As a writer, I occasionally stray away from my pet topic of comics to touch on gaming, cult television, guinea pigs, and whatever else catches my interest. One such book out this month did exactly that, celebrating as it does, the biggest celebrity to step foot in St Andrews. I speak not of the young royal couple, or the many famous golfers and celebrity fans that pass through every year. I'm talking about the one who OWNS the town: Hamish.
Cats of course are big business at the best of times. A cursory glance at our internet from any passing alien ships, once the porn has been dispensed with, would surely lead them to conclude that cats are at the top of the food chain on planet Earth, with their slave humans providing food, housing, comfort on demand, and posing them with their heads sticking out of slices of bread. Hamish is not that kind of cat. There are no videos of him sitting in cardboard boxes, no chasing laser pen dots down the back of the bed, and most certainly no renditions of "oh don piano". Hamish is a real cat, who turns up his nose at the idea of having one home and only one set of humans. He also has nearly 3,000 facebook friends.
Hamish McHamish of St Andrews: Cool Cat About Town by Susan McMullan launched on the 20th of October, and Hamish has been popping up all over the Scottish press, from STV news, to the various national newspapers. No one however had attempted to interview Hamish himself about all the attention he's been getting, and as his assistant in curating his "Hamish Recommends" book selection at the local Waterstones, I hoped that he would be willing to share a few comments with me...
The book begins with a foreword from Hamish's owner, long abandoned by her wandering cat. Hamish was fixed at an early age, but had no interest in staying home. His owner hunts him down once a year for his vet check up, and at the age of 13, Hamish is amazingly healthy. So where does he live? Well, everywhere else. He has his own seats in a few shops in the town, and his own food bowl in the vast majority of them. At the local hairdresser he gets brushed and occasionally de-tangled The charity shops are a particular favourite, and an estate agents his favourite haunt of all, with his own blankets on his chair in the sunny spot. Students party with him, tourists pose with him, and he's not averse to the odd petting or two, but that's quite enough thank you.
Hamish is a hard cat to make an appointment with then, but thankfully all it takes is for this reporter to hit the streets and it isn't long before I catch up with him, patiently waiting outside one of his favourite haunts.
Hamish, your new book has outsold JK Rowling, Nigella Lawson, and Jamie Oliver, in the busiest season for new books. What is it do you think that has made your book so popular with such a wide variety of readers?
Ah I see! That's a very revolutionary interpretation of Sun Tzu's philosophies indeed, and very stirring. I must confess, my favourite pages may well be the ones that focus on pictures from your childhood - it must have been a surprise to see your baby photos after all this time?
Oh no, I quite understand the embarrassment, and your comparison to the scandal in Paris is quite apt. I must ask though, as someone who is quite comfortable being invited into others' homes and businesses, was the heightened attention surrounding your book launch expected?
No no, thank you! It's been an honour, and your thoughts on class differences will quite likely cause a small storm of debate! Much obliged Hamish, and my particular thanks for your take on statistical representation in the media.
So there we have it, quite possibly the frankest interview I've ever conducted, and certainly one of the most thought provoking. As Hamish's book looks set to be a Christmas bestseller, Hamish is hoping that life will continue as normal and that paparazzi numbers will decline back to their normal levels. In the meantime he is refreshingly open about his willingness to exchange his time and energy for bribes of a fish or chicken variety.