Lily, looking at a newspaper cutting “How to be a Writer”, scornfully says, “You just pick up a pencil and do some writing!” Her eight-year-old take on the world is clear. She is not afraid to ask if she doesn’t know something, which, I hasten to add, is not often! In my experience, eight-year-old girls are renown for their confidence in knowing ‘everything’.
On Saturday morning, we go for a walk. In a neighbour’s garden we see a black cat. “Black cats are bad luck” she tells me; there is a shadow of doubt in her voice.
“Who told you that?” I ask.
“Melanie,” she replies. “When we walk to school, we go past a house where there is a black cat. Melanie says we must run past because it is bad luck!”
“Oh no!” I reply. “I used to have a black cat called Magic. He was good luck. He had green eyes and when he sat on the lawn, it seemed you could see right through his head.”
Lily considers this for a few minutes. “Was he a good cat?”
“No, he was very naughty and very clever, too. One day he pinched a whole string of sausages off someone’s barbecue and brought them home to share with Czar, the Doberman.” Lily looks suitably impressed.
“What happened then?”
“We all jumped in the swimming pool because we thought Magic had caught a snake.” I tell her.
“Was Magic the boss of Czar?”
“He certainly was,” I reply. “When we used to walk up on Table Mountain, behind our house, Magic would follow us in the bush and then, suddenly, spring out and pounce on Czar!”
“Is he dead now?” I’m not sure how the conversation comes back to death but it usually does.
“Yes, I should say he is, it was a long time ago.”