Big drama. Biggest round here for ages. Easily the biggest since Mel's aunt fused the fan in the downstairs bathroom by squirting water into it. This she preferred to do instead of squirting water onto herself, which is the approved technique for shower-head usage in our house, and would have, albeit in a predictable and clichéd way, have got her rather cleaner.
What happened to outrank that event, which came complete with a loud 'bang' that plunged us into instant darkness and left us with a distressed and rather damp aunt? What could top that? Only that Lizzie, the former kitten, went missing. She did not return to her warm house and loving family on Wednesday evening. This was unusual. She did not appear throughout the night, nor by the following morning. She is a cat who likes her comforts, and if cats liked jacuzzis she would never be out of hers. But gone. No sign. Not even a note, like in a Beatles song.
So I spent Thursday morning drafting an A4 description and appeal for help, then stuffing it through letterboxes all up and down our street and the street that runs along the end of our garden. This is not a recommended way to meet all your neighbours - too much stress in the background - but it is an efficient way and it yields insights galore. I met at least two eastern European cleaners and a Filipino maid. I got one person out of bed, one out of the bath and another had no clothes on. (I know because he told me through the letterbox.) I even crossed swords with a notoriously competitive neighbour, who said "Oh, yes, lost cat. How terrible, I didn't enjoy telling one of my twins that his kitty was dead when it fell out of a tree and broke its back". Balmed with this precious quantum of solace, I thanked him for his encouragement and moved on.
I met one genuinely psychotic dog. It barked ominously, out of sight in a side room. It barked several times, then went quiet. So I had a total moment-in-Jaws-when-the-head-falls-out-of-the-wrecked-boat when it THREW itself, frothing and scratching, at the inside of the glass upper panels of the front door. I flinched all too visibly. Not a good idea if a fight was on the cards. Must never show weakness in fist-fights with psychotic dogs. Fortunately the glass held, allowing my experience as a Xmas relief postman in 1974 to resurface. I turned and legged it.
One old lady was so upset for me that she invited me in to her house, then into her garden, to look in her shed for myself. I explained to her that I was convinced that Lizzie would not have gone far, and had probably been locked in a neighbour's shed or stuck in some kind of outhouse/storage area. How right I eventually was. Our neighbour has a half-built basement conversion going on (for the last seven years) and it had been shut at around five the previous evening. He had visited it a lunchtime but had found no sign of a cat. It was only when our chldren went in at around five that evening that she was spotted. The poor little mite, all dusty and scared, had been hiding from big strangers and had not shown herself to her potential rescuer when she had had the chance.
So we got her back, and I have met nearly everybody who lives in the neighbourhood. Isn't life strange?
(The answer, by the way, is "Yes". Please don't write in with the answer.)