Living on the second floor, and being Cat’s concierge, I had quite a lot of exercise going up and down the stairs to let him in and out.
I also spent rather more time in the garden and checking the streets after dark than most of my neighbours when I needed to find him.
Until last year, even when it was very cold, he liked to spend a fair amount of time outside.
So, several years ago I went out to fetch him on a cold dark night. One of those where you feel your breath starting to freeze in the air in front of you. I walked into the garden to look for him, and saw a youth standing on the grass outside my ground floor neighbours’ window. I stepped back and asked him what he was doing.
He pointed the window. “Look,” he said. “It’s open. There’s someone inside.” He beckoned me over, leading me to believe I must be fairly cabbage looking.
By this time Cat had come to me and I picked him up.
Feeling unequal to dealing with the youth and protecting my neighbours’ property, despite having read every Famous Five book ever published, I gave the youth his chance of escape.
“Go and call the police,” I ordered him. This now indicates to me that this was the era before everyone had mobile ‘phones, so we’re probably talking late nineties. The youth ran off.
I raced round to the front of the building and buzzed another neighbour; an ex naval captain and keen rugby player.
“You watch the windows,” he instructed me. “I’ll call the police.”
It didn’t seem the right time to argue, and after all this was a man used to commanding sailors on nuclear submarines, but I did wonder what I was supposed to do if the burglars climbed out of the window; set the cat I was holding onto them perhaps?
Probably fortunately, the intruders had already made their escape.
A third neighbour displayed her sleuthlike powers by tracking down the neighbour from the ground floor flat. His wife was away, but he was in one of the many bars at the Palace of Westminster where he worked. A journalist, he was writing an unauthorised biography of a leading politician. He came home. By this time, the three of us who had scuppered the burglars were sharing a bottle of wine. Cat was asleep, his rôle complete.
Nothing had been taken from the flat, but the computer had been moved and my neighbour suspected internal security was at the bottom of it; someone trying to steal his hard drive to find out what he was writing, and possibly prevent it. He checked his floppy disk with its extra copy was still in place.
I like the idea that the best laid plans of mice and MI5 can be upset by a large ginger and white cat who needs to come in for the night.