Scottish Poetry Selection
- Smokey the Cat

Towser This poem appeals to me on two counts. Firstly, I used to be owned by a cat called Smokey (anyone who owns a cat will know what I mean). Secondly, because of the story of "Towser" the former distillery cat at Glenturret Distillery near Crieff. She lived in the distillery for almost 24 years and during that time caught 28,899 mice. While it is well known that the barley stores in a distillery attract mice like bees to a honeypot, that's an average of over three a day. I'm not sure how the numbers of mice were measured so accurately, but Towser is now in the Guiness Book of Records as a result of her feat! You can see Towser, with her self-satisfied look, in the attached picture.

The poem below is by Robin Laing.

Smokey the Cat

Smokey the cat came from nowhere;
Just whisped in under some door;
Sniffed quietly around
And knew that she'd found
The best place to stay in Bowmore.

She'd arrived at Bowmore distillery
Where the finest malt whisky is made.
There was no welcome mat
For Smokey the cat
But she liked the place - so she stayed.

They say cats have more than one life
With re-incarnation and that.
Whether it's true
All that cat déja vu,
Smokey's a born again cat.

There's something about her that takes you
Back to the Lords of the Isles
When the cats of Finlaggan
Would go scallywaggin'
For miles and miles and miles.

It's the way she melts into the shadows
Or suddenly creeps up on folk
She'll always find you
Slinking behind you
The cat who was named after smoke.

She sits on the sill of the maltings
On days when the weather is nice
And while one eye sleeps
The other one keeps
A lookout for small birds and mice.

Small birds and mice eat the barley
So Smokey confronts them foursquare
But she pulls in her claws
And quietly ignores
The Angels who come for their share.

Felines don't care for whisky
Everyone understands that
But that peaty odour
Beneath the pagoda
Owes something to Smokey the cat.

On Islay people made whisky
Long before it was chic.
The cat from Bowmore
Is nothing more
Than the ghost of the island's peat-reek.

Meaning of unusual words:
The Angels who come for their share=When whisky is maturing, a small percentage evaporates - that's the "Angel's share"

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