Jessie the Cat’s Timeline of World History
c.6000BC: Cats are discovered by nomadic hunter-gatherers in the region of Badkyz, now part of Turkmenistan. These wild cats are orangey coloured, somewhat larger than modern domestic cats, and spend their time either sleeping on bits of paper or chasing spiders. Initially feared and distrusted by the nomads, they are later worshipped, and later still they become irritating with their constant demands for food and to be let in and out of the nomads’ primitive dwellings at inconvenient moments.
67BC: Cats arrive in Britain for the first time, two of them having crawled into a particularly dark cupboard on board a Roman slave ship.
1520-1540: Carpet is introduced to Europe by Ottoman merchants, and largely replaces the mud and straw floor coverings common at the time. Although expensive, it proves to be popular, but becomes reviled by boot and shoemakers, who fear that the presence of warmth and comfort underfoot will put them out of business.
1854: The first black cat is produced by George Weston and Sons in a Birmingham workshop. It proved to be so popular that thousands were made and sold throughout the country.
1862: Beer is accidentally created by Laszlo Kagel, a Polish research chemist working in the field of synthetic adhesives, when a number of glass jars are knocked from a high shelf in his laboratory. His assistant, Stanislaus Boosz, cleans up the spill, and is amazed by the mixture’s rich, chestnutty palette and creamy head. He spends the next few months perfecting the recipe.
1863: Boosz mass-produces his new beverage and sells it throughout Europe and the Americas, where it is marketed as a health tonic and sold in single waxed paper containers.
1864: Frustrated with having to buy beer in unstackable packaging, Ezekiel Can, a 26 year old bank clerk from Grand Rapids, Michigan, invents the the beer tin (eventually renamed ‘can’ after Can’s untimely death in 1882).
1901: The first long chain synthetic polymer is developed in the kitchens of the Wynnstay Cafe and Tea Rooms, Betws y Coed, where it is used to coat and insulate wires in generators and electrical motors.
1946: After the conclusion of World War II, the global beer industry faces collapse, as despite a renewed appetite for the sweet, brown, life-giving liquid, consumers are still only able to carry two cans of beer at a time, one in each hand.
1957: Paul Eldon Thene, a former soldier and rail enthusiast from Basildon, is visiting Betws y Coed and takes tea in the Wynnstay Cafe. His attempts to covertly observe Meinir Williams, the pretty young kitchen assistant, are hampered by the masses of opaque polymer cable coating hanging in coils from the kitchen ceiling. He devotes the next three years of his life to the production of a true transparent polymer.
January 1961: In a desperate, last-ditch attempt to rescue the global brewing industry, crude attempts are made to attach single cans of beer to each other with spider-webs. It is unsuccessful.
February 1961: Bankrupt and suicidal, Kenneth Aldridge, director of the UK’s largest brewery, disposes of his stocks of unsold beer. While carrying an armful of beer cans from the canning plant to the skip, he trips on a plastic bag. Four of the cans he was carrying penetrate the clear, see-through material, and he is temporarily unable to separate them. The plastic beer can ring is born, and the world of brewing is saved.
1964: The first cat in space: Mr Sniff sneaks into Soyuz III shortly before launch. He spends 2 days in orbit before successfully returning to Earth somewhere in the mid-Pacific.
September 2010: The glorious and exalted conjunction of all these events, as Jessie the Cat deposits a clear plastic beer can ring on the hallway carpet.
Postcript: in case anyone is thinking ‘hey, what a swindle, this is the same plastic ring as the one in the last post, I want my money back’, here’s a rather interesting photograph that should settle your doubts: