• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 08

Bad heir day

Here I am at the pinnacle of my profession, having my photo taken after winning Top Model at the Animal Model of the Year awards. Of course, leave it to the media to sniff out some schmaltz under the guise of background, and ferret out formal portraits of the maternal grandparents, so they can spin it into a sob story.
Normally, I would not mind doing the obligatory preening and false modesty bit in front of the cameras after a win, but this really gets my hackles up. For someone who is famous, I usually have all four paws firmly planted on the ground. It’s been a hard slog, and I don’t deny that a significant part of my success is based on winning the genetic lottery for looks, but these are the last creatures I would want to credit for that.
My grandfather Tom was a tabby mouser, and my grandmother Mog was a domestic shorthair in the same household. They fell in love, married, and became incredibly prosperous through dubious methods. Suddenly, his name was Thomas, and he had a Roman numeral suffix after it, while she went from moggy to Margaret in a heartbeat. In keeping with their newfound wealth, they dressed the part: she in her stiff Elizabethan ruff, dripping with jewels, and he in a bespoke tweed suit, and snow-white ruffled shirt. They had formal portraits done, to impress anyone who might care enough to question their origins.
As you know, the nouveaux riches are quick to adopt all manner of airs and graces, and these arrivistes made sure that everyone knew how superior they were. When their only offspring, my mother, fell in love with my father, a penniless stray, of course they disapproved. They thought he was below their station, forgetting that they had both been born in the tunnels below the railway station, so that was ironic. They cajoled, threatened, and yowled at her, but when she would not be dissuaded, they disowned her. After I was born, she made attempts at a rapprochement so I could get to


Bad heir day

know them, to no avail. It is for the best - I doubt they would have added much to my life, or I to theirs. When I was old enough to wonder, my mother tearfully told me that my grandfather didn’t want either of our shadows to darken his doorstep through any of his nine lives.
In case you wondered, I pose so that the shadow of one insouciantly cocked ear falls on my grandfather’s portrait, and I am physically removed from my grandmother’s image. I glower at the camera, and resolutely turn my back to them. Deep down, I know that my gorgeous self and newfound status would do nothing to change the minds of these deceased snobs about this being a bad heir day.