A couple of days ago, Hamish McHamish went to the special place where cats and dogs go when they die. Facebook statuses, articles, and flowers on his iconic statue marked this sad occasion. On the Hamish McHamish Official Facebook page it was posted that he passed away “peacefully, and with his Mum Marianne by his side.”
Hamish McHamish was the whole town’s pet. In Istanbul, the animals are adopted as pets of the city. They leave cat posts, litter boxes, and beds on street corners, and allow them to roam the streets freely. Likewise, we in St Andrews adopted Hamish McHamish into our hearts, as one.
I’ll be honest though. I didn’t have a particularly personal relationship with Hamish. I may have touched him once or twice, but we had no real connection. Instead, it is his presence that I will miss. I always saw him out and about, roaming St Andrews, always sunning himself, always purring and curling around corners.
I’ll also admit, my first reaction to his death was very similar to a certain fatherjake’s comment on The Courier’s article: “IT’S A CAT! Nobody’s going to give a fart!” One sarcastic response beneath, though, gave me pause for thought. It simply stated, “How dare this cat bring an entire town happiness. Don’t you know there is a war going on. More negative, sad, depressing stories please, Courier. I like to cry into my cornflakes every morning.”
On reflection, though, Hamish was more than that. For some, he was simply a fluffy fixture of the neighbourhood, for others he was a light-hearted filler story between reports of murder pillage and war on the news. I think the sense of loss we all felt the day the news broke, though, shows that he meant a lot more to us than either view gives him credit for.
If you think about it in the present, Hamish McHamish may just have been a cat. But considered historically, it is momentous. I was alive and living in St Andrews when a fuzzy, ginger cat named Hamish McHamish who was featured on the One Show as well as in The Times, was living and visiting the shops and houses, and making people smile.
I saw him, this cat that had no clue just how happy he made St Andreans, just lived his life like every cat does. And he was even celebrated while he was alive – he arrived at his own statue unveiling in a BMW no less.
When I graduate from St Andrews and move back into the real world, Hamish McHamish will still be remembered. And when I die and leave the realm of the living, I will do so in the knowledge that Hamish McHamish’s memory will live on, hewn into bronze in Church Square.
I, for one, am simply thankful to be able to say I was here in St Andrews while he roamed our cobbled streets, and was touched, however briefly, by this unique feline soul.