As a cat, I have always eschewed this novel as it is surely redundant that I should read a book on the killing of birds. As I told my English teacher in the second form, “I don’t know what a mocking bird is but frankly if a bird wants to avoid death at my hands MOCKING me is the last thing it should be doing.” Naturally, I refused to read the set book but the teacher was well-used to my behaviour by this point in my academic career and had already started shoving me out of the classroom with a broom before I had offered my reasons for objecting to her curricula. I reached the Head Master’s office in high dudgeon not only because of the broom but because I had a substantive argument that an English school had access to a long tradition of literature by actual Englishmen and that there was no need to import books from American authoresses. Luckily for me, the Head Master was out or possibly hiding behind his desk — looking back now with my eidetic but unreliable memory I recall seeing his feet and a thin curl of pipe smoke arising from behind the furniture. How have we deprived the modern generation of children that their mentors and educators no longer carry the lingering smell of burnt leaves about them. No wonder the youths of today are so unreliable.
With access to the titular head of our academic mini-state unavailable, I high-tailed it to the school library where I was usually granted an audience. The librarian had a morbid fear of mice and while I do not regard myself as mouser as such, the mere presence of a cat can act as a deterrent, at least the librarian felt so and he was normally ready to tolerate my presence. I explained to him my objections to the frankly absurd book choices of the so-called educational expert operating the English curriculum in Michelmas term. It was then that I learned one of the most important lessons of my life.
“But Timothy,” said the librarian with a puzzled expression that arose both out of intellectual puzzlement and also from observing me perched on a light fitting, “was it not you who demanded we purchased class sets of the complete works of Robert A. Heinlein?”
I confirmed that I had indeed made that demand and that it was I who had threatened to deflate all the rugby balls with my sharp claws if the demand was not met. This threat was a bluff because the rough exterior of the balls was beyond my capacity to easily shred as numerous experiments in the PE equipment room had proven.
“What of it” I said in a very saiding manner.
“Why, but did you not know that Mr Heinlien is American?”
I was so dizzy from the revelation that I fell off the light fitting and onto a pile of leaves that the librarian had been raking due to the fact that the south wall of the library had fallen down after the mysterious fire last Christmas which I was not involved in (as can be confirmed by contacting the Bortsworth Police Station where they will confirm that NO conclusive evidence was ever found).
I rushed to the school computer room but realised too late that the computer would not be established for another two years when the school would purchase a remained stock of ZX-81s. Worse I had yet to invent the World Wide Web and so I rushed back to the library and consulted the reference books. The librarian had not lied to me, unlike that time when he was busy when he was manifestly eating a shrimp paste sandwich.
There are people who allege that I am a cat who is set in his ways and unwilling to accommodate new or alarming information. This is a lie and a sufficient example is my reaction to this troubling news. Having learned of Mr Heinlein’s nationality I realised that I had been labouring (or rather laboring) under a misapprehension all of my lives. If Heinlein was an America then ipso-post-factory then so was I.
From that point forward I embraced my true nationality.