Chester has a part-time job. He is the ‘kindy cat’ of The Learning Centre nearby, a parent told me as he allowed his daughter to hold and carefully inspect Chester’s paw.
During the rest of the day, he lounges round our place, sometimes going off to see his many friends. He knows more local people than I do. Several asked me if he was okay, as they hadn’t seen him recently - because he’d been in the cattery. He found, however, a great place for a lie down. The originator of the Community Library Boxes was repairing the Vermont Street Box. He removed his tools and temporarily placed some books in his cardboard box. Chester took this as an invitation to climb in and watch him work. I chatted later to a woman there; she knows the cat as a frequent visitor to her John Street backyard. His own street is rich pickings; he does much couch surfing! He enjoys Kelly’s hospitality most days. (Fame: they have his Ponsonby News’ articles pinned to their wall!) In response to a text, when I offered to pick him up one evening, Cleo said Paul would do it, as he knew the house because, “Chester pops in quite a bit. He’s really sweet.” Bronwyn nearby returned his collar and told me he had invited himself to her 70th birthday party. Her grandchildren were delighted. While I was greeting Chester, a man stopped and said he often stayed overnight and loved running up the stairs and using the ladder to the attic.
But after work, sometimes he lets down his fur. Off to the Win Win bar - again! But the bartender was very responsible and would not serve him, as Chester didn’t have his age ID card. Lokanta restaurant in Richmond Road is a Friday night fave. He is happy in the car - just hopped in from the Richmond Road Dairy and jumped over onto the back seat. Late one night he was lying on the pavement outside Little Easy bar. They served him only water (they said!) and took him upstairs to wait for me.
Cecilia, who lives in Australia, confessed that for the first year we were Facebook friends, she thought Chester was a dog. Sometimes, he even comes when he is called. I do wonder sometimes if he has some species confusion, especially when he decided to chew my shoe. Mind you, when he attacked my leg in the garden I sternly reminded him that I was top dog. "How can she not know," he meowed, "when I wait for hours at the front door till she comes home, sleep on her bed, follow her to the back garden, inside the house, to the front garden, that I’m an alternative dog!"
He also seems a little unclear on gender. When I collected him from the Ponsonby Vet cattery, they said he had, very unusually, formed a strong bond with Hamish, a ginger cat from Mt Eden. Not only did they hang out together, but they cuddled up to each other. And yes, he’s been neutered. Perhaps as Jo suggested, “He’s lookin’ for love in all the wrong places!” Spoiler alert: once he heard the music of the Auckland Pride Parade, he shot off up the road to participate.
I’m often anxious about him crossing busy roads, but he came home, licked my hand, and shut his eyes, savouring the love. (Pam Tarulevicz)