Nibbles was a cat stolen from the wildlife at Croom Orthopedic Hospital.

The Conquest of the Keyes Boys

It so happened that my (Gerard's) granny fell and broke her hip. This necessitated what seemed to me to be a rather long stay at the Orthopedic Hospital in Croom. While she was there, every couple of days my mother would load up the car and take us off to visit Granny. After a short visit with the patient we would leave the room and head outside to explore the grounds of the hospital. It was an old, rambling place with lots of buildings serving different purposes. The grounds too were extensive with lawns, and paths and a dense wooded area running down to a river. We got to look forward to the visits to Granny and grew quite familiar with the hospital and it's surroundings. It was a great place for adventures. We also made the acquaintance of the local 'wildlife'. There were many families of cats patrolling their territories around the sprawling layout of hospital buildings. Some were wild and wuold have nothing to do with the unwelcome young human interlopers. Others, particularily the younger ones, were more curious and hung around long enough for us to gently stroke them, if we were patient and careful enough.

Unknown to me because I was too young to be trusted not to blabber, a plot was hatched by the bigger lads, well by my brother Mick actually.


The Arrival

On the way home one evening from one of our last visits we were all packed into the car and motoring along home from Croom. As usual there was talking, arguing and fighting going on in back seat. However, today there seemed to be an extra 'voice' adding to the ruaille buaille. Soon mother heard it too. At first she dismissed it and didn't say anything, she couldn't really be hearing a cat, could she?. Mick couldn't keep her hidden any longer and as she clambered out from under his jacket there was this loud and unmistakeable Miaow! Mother stopped the car and the fur began to fly. What was that, where did it come from and who stole it? 'It' turned out to be the most delightful black kitten with four white socks and a white bib. When mother saw the kitten, her heart melted. Mick assured her that she didn't belong to anyone and that, in fact, she was probably an orphan and that it would be cruel not to adopt her. Criminality having been ruled out, promises were made about minding, feeding and cleaning. Heart-felt pleas were made and, not really wanting to have to turn around and go back, my cat-loving mother relented and we headed for home. By the time we got home the new arrival was presented to Dad and was duly 'christened' Nibbles.

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