Tom-Tom’s story goes back more than a century. He was the only bakery cat that Master Baker Charles ever made a pet of. Perhaps it was because he was such a helpless little ball of pale gold fluff as a kitten; he looked up, and Charles was a doting foster papa more than just an employer, in a time and place where cats normally had to earn their keep.
Tom-Tom grew up to be an expert ratter, and over night used to leave a pile of rodent corpses on the back doorstep to display his prowess and sit over them, his face plainly saying Look How Well I’ve Done Saving The Flour From These Rampaging Rodents. His attitude on eating rat when he could be fed was to give anyone who suggested it a LOOK as though to ask And Would You Eat Rat When There’s Better To Be Had? Charles reckoned that as he hunted for the joy of doing his bit in the bakehouse he deserved to be indulged.
Tom-Tom had his own chair at the table with his plate on the chair; and he would sit up and beg like a dog. His helping went on his plate and he would eat it daintily, then sit politely and wash his face while everyone else finished. He was a very good natured cat and would ride in the little girls’ dolls’ pram. But Charles would never permit his daughters to abuse Tom-Tom’s trust by dressing him in dolls’ clothes. Tom-Tom lived to a ripe old age – especially for a working cat at the beginning of the twentieth century – and died at fifteen just before the outbreak of the First World War.
Basil means kingly and the name suited our hero down to the ground. Basil was black and white and had a penchant for striking regal poses. His nose was as aristocratic as any that might be found on a pedigree Siamese. Basil would have told you that It Was More Aristocratic Than Anyone’s Nose. In his house and neighbourhood he was cock of the walk, even in his last couple of years, at twenty years old and more. He held dominion over two large cats, a Labrador and a terrier, not to mention his human slaves. Basil did not walk; he progressed. And he was never seen without his dignity.
In a new neighbourhood, when his humans had moved, an ageing Basil could expect to be the target for established cats; but with consummate aplomb and leadership he marshalled his forces.
Sitting at the end of the lane, he looked a perfect target for aggressors; and many an established cat decided to see him off.
Halfway up the lane however was a big clump of bushes; and any marauding cat found out too late that hidden within them were Marvin and Kryten, Basil’s cohorts! Basil sat and smirked; Hah, My Minions Have Managed To Show Them Who Is Boss! He seemed to say as Marvin and Kryten routed all comers.
The lesson usually took.