[the cat]

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Worcestershire

Senior Member
Private Office

Pray let six offices be fitted for my use, in Selfridge's, Lambeth Palace, Stanmore, Tooting Bec, the Palladium, and Mile End Road. I will inform you at 6 each evening at which office I shall dine, work and sleep. Accommodation will be required for Mrs Churchill, two shorthand writers, three secretaries and Nelson [the cat]. There shall be shelter for all, and a place for me to watch air raids from the roof.
...
WSC

From Roy Jenkins "Churchill"

This is a spoof minute fairly capturing Churchill's war time life as safety measures against German air raids during the Battle of Britain in the WWII.

Question: what does "[the cat]", following Nelson, who I believe was Churchill's Private Secretary, mean?
 
  • There are many stories of Winston Churchill and cats which he loved:

    Churchill’s Feline Menagerie


    The Prime Minister’s best-known cat during the war years was a big grey named Nelson. During a dinner at Chequers, the American war correspondent, Quentin Reynolds records Churchill as saying: “Nelson is the bravest cat I ever knew. I once saw him chase a huge dog out of the Admiralty. I decided to adopt him and name him after our great Admiral….”

    [quote corrected; thanks Loob]
     
    Last edited:
    That's why the the writer put the phrase "the cat" between brackets [ ], assuming that of course everyone reading this article knows that Nelson is/was a cat, but just in case a couple of people of don't...

    (It's almost like a P.S.: directly after the word in question, or a whisper in your ear. :))
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That's why the the writer put the phrase "the cat" between brackets [ ], assuming that of course everyone reading this article knows that Nelson is/was a cat, but just in case a couple of people of don't...

    (It's almost like a P.S.: directly after the word in question, or a whisper in your ear. :))
    The OP has not been quite clear in presenting this, in my view.

    The original minute contained no explanation in brackets of the name, Nelson. All the aides would have known that Nelson was the cat.

    However, readers thirty or forty years later would need an explanation, so modern authors add the bracket (which should be in contrasting type, I think), in explanation.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The clue is the use of square brackets. If the parenthesis had been in the original text it would have been in parentheses - curved brackets - (the cat).
     
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