I Thought I Saw A … I Did, I Did!! 1993
December 21st 1993
I remember this day very clearly like it was yesterday. At the time l was with my then girlfriend [ex-wife], and l was working in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire in the store What Everyone Wants as store manager. It was Christmas time and she had invited me back to meet her parents – for the first time. I had been working very long hours and whilst l was tired, in 1993 l was only 30 and my stamina for staying awake, keeping awake and maintaining alertness was a lot sharper than it might today , as an example.
My girlfriend, used to drive a Mini, which is a low to the ground car. It was around 7.30pm perhaps a little earlier.The back seat was filled with all sorts of things but in addition to all her belongings and rubbish [not the tidiest person admittedly] there were bags of wrapped presents that l had as tokens of ‘Hello, l am the much older boyfriend!!” [she was 18]].
These are the days l used to wear a watch, in comparison to not having worn a watch now for 20 years this year. Time was always a big thing with me, l didn’t like to waste time and as much as l wanted to ‘meet the parents’, as in, l didn’t really – l was still very hyperfocused on the set time we were to be at their house. My girlfriend, still lived with her parents and so she was more accepting to the point that we were late, 30 minutes minutes late at that point with still another 15 minutes before arrival.
We were on the A15, and had passed through Glinton, travelling past Northborough and were approaching the roundabout there in order to take the B1524 turn off which would take us into Market Deeping where she lived. We were just approaching the town itself and the bridge over the River Welland, the road was quiet with the exception of us, we were the only car driving into Market Deeping at that time and dimly lit, due to the lack of street lights as is the way of countryside towns. On both sides of the roadside, there were huge clumps of wild brush, bush and shrubbery, mostly belonging to the houses there.
Suddenly she braked at warp speed and slammed the small car to an abrupt halt and all the presents and rubbish at the back of the car hurled itself forwards and scattered in the front of the car itself.
“What the hell is wrong with you, why have we stopped?” I asked of her, clearing away wrappers and cups from her lunch that day that were now on and in my lap.
“Look! Look in the beams of the light – what is THAT??” She stammered.
I followed her gaze and could well understand, why she was somewhat concerned. Perhaps four feet in front of the car, in the head beams stood something – something big and long and dark in colour. I leaned forward and peered out of the window and whatever this thing was, was looking back directly at us. It’s eyes were reflecting the light of the car.
“Has to be a big dog, like a wolfhound or something, probably lives in one of these neighbouring houses … l mean aside from that, maybe an over sized labrador?”
She didn’t look at me, but simply said, ‘Well check it out please. I don’t think l hit it, but l don’t know if l didn’t.” She said.
Back then, I wasn’t scared of much, not those days anyway .. but there was something about the way this ‘dog’ was just standing there and looking at us. I couldn’t make out the head that clearly, but it wasn’t moving, it was like it had all night to just stand there looking at us in the car looking back at it. I did the logical thing, in case she had bumped it and it was pissed at us or something … l rapped on the window in an attempt to cajole it along with his night time activities or whatever it was doing the night it decided to stop our journey.
It was a loud knock against the window … but this brute wasn’t bothered in fact at this point it turned and looked the car directly whereas prior to that it had been standing at an angle … it was at this point that l spotted something different about it, but l couldn’t put my finger on it.
“I thought it was black, but l think if anything it is kind of a dark brown, with … are those spots on the shoulders?” I asked my girlfriend, who was still staring as if in a trance.
“…. don’t know, but it’s giving me the creeps. It’s not a dog that’s for sure, l know dogs and l know big dogs and that isn’t a wolfhound!” She muttered.
I couldn’t dispute her here, she was constantly talking about her parents dogs, they owned Tervurens and Groenendaels which are big breeds of the Belgian Shepherd family. I remember her talking about one of them, Larence who was black in colour and massive … l recall thinking back then, that l didn’t have a lot of experience dealing with large dogs and according to her Larence was extremely protective of her! Joys l thought quietly as l looked at this ‘thing’ in front of the car.
“Well be that as it may, l actually think it is a cat, l think it’s a big cat! I mean, look it’s not black, more like a very dark brown, and those are spots l can see, look it’s moving away from the car.” I said, trying to sound confident.
“Well make sure it’s not hurt please whatever it is!” She snapped, “Get out and check it, or at least make sure it’s gone!”
I sat thinking, ‘What??” “If this is a big cat, why do l want to be out there trying to play pussy cuddles with it?” I ventured.
“Don’t be a baby, just please check on it, l would feel terrible if l have injured an animal!” She answered.
“Fine ok, l ‘ll check!” I answered, with any luck whatever ‘it’ was , perhaps had slumped into the shrubbery.
I opened the door, and started to get out, when l distinctly heard a low rumbling noise, like a purr or even a growl, “Did you hear that??” I asked her.
“Hear what? Just please make sure it’s alright, we are now really late to my parents, my mother will be sending out a search party!”
I swung open the door, and as l started to ease myself out of the car, it, yes IT was there – right beside the door, “Oh, ah, ooooh!” I froze, l recall, watching a programme about apes that said if you do anything with big animals, either freeze, yell at them or run bloody fast!
I could see it very clearly now, from the light of the opened car door … it was a cat, a big cat, it was dark brown, and it had small rosette type spots on its shoulders and flank. It was looking directly at me, and growled again .. l wasn’t a cat expert, and l didn’t talk cat, but l knew that growl said ‘”Continue to get out of the car and l am going to ruin your day!”
I am many things, but plain dumb isn’t one of them … beside me l heard her whisper, “Rory it’s a cat!!! A Big cat, don’t move or do something!”
I whispered through my teeth … “Oh sure darling, what is it then, do nothing or something?”
“No, no, don’t move!” She answered again in whisper.
So l stood there for what seemed like forever, but could only have been twenty seconds, then this magnificent beast was gone, the space where it had stood was empty. I got back in the car and lit up a cigarette. “Shit, that was close. Do you have a lot of those in Lincolnshire then?”
“No, l don’t think so … wow, a wild cat, what species do think it was?” She asked, now suddenly very excited.
“I am no professional, but l think the answer you are looking for … is BIG, it was a big species!”
More in Part 3