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Berlin has Sven, the notoriously picky doorman at Berghain. The Vatican has professional shushers who police the Sistine Chapel. And south-east London has its own legendary overseer: the Brockley Cat, a stern-faced fella who scans locals’ shopping baskets from a lofty perch in Sainsbury’s.
Unlike the inanimate Catford Cat nearby, Brockley’s four-legged mascot is a sentient creature with a thirst for trespassing. Officially named Olly Oliver, he lives a couple of doors down from the supermarket, and is famous in the area for his frequent excursions to the shops.
Who can resist this ginger vision as he peers disdainfully down at us – his wretched, ready-meal-gobbling subjects? He first became known for inhabiting the Italian section of Sainsbury’s, paws neatly crossed, judging our pizza-purchasing choices. In his most censorious era, he developed a habit of hiding among the crisps, face scrunched as if he had just demolished a whole packet of salt ’n’ vinegar. Hapless security guards have attempted to shoo him out of Sainsbury’s countless times. Persistently he defies them, much to the delight of his adoring fans.
‘He’s a pioneering mog, a maverick who cannot be tamed’
Following his example, other rebellious felines have taken up very public positions around Brockley, most notably the gigantic fluffball who patrols the Overground platform. But it was the original Brockley Cat who made the first stride for catkind in SE4. He’s a pioneering mog, a maverick who cannot be tamed. We can all learn something from his sheer tenacity.
Of late, like many tote-bag-slinging south Londoners of a certain age, Olly has traded in bargain bins for small-batch IPAs. These days you’ll find him regarding customers with a sullen glare at Waterintobeer: the craft beer shop next door to his old haunt. As he fixes the security guard who once wronged him with a vengeful stare through the window, he is waited upon hand and paw, furnished with a designated cushion and endless saucers of milk. Here he is treated like a blessed prince – and let me be clear, it’s the regal acclaim that he has deserved all along. Long may he reign.