Dick Whittington's Mummified Cat

So the adventures begin with a bang!  On a cold February Thursday, myself and my Equally Adventurous Anonymous Colleague (E.A.A.C.) decided to kick off our 'Secret London Lunch Breaks' extravaganza with a trip to Highgate Hill in Archway, in search of the macabre, grisly sight of Dick Whittington's mummified cat, as one does... (To read more about Dick himself, and the legend of the cat, click here).  We arrived at the 'Whittington & Cat' in pretty good time in a reliable London taxi (although not particularly good value - it seems our lunch time adventures may need a budget of their own).  Incidentally, the taxi driver seemed to pick up on our enthusiasm about our rather unlikely destination and asked why on earth we were heading away from the slick City of London hip, hop & happenin' bars, to a rather run-down, old-man magnet of a boozer in this bland area of Highgate.  He said he'd been a regular at the Whittington & Cat for some years.  We decided to come clean and confess all about our Dick Whittington's mummified cat search.  He looked at us rather blankly in the rear view mirror and told us in no uncertain terms that in all the years he had been drinking at the dusty establishment, he had never seen a dead cat in a case on the wall.  Despite the obvious disappointment, we cheerfully brushed the matter aside, paid the pretty penny to the driver and bade him farewell.  He drove off chuckling to himself and ever so slightly wagging his head in a sort of 'ah bless 'em' sort of way.

So we arrived at the Whittington & Cat.  Nothing special from the outside, but unable to see inside due to the curtained windows, we felt a slight trepidation upon entering.  What would we find?  A room full of dirty old men who would all turn and stare as we walked in?  How dare we enter their pub!

As we walked in we could see that our original fears were right.  Drunken old men, sat around the bar, saying nothing, gazing into the distance.  Until we walked in.  All eyes on us two.  The landlord/barman looked confused.  Who were these two gorgeous young ladies?  What could possibly have brought them to this far flung neck of the woods?  He was soon to find out.

As my E.A.A.C. kindly bought the drinks at the bar, my eyes were darting all over the place, trying not to look suspicious, but desperately scanning the walls to see if the mummified cat in question did actually exist.  The pub was deathly quiet, the old men continued to sip their ales, and just as E.A.A.C. was collecting her change, I spied some sort of case on the far wall of the pub, next to the wide screen TV.  We grabbed our drinks, and headed over to take a closer look.

We couldn't believe our eyes.  It DID exist!  There it was in all its glory!  The mummified cat of Dick Whittington himself!  Good old Tommy!

Well.  I can't describe the excitement that followed.  We tried our best to mute our squeals and to sit calmly, but it was futile.  There it was, right there, on the wall, next to us.  I might add at this point that the glass cabinet had seen better days and through neglect over the years, the glass had long since been broken and replaced rather crudely with cling film.  Strangely this added to the surreal experience.

We had obviously caused quite a stir in this old-fashioned stinky old man pub, now we were attracting the attention of the regulars, as well as the landlord.  We had to confess all.  We told them we had come here for the cat.  The landlord seemed to know alarmingly little about the cat, but we updated him.  

By the end of our visit, the landlord was equally excited about the cat, the old men commented that it made a nice change to have a bit of 'talent' about the place and one of the regulars assisted us in taking photos.  Myself and my E.A.A.C. grew quite fond of the pub, it's crummy old chairs and peeling walls.  The cat theme clearly ran through the place, with various porcelain cat figurines dotted here and there.  It was dark and brown, but it was a pub with atmosphere.  And a dead cat on the wall.  That taxi driver had obviously had a fair few ales in this pub over the years, Tommy was here all along and he never noticed him.

To end the trip, we ventured outside (it seemed a shame to leave so soon) and found the statue in honour of Whittington's legendary cat on the site where, in the story, the distant Bow Bells call young Dick back to London to claim his fortune.  

So our adventures have begun.  Stay tuned for the next quest....


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