Gibbs here.

Let me ask you a question.  Have any of you been hypnotised before? No? Well, have I got something to share with you guys.  Are you ready for the ride of your lives?

Gibbs waiting for his magpie friendIn our garden, we have lots of birds and there have been a lot of magpies this year.  I was sprawled on the club house roof recently, (that Dad made for us last year out of leftover decking), just watching the world go by when a magpie came and said hello to me.  At least, I think that’s what he said, because I haven’t learnt to speak Magpie yet.

Anyway, every time I went out into the garden, this magpie came to talk to me.  He even followed me along the fence when I ran from next door’s garden when Mum called me in for dinner.  Sometimes his Mum and Dad were with him and they’d tell him to be careful because I am a cat and not to be trusted.  I was very hurt by this comment and told them, in no uncertain terms, that I felt deeply aggrieved by their remarks.

Then Casey came out and sat next to me and the magpie talked to both of us.  It got so that whenever we heard the magpie squawking, (even if we were fast asleep in a sun puddle on the dining room floor) we’d both rush out of the catflap at a rate of knots and leap onto the clubhouse roof. The magpie would sit on the fence or even the decking near us.  Mum said she’d never seen Casey run so fast.  He even walks slowly – and eats slowly - so to see him hurl himself through the catflap was something of a wonder, she said.

Gibbs' magpie friendThe magpie held us enthralled as he told us a story that had been passed down through the generations, that his parents told him, and that his grandparents told his parents – you get the picture.  Apparently, one day, Ollie was on the garden wall and a magpie was sitting on the gate post.  Well, Ollie quite naturally was indignant that a magpie should be sitting on HIS wall and told the magpie to leave at once.   Well, the magpie was having none of it and he squawked his head off at Ollie, but Ollie sat firm. 

Then another magpie came along.  Mrs Magpie joined her husband in yelling at Ollie telling him that this was THEIR wall and he could jolly well sling his hook because they weren’t leaving.  Still Ollie sat firm.  Eventually, Mr and Mrs Magpie got bored and they both flew off, but before leaving, they squawked a beak-full of obscenities (in Magpie language) at Ollie.  Mum came out at that point with her camera to take a picture but of course, she was just a few seconds too late.  Ollie was very relieved to see her and he cuddled up to her, because despite his show of bravery, he was actually in fear of his life.  Those magpies were quite a lot bigger than he was, and he was, in effect, being bullied by them.

Mr and Mrs Magpie, despite their protestations to the contrary, were in awe of Ollie standing firm in his resolute belief and they told all their friends about the little ginger cat that they’d met who was as brave as a lion.  They told all their subsequent baby magpies and the legend of Ollie’s bravery and tenacity grew and grew.  The magpie that came and talked to Casey and I told us that forever more they would respect all the felines that lived at the Lazypaws Guest House for Discerning Felines (where the offices of the Daily Mews website is) and they would never, ever, squawk down to us or belittle us in anyway, because Ollie’s bravery lives on, even though he died four years ago. They even told us that they’d held a memorial service when they found out that Ollie had died and all the magpies in the area lined up along the wall as a mark of solidarity in their respect for him.

Ollie and Casey on the deckingCasey knew Ollie for a little while because it was Ollie that told Mum Casey was on the decking during the winter months, in all the snow.  Mum, being Mum, put bowls of cat food out for Casey and he’s never forgotten Ollie’s kindness to him.

Every time Casey and I hear that magpie squawking, we rush out in the garden and watch as he struts his stuff up and down the trellis where the clematis grow, or on the neighbour’s fence, always reliving the legend of Ollie. Sometimes his Mum and Dad come and sit on the fence or the trellis and talk to us.  Who says you can’t have friendships between other animals.  If only people could learn to accept each other’s differences, the world would be a happier place to live.

Gibbs' magpie friendNeedless to say, Mum was always ‘just too late’ to be able to take photos of these momentous occasions, but perhaps that’s the way the magpies wanted it.

Hmm, I wonder what a magpie sandwich would taste like …..

If you want to read Ollie’s account, you’ll have to click on this link.     



Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)