Orlando – The Marmalade Cat

I dreamed of a handsome, ginger cat and the next day I saw him in the street, unconcerned, strolling along, a curious ‘flâneur’, busy with his day. He reminded me of Orlando, the Marmalade Cat – books I enjoyed reading as a child.

The series, starring Orlando, was both written and illustrated by Kathleen Hale, in a similar vein as we have Quentin Blake today. Orlando became very popular and was taken up by Puffin Books, the children’s part of Penguin.

Kathleen Hale was born in 1898 and died in 2000, aged 101. At one point in her life, she worked for Augustus John and knew many of the Bloomsbury set, enjoying a bohemian lifestyle. After the First World War, when she first came to London from the north of England, she delivered milk in Chelsea with a horse and cart.

House bound, keeping Covid at bay, I looked up Abe Books, a second hand book Internet site. And I found Orlando books. I chose a copy in ‘very good’ condition, where Orlando takes a trip abroad – some wishful thinking here on my part – and two days later he turned up in all his colourful glory.

Orlando – The Marmalade Cat – takes ‘A Trip Abroad’

I was thrilled. I also like Kathleen Hale’s sense of humour, which shows both in her writing and illustrations.

Orlando is at the seaside in England with his family. Being an inquisitive cat, he steps aboard a boat, which turns out to be a ferry, going to France. He makes friends with a sailor called ‘Albair’ (spelling!), who sets him up with a deckchair. He didn’t mean to go to sea!

‘Fair Stood the Wind for France’ !
Orlando – a French lunch on board
Orlando – a suitable hotel for a marmalade cat
Orlando enjoying the French night life …

His performance pays for a return ticket to England and quite soon he’s home again and ready for another adventure.

Orlando – the marmalade cat with gooseberry green eyes

Maybe lockdown makes me a bit nostalgic for the past. Why did I dream so vividly about a handsome ginger cat, which reminded me of the Orlando books I loved as a child?

Why did I happen to see a ginger cat in the street the next day? Why did one of our daughters unbeknownst, send me a photo of a cat she saw in her garden … who is also rather handsome … and regularly visits Heinrich, the goldfish, in his pond.

Lockdown produces its own mysteries … and unlocked some welcome memories.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.