I love cats. I am a crazy cat lady. I have lived with cats for decades: Chloe the wild Siamese, Grendel the laid-back black-and-white, Miss Beethoven the explorer…the list goes on. As a cat lady, I open cans of tuna, chat to them, and ensure the furniture is “cat-proof.” I arrange tables and chairs where they can jump up and look out the window. I let them play in paper sacks.
Cats have distinctive personalities. Chloe was so wild she playfully batted my pens to stop me writing, ran up the curtains and hung there, and also once incredibly clawed her way across a fiberglass ceiling. Miss Beethoven loved to explore bizarre unknown crawl spaces under the sink. How many hours did we spend calling, “Miss Beethoven! Miss B!” And then she would pop back out, and it turned out we needn’t have worried.
People give you cat stuff if you are a cat lady. I have received many, many kitschy cat figurines, cat mugs, cat sweatshirts, a cat charm bracelet, and a cat fire screen. Most of the cat collection is in the basement, but I do drink from cat mugs and like my wooden cat figures (which are seldom upright, because the cats like to knock them over).
You can’t have too many cat sweatshirts to wear in your freezing cold house in winter. (Thanks, Mom!)
But a cat sweatshirt isn’t quite the thing in London. It is like going out in your pajamas.
I’m pretty sure everybody at the British Library wore black the day I wore my cat sweatshirt. While I huddled at a table on the piazza rereading Jane Eyre after seeing Charlotte Bronte’s “fair copy” in a glass case, researchers indoors sat at tables in the halls staring at their computers. What research, I wondered, could get them out of the hall and into the fantastic Reading Rooms?
Anyone can apply for a reader’s pass, though not everyone gets one. I couldn’t think of any research I had to do. If I wore my cat sweatshirt to apply for a reader’s pass, I would probably have said, “I am very interested in your, er, material on…cats.”
Cats, Kat? Don’t you mean…Katherine?
Looking up Katherine at the British Library, I came up with Katherine by Anya Seton (a historical novel); “Katherine,” words and music by Osborne, Stuart James; or, this sounds promising, Katherine, notes from http://www.katherinetailoring.co.uk/ available only in our Reading Rooms. But I went to the website and it just isn’t me.
My subject? Oh, yeah, I do remember. Classics…I taught it… .and to tell the truth I reread Book IV of The Aeneid in Latin recently.
How about a paper on Aeneas’s bad luck with women, or, more appropriately phrased: “Aeneas and Women: Relationships with Queens, Princesses, and Goddesses”? His mother is Venus, the goddess of love; but Juno, the queen of the gods, hates him. He is unlucky with women: he lost his first wife, Creusa, in the smoky chaos while escaping from burning Troy. Fortunately her ghost appeared and said it was all good. Years later, he drove his lover Dido, the queen of Carthage, to suicide, and later in Italy, the middle-aged Queen Amata stirred up a war to prevent his marrying her daughter Lavinia. Aeneas wasn’t a misogynist, but women had reason to hate him. Was he a good husband to Lavinia? One must read Ursula K. Le Guin’s Lavinia to find out.
Nice try, Kat, but this isn’t a British Library kind of thing, is it? They do have fragments of an illuminated manuscript of The Aeneid, but that won’t help. You can do this at home. You’d better go back to cats if you want to do research at the British Library!
P.S. I left my cat sweatshirt in London to make room for 15 paperbacks in my suitcase.