I always change the bed linen mid-week – somehow, doing it on a Monday seems terribly old-fashioned, along with Monday cottage pie – so I had just stuffed the sheet and duvet cover into the washing machine when the phone rang. It was Verity.
“I’ve just had a call from some woman round the corner. She says Hedy is in a corner of their bedroom snarling at her. She only just managed to get close enough to read the phone number on his collar – and of course, it’s still my number. Could you pop round straight away and get him, she wants to go out and doesn’t want to do so with a strange cat locked in the house?”
There was a certain logic to the sequence of events – Hedonism is still technically Verity’s cat, after all – but I put a jacket on and headed off to the address Verity had given me.
There aren’t that many roads per se in our village, it’s mostly the crossroads of Station Road (alas, no station now, thank you Mr Beeching!) and High Street with a few closes off it, but there are a couple of more upmarket roads that curve round and out of sight behind the front row of houses, into what was once upon a time a field. Security cameras perched on the grandiose brick frontages gave an impression of repelling all boarders, and I’ve heard via the grapevine that even the postman finds them a bit forbidding. Anyway, Hedonism had apparently snuck (sneaked?) into one of these houses, goodness only knows how, so I had to screw my courage to the sticking place and retrieve the cat.
Autumn is beginning to show in more ways than one now, rosehips and haws in the hedges unless the birds have eaten them, old man’s beard and other seeds drifting through the gusty air and the obligatory carpet of leaves on the road. The first tree on Copse Gate was in fact a horse chestnut which had shed more conkers than the local children knew what to do with, scattering its largesse into the gutter with a glorious abandon. Gone are the days when I would collect the better-looking specimens for the kids, so I just admired them briefly and strode on to number 4, hoping that it was not the dwelling of the rottweilers Brutus and Booth.
It was not. “Oh, thank goodness you’re here. The cat’s going berserk! I didn’t want to hurt it but I really wasn’t sure what else to do. I’ve managed to shut it in a bathroom for now.” The petite blonde who had answered the door was not what I had expected, twinset and pearls, but rather jeans and a sweatshirt. Jenny introduced herself as she guided me to the aforementioned bathroom but initially thought I was Verity. I explained my temporary caretaker role and the cause of it.
“That’s a relief,” Jenny said. “You didn’t look like the sort of person to call a cat Hedonism. I mean, I didn’t want to be rude or anything, but honestly! Does she stand at the back door and call him in, ‘Hedonism, Hedonism!?”
We both giggled at the idea and a bond was born. Hedonism came to me quite happily and immediately stopped snarling at Jenny.
“Fancy a cuppa?” she asked.
“I thought you had to go out?”
“No, I just said that because I couldn’t cope with the cat snarling at me all day. Now that he’s stopped, I don’t have any plans.”
I could have spent the entire day chatting with Jenny. We like the same sort of books and TV programmes, and besides, her central heating is on full blast. But the washing wouldn’t do itself so I had to go home, with Hedonism in my arms and a determination that our heating would also be turned up. I’ve been wearing thick jumpers since about the beginning of September and we’ve had a fan heater in the bedroom at bedtime and first thing in the morning, but otherwise we’ve been surviving without the heating. I wonder if the OH has heating in his office? I wouldn’t be surprised.