“Cat’s Meow” is a CD recorded in collaboration with Jake Zaitz, the guitarist in the London Blues Band for the last seven years. It came about when we had some time off in Italy– what better thing to do for musicians than write songs. It started with us getting a groove going and then came the chord progressions. Once this was done I was left with a backing track so I could do what I love to do best, which is write lyrics. My subject is always love in its many aspects, which can mean lost love too. As Jake also works in a studio, it was quite easy to get the rest of the band to come in and lay the tracks down. Usually the London Blues Band has the energetic Dino Baptiste on piano, but for this project Jake worked with his talented son Artie Zaitz, who is making a very good name for himself in the music business. Artie is also on second guitar.
Everyone who knows me knows I am mad about cats and would rather spend an evening with a purring four-legged friend than most humans. Wherever I go in the world, I’m always on the lookout for feline company. In 2011 I was in a small Russian town with a name I can’t even remember now. I’ll never forget what happened there. I was hit by a strange virus so severe that my blood pressure shot up and I could hardly walk. For the first time in about 30 years I had to cancel my concerts. As I was too ill to travel, I was taken to a home to be looked after by caring doctors and nurses. On the way there I heard that someone had thrown out a kitten that morning. It was lying at the bottom of the cold stairs when I arrived. I simply couldn’t walk past such a lonely small black bundle of fluff, so I scooped it up and it immediately nestled in to my neck as I made my way up to the place where I would be bedbound for the next 10 days. All through the daily visits of doctors with injections coming to my room, this tiny little black angel slept across my neck and didn’t move unless to go to the cat tray I’d had put in my room. I also gave someone money to buy cat food, as I knew this poor little kitten had been starved of not just food, but love and attention. I named him Santosh, which means Happiness in Hindi. His colour was black with bright golden eyes and a remarkable double moustache. In the next 10 days he doubled in size, having finally been fed properly. He never left my side until the night before I was due to leave. He must have sensed my departure as he slept for the first time by my feet instead of straddled across my neck. I was very worried he would have no home once I was gone, so I gave some food money to a friend and asked her to keep him until a suitable place was found. Two months later she emailed me to say a friend of hers had just had a dream in which she was given a black cat – and thus it was Santosh found a new home. He was also given a new name, Krishna, and I have a photograph of him peeping out of his new mother’s jacket. One of these days I intend to return to Russia to see if my black saviour will remember me. I know it was his presence on my neck that cured me and I keep thinking had I been ill in good old England, I never would have been allowed to keep a kitten in my bed. If I ever get hospital bound again, I shall look for one that allows cats, but it’s sadly unlikely to ever be allowed in most over-sanitised countries.
By Dana Gillespie