Raquel brought the cat home when they’d been together a couple of years, after they’d got back from a trip to Rome. She had stood watching the cats in the ruins and kept saying how elegant they were. He’d never been an animal-lover and hated having a cat in the house. He couldn’t stand the smell. He only ever called it Cat, because he refused to allow it a personality. He told Raquel he was allergic to animal hair. She didn’t believe him. She made him go to the doctor and the tests came back negative. He told her there must have been a mistake, but Raquel scoffed: his allergy was like one of those hysterical pregnancies. He said he’d read that cats caused schizophrenia, and showed her an article by a researcher in the States who specialised in the subject. Raquel just laughed again and said the cat might make him sneeze or drive him crazy, but not both at once. Over time he got used to it, and the truth is that the cat had nothing to do with the break-up. Every so often, he goes home along the street where they once lived together. He walks alone and is reminded of the film White Nights. And then he remembers the Hemingway story, ‘Cat in the Rain’. He stops for a moment outside his old place. The living room blinds are down. The cat is sitting on the window sill. He sometimes wonders what’s going on inside. And then, for a second, he feels like lighting a cigarette, except he’s given up smoking. He doesn’t really want one anyway. He doesn’t miss smoking. He doesn’t miss Raquel either. But he does miss the cat.
Translated from the Spanish by Anne Scott, Chris Lloyd, Lindsey Ford, Lisa McCreadie, Lucy Greaves, María Natalia Paillie, Melanie Mauthner, Patricia Colombo, Phoebe Taylor & Rosa Shaw
With the collaboration of Anne McLean & Daniel Gascón, and with thanks to New Spanish Books for their support.
The Cardiff version (Chris Lloyd)
The Bloody Cat
That Raquel brung the bloody cat home when they’d done a couple of years together, like, after they’d gone up Rome. She’d looked at the cats up some grotty shandy van dump and reckoned they was well lush. He couldn’t stand animals and he was proper put out having one in the house. I won’t lie to you, it was the smell that done it. He called it The Bloody Cat so he wouldn’t have to admit it was real. He told that Raquel its hair hurt him. She was having none of it. She packed him off up the iechyd but they told him it never. He tried telling her they’d got it wrong, mun, but that Raquel went arri arri: she reckoned it was like all them times she thought she was pregnant. He told her he’d heard that cats done you mental and he showed her some stuff by some bloke who knew. That Raquel laughed at him and told him it might trew him off or send him twp, but not both like. He just had to learn to be neat with it, and you can’t really blame the bloody cat for them going Jack. Tidy.
The Scottish version (Lisa McCreadie)
Raquel brocht yon cheet hame aifter they hud bin thegither fir a couplae year, aifter a wee jaunt tae Rome. She wis keekin at yon cheets in the wrack an’ was blitherin’ aboot hoo weel-farrant they wir. He wisnae much fir ainimals an’ couldnae hack huvin’ yin in the hoose. It wis baufin’! He jist cawed it Cheet, cause he widnae gie the wee besom a nem. He telt Raquel the hair fair goat up his neb – she widnae huv it but. She threapit at him tae get away tae the doctor’s bit they wir like naw. He telt her yon prees mustae bin malafoustert bit she wisnae glaikit like – it wis like thae lassies that kid oan they’re oan the road. He telt her he’d readen that cheets sent daft an’ eikit an airticle screevit by some gleg speirin’ oot yon chat fae America. Raquel jist lauched again an’ telt him yon cheet micht mek him neesh or send him doo-lally – no the baith of them but. Mickle by mickle, he goat uised tae it an’ tae tell ye the trowth, it wisnae yon cheet that buggert them.
The South East London version (Lindsey Ford)
The Cat, innit
Raquel went and brought a cat back home when they’d been together for a couple of years, just after they’d got back from a nice little holiday in Rome. She kept watching the little blighters going about them ruins, and wouldn’t shut up about how they were ‘bare nice’. He’d never been one for animals himself and bloody hated having one in the house. The smell got on his tits. He just called the thing Cat cos he didn’t reckon it should have no personality. He said to Raquel he was allergic to animal hair. She reckoned he was chatting shit. She sent him to the doctor and the tests said there was fuck all wrong with him. He said they’d messed ‘em up, but she just took the piss and said he was like one of ‘em birds wot pretends they’re knocked up. He said cats can make you go schizo, and showed her this thing by some American bloke what’d written about it. Raquel just laughed at him and said it might make him sneeze or go mental, but not both at once. He got used to it in the end, and to be fair, it weren’t the cat what broke ‘em up.
The Geordie version (Anne Scott)
Wey, Raquel brout the moggie yam when thed bin a couple er yer in cohoots after getin back from a holider in Itilee. Shid bin lukin at aall the moggies warkin aboot the roons and kept sain how bonny the were. Eed neva bin a lad fer animals like, and hated havin a manky moggie in the hoose. Ee cudent stand the friggin pong. Ee ernly eva caald it moggie cos ee refused to aalow it a personalitee like. Ee telt is lass that ee had an alergee te animal hair. Not on yer Nellie, she wasent havin eny er that, so she mayd im gan to the docta and ya na wot?, the tests cyem back negative. But he telt a theyd got it aall wrong. Raquel scoft and sed ees alergee was like one o them, ya na, imagineree pregnencees. Ee sed eed red that moggies cud mayk yer gan schizo and ee even got oot an articul writtin by sum cleva American bugga, who must have nan wot ee was on aboot. Wey, wor lass just split a sides laafin and sed the moggie might mayk im sneeze or even drive im roond the bend, but not aall at the same time like. Ower time ee got used to it, and ya na wot?…the manky moggie had nowt te dee with the acshual breyk-up!!!