Sally Allmark considers the deeper role Hamish McHamish played in the St Andrews community and says goodbye to our famous feline friend.
I was very sad to hear of our beloved town cat’s recent passing, and I was not alone – in the days since the unfortunate event, Hamish’s bronze statue has been overtaken by flowers and notes from a variety of personalities, student and townsperson alike. It’s a spectacle that seems very inherent to St Andrews itself; we live in a community of tradition, togetherness and undeniable whimsy. We share in the indulgence of being St Andreans and all that that entails. Hamish, in his own little way, was part of our identity; he was a little bit of home. He was a common ground for cat-lovers and cat-haters alike, a point of interest that we – as a community – could feel connected by. It is for this reason, I believe, that those who roll their eyes and utter ‘for god sake – it’s just a cat!’ time and again are wrong.
Sure, Hamish was only a cat; he liked to chase limp shoe-strings and stare idly at passers-by, among other typical cattish-things. But what he meant to St Andrews was so much more than that. The sight of the mischievous ginger feline sauntering down South Street could cause momentary delight in even the most dull, pessimistic wanderer. For those who had yet to see him in person, he was almost mythical; his elusive edge put him up there with the Scottish greats – Nessy included.
He was the much-loved pet of what I imagine was a very proud owner, and to her, he must have meant a great deal. So next time you hear someone moan ‘it’s only a cat’, remember that he was loved as a pet, just as we love our own faithful canine and feline comrades. To you, he might have been just another cat, but to Marianne Baird, he was a companion for no less than 15 years. Now that he’s up there in kitty-cat heaven – no doubt being as boisterous as ever – I feel we should show a tad more respect and acknowledge that to the owners, a pet is never really just a pet.
Who would have thought a feline could so closely resemble a highland cow? Hamish was truly a sight to behold. It was like cat meets cattle in one glorious ginger explosion. Some say he was a distant relative of the university’s charity mascot, Rory McLion. Others say he was raised by highland cattle – or was it Scottish wildcats? I guess we’ll never know.
Farewell, Hamish – you were a lad if ever there was one. I thank you for the small piece of homeliness you brought to our little town. You will be missed, and thanks to that god-awful £3,000 lump of bronze, never forgotten.
Photo credit: Sally Allmark
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