My Extended Family

Speech 5 in the CC Manual is “Your Body Speaks”.  The objectives of speech 5 are to: –
–      Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact to express tour message and achieve your speech’s purpose.
–      Make your body language smooth and natural.
–      Focus on methods of delivery, but do not overlook speech content.

By this stage I was becoming more comfortable in my speaking and decided to inject a small bit of humour into my speech as well as combining my love of genealogy and animals.  You may think this is a strange combination but I none-the-less hope you enjoy this speech.

Granny wasn’t feeling well recently.  My parents took her to the local vet and after a shot and a few tablets she is now back to her old self.

Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guests, I should explain at this stage that Granny is the name of one of our cats at home.  She had five kittens a few months ago which led to her illness but I am glad to report Mother and all five children are now doing well.

It has become a bit over the years at home to name some of the cats, especially if they stand out in some way.  We currently have ten cats and aside from the six previously mentioned there is Mother, who is Granny’s daughter, Small Big Fella who was very lonely until Big Small Fella came along and Brownie, the only tabby in a family of black cats.

The latest five kittens are currently delighting and frustrating us with their antics.  A few days after they were born my father moved them and Granny to the safety of the glasshouse.  After a few weeks he fed them milk morning and night.  They only have to hear his voice now to come running.  Even at a young age of two months they are displaying individual characteristics.  The biggest is always first out for a rub, followed closely by the smallest who wants his fair share and will howl until he gets it.  The middle three are more reticent but will quickly begin to purr once they are rubbed.  Four of them have now discovered how to get out of the glasshouse but have not yet mastered the trick or re-entering so come morning time my father is only met with one howling voice.  However one quick call and the remaining siblings will all instantly respond to his call. 

It is quite amazing how individual cats can be.  We have had several who stood out from the rest and as a result were closer to the family.   There was Talula, who loved nothing more than a handful of dry cornflakes every morning.  She would munch them down and then happily settle herself on a seat cushion to watch the goings on.

Then there was Samantha, a friendly intelligent cat.  Her greatest joy was the nightly excursion to the chicken house to catch a mouse.  She didn’t seem to have full night vision however as making her way through the sleeping chickens she would occasionally bump into one, resulting in sleepy clucks from an abruptly woken chicken.   Hunt satisfied she would return to us ready to head home. 

Another favourite was Clarence, named after a judge in America who was making headlines when Clarence was nearing a year old.  He was a gentle giant of a tom cat with a thick black coat of shining fur.  Clarence was a cat you could trust to leave in a room with food on the table.  If you held out a morsel of meat to him he would cup a paw gently around your hand, keeping his claws sheathed as he enjoyed his tasty treat.

It became quite normal for us from an early age to have conversations with the cats and quite often they would seem to understand as they would cock their head and purr or mew softly back at you.  My parents, on their daily walk, often meet Willis, an old tomcat who left home a few years ago when some kittens came along. 

He moved in with an old couple down the road and is content now to sit on the wall outside in peace and quiet with no youngsters bothering him.  My parents will salute him “Hello Willis” and he will meow in return.

There were three other tomcats we had in my teenage years both of which reside fondly in my memory.  The first is Pumpkin, named after the cartoon of course,  a grey tabby who loved a good chin and ear scratch.  He would curl up on the couch purring loudly as we stroked him.  Poor Pumpkin suffered from a few abscesses in his mouth so a quick consultation with the vet brought a supply of tables to ease him.  Despite trying every method to disguise the tablet he had the uncanny knack of devouring a plate of food and leaving the clean tablet in the bottom of the bowl.  He lost a few teeth but otherwise regained his full health. 

The second tomcat was my sisters pet.  He would sit in her arms listening to her chat and meow in response.  One fateful day we found him at the side of the road, having been hit by a car.  We took him to the vet who issued us with two options – put him down or amputate his front leg.  We opted for the amputation.  After a few weeks the cat was back to his lively self.  The lack of one limb was obviously not a hindrance as he proudly fathered several kittens after that.  

The third warmly remembered cat is Scrawny.  He was the runt of the litter.  A small tabby, missing the end of his tail, you would wonder how did he get through life.  But scrawny had one trick that made him superior.  He could jump at a vertical wall, spreading his four paws evenly and then spring like an intrepid rock-climber higher and higher until level with the small top window where he would then swing across and in to food and the indoor comforts of life.

So maybe you are wondering why have I told you all these stories?  It is to show that, in my opinion, cats are more than just furry animals.  They are intelligent, friendly individuals, who will show you boundless affection if treated right.  Albert Schweitzer said “There are two means of refuge from the misery of life – music and cats”.   You can believe that when it comes to cats.  There is something very therapeutic and soothing about rubbing a cat.  And to hear a cat purr you know you have made him happy in return.  That’s the bonus of being a cat-lover.

I hope you are enjoying these speeches and if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me.

Elaine Beare

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