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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Gladstone Joins Larry and Palmerston as Whitehall's Latest Resident Feline but the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Welsh Terrier, Rex, Is Waiting in the Wings to Put an End to All of Them

 Gladstone Arrives at the Exchequer along with Hammond's Red Box

"Gladstone can look forward to poring over budget scorecards, greeting visitors from around the world, but most importantly, setting his sights on the rodent population of the Treasury and assisting our pest controllers in keeping down the number of mice in our Horse Guard Road offices."
-- a spokesperson for the Exchequer
From the time of Humphrey's cruel banishment in 1997 until the arrival of Larry on February 16, 2011, not only was 10 Downing Street pretty much free of cats but all of Whitehall as well. (See Cat Defender posts of April 6, 2006 and July 21, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Humphrey, the Cat from 10 Downing Street Who Once 'Read' His Own Obituary, Passes Away at 18" and "Larry Faces Many Challenges and Dangers in His New RĂ´le as 10 Downing Street's Resident Feline.")

The one exception to that rule was a pretty black female named Sybil owned by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling who spent an all-too-brief six months at 11 Downing Street back in 2007 and 2008 before she was given the bum's rush by cat-hating prime minister Gordon Brown. (See Cat Defender posts of September 19, 2007 and August 13, 2009 entitled, respectively, "After a Dreary Ten-Year Absence, Number 10 Downing Street Has a New Resident Feline and Her Name Is Sybil" and "Sybil, 10 Downing Street's Former First Feline, Dies Unexpectedly from an Undisclosed Illness.")

Larry, who toughed it out for five and one-half long and trying years as David Cameron's sorely neglected, unloved, and unwanted companion, was joined in April by Palmerston when the latter was adopted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. (See Cat Defender posts of August 1, 2016 and August 8, 2016 entitled, respectively, "Unmercifully Maligned and Treated Like Dirt for So Many Years, Larry Nevertheless Manages to Stick Around Long Enough in Order to See the Last of David Cameron and His Uncaring Family" and "Palmerston Is Recruited for a Prestigious Post in Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service but Then Disgracefully Relegated to Makeshift Living Quarters Out in the Cold.")

The sometimes quarrelsome duo now have been joined by yet still another moggy in the form of an eighteen-month-old, black domestic shorthair named Gladstone who arrived at the Exchequer on June 27th. The decision to bring him on board was made by the department's John Oliver Frank Kingman who since that momentous undertaking has left public service in order to return to the private sector.

What, if any, impact his departure will have on Gladstone's future is unclear at this stage. The only thing that can be said so far is that the new chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has heralded his arrival. "Looks like I'm not the only new arrival @hmtreasury -- welcome Gladstone!" he tweeted according to The Telegraph's July 29th edition. (See "Gladstone the Cat Comes to Whitehall -- but Will He Get Along with Larry and Palmerston?")

It also is conceivable that he may have played a role in the naming the Treasury's newest arrival in that while he was Foreign Secretary he supplied Palmerston with his moniker. The similarity in the the two cats' names could not possibly have been a coincidence in that whereas the Foreign Office's resident feline was named in honor of Viscount Palmerston III, who twice served as prime minister during the nineteenth century, the Exchequer's new cat is named in honor of William Ewart Gladstone who later followed in Palmerston's footsteps by serving as prime minister for no less than four times between 1868 and 1894.

Gladstone Formerly Was More Fittingly Known as Timmy

The political rivals often were at loggerheads and for that reason, among others, it is going to be interesting to see how well that the two toms get along with each other. So far, however, it has been all smooth sailing for Gladstone, even if the name bestowed upon him is more properly suited for a cat employed by Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service as opposed to one who is engaged in the vagaries of high finance.

Be that as it may, Gladstone is certainly a far more dignified name for a cat than either Adam Smith or Barclays ever would have been. Much more pertinently, no self-respecting feline ever has given so much as a tuppence for all the moola in Her Majesty's Treasury; a school of tuna, however, would be an entirely different proposition.

"We are delighted to introduce our new cat, Gladstone, to the heart of British politics," a spokesperson for the Exchequer is quoted as declaring in a July 29th press release issued by the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in south London. (See "Westminster Welcomes Its Third Battersea Mouser.") "We are confident that Gladstone will live up to the legacy of his namesake... and go down in history as one of the most impressive cats to roam Whitehall."

In that regard he certainly has his work cut out for him in that preliminary indications are that the slave drivers at the Exchequer plan on working him damn near to death. "Gladstone can look forward to poring over budget scorecards, greeting visitors from around the world, but most importantly, setting his sights on the rodent population of the Treasury and assisting our pest controllers in keeping down the number of mice in our Horse Guard Road offices," the spokesperson continued.

Battersea, which previously had unloaded both Larry and Palmerston on the politicians, echoed those sentiments. "He's a confident cat who absolutely loves people so he'll have to tear himself away from his cat cuddles to get down to business becoming a marvelous mouser," the organization's Lindsay Quinlan said in the press release cited supra. "Staff at Battersea fell in love with Gladstone during his stay here, his big cheeks and big heart match his big personality and we think the staff at the Treasury will quickly fall for his charm too."

During his first few weeks at the Exchequer Gladstone, who sports an attractive red ribbon around his neck, was confined to an office with six bean counters. During that period, he bided his time by playing in Hammond's Red Box (used for transporting official documents), scampering across tables, desks, and computers, chasing flies, staring longingly out the window and, of course, resting up before tackling the long laundry list of chores that have been assigned to him. By this time, however, he should have been fitted with an electronic tracking device and turned loose to patrol the sprawling grounds of the Treasury.

