The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

September 4, 2013

September 4, 1997

Jeffrey Bernard, (May 27, 1932 to September 4, 1997) one of a trio of famous siblings, achieved a renown for behavior which was both universal (who has not known a persistent drunk who always entertains and carries a party along) and local (adored by the British literati for reasons which seem to be inarticulable.) Bernard's weekly column, in Spectator magazine, detailing his drinking adventures, evidenced a life style described by Christopher Howse as, "the tragi-comedy of Soho life, than which nothing could be funnier." This life was the subject of Bernard's column, "Low Life." It helped of course that his fellow pub crawlers were eccentric and brilliant, people like Francis Bacon. 

All this was material for books, since most were creative folk. Obviously  the columns were collected as in:

Low life, (1986) and Reach for the Ground: The Downhill Struggle of Jeffrey Bernard (1996).
Graham Lord authored, Just the One: The Wives and Times of Jeffrey Bernard
(1992), and the play Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell (1989) by Keith Waterhouse was a hit.

High Life, Low Life (1981) was co-authored by Bernard, and details the Cat Racing story. The 1958 Great Battersea Cat Race was part of Bernard's mystique.

Concerning the setup:  We agreed that if horses get three pounds for a length then cats should get an ounce for a length. ... [The cats were put on a diet, and there was a real] "red handkerchief ...[from] his pocket, which I correctly guessed to be cat racing's equivalent of the red flag at the races..."

In Just The One: The Wives And Times Of Jeffrey Bernard, we learn "cats ran around a hall way [with] a turn in it, total about 30 feet."  There seems to be some controversy about who invented cat racing. That information is either lost in a boozy haze, or in the stacks. 

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