The only bad thing about lovely long summer holidays is waving goodbye to your pet. In my case, the pet has bid adios to me. "Your cat's gone missing," said the neighbour on a crackly line. "Not to worry," I trilled, waving for another Negroni. "It'll come back. It always does." Not this time. It's a goner, and may never reappear.
What's odd is, I mind. Odd because I never asked for a cat: it adopted me, after a colleague found it lost in Marks & Spencer's, and I was the only person still in the office who could take it in until the owner was found. "One night only," I told myself, sculpting a temporary bed out of my sock pile. The owner never emerged and, nearly two years on, Pushkin is still happily ensconced in my socks. At least, she was.
Perhaps she's gone back to her owner; or perhaps she's got a new one. On the plus side, I can now go on holiday without feeling guilty about leaving the cat home alone. Trouble is, I'm not really in the mood any more, now I've discovered how that feels.
It's at times like these that you learn the value of your community. Not the post-riot clear-up – there was no excitement in my cul-de-sac. But the Mystery of the Missing Mog.
Calls are trickling through in response to my Chicago-influenced "Missing" posters. All have been touchingly kind and helpful. The best was from a psychic, who senses the cat is alive and will return. Normally, I'd scoff, but I've just returned from the Edinburgh Fringe, where one of the best shows I saw was Tim Binns playing a comic psychic.
He started with gags like: "I'm sensing there's a woman in the audience who has thought about losing weight." But he finished by making a series of astonishingly accurate "readings". I just hope my psychic neighbour has got her runes right too.