It all started when a woman with a charming accent approached my book table at the tradeshow in Melville at Christmas.
“My mother’s name was Susan Harris,” she announced, eyes on my name tag. Her blue eyes and my brown ones sparkled at each other and an animated conversation broke out. She is British, and I knew my name Harris traced back to the Governor of Trinidad (1846-1854) when the island was colonized by Britain. Governor Harris established the education system there and Harris Promenade was named after him.
The woman and her daughter were duly impressed. As far as they knew, they were not related to Governor Harris but nonetheless wanted to check out the lineage.
“What’s his first name?” asked the daughter excitedly. “I’ll check it out on Ancestry dot com.”
Unfortunately, I did not know. I didn’t even remember that he was Lord Harris, a Baron of noble birth. Wikipedia names him the Right Honourable George Francis Robert Harris, 3rd Baron Harris, Governor of Trinidad. I had researched the history when his great grand nephew Conrad Harris passed away in 2014 but the details seemed to have been laid to rest with the body.
“I’ll just check Harris and Trinidad. Something will come up.” The daughter concluded with a smile. The mother purchased her books and we parted.
As a writer and researcher my interest soared to the extent where I wanted to create a publication on this notable statesman, a comprehensive record that would serve as a legacy to the family and future generations, as well as for citizens of the island Lord Harris governed. Finding accurate information proved difficult, so I decided to write to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for help in obtaining historical records and photographs from the British archives. I was keeping the memories of 3rd Baron Harris alive as I had done for the penny in my book, Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the Life of the Canadian One-cent Piece 1858-2013, so I decided to send a copy of the book to the Queen to support my request. As I searched for a business card to include with the book, my eyes fell on Smokey’s bookmark. The back of it contains a list of my books and my contact information. Gold.
And that’s how Smokey’s picture is winging it’s way to the UK. Like Pussy Cat who had been up to London to visit the Queen, Smokey’s picture will be seen by the Queen in London. How’s that for a lil ol’ cat on the frozen prairies?
Of course this honour mandated recognition. An update to his name. Sir Smokey.
Knighthood requires touching a sword on the right and left shoulders of the person while they kneel. Forget about pointing anything at Smokey. You won’t find him for days! Worse, don’t point a sword, I mean the steak knife I’d substituted. The only interpretation is butchering.
“Kneel Smokey.” The cat crouched in his final posture as a commoner. Good. The knife was in my hand pointing downward but he could not see it. I touched his right shoulder, then the left with my other hand.
“I dub thee a Knight.” Blue eyes pierced my brown ones.
“Rise, Sir Smokey.”
“Rise, Sir Smokey.”
Sir Smokey rose and darted back to the heated rocks on the spa.
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