In the precious few snatches of free time that has been left to him, Gladstone has turned to Twitter and Instagram for his amusement as well as to keep in touch with his ever-growing legion of fans. Other than that, almost nothing has been disclosed about his personal care and living arrangement.

Gladstone Initially Was Cooped Up Indoors with the Bean Counters

The only thing known for certain is that he will not be bunking with Hammond and his family at 11 Downing Street as Sybil did with Darling and his wife during her tenure at the Exchequer. A facilities and security team will, supposedly, look after his needs on weekends with Treasury staffers doing likewise on the days that they turn up for work.

Conspicuously omitted from all the hoopla generated by his unexpected arrival upon the political scene has been any mention whatsoever of exactly where he is going to hang his hat and that in turn has led to speculation that he very well could wind up sleeping out in the elements like Palmerston. His personal safety is an even greater concern but, as best it could be determined, no one at the Treasury has been assigned the herculean task of making doubly sure that he is neither run down by a motorist nor meets with foul play.

Although the Treasury has been inexcusably reticent on both those issues, it has responded with alacrity whenever the subject of who is going to foot the bill for his upkeep has been broached. "He will not cost taxpayers anything," a spokeswoman for the Exchequer vowed to The Guardian on July 29th. (See "Gladstone the Cat Gives Treasury Some Purr-fect PR.")

That entire arrangement is so shameful that it borders on being criminal. If the Exchequer insists upon keeping a cat, a far more humane arrangement would be for it to invest a few taxpayer crowns in providing Gladstone with a warm, secure, and dry permanent place to live instead of forcing him to rely upon handouts from staffers for his daily sustenance. It also ought to appoint a paid guardian to attend to his needs and personal safety.

Any individual or group who not only would condemn a cat to live out in the cold but to callously turn him loose to roam the perilous, traffic-clogged streets of Westminster richly deserves to be arrested, charged with animal cruelty, and then jailed for a long time. The petit fait that it is precisely politicians and bureaucrats who are engaging in such reprehensible and inexcusable behavior only serves to make it all the more contemptible.

As if all of those very real fears were not daunting enough in their own right, Hammond is reportedly considering installing his Welsh Terrier, Rex, at 11 Downing Street in order to bedevil not only Gladstone but Larry and Palmerston as well. (See The Telegraph, July 29, 2016, "Is Philip Hammond About to Move His 'Cat-Hating' Dog in Next to Larry and Palmerston?")

If accurate, that certainly would explain why he has so adamantly refused to both take personal responsibility for Gladstone's care and to allow him to live with him at 11 Downing Street. Predictably, the uncaring and totally irresponsible feline exploiters at Battersea have so far not had a blessed thing to say regarding this potentially ominous development.

Ruthless Rex the Cat-Hating Welsh Terrier

As soon as Rex either chews up one of the cats or chases one of them out into the street and to his death underneath the wheels of a motorist there most assuredly is going to be an international backlash against both Hammond and Battersea. Cruelty, neglect, and the naked exploitation of cats on any level only leads to more of the same on other levels and in that regard it is long overdue that the politicians and bureaucrats of Whitehall and phony-baloney rescue groups such as Battersea were held legally accountable under the anti-cruelty statutes.

Contrary to what the Fleet Street crowd earnestly believes, this is not any joking matter; rather it is an issue of life and death as far as Gladstone, Larry, and Palmerston are concerned. Moreover, their precious lives are most assuredly not worth any less than those of the Hammonds and the representatives of the Batterseas of this world; au fait, those of the former are a million times more valuable than those of the latter.

Gladstone's predicament is made all the more deplorable in that he, like Larry and Palmerston before him, has had a rough life. In particular, he was found back in May wandering the streets of London where almost anything terrible can, and usually does, befall homeless felines.

Even more outrageously, his previous caretaker made absolutely no effort whatsoever to reclaim him after he, originally known as Timmy, had skyrocketed to international fame with his appointment to the Treasury. There is not any way of knowing for sure, but that certainly makes it appear that he was intentionally abandoned to either sink or swim on his own.

Instead of demonstrating compassion and understanding for all the deprivations that he was forced to endure while roughing it, Battersea libeled him as "a quite greedy" cat who needs to be fed in moderation in an interview that it gave to the Daily Mail on July 29th. (See "It's Pussy Galore! Now the Treasury Recruits Gladstone the Cat to Chase Out the Mice -- but Will He Join the Turf War Between Number Ten's Larry and Palmerston of the Foreign Office?")

Gladstone is most definitely anything but a "greedy" cat; au contraire, his seemingly insatiable appetite is merely a leftover side effect from the time that he spent starving on the street. Once he becomes accustomed to receiving regular and timely meals his eating habits should return to pretty much normal.

Provided that Hammond belatedly comes to his senses and does not proceed with his outrageous plan to install Rex at 11 Downing Street, Gladstone should be able to look forward to, hopefully, many happy years at the Exchequer. There also is not any obvious reason why that he should not be able to get along famously with Larry and Palmerston.

There may be a few spats here and there along the way but that is only normal where cats are concerned. Nevertheless, the interactions between all three toms need to be closely monitored in order to ensure that none of them gets seriously injured.

Photos: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home (Gladstone with Hammond's Red Box and on top of a table), Your Local Guardian of Sutton in Surrey (Gladstone up close), and Twitter (Rex).