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The Prime Minister’s New Cat

Newsflash: I don’t want to sound catty but 10 Downing Street is infested with vermin. On top of that, there are also rats running around the place. About a month ago most of the national press had kittens because during a live BBC news interview, a large black rat was caught on camera running across the steps of the famous house. The answer? The introduction of Larry, a four-year old cat. This tabby is seen as the pest control method of eliminating the current domestic problem our prime minister is having.

History

Larry comes from a broken home, and was initially a stray that was then taken into the care of London's famous Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. He was recommended to Downing Street when the rat problem arose, because he is supposedly a “good ratter”. Larry isn’t the first cat at no.10. He actually has a few predecessors, and they all went by the unofficial title of “Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office”. There have been five felines before him, albeit not all of them for the same reasons why Larry is there. Here are the other cats before him (as well as a bit of history of who our PMs were at the time):

DOWNING STREET CATS

Prime Minister(s)DateCat
Ramsay McDonald1920sRufus of England
Neville Chamberlain / Winston Churchill1930s and 1940sMunich Mouser
Edward Heath1970sWilberforce
Margaret Thatcher / John Major1989 to 1997Humphrey
Tony Blair2007Sybil
David Cameron2011Larry

Conclusion

With the recession that is happening, it’s good to see that feline employment is on the rise. Recently, it was reported that the prime minister will be asking for donations from his colleagues to help fund Larry’s job. As a result, the taxpayers won’t be forking out. It’s nice to know the public aren’t contributing to another fat cat’s lavish lifestyle. Hopefully, Larry will be able to make more of difference at no.10 then what is currently being done there. Let’s also hope it’s the purr-fect solution to one of David Cameron’s problems, rather than adding to his cat-alogue of errors so far.

Language Point

English newspapers, especially populist tabloid newspapers, love to make jokes and play on words (known as ‘puns’) in their articles. We can see some examples in this article too. Jokes

  1. “Downing Street is infested with vermin. On top of that, there are also rats running around the place” This plays with the idea that rats are already an example of vermin and indicates that Gavin does not have a high opinion of the prime minister or maybe politicians in general.
  2. “the pest control method of eliminating the current domestic problem our prime minister is having” is a joke based on ‘best’ and ‘pest’ (the same as vermin) as the sentence should read “the best control method”.

Puns All the puns in this article play on the word cat, which is obviously also the topic of the story.

  1. ‘to sound catty’ or ‘to be catty’ is to say something critical, maybe unfairly critical. It is often used in relation to girls saying unfriendly things about one another.
  2. ‘the national press had kittens’ – a ‘kitten’ is a baby cat and ‘to have kittens’ is to get very upset, excited or in a panic about something.
  3. ‘another fat cat’s lavish lifestyle’ – a ‘fat cat’ is a critical name for top business executives and bankers. This comment refers to the amount of tax money spent on saving the banks and their bonuses. See this blog for more on this story.
  4. ‘the purr-fect solution’ is a play on words with ‘perfect’ (same pronunciation). To ‘purr’ is the repeated sound that cats make when they are happy.
  5. cat-alogue of errors’ is another way of saying a ‘long list of mistakes’
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