RICH'S HOME PAGE
1 AN INTRODUCTION TO WELDING
2 PRETTY THE MECHANIC CAT
the Mechanic Cat
By Rich aka Hattymender
When Foggy Dave first invited me to contribute some ramblings the wife
seemed curiously indifferent, making only a couple of comments:
“Is he as daft as you?” (scrutiny of the web site suggests possibly
“You leave me out of it or else”
Ahh! So she’s shy! Might as well get the ‘or else’ over with as I’m bound
to slip up somewhere if this nonsense is allowed to continue
Now I’d be the first to admit that in counterpoint to the world of Foggy
Dave I’m (possibly) slightly the more eccentric one in our relationship.
But that’s not to say that my little medical marvel is without issues.
Over the years she’s kept house, cooks the best meat pie in the world,
brought up two daughters and indulged my lunacy all while maintaining a
nursing career. But you can’t help but think all these things happened as
side shows to the main events in her life; her cats and dogs.
There’s enough material in my battles with the dogs to fill several books
but I’ll leave that for another day*. Suffice to say that it’s a battle of
brains against brawn, and evidence suggests they have the advantage in
*Planned future chapters include:
Labrador snot as
The futility of chew
Wiring, and how it keeps bored
The ‘four legged’ gene has passed on to our daughters. With the eldest
it’s dogs and horses (I believe I’m the only person ever to have been
reported to Child Line for refusing a second pony). With our younger
daughter it’s cats. Lots of cats.
Which brings us to Pretty.
To all outward appearances Pretty is your unremarkable black and white
moggy. One of my daughter’s many. But she has ‘powers’. Strange and
Early mechanical interest was confined to sleeping in the Land Rover’s
spare wheel (mounted on the bonnet). A devious cat can curl up in this
unobserved and leap out to cause me to jump when the engine’s started. But
not Pretty, she’s more imaginative than that. Her record is six miles. And
then it was just to pop her head up for a moment to get her bearings.
Which came as quite a surprise accelerating down the M62 slip road at
The really spooky bit started later. One glorious day a few summers ago I
got hold of the idea that a few more horsepower could be squeezed out of a
four pot petrol engine. (This was before the V8 bug bit). The engine head would
come off for valve grinding and a skim. Vital tools were arranged on the
wing tops; tea, cigs and the odd socket. Pretty took position next to the
cups, obviously keen to see the process through. After sipping my tea
(she’s a non smoker) she decided to help. When reaching out for an
alternative socket she’d tap one towards me; correct one every time.
Calling the wife over to observe this phenomenon Pretty had moved on, she
was found in the driver’s seat, studying the manual. When the engine head came
back from skimming (beautiful job) she sat on it and purred. That engine
ran like a watch. A still underpowered watch admittedly, but a watch none
A few weeks later Pretty’s prowess was confirmed. Daughter’s Ford Focus
was overheating. Pretty took one look, sighed, and sauntered off. Later
tests confirmed a cracked head.
With electrics she’s a marvel. The love of her life is the rat’s nest of
wiring behind the dash. When fitting a tachometer she’d dig in a paw in
and pull out a wire;
“White ignition please. Thank you”
“Earth? Good girl”
Anybody who’s tried to pass a wire through the bulkhead** will appreciate a
helper and I have one who’s willing to sit for hours waiting for the
smallest wiggle of an emerging wire before ceasing it and pulling it
through the grommet.
She sleeps in the engine bay of the Morris 1000. Now I like the smell of
engine oil but it’s not always appreciated, especially when she jumps on
She doesn’t like Whitworth sockets so tips them out.
When the welder comes out she has to be locked up (a cat with arc eye?)
and screams the house down until released. One day I’ll get her a little
She adores the printer and has spent many a happy hour pressing the copy
button, then ‘killing’ the paper as it emerges.
People think it strange when I bring a cat along to scrutinise any
potential purchase, but if Pretty rubs herself against that gearbox and
purrs it’s as good as sold. With the current exorbitant garage charge for
diagnostics I’m thinking of setting up a side line, a cup of tea and a tin
of Kitty Kat to get your car checked out?
**This is the
equivalent of passing a camel through the eye of a needle, only a
tad harder. FD