The King Of Mandalay
They told me, dear old Turbo, they told me you had died; ‘The king be dead,’ is what they said. I very nearly cried. We’d had our disputations, our ups and downs, it’s true — But you were the most handsome cat I think I ever knew. Those tiger, tiger markings; the eyes that burned so bright; A layabout by daylight — a predator by night. You bullied little Molly; your ways were rough and rude; You never wanted petting, — you always wanted food. You’d loll among the pillows on some forbidden bed, Or while away a sunny afternoon sprawled on my head. But now the house feels empty and Molly seems to say: “Oh where is my tormentor, Turbo — King of Mandalay?”
Mandalay, Mustique December 19, 2000
Turbo was the tomcat at my home, ‘Mandalay’ in Mustique. I inherited him from David Bowie. An extraordinarily handsome cat with tiger-stripe markings and pronounced shoulder haunches, Turbo’s walk was compared by many visitors to that of a cheetah or a leopard. Foolhardy in the extreme, he constantly needed the vet’s attention because of his habit of fighting creatures stronger or larger than himself. On several occasions, Turbo learned to get on the ferry at the dock and take a trip to St. Vincent. He never left the ship until it returned to Mustique when the harbour master would alert us and we would collect him. Molly is Mandalay’s lap cat, a petite white female. Turbo hated her with an abiding passion and I was forced to throw him in the fish pond once or twice to teach him to mind his manners. It was Tony, our old butler, who christened Turbo ‘The King of Mandalay’, as indeed he was, but I never did find out why he was called Turbo in the first place. The first line and the metre of The King of Mandalay is based on William Johnson Cory’s translation of Heraclitus.
Poem Published in the following books: Island of Dreams