John’s poem for prime minister David Cameron’s pussycat is just purr-fect

It's not every day that the leader of our country is asked to read a poem to his cat.

But that is exactly what Norwich poet John Armstrong requested of prime minister David Cameron.

The eccentric wordsmith sent his poem, called Feline Cats, opposite, to 10 Downing Street with strict instructions that it had to be read to Larry, the government headquarters' brown and white tabby.

The 78-year-old was surprised to receive a letter from the PM's correspondence officer, thanking him for his poem.

John, of Meredith Road, Hellesdon, said: 'It was nothing political, just tongue-in-cheek fun.

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'It's nice to think that I had a bit of fun with them and they even wrote back to thank me.'

He developed his passion for writing and asking world leaders to talk to cats to give him something to do following retirement from 27 years of work with Norwich City Council.

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'I thought it would be fun in these current hard times. Idle hands make work for the devil,' he said.

The poet, who has featured regularly in the Evening News' Poets' Corner over the years, was inspired to write the poem while watching TV.

He explained: 'I was watching the news and they were talking about the cat at Number 10, so I thought I would write about that.

'I write about what I know, I love cats, I think they are beautiful creatures. We had one for 22 years called Tiddles.'

The poet, who always has a tale to tell about the city of Norwich, can add the letter to the one he received from the Queen in May last year, after he sent her a piece about Prince William's wedding.

Despite feeling let down by his Catholic schooling he has educated himself to the point where he now writes essays on various topics, including the history of the city where he has lived in all his life.

John added: 'There's not a street or alleyway in Norwich that I do not know about. I am not political myself but I love Norwich.'

He details his childhood experience in 10 pages of Sarah Housden's Norwich Memories, a rich vein he is mining further as he is currently co-writing his own book with his brother.

He grew up in St Benedict's before moving to Mile Cross after the second world war.

Have you got a story for Local Life? Contact editor David Freezer on 01603 772418 or you can email him at

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