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Maggie Choc

I am delighted to be the winner of Eric Lennick's book, A Life Worth Living! Here is a story of one of my first childhood memories. It is of our two little kittens, Jonathan and Josephine.

I must have been about 3 or 4 years old and my brother was 6 years older. The difference in our ages meant that my brother was more interested in riding bikes and playing cowboys and Indians. (And he kept pet white mice…. but that’s another story!) He certainly wasn’t interested in the kittens.

The black mother cat, Susie, was haughty and very unfriendly. She’d give me a ‘hiss’ for no apparent reason, and be forever preening herself. But the kittens! They were black-and-white fluff-balls, and they tumbled around happily like all kittens do. They’d pop my balloons, knock over ornaments, and generally get into mischief!

And I loved them. We were playmates

But of the two, Jonathan was my favourite!. He would let me dress him up, push him around in my doll’s pram, and always joined in for a ‘teddy bears picnic’ on the lawn with my dolls and soft toys. I adored him. He was my constant companion – my very special friend.

At that time we were living in Surrey, in a small cottage in the grounds of the local Doctor who had recently retired. My mother had a position there as housekeeper - and my father was there for a short time, while he continued with own employment. I remember very little of my father, but I do remember being very happy.

And, it was always sunny!

But those halcyon days came to an abrupt end when we had to move to Kent to live with my Grandparents. My parents’ marriage had already broken down completely when the Doctor died very suddenly. Grandma was happy to have one kitten, but she was not prepared to have both. It was fair enough, really. She had never had a cat before and as my Mother would be searching for another living-in job, the cat was likely to be living with her permanently.

I remember Susie and Josephine being kept in the downstairs cloakroom one evening ‘waiting for someone coming to collect them’. And I do remember my Mum being very, very sad. It was a horrible time

And everything changed. Nothing was the same for me. Grandma even changed Jonathan’s name to ‘Mickey’. Why? I have no idea – but I suppose she must have had a reason.

Eventually my mother found a living-in position in a boarding school close to my Grandparents home - and where we had our own rooms. 'Mickey', of course, stayed with Grandma and he grew fat and spoiled. And he didn’t seem to know me anymore. I put my memories of Jonathan and those happy days in Surrey into ‘my memory box’ and followed my Mum towards a new life - and new adventures. Those memories didn’t come out for many years to come. Nearly 40 years later in fact!

But how odd is this? My brother and I were reminiscing about our childhood days all those years later. And, we realised only then, and for the first time for either of us, that his first child was called Josephine - and my first child, a son, was called Jonathan!

It’s a funny old world, don’t you think?

EDITOR: Many congratulations Maggie! Eric's book can be bought here.

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