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Maggie Many Cats

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Maggie’s kitchen isn’t the cleanest, or the tidiest in Ballyyahoo but it’s certainly the hairiest.

It’s quite dark because she only has one tiny little window and when you first go inside it looks like there’s tiny little pairs of lights all over the place.

But, when your eyes get used to the dark you realize that they are not lights. They’re eyes! And, every single pair of eyes is looking at you!

Some people even think it’s creepy and that Maggie’s house is the kind of place that has skeletons dangling from the ceiling and ghostly faces peering out of the walls.

That’s not true, because as your eyes get used to the darkness you can see more and more, and pretty soon you start to see that every single one of those eyes belongs to a cat.

cartoon cats in kitchen cupboard illustrating a children's story called Maggie Many Cats and the Cat That Flew in the Window by Grace JolliffeThere’s so many cats that there’s no space to cook, but Maggie-Many-Cats doesn’t mind because mostly all she eats is mackerel and chips from the chip-shop. If she wants a change she gets plaice and chips and puts brown sauce on them instead of ketchup.

Some people call her mad Maggie-many-cats but Maggie doesn’t care – in fact she’s proud of her cats because they’re a pretty special bunch.

Maggie loves music and as well as playing a wide range of kitchen instruments she does the deejaying at any Ballyyahoo party that they haven’t managed to bar her from.

She has spent years training her cats to perform as a catorchestra and each one has a special talent. There’s Gizzie, a small black cat with four white paws. Gizzie is slick and smart and she can meow a squeaky version of any song she hears on the radio.

Then there’s Drum, who is fluffy, white and not nearly as angelic as he looks. Drum can pound out a great beat on the bodhrán.

Wiggie is a chubby, tabby cat whose furry coat is so thick she once got mistaken for a rug by old Paddy Plant who would have walked on her only she looked up in time to see his big mucky boot just about to come down on her head.

Wiggie jumped up so high she landed on the lampshade and wouldn’t come down until Maggie promised her a fishy treat. Wiggie plays cat’s claw and cheese grater.

Last, but not least, there’s the twins; Florrie and Dorrie, two tiny grey cats, who if they can stay awake long enough can usually be relied upon to yawn their way through a song or two.

Maggie kept a special shelf for the instruments and when it was time to play, the cats would jump on the shelf, form an orderly line and play to their hearts content while Maggie used two wooden spoons to conduct her little catorchestra.

Most people in Ballyyahoo like cats, which is lucky for Maggie’s many cats and especially lucky for Florrie and Dorrie, because every now and then they wake up and get lively, at least for a day or two.

At these times the two little cats enjoy a little change of scenery and love to go on little weekend breaks. Often they sneak in through the back door of some unsuspecting Ballyyahooian and curl up in the warmest place they can find.

One fine sunny day, Sergeant Sid’s head was boiling under his hat and the rest of him was practically melting with the heat in his squad car and so he decided to take his hat off and go to Kelly’s shop to get a choc-ice.

Sergeant Sid knew he could be a long time in Kelly’s as there would be lots of people in there so there’d be a good chance some of them would be breaking his special laws.

Since there’s hardly ever any crime in Ballyyahoo Sergeant Sid has to make up special laws for people to break – otherwise he’d be bored and he hates being bored.

Recently he made it illegal to wear odd socks or to wear trainers on a Wednesday – the punishment for Sergeant’s crimes is always the same: a fine – payable in sweets, biscuits, chocolate, crisps and cakes.

He left the squad car window open so it wouldn’t be too hot when he got back and went in to Kelly’s where he had a great time inspecting every one’s socks for odd ones.

To his very great disappointment every single person was wearing matching socks. Still the choc-ice he bought was a special one that Seanie Kelly had ordered in just for him.

The choc-ice was bigger than Sergeant Sid’s head and the chocolate was especially thick and crunchy.  He opened his mouth and filled it with more choc-ice than you can possibly imagine would fit in one man’s mouth and was just about to leave when in came Maggie-Many-Cats.

Now, Sergeant Sid quite likes Maggie-many-cats because she usually keeps a good supply of chocolate and he has a permanently huge craving for chocolate.

