Tuesday 12 April 2022

Soulcat : A Feline Memoir by Amy Vaughan-Spencer BLOG TOUR #Soulcat @SoulcatMemoir @RandomTTours #BookExtract


Amy wrote a love letter… a note to the love of her life.

Only Molly never read it. Even if she’d been alive when it was written, failing eyesight would’ve prevented her from making out the words.

Besides which, she was a cat. And cats can’t read.

No ordinary feline, Molly lived a life full of challenge and adventure, determined not to let gradual blindness hold her back.

This is that letter and - against all the odds - Molly’s long-lost memoirs….

Soulcat is a delightful furrytail of a unique friendship, filled with amusing anecdotes and touching moments. The first half is Molly's story told from the author's perspective, including a glimpse into the life of a touring theatrical stage manager. Each chapter is punctuated with a photo of Molly and an apt cat quote.

Part 2 is life through Molly's fading eyes, told in her own words (translated into English). Beautifully illustrated by Ellypop Illustration.

Soulcat : A Feline Memoir by Amy Vaughan-Spencer on published on 25 December 2021. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today.

Extract from Soulcat : A Feline Memoir by Amy Vaughan-Spencer 

You came into my life for a long weekend while your owners went away on holiday. It was a balmy August in Glasgow, where I lived with my boyfriend, Craig, in the West End of the city. The West End is ‘the posh bit’, with quirky independent shops, popular bars and restaurants, and long residential streets lined with terraces of beautiful big sandstone houses. Technically, we were more Northwest than West of the centre, but I liked to pretend we resided in the fancy part. Our flat was on Sandbank Crescent, a secluded cul-de-sac sandwiched between council estates, tucked behind the busy Maryhill Road, with a canal silently sweeping past on one side. 

I was twenty-five and on a break from my career as a theatrical stage manager, which had taken me around the UK with various plays and operas. Craig and I had met while I was rehearsing for a tour in Scotland, and afterwards we dated long-distance. He lived with his family just outside Glasgow and I was based partly in my hometown of Guildford, in Surrey, and partly in London, while also travelling the country with shows. When it came to moving in together, we planned on settling in London, but he had a good job in a local production studio and didn’t want to leave it. Since my work was contract-based and transient, it made more sense for me to move north. 

I loved Glasgow for its eclectic architecture, cultural vibe and welcoming atmosphere. The locals are often considered tough and antagonistic, due to their impassioned competitiveness over football, linked with sectarianism, and their aggressive-sounding accent, which leads people to assume the worst. Having spent a lot of time in London, where making eye contact with a stranger is a mortal sin, I found it unnerving when strangers in my new city chatted to me at bus stops and in the streets. Naturally suspicious if someone looked at me and smiled, I was pleasantly surprised to discover they were just really friendly. Glaswegians belie their reputation by being some of the most affable folk you can meet. 

Soon after relocating, I found some work at the Royal Concert Hall, before taking on a three- month contract with Scottish Opera On Tour. Then I found myself at a loose end. Having trained ‘down south’, and with no contacts in the regional rep circuit, I struggled to get my foot in the proverbial stage-door. 

I took a part-time job as a medical receptionist in a doctor’s surgery, alongside creating a website for fellow touring theatre staff. The clinic occupied a beautiful grand building on a leafy avenue in the West End (the actual posh bit). While one receptionist stood at the small front desk booking in patients, four others worked in the office behind, answering calls and filing paperwork. I soon learned why medical receptionists are renowned for being miserable and short-tempered, as the phones rang off the hook all day with patients making impossible demands and failing to understand why prescription requests couldn’t be processed instantly. 

My colleagues, however, were all lovely, and we kept each other sane with idle gossip and conversations revolving around what we’d be having for dinner that evening. 

One afternoon, as I was sorting patient notes into their corresponding files, I overheard the office manager, Jeanette, discussing her upcoming family break. 

‘Molly will have to come along wi’ us,’ she said. 

‘Um, sorry,’ I interrupted, ‘you’re going to take your cat camping?’ I didn’t understand how that would work. 

‘We’ll have nae choice, there’ll be nobody at home, and we can’t afford a cattery.’ 

‘I’ll look after her if you like.’ I said. ‘She can stay with us.’ 

‘Are you sure?’ 

‘Of course! I’d love to have her for a few days. We had cats in the house all through my childhood, I miss having them around.’ 

‘Well, don’t make a rash decision, I wouldnae want to put you out. Talk it over with Craig and let me know.’ 

Jeanette assumed it would be a burden for us to cat-sit, but we relished the opportunity to have a bundle of fur in the flat for a few days. Craig’s family had two feline members, and he missed them, despite having moved only a few miles away. We agreed that having a pet makes a house feel like more of a home. 

My manager and I conducted your handover outside the surgery, from her car to mine, on my morning off. She gave me your bed, litter tray, some food and a couple of toys, before lifting out your cat carrier. In the shadows at the back of the box, I caught flashes of white and brown fur as you cowered in the far corner. I drove you home as carefully as if I had a newborn baby on the rear seat. 


I have been writing for most of my life, in various forms, although Soulcat is the first
completed project that has made it to publication (with the exception of 2 poems printed in anthologies half a lifetime ago). 
Although I always loved the idea of writing a book, I only became brave enough to share my work in recent years, discovering it might just be good enough to let loose on the general public. 
My love for Molly, and my determination to keep her memory alive, motivated me to get her memoir written and shared, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world from her perspective, blurring the lines between fact and fiction.

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