One of the characteristics of the great and much-loved semi official occasion of harvest festival kept by the church is that it is moveable. Some Oxfordshire churches keep Harvest Festival towards the end of September and some in October, around the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, known for his care of animals.
An interesting discussion took place on Twitter this week with American friends, about the custom of some Catholic and Anglican churches of holding services of blessing for people's animals - something I've been looking for locally, for years, for the two cats with whom I live. Anglican, preferably, but any Trinitarian church is good. My taxi has been blessed by both Catholic and Anglican priests, so why not also my cats, who are sentient beings and whom I love.
As I spend hour after hour in my taxi earning my living, it is possible via an internet camera to not only watch the cats remotely, but to talk to them and hear them respond – especially Katie, who is especially vocal.
They have their own gadgets: a feeder, which throws out dry cat food into a tray at pre determined opportunities set by the human and a water fountain, which circulates filtered water. And of course, one of the joys of living with cats is that to them, everything in the home is a plaything.
A trusted American friend said recently "After all, our animals bless us, more than we could ever bless them.” Indeed, they do. The cats bring great joy to my life, comfort and companionship.
But much more even than this, Harry came to live with me via an animal rescue centre at Chilton in Oxfordshire, at a time of multiple stressful events.
Within the space of three months the year I started driving taxis, my father had died, after years of me living with and caring for him, on my own. The house we shared had been burgled and I had caught the burglar when he came back for another go, the following night.
My dog had died as a result of swallowing drugs put through the door by a delivery driver and my closest living relative had launched a battle in the Royal Courts of Justice over the estates of my father and grandmother which was to last for years, cost thousands of pounds for no benefit and not long later, resulted in my wife leaving, from the stress of it all. It was like something out of a country music song.
Into the midst of this infernal cacophony came Harry, who at the animal rescue centre that afternoon, in a barn full of cats in little individual houses, was the only one to actually be awake.
He chose me, rather than me choosing him and we have been bonded cat and human ever since. Paradoxically, Harry was a rescue cat who actually rescued his human.
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 06 October 2016