Extremely Draft and daft but broadly true.
Once upon a time, on a dark, wet and windy autumn evening my sister was walking home from her local vet in Dalston. She had taken her paranoid ratty cat there as he had developed yet another episode of cystitis. I thought only females of the species got cystitis but no, apparently highly strung males could get it as well. Anyway Cyril, the overweight neutered tabby moggy, had been prodded and poked, injected and inspected and a course of treatment decided upon. My sister, Doreen, knew the vet, had a soft spot for cats and an even softer spot for her, so when she told him she was broke till pay day he wasn't worried, he just handed over the 'anti-cystitis' pills and told her to settle up when she could.
Its funny how most cats fight tooth and claw to resist getting into the cat box, but once the vet has had his way they meekly return to the furthest corner of the box, realising the lesser of a number of equals.
So, there was Doreen, knitted mittens on, dark brown sheepskin coat done up tight, scarf wrapped untidily around her neck, waddling up the road with the cat box swinging and Cyril catawauling loud enough to waken babies in the shabby Victorian terraces.
Now, Dalston is not the most salubrious of places, in fact it can be downright scary for those passing through. But, like everywhere, once you live in a place you get used to it and take appropriate precautions. Doreen's was never to wear her decent jewellery, not that she had much, or carry a bag over just one shoulder. She never for a moment thought about carrying a cat in a box.
As I mentioned, the night was particulary miserable with the wind blowing through the plane trees, rustling the leaves and causing them to fall messily across the path. Lost in thought about what to watch on the TV once she was home, Doreen failed to notice that a large figure had crossed the street and was gaining on her fast. Too late she became aware of the figure looming towards her from behind. With a hefty shove she was pushed sideways into an overgrown box hedge and the cat box was wrestled from her grasp. At the same time her free hand was grabbed and her mitten wrenched off. It all happened so fast, in fact what the hell was happening. Why was she being mugged when she had no money? Who would want to mug her for her sick cat? Shaking with rage as much as fear she hauled herself out of the hedge in time to see her attacker turn left down a side street. Thinking only of her poor stressed out cat she bolted after him but he had disappeared, probably into one of the houses or down one of the many alleys that criss-crossed the area.
Doreen momentarily considered knocking on a door and asking that they call the police but many people did not open their door at this time of night and she was not sure she would want to ask help from those who did.
Shock was starting to set in, she was shaking, her legs felt weak and she realised that tears were streaming down her face, pooling on her acrylic scarf. In an attempt to pull herself together she sat on a low wall, absentmindedly rubbing her mittenless hand. Cyril was her companion, he depended upon her and she bestowed all her love on him. What was she going to do? What was her mugger going to do once he found what he had stolen. As she sat there she imagined his howls of displayeasure at being manhandled in his box. then she fancied that she heard his miserable cry, no, it wasn't imagination, she could hear him, she would recognise that dreadful whine anywhere. A new surge of adrenaline entered Doreen's veins and she began to jog up the road, following the direction of the long gone mugger, calling for Cyril. A faint but distinctly recognisable sound could be heard from somewhere down a pitch black alley. She knew it was possibly foolish but couldn't help herself, she had to enter the alley to follow the pitiful meow. She kept close to the wall and tried to be as quiet as possible in case her attacker was still there but, of course, he was not. He had discovered his error shortly after stealing the box and had disposed of it in a doorway. Never had she been so happy to see that old box and her beloved cat.
RUBBISH, RUBBISH, RUBBISH