From one top cat to another: I could really do with a good spin vet. Any idea who handled Lassie?

Dear Socks,

As the US's First Cat, you must get a lot of fan mail. But since reading your web page on Tony's laptop, I feel I know you already. And frankly - I could use some advice. I guess you've had plenty of experience of political intrigue? Well, things have come to a pretty pass over on this side of the pond. I've been ousted! Overthrown! A clear case of "coup de chat". The end of an era, that's what it is - Downing Street devoid of its most influential resident in decades. It's a disgrace. I'd send you a Daily Telegraph, only it's not entirely savoury after several days in the litter tray. The lies they've been printing about me - "flea-ridden and rancid" etc. When I got wind of plans to pension me off in some quiet backwater where I could snooze away my dotage and no one would mind my moulting or having the occasional little accident on the floor I assumed it was a peerage after years of loyal service. Little did I know ...

Rumours of my death, I'm pleased to say, have been greatly exaggerated. I'm having to write this from a top secret location in South West London - though if those bastards think they can keep me out of the public eye then they're wrong. It's a conspiracy, that's what it is. Started the day they moved in. That special little entrance Tony built into the back door was no cat flap. Turned out it was just so Robin Cook could come and go as he pleased. And when I went to curl up for a bit of a scratch, know what I found in place of my favourite armchair? A bloody mouse mat! And there was me thinking I had a permanent safe seat. Never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I really miss the Majors. Old JM bringing me kippers back from Brixton.

Jealousy, that was the problem. I was the most popular Downing Street resident by a long chalk. Granted, I might have been involved in the odd scandal - but how many MPs can honestly say they've never been tempted to stray? Cherie was the brains behind the operation, of course She's always made my fur stand on end. That glint in her eye when Rolf Harris did neuterings on Animal Hospital. And you should have seen the amount of British beef she fed me. They were all in on it, you know. That old fox Mandelson. Sly, devious, vain, self-satisfied. OK, so there was a lot for a cat to admire in him...

I didn't take it lying down. I used to leave little dead creatures on the doorstep, but when Tony opened the door to find a couple of stiff newts laid out on the pavement, he just assumed they were friends of his from Oasis. Made no attempt to conceal it from me. "New Labour, New Kitten," I heard the PM say. Bold as brass, promising to "get rid of Fat Cats". Not that I'm worried. The only way I'm having myself put down is when I'm interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on next week's special, feature-length, letting-the-cat-out-of-the-bag edition of Newsnight. Ah - sweet revenge. As you know, it's all a matter of PR. I'm already negotiating to get my life story published in time for Christmas. So - must dash ... the paparazzi are waiting. Do write back (I could really use the number of a good spin vet. Any idea who handled Lassie?). Trust me - this country hasn't heard the last of Old Humph. As Arnie said: I'll be back ...

Miao for now,

Humphrey

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