I love cats, I really do, but cats it seems aren’t that keen on me. A chapter of STARLINGS draws inspiration from the bad luck I’ve had with cats. Four in a year! The first had some fast acting terrible cat disease and died within a week of getting sick, the other three met lorries on the main road behind our house after dark. So I had to think long and hard about fostering two cats for a friend who had to move quickly and couldn’t find anywhere that would allow pets. They’ll stay inside, she said. She knew all about my cat killer past but she was desperate. Marmite and Dexter set up home with us and from the moment they got here they tried to escape, yowling at the door, scratching at the covered cat flap. Dexter made a break for it twice caught and was brought back immediately, then on Friday night he made like Steve McQueen and was gone.  He’s been seen around, climbing in trees, running down the steps that lead to the train station, always that whisker away. There are posters up and everyone is on the lookout. If you see him grab him!

In STARLINGS there is the following passage:

There are so many cats in the room, curled on the soiled furniture, lying in the sliver of sun fighting through the ragged closed curtains. The room is filled with purrs and yawns and the occasional indifferent meow. There are bowls of rancid food everywhere. So this is what happens to them – the kitties on the homemade posters that line the lamp posts of suburban streets – not run over or taking away in removal vans or chopped into Chinese takeaways – but banded together in the stinking house of a sick old man.

I hope Dexter is not stuck in the  house of some poor old man with a terrible hidden past but at the same time I hope he isn’t lying on the side of a road somewhere.

Losing someone else’s cat! ‘Impressive,’ said my sister-in-law, ‘really impressive!’