A palm tree, a pussy and a rifle


So, in March 1941 the lessee of the Esplanade Kiosk was William Henry Webb.

Someone had mailed William two kittens in a box, which was duly delivered to the Kiosk. Because that, apparently, was normal in 1941.

Go figure.

As he opened the box, one of the terrified kittens jumped out. It was promptly chased by William’s dog.

The cat flew out of the Kiosk and up the 15 metre palm outside. William went to look for help.

The Esplanade’s gardeners said there was nothing they could do. However, the Electricity and Gas Department sent a crew. With a 12 metre ladder.

They nearly caught the petrified kitty, but each time it scampered back to the top of the palm.

A man climbed the ladder with some meat to try and lure it down. But no success.

The next decision seems a little odd.

The RSPCA, who were now on the scene (along with the gardeners and the electricity and gas people) decided the rescue was a failure. So the only humanitarian thing left to do was to shoot the trembling animal.

An RSPCA inspector slung a rifle over his back and climbed the ladder.

Yes. The RSPCA. A rifle. To shoot a kitten. In a tree.

However, the ‘humanitarian’ inspector couldn’t find pussy, and decided it had escaped by itself.

Ten days later someone noticed that the poor starving animal was still at the top of the palm, and called the RSPCA again.

This time the inspector generously decided not to shoot, but to call the fire brigade instead. Who, unsurprisingly, had a long ladder. And who had the skills to get kittens out of trees.

After ninety minutes of Fireman Smith failing to grab the poor mite, the gardeners had the bright idea of turning the hose on the tree top. Which so frightened kitty that he fled into Fireman Smith’s waiting arms.

[Those of you who are old enough can insert your own Mrs Slocombe joke here. It’s all set up for you.]

The large crowd which had assembled by this time gave a loud cheer.

William Webb took the starving pussy into his kitchen in the Kiosk to give it some milk.

The dog charged in. The kitten fled up another palm tree.

You can’t make this stuff up.


Fireman Smith gets some wet, er…, kitten