computer screen, you might have a little surprise.

The minute you and Sir Tom are out the door, I spring into action. I clean my fur and whiskers, brush up my tail-suit and prepare to pounce into the 'copter awaiting overhead (and there was you thinking that the noise came merely from living under the flight path! teeheeheee). We whizz to the South Downs in a trice, landing safely on the Glyndebourne estate beside the alpacas and the dromedary where Gus greets me in person and the beautiful Danni presents me with a bowl of the finest organic double cream. Darling Richard gives me my notes from the previous show and makes sure I am happy with all my moves, and Vladimir never fails to offer his congratulations and words of zen-like wisdom.

I am then escorted to my dressing room, in which my contract stipulates that I require the following:

1. A platter of fish;
2. A sheepskin cushion on the couch;
3. A fresh rose for me to take home to my lady cat pal, Scarlett the long-haired tabby (a gorgeous girl, you hear me?)

Do I suffer from nerves, you ask? My dears, one must suffer for one's art. Sometimes I let off a little steam by offering to go on mouse patrol in the house and kitchens.

And sometimes one must do without thanks. There's no curtain call for me, although Christopher Purves, Dina Kuznetsova and Adriana Kucerova are pelted with cheers, whistles and stamping. Ah, er, no, said the powers that be: we have to pretend that you are a mechanical cat, otherwise we might be accused of politically incorrect cat-training! I pretend very well: only one critic bothered to mention - specifically and pointedly - that I am ginger. I think she guessed the truth. See line #5 of her review.

The upside is that I can leave early. While my dear colleagues are singing their socks off in that mad fugue, I am being flown home in luxury; there is plenty of time to give my beloved Scarlett her rose and have a goodnight nose-nudge before I slink in through the catflap and go back to being...well, Solti. Who else?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Felix Miaowndelssohn

Anyone with a mild case of Mendelssohnfunk after R3's intensive weekend is encouraged to visit a certain kitty food site where a competition is taking place to find the cutest kitten. At a princely 9.5 years I am too old to enter, rather to my annoyance. Solti and Mendelssohn were a good mix, once upon a time.

Stand by for the Felix Kitten Factor contest...