Saturday, April 30, 2011

Felines jump on the royal wedding bandwagon

Stacey Knott


cat wedding

COLD PAWS? Billie, the unsuspecting bride, with her Aunty Maurine.

A bar in North East London is turning a small, wet nose up at this weekend's royal wedding.

Instead of joining the throngs in celebration of Will and Kate, The Nag's Head, a local pub in Walthamstow, will throw a wedding party for two local felines.

Cat-crazy pub owner Flossie Parsons will put on the tongue-in-cheek wedding for her cat Billie, and neighbours' cat Harvey, to snub the royal event.

Felines define the pub: cats from the neighbourhood are free to roam and play in the premises, there are pictures of cats on the walls, and regulars get cat-themed gifts at Christmas, which is renamed Catmas at the Nag's Head.

In fact it was last "Catmas" that this idea came around. Ms Parsons had keyrings with pictures of Billie and Harvey made, which sparked a regular to ask when the two cats would get married.

"Cats are a really big part of our pub.

"We say to our customers you can't come in unless you are a cat lover - most of them are," Ms Parsons joked.

Billie and Harvey's wedding party will be made up of four other cats and a dog named Stanley, who will be best man.

While Ms Parsons admitted it will be an arranged marriage, she said the cats were truly in love.

"They are always together, they run around up and down the trees in the garden chasing each other.

"They have known each other since they were little," she said.

Ms Parsons had designed tee shirts for the big day, with caricatures of the cats' faces. She also redesigned the royal wedding flag seen everywhere in London, replacing Will and Kate's faces with Billie and Harvey's.

Bar staff will double as bridesmaids, wearing specially designed dresses featuring prints of Billie and Harvey. The dog will also be wearing an outfit made of the same fabric.

Maurine Schipper, or Aunty Maurine to Billie, had played a big part in organising the wedding, and will be the DJ at the event.

"As the cat's aunty, that's my wedding gift to the beasts," she joked. Her playlist will be all cat-themed, and will include Cat Stevens, Stray Cats and The Lion King tracks.

She said the cats would be married at a private ceremony during the day, then at night "we will open the reception officially to anyone and everyone, cats, dogs and humans, with a wedding march, cutting of the cake and a speech by the bride's mother."

Pub regular Debbie Walker, who planned on attending the event, said it was "a bit bonkers but a bit brilliant.

"It's certainty a talking point."

Conveniently, the wedding coincides with the pub's Real Ale Festival, which features cat-themed ales like Catnip Tipple, Ginger Tosser and Wild Cat.

- Stuff

Friday, April 1, 2011

Expats honour earthquake dead

People take part in a vigil outside Westminister Cathedral in London today for victims of the Christchurch earthquake. Photo: NZPA / Stacey Knott.
People take part in a vigil outside Westminister Cathedral in London today for victims of the Christchurch earthquake. Photo: NZPA / Stacey Knott.
A service took place in London's Westminster Cathedral today to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in last week's devastating Christchurch earthquake.

About 5000 people were on hand, inside and outside the cathedral, for a prayer vigil that began at 7am (NZT), aimed at bringing together the London-based New Zealand community in the wake of the February 22 quake.

Hayley Westenra sang the national anthem, and a tribute from Prime Minister John Key was be read by the New