When she saw him she went to turn around and leave but Sergeant Sid knew that trying to avoid bumping into him is one of the surest signs of guilt in a Ballyyahooian.

‘Wait there, now, Maggie!’ He said, in his best sergeanty voice.
‘Ah there you are Sid, I didn’t see you,’ said Maggie.
‘Did you not?’ And there’s me standing right as front of you, large as life.’
‘Indeed there you are, how are you?’
‘I’m feeling a bit hot,’ said Sid, taking another huge bite that finished off his choc-ice and left only a tiny smear of chocolate on the stick, which he demolished with a single lick.
‘Yes, well it’s a fine hot day,’ said Maggie.
‘No excuse for odd socks though,’ said Sid.

Maggie knew exactly what he meant and she cursed the Squawk-birds of Ballyyahoo, who that very day had stolen exactly half her socks off the line and left her with a whole row of odd ones.

Maggie was cursed by Squawk-birds. You see they’re attracted by noise. The noise coming from Maggie’s house when she’s got her catorchestra going has to be heard to be believed.

She knew there was no arguing with Sid and the best policy with him is always to pay the fine quickly and leave before he has a chance to make up any new crimes.

Maggie reached deep in her bag, past the cat food, spare collars, flea powder, cat biscuits, cat bells and cat treats and reached for the big bar of chocolate that was buried under the whole lot.

‘I’ll be having that, thank you, Maggie,’ said Sid, snatching it out of her hand, ripping off the wrapper and taking a huge bite. Maggie bought herself another large bar of chocolate and some brown sauce and left Kelly’s wishing she’d gone to the shop ten minutes earlier or even ten minutes later.

Outside, Sergeant Sid was just about to sit down in his car when he remembered his hat. He was congratulating himself on not sitting on it and squashing it for the zillionth time when he noticed something inside his hat.

cartoon cats curled up in a hat illustrating a children's story called Maggie Many Cats and the Cat That Flew in the Window by Grace JolliffeThat something was furry and warm and grey. It looked like a ball of fur. He picked up his hat for a closer look and there he found Florrie and Dorrie all sleepy, warm and rested after enjoying a lovely lazy nap in the comfort of Sergeant Sid’s hat.

They purred contentedly, expecting Sergeant Sid to stroke them and say some of those nice but silly things humans say to cats like ‘who is my best little cattie-wattie then,’ or ‘there’s my lovely little precious’ but Sergeant Sid didn’t say any of those things. Instead he put them both under arrest and placed them in a cell.
‘Damaging police property is a very serious crime,’ he told Florrie and Dorrie.  ‘You’ll be lucky if I don’t lock you up and throw away the key,’ he scolded.

But Florrie and Dorrie didn’t care, they were still enjoying the warmth of his hat and Sid didn’t take them out of it in case they escaped.

Sergeant Sid was delighted because breaking and entering into a police car was the most serious crime to happen in Ballyyahoo for years and years and years. Sid hadn’t been so busy since Paddy Plant’s donkey stole the damsons from the tree at the back of the Ballyyahoo police station and that particular police inquiry had gone on for months.

Sid decided to keep Florrie and Dorrie overnight to teach them a lesson. He was especially keen to test out the new lock on the cell. He had never had a chance to use it before because nobody ever committed a crime serious enough. Still, he lived in hope.

Florrie and Dorrie were willing prisoners and stayed sitting quietly in the hat with no attempt to escape. They thought they were being brought inside to sit beside the fire and warm Sergeant Sid’s slippers for him.

Sid carried his hat full of cat inside to the police cell then tipped them out of his warm hat on to the cold bench. Florrie and Dorrie didn’t like it one bit but the cold gave them a shock so they just sat completely still.

They stared up at Sid, and watched with shocked eyes as he carefully closed the barred door and locked the padlock with a key, a huge key…

To read more of this story buy Maggie Many Cats and the Cat That Flew in the Window.


Greystones Kitty Hostel is based in Ireland’s garden county of Wicklow. It is a charity which helps to relieve the distress suffered by abandoned and feral cats by providing a T.N.R, (Trap. Neuter. Return) rescue service.

The book is available as a paperback and eBook. Each book you buy contributes towards providing this entirely voluntary service.









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