Christmas Carols for Cats
Julie and I had the idea for a book called The Fabulous Feline Songbook while eating at a Chinese restaurant in Rosebank, Johannesburg sometime around 1995. Over several bottles of good wine we scribbled down the words for a number of songs, using anything we could write on – serviettes, cigarette boxes, takeaway menus, even an unfolded takeaway box helpfully brought to us by the waiter. These songs were all sung to the tune of ‘pop classics’ by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Paul Simon etc.
In due course our manuscript was accepted for publication by Bantam, subject to permission being granted by the copyright holders of the original songs. The publisher began this quest but after a while it became stuck. Although many of the copyright holders were cheerfully obliging providing the original work was acknowledged, some were unrealistically greedy, others were indecisive, and yet others were dead, missing, or simply ignored the publisher’s correspondence.
It became clear to Julie and myself that as the only pro-active persons involved in this venture, it would fall upon us to find a way out of this impasse, and we hit upon the idea of using Christmas Carols instead of pop classics. More Chinese meals followed – we figured there must be an aura of magical creativity at that restaurant – besides which the food was good – and so Christmas Carols for Cats was created over many Dim Sums. Julie did some sample illustrations, some of which I have used in various places on this website, but the publisher decided that to promote sales of the book they would use an illustrator that was well known and so Sue Hellard was contracted. Not having her illustrations used in the book was always a great disappointment to Julie, but she took comfort in that Christmas Carols for Cats sold around 50,000 copies worldwide, despite not having been publicised to the full extent that we would have liked.