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08th Aug 2019

Remembering the time George Galloway pretended to be a cat on national TV

Ciara Knight

Now would you like me to be the cat?

2006 was a wild time. Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet, everyone kept saying ‘My wife!’ in a Borat voice, bird flu was rampant, Steve Irwin died and George Galloway was busy pretending to be a cat on Celebrity Big Brother series four.

The world changed forever on 13th January, 2006, when George Galloway pretended to be a cat as part of a task on Celebrity Big Brother.

Your life is now divided into two halves – the time before you saw a George Galloway pretending to be a cat on national TV, and the time after.

Given that it’s International Cat Day, it makes sense to relive the magic a cool 13 years after it happened.

Apologies, and thank you.

“Now would you like me…. to be the cat”, asks Galloway with a pregnant pause in the middle. His eyes are locked on Rula Lenska, but in this very moment, George Galloway is no longer himself. He has surrendered his body, mind and spiritual being to a higher power. George is a cat now. He spends 30-50% of his day grooming, he claws at carpets, he wants to eat goldfish, he hates Mondays but loves lasagna, he sleeps most of the day, he hates everything and everyone. He is a cat.

“Yes please”, says Rula. She would like George to be the cat now. Her answer is irrelevant as George has already plunged himself into the human embodiment of a cat. Had she said “No thank you, George”, it wouldn’t have made a sliver of a difference. It’s comforting to see that Rula has remained dignified and mannerly in such a bizarre sequence of events. She’s in unfamiliar territory, sat on the ground opposite a member of parliament who is pretending to be a cat. Nobody knows how to act in that kind of situation until they’re in it. The best you can do is hope that you would make it out with some semblance of pride intact.

Upon receiving Rula’s approval, George clasps his hands together and begins to groom. He has identified that his paws are in the most urgent need of cleansing, starting with the nook between his thumb and pointer finger on the right hand. At the same time as this is happening, Rula can be heard participating in the spectacle to a chilling decree. “Pussy pussy pussy, it’s okay, it’s okay”, she says in a comforting whisper. She’s right, it is okay. Everything is okay. It’s fucking perturbing on a staggering level, but it’s still okay, technically.

The vomit threat goes from substantial to critical in this next scene, where the genius Celebrity Big Brother production team cut to a wide angle shot. We can see that George is hunched over on the couch, while Rula is relegated to the floor. Truly, who is the cat now? Still George, but Rula is really leaning into it. She continues to whisper with a sultry tone, “Don’t be frightened”, and it’s hard to tell whether she’s addressing the viewer, herself, the unfortunate souls behind the cameras, or George.

“Shhh”, continues Rula in her role as some kind of suggestive cat tamer. The body language between the two is positively feral. Rula is smashing the task, bringing herself to a catlike state so as to put George, a current cat, at ease. The whole thing is overwhelmingly sexual. It didn’t need to be, there is no logical reason to explain why it is, it just simply is sexual. The whispering doesn’t help, nor does the prolonged eye contact and body language between the two. In this very moment, it kind of seems like they are about to ravage each other, passionately speaking.

Rula leans over to stroke George Galloway’s face as he lays it upon the sofa. “There’s a good pussy cat”, she slowly groans, adding fuel to the flirtatious fire that’s unfolding. Everything feels unclean at this present moment, like you need to wash your hands, entire body and eye sockets with a specially-formulated eye bath after seeing what’s unfolding. A politician is pretending to be a cat while the woman from the VO5 Hairspray ad assumes the role of his owner who has a low grade sexual fascination with him, and the nauseating colour of the couch isn’t helping matters.

Truly committing to the role, George attempts to lick Rula’s hand, but realises that his tongue simply doesn’t stretch far enough, as he is a cat. The average length of a cat’s tongue is deceptively long, but George is scaling it down to proportion with his large human body. His commitment to the role cannot be slandered. This is a master at work. Rula comforts George both as a cat and as a celebrity who is taking part in a reality television series because nobody ever agrees to go on Celebrity Big Brother when they’re in a good place, career-wise.

At this point, Rula brings a new element to their improvised performance. She scurries across the floor to open an imaginary bottle of milk, then decants it into an imaginary bowl, being careful not to spill it all over the carpet because milk-stained carpets smell like hell on earth. Suddenly, it becomes harrowingly clear what is going to happen next. Rula isn’t filling that saucer for the good of her health. This is going to go somewhere disturbing, whether we like it or not. George Galloway is going to drink this fucking milk, like a cat, on all fours, and we’re going to have to watch it. Again.

As expected and feared, George Galloway buries his head in Rula Lenska’s empty hands. “Good pussy cat”, Rula repeats as George tilts his head from side to side in a bid to mimic a cat excitedly getting its fill of milk from a saucer. He makes slurping noises which are the second most disturbing sound coming from the interaction, with first place going to Rula saying “Yes” and “Good pussy cat” over and over in a hushed tone. This is deeply distressing content and should’ve been flagged as such from the outset.

Rula lowers her head to touch George’s, then reaches over to his imaginary whiskers to wipe away the imaginary displaced milk. “Now lick your lips”, she says, toying with us at this point. The exact task given to the celebrities is hazy, but appears that they were told to make the entire nation physically sick in perfect unison. It’s often said that God never gives us more than we can handle, but this scene came pretty close to the cutoff point for the earth’s unfortunate inhabitants. Why did this have to happen? What did we do to deserve this? Is Brexit our penance?

Full to the brim with imaginary milk, George then plants his cat head into Rula’s lap, prime for stroking. She indulges, continually referring to him as a “Good pussy cat” and rubbing his back while George purrs like a goddamn cat. She brushes his hair with her fingertips and completes what is truly the most chilling thing to ever happen on British television. Celebrity Big Brother was cancelled a concise twelve years later and George Galloway is entirely to blame. Happy international cat day.