I then went to university and, following that, set up home in London. My mother went to live in Eastbourne, where she eventually died. She had no more animals except possibly mice. We had mice too. London is a good place for mice. Lots of old houses have been converted into flats and provide ideal accommodation for mice. I don’t mind them, personally. They’re company when you’re on your own.
Eventually, we got a cat. I don’t think the mice minded that much. Mice are very adaptable. They just move to the next catless house. We didn’t mean to get a cat. It was one of those things that happen. I went out to get something from the garage and saw a small kitten walking down the street. Being a softy, my first thought was to prevent her getting run over so I called her. Despite being a baby, she must have realized she was onto a good thing because up went her tail and she trotted up to me. When I took her indoors, she toured the place, exploring every room. She seemed to like it and to show how much she liked it, peed behind the bedroom door.
The obvious thing to do was to take her to the RSPCA. So I dumped her in a waste paper basket and carried this out to the garage. The waste paper basket trick had always worked before but this cat was a smart alec. She climbed out of the basket, up my arm and then down into the small of my back where I couldn’t reach her. Eventually I got her into the car and dropped her off at the RSPCA and went home. Job done.
That was Saturday. My son was out playing football with the school team and when he came home, we naturally told him about the cat. We explained we couldn’t possibly keep a cat as we were out at work or school all day and went away a lot during the holidays. Keeping a cat was out of the question.
So next day, Sunday, we phoned the RSPCA and asked if the cat we had brought in was still there. They said it was. We said we were thinking of adopting it. They said fine but whatever you do, don’t come in today because we are very busy on Sundays. Please wait until tomorrow. So my son and I got straight into the car and went down to the RSPCA. They were right: it was very busy down there. The cat was fetched for me to look at and she was as I remembered. We took her home. I had to pay for the privilege and her overnight stay had infested her with fleas but I suppose it was a bargain of sorts as it had given us time to decide we really wanted her.
I had taken other lost or abandoned cats to the RSPCA, including a miniscule little black kitten with pretty blue eyes, so why did I decide to fetch this one back? I cannot say. She had the most expressive yellow eyes which she could always use to communicate with me. Maybe in the short time she had spent with us on the Saturday she had worked her magic with them. She never showed the least sign of nervousness with us and settled into our home immediately. Very soon the household revolved around her and I found myself calling home from work to ask how she was. I never regretted going to fetch her from the RSPCA. It was to turn out a most special relationship and to last 20 years.