One of my favourite poets is T.S. Eliot and one of my favourite books is Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. I love, love, love everyone one of the poems in the book and yes, I am a cat person!!
Ironically, this weekend one of those magical poems came to mind. It was Gus - The Theatre Cat. Why? Well, I don't always have reasons for why things just pop into my head out of the blue, however, if I really think about it, there was probably a trigger. In fact, the trigger this weekend was an article in the paper about asparagus - not the cat, the plant.
Ho hum - boring old asparagus. Now, it could be less boring, if you came from Europe and were used to white asparagus and then decided to get into an argument about the attributes of white asparagus over green. This might, however, turn into a kind of class warfare, where the upper classes always ate the purer, more refined foods - white asparagus, for example, while the servants ate the stodge.
No, the article wasn't putting anyone down. It was actually praising researchers at Guelph University who, in 2000, developed a kind of super asparagus. I had visions of an aspragus spear in a crusader's cape, slaying the equivalent of vegetable dragons - OK it was a slow day!!
Really, only a gardener can get excited about a plant that grows at twice the speed of its generic equivalent, lives twice as long - about fifteen years and has a significantly higher nutrient value. Throw into the mix the fact that it is frost hardy, can grow in really cold weather, poorer soil and needs very little in the way of pesticides.
I think that it's time to get an asparagus pot!! For those of you who didn't find this very theatrical - did I mention that it grows so fast, that you can almost see it move - here's the poem!!
Gus - The Theatre Cat
by T. S. Eliot
Gus is the Cat at the Theatre Door.
His name, as I ought to have told you before,
Is really Asparagus. That's such a fuss
To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.
His coat's very shabby, he's thin as a rake,
And he suffers from palsy that makes his paw shake.
Yet he was, in his youth, quite the smartest of Cats--
But no longer a terror to mice and to rats.
For he isn't the Cat that he was in his prime;
Though his name was quite famous, he says, in its time.
And whenever he joins his friends at their club
(Which takes place at the back of the neighbouring pub)
He loves to regale them, if someone else pays,
With anecdotes drawn from his palmiest days.
For he once was a Star of the highest degree--
He has acted with Irving, he's acted with Tree.
And he likes to relate his success on the Halls,
Where the Gallery once gave him seven cat-calls.
But his grandest creation, as he loves to tell,
Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.
"I have played," so he says, "every possible part,
And I used to know seventy speeches by heart.
I'd extemporize back-chat, I knew how to gag,
And I knew how to let the cat out of the bag.
I knew how to act with my back and my tail;
With an hour of rehearsal, I never could fail.
I'd a voice that would soften the hardest of hearts,
Whether I took the lead, or in character parts.
I have sat by the bedside of poor Little Nell;
When the Curfew was rung, then I swung on the bell.
In the Pantomime season I never fell flat,
And I once understudied Dick Whittington's Cat.
But my grandest creation, as history will tell,
Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell."
Then, if someone will give him a toothful of gin,
He will tell how he once played a part in East Lynne.
At a Shakespeare performance he once walked on pat,
When some actor suggested the need for a cat.
He once played a Tiger--could do it again--
Which an Indian Colonel purused down a drain.
And he thinks that he still can, much better than most,
Produce blood-curdling noises to bring on the Ghost.
And he once crossed the stage on a telegraph wire,
To rescue a child when a house was on fire.
And he says: "Now then kittens, they do not get trained
As we did in the days when Victoria reigned.
They never get drilled in a regular troupe,
And they think they are smart, just to jump through a hoop."
And he'll say, as he scratches himself with his claws,
"Well, the Theatre's certainly not what it was.
These modern productions are all very well,
But there's nothing to equal, from what I hear tell,
That moment of mystery
When I made history
As Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell."
How he ever got the name Asparagus, I'll never know. But clearly he was a star and so is Guelph Millennial (crazy name too) that new breed of asparagus, which is producing a little theatre in the garden. Move over Sweet 100s, you've got competition!!
Have an aspiring day!!