Oops! Ollie Belatedly Gives Up a Closely Guarded Secret Much to the Chagrin of the Employees of Manchester International
"We were completely shocked when we found out and just couldn't believe it...We've heard all the jokes from staff and some of them say we shouldn't be surprised as she's always been a bit of a diva."
-- Bob Molloy
A routine visit to the vet by its world famous resident feline has left staff, vendors, airline personnel, and passengers using Manchester International Airport with egg on their faces. As it can now be revealed, Ollie, who arrived at the airport as a stray in 2007, is in fact a she.
No, she has not suddenly emerged from the closet after masquerading in drag for years. Nor has she undergone a recent sex change operation.
Ollie is what she always has been, i.e., a female. Staffers and others at the busy transportation hub simply incorrectly assumed from the beginning that she was a male. (See photos above and below.)
"We were completely shocked when we found out and just couldn't believe it," Bob Molloy, who works as a receptionist at the airport's administrative office in Olympia House, told the Manchester Evening News on October 26th. (See "Goodbye Ollie, Hello Olivia as Airport Cat Reveals a Secret.") "...We've heard all the jokes from staff and some of them say we shouldn't be surprised as she's always been a bit of a diva."
Since it would no longer be proper to continue calling her Ollie, the staff at Olympia House has renamed her Olivia. While Olivia has not publicly commented one way or another on either her sex or name change, Molloy insists that he already can detect subtle changes in her personality.
"The funniest thing is we actually think her character has altered since we found out," he continued. "She's much more loving and seems to be showing her maternal side more."
More than likely that is all in Molloy's head since the cat always has been nothing but loving and special. Besides, cats are full of all kinds of surprises and that is in part what makes them so adorable.
"The wonderful thing about the cat is the way in which, when one of its many mysteries is laid bare, it is only to reveal another," Robert De Laroche wrote in his book, The Secret Life of Cats. "The essential enigma always remains intact, a sphinx within a sphinx within a sphinx."
At least that is the way things used to be before the scientific community began systematically stripping away all the veils in its never ending quest to subjugate, exploit and, finally, annihilate the species that Leonardo da Vinci once called "nature's masterpiece." (See Cat Defender posts of December 5, 2007 and December 17, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Decoding the Feline Genome Provides Vivisectors with Thousands of New Excuses to Continue Torturing Cats in the Course of Their Bogus Research" and "Mr. Green Genes' Coming Out Party Ushers In a New Era of Unspeakable Atrocities to Be Committed Against Cats by Cloners and Vivisectors.")
In a way this latest revelation is just one more metamorphosis in Olivia's turbulent life. When she arrived at the facility as a stray she was down-at-the-heel and sans a huge chunk of her left ear.
Provided with lots of tender loving care for perhaps the first time in her life, she soon responded by capturing the hearts of all of those who came to know her. A luxury cat box was built for her and attached to the side of Olympia House while those working at the airport vied with one another for the honor of feeding her.
"Air crews give him a feed early in the morning and staff from the airport and its service partners look after him throughout the day," Molloy said in an interview in November of 2007. "He's a big talking point around here. Everybody likes him." (See Cat Defender post of November 28, 2007 entitled "Lovable Ollie Finds a Home at Manchester International Airport After Workers and Vendors Come to His Aid.")
As soon as her story appeared on the Internet, food parcels began arriving from as far away as Paris, New York City, and Chicago. A page on Facebook was established for her and she now has more than fifteen-hundred friends in cyberspace.
Her tenure at the air terminal has not always been smooth sailing, however. Last year, for example, no-good, rotten airport suits hatched a sinister plot to give her the boot but hundreds of her fans from as far away as New Zealand and Kuwait rallied to her side and signed a petition demanding that they reconsider.
As a consequence, Olivia is not going anywhere anytime soon. Perhaps more importantly she is even more popular now than ever before.
"Every day we get people coming in to leave gifts for Olivia," airport employee Hazel Williams told the Manchester Evening News in the article cited supra. "The other week someone had been fishing and brought in a whole mackerel; they had even cooked it for her!"
With the holidays just around the corner, Williams is expecting that Olivia is going to receive her fair share of presents. "It's incredible how well loved she is..." she added.
On a more somber note, since the airport had the vets checking out her private parts it is a good bet that she has been spayed if she had not been altered before she arrived on the scene. Consequently, there will not be any little Olivias or Ollies to take her place once she finally crosses the Rainbow Bridge which, hopefully, will not be for a long, long time.
Finally, the faux pas committed by airport personnel is certainly an easy enough one to have made. For instance, even Charles Dickens was forced to change the name of his cat William to Williamina after he was discovered to be a member of the tender gender.
Make no mistake about it, the naming of cats is anything but a trifling matter. Here, for example, is what T. S. Eliot had to say regarding this weighty affair in his poem, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats:
"The naming of cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have three different names.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey --
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter --
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum --
Names that never belong to more than one cat."
Therefore, according to this reckoning, airport staffers still owe Olivia at least one more name and they should endeavor to get it right this time. But, wait, that is not all. The job of naming a cat is far more complicated.
"But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover --
But the cat himself knows, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular name."
Accordingly, all those who steadfastly believe that a contemplative cat is all the time daydreaming about culinary and amorous delights are dead wrong. Eliot's theory also goes a long way toward explaining why cats so seldom come running when they are summoned.
Photos: Manchester Evening News.