It was a neighbour who gave me Pouchkine – chat espagnol – a calico cat. I don’t know how she got a name like that, but it did seem to fit – just as snug as herself in one of my charentaise – those goofy plaid slippers the French adore.

I was very young – and utterly unwise about being female, about how… to just be a girl. In short, a Tomboy.  It was Pouchkine who came to my rescue, entering the bathroom one evening,  the door not really closed, me nearly submerged in bubbles. It was Pouchkine who could have put Cindy Crawford to shame as she made her way round the rim of the tub – hey, they don’t call that runway a catwalk for nothin’. It was Pouchkine who took a bit of suds on her paw and patted it on my shoulder and purred at this adoubement in the feminine. I was to pamper myself, she explained to enjoy perfumes and a fair amout of leisure…

I tend to shower these days, rarely loll in the tub…but when I do I often think of  my savvy Parisian pussywillow with her poet’s wisdom and Russian name. What would she teach me today, I wonder – how to look divine skinning sardines? .


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