I feel like Job. Everything of significance is being stripped from me. In August my flat in west London was badly flooded; on 25 September I lost my job; on Monday lunch-time, 25 October, my beloved cat Stan, apparently terrified at the sight and sound of me knocking in a fence post, took off and hasn’t been seen since.
In the six years since he came in as a stray, Stan has never spent a whole night out of my bed. He is rather cowardly and weighs a stone and a half, so he is not given to gadding about. On the morning after Stan took off I looked out of the kitchen window to see a massive magpie in the tree outside, sounding off with a voice like a cheap child’s rattle. An emblem of utter doom. Since then I’ve spent hours staring at the back wall of the garden, hoping Stan might suddenly appear.
I seem to spend all my time thinking about him and looking for him. The nights are worst, when every sound from the garden might be him coming back. I lie there longing to hear the snap and clank of the cat flap, the crunch of biscuits. But it doesn’t happen. I go through that melancholy task, dreaded by all cat owners, of trailing round the streets shouting out a name. The answer is silence. No more his eager call. It’s ghastly.
I have to seek help from local people — neighbours, most of whom I’ve never met before. A Geordie security man at the local factory directed me towards Doris, who feeds the local foxes every night. Crouching in the dark among discarded fast-food containers and bags of rubbish, she told me that five cats have recently gone missing from my road and the next, all vanished without trace.