Larry leads a good life. He is currently employed and also resides at 10 Downing Street, where his official job title is Chief Mouser. For you see, Larry is a cat. Not just any cat, but Larry The Cat. Larry, born circa 2007, was adopted by the staff at 10 Downing when mice were detected by television news crews while reporting live. His secondary role was to be a pet for the children of then Prime Minister David Cameron. It quickly became clear that Larry would need to be taught some manners, when he took a swipe at television reporter Lucy Manning during his first week on the job. Larry, a rescue cat, was a bit intimidated by men, but made an exception when President Obama visited 10 Downing, and Larry went willingly to the Prez for some gentle petting.
Larry got off to a bit of a rocky start, and in February 2011 he almost received a “vote of no confidence”, which would have terminated his employment. Some were saying he simply had not “developed a killer instinct”. But Larry was given a second chance, and on 22 April 2011 finally proved fit for the job by killing his first mouse! But then in November 2011, Larry’s future was once again uncertain when accusations were made that Larry was spending more time sleeping, and spending time in the company of a female cat, Maisie, than actually hunting for mice. Sometimes, though, a great personality can overcome a poor work record, and that was apparently the case with Larry. It was said that he brought too much pleasure to staff and family, and thus Larry’s job was secure, though he was banned from the Prime Minister’s quarters, as Mr. Cameron apparently complained about fur on his suits.
In 2012, a lady cat named Freya moved into the house next door, 11 Downing Street. I do not know what happened between Larry and his former love, Maisie, but suddenly Larry and Freya became “quite close”. But Freya had a competitive nature, and although Larry had survived a September “Cabinet re-shuffle” and retained his position, Freya began to hone in on his territory and before long, she was reported to be the more dominant cat and more effective mouser. Poor Larry! However, the staff petitioned on Larry’s behalf, and once again, he avoided dismissal by a hair’s … er, fur’s breadth.
There was reportedly tension brewing between the Prime Minister and the Chief Mouser in 2013 over fur on clothing and the odour of cat food. British odds maker Ladbrokes were giving 2-1 odds that Cameron would be the first of the two to go. Cameron issued a public statement saying that he and Larry got on “purr-fectly well”.
Larry proved to excel at playing host to dignitaries and in 2014, his duties expanded to include entertaining guests. Meanwhile, the relationship between Larry and Freya seemed to be on the skids, and one night Freya simply left. She remained homeless for some time, but eventually returned home. Then in August 2014, Freya was hit by a car and injured. Larry was reported “not to seem bothered”.
Prime Ministers, it seems, are more expendable than Chief Mousers, as it was decided during the 2015 General Election that if David Cameron were defeated, Larry would yet retain his position. Not only the staff at 10 Downing Street love him, but so does the public. One lady, Sylvia Barry, hand-crocheted a blanket for Larry, and in appreciation, Larry invited her to visit 10 Downing Street.
Which brings us to the present day. Now that Theresa May has taken over as the new Prime Minister, what will happen to Larry’s job? Well, Cabinet Office staff confirmed that Larry would continue to live at Downing Street and would remain Chief Mouser under the new Prime Minister. However, speculation continues that Larry may have competition in the form of Palmerston, Chief Mouser of the Foreign Office, as suggested by the headline:
Claws are out on Downing Street… and not just in the cabinet! Larry the No10 cat and his Foreign Office rival Palmerston are seen squaring up in the corridors of power – Daily Mail, 15 July 2016
It is rumoured that Larry and Palmerston have been seen in a “bad-tempered stand-off” at least twice in recent days. Somehow, I’m laying odds on Larry to come out on top once again.