The Owl and the Pussycat

'Dear Mr Katt,' the letter started. Tom read on and the further he read the more excited he became. "We've done it, our entry is confirmed," he shouted. Wiseminy came running into the room, she looked over Tom's shoulder as he looked again at the letter. Particularly the paragraph that read, 'We can confirm our sponsorship for the race by way of supplying the yacht and equipment required to sail her, all other expenses to be covered by yourselves. For our records your entry as competitors will be listed as Mr. Katt T, and Miss Oul W. Yours Sincerely P Green, Promotions Director, Succulent Peas Ltd

Tom and Wiseminy took delivery of the yacht, a forty foot racing thoroughbred, three months later, which would give them a further three months to familiarise themselves and also put it through its paces. The mainsail must have been designed by the Promotions Director because it was Pea Green, as was the rest of the boat. The only relief from the colour was the name on the sail in a brilliant day glow Purple, Succulent Peas. "Oh well," sighed Tom, "we wouldn't have had a boat at all if it wasn't for them. I suppose they are entitled to their publicity and lets face it, you won't miss us on the ocean".

Having stocked the yacht for the long trip, water, high-energy food, first aid kit etc, and sterling travellers checks enclosed with five pound notes, you never know? They set sail in a blaze of publicity, fifteen yachts from around the world, sailing down The Solent. All was going well until they hit The Doldrums where they were becalmed. There was nothing they could do; they tried everything to catch even the slightest breath of wind, to no avail. Fortunately Wise, as Tom called her, had remembered to bring her ukulele, so they took it in turns to serenade each other as they waited for the wind to freshen. It was on one such occasion, the sea like a millpond, a full moon bright in the sky that Tom turned to Wise, and, laying the ukulele in the bottom of the boat, suggested a change of plan. "We've lost so much time, we can't possibly win. The food while not critical, won't last, so we will have to put ashore at the next landfall, so Wise I thought, well, I've been thinking about this for some time, why don't we get married." Wiseminy pulled him to her and kissed him. "I've waited so long for this moment, I thought you were never going to ask, but have you got a ring?" "No but I'll sort something out."

It was just over a year since they had set out, full of excitement, optimistic, confident. All that was gone as that they eventually landed on a tiny island. Within hours the whole media circus had taken over. All the other boats had long since finished the race so all the attention was now concentrated on the last boat, The Pea Green Boat. It was thought lost at one time and now, amazingly, still afloat, they all wanted the story. "What's the name of the island?" Tom asked a journalist, who still hadn't got their story. "Apparently it's a corruption from the days of Blackbeard, Pirates and all that. You see those palm trees near the beach? Well it seems that when a storm is brewing the branches turn down, protects them from the wind I'm told, but the thing is, the tree looks bell shaped, so the island was called Bell Tree Island by the pirates that discovered it. The natives, not speaking English, gradually corrupted it over the centuries, so now it is called Bong Tree Island.

Word of their impending marriage spread like wild fire and Succulent Peas wanted maximum publicity. After all they had had precious little so far and had missed out hugely on the race, but it all became too much for Tom and Wiseminy. One morning, early, while the media circus was sleeping off their hangovers, they slipped away, inland. They didn't know where they were going and didn't care, they just wanted a few days to themselves, to relax, to talk without a reporter repeating their every word in the national tabloids. Eventually they wandered into a smallholding, where a native of the island greeted them and offered them refreshments. He proudly showed them his land and told them its history, how it was handed down through the generations, Father to Son. As they listened, standing by a pigpen, Tom could hear a clinking, clanging noise amongst the grunting of the pigs and the chatter of his host. He listened, no question it was coming from the pen. He could not see a reason and mentioned it to the owner. "I don't know, there shouldn't be anything there, I cleared the ground only a few weeks ago before moving the pen. I wanted the old pen to grow crops on, very good after pigs," he explained.

They all listened and sure enough a noise of metal on metal was coming from the area where the pigs were grubbing around in the earth. The owner climbed into the pen to investigate and soon he shouted back. "Come here, help me." At that they both jumped the fence and joined him only to discover that the pigs were trampling around in the remains of hidden treasure. What was left of a chest was trampled into the soil and the noise was the ringing of plates as the pigs trod amongst them. As they approached a big sow moved, disturbed by the proximity of people, she lifted her head and looked at them. Wiseminy looked at it and gasped. In a lump of mud stuck on the end of its snout, was a ring. "It has to be a sign," she said, turning to Tom, "that has to be my wedding ring." They asked to buy the ring but the local wanted to give to them, in the end it was agreed that a token sum would be paid, one shilling, it was the only coin Tom had and the owner would not accept paper money however much he was offered. So it was that the wedding took place at the only church on the island, at the top of the hill, presided over by the Reverend Ter Key. The whole island seemed to be there. The church was full, as was the small area outside and afterwards they all repaired to the beach for the traditional island wedding breakfast of minced pork and slices of quince eaten with a runcible spoon. Merriment continued well into the night and Wiseminy Oul and Tom Katt could be seen, hand in hand on the edge of the sand, dancing to the light of the moon.

Barry L

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