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Pantoufle of Willesden

About two months ago, my parents came down to London for a visit. It so happened I was feeling a bit feverish that day, the start of what ended up being a good bout of flu, so I stayed home and it was well I did because at some point during the day, a skinny, lost and cold ginger cat with a sniffle followed my father back into the house after he went out to his car. Having grown up with cats, I immediately liked him but with Gemma being allergic to cats, I tried to discourage him from staying, so I gave him as much food as I had and a saucer of milk and after he had a two hour nap, I put him outside again with the promise, to myself, that if he came back, I would take him in right away and take care of him. An hour or two passed and then what I had secretly hoped for but didn't think would happen, happened, a little flash of ginger and white appeared on the window-sill outside the lounge and I leapt up from the sofa, almost knocking over my Lemsip, and let him in the house. Poor little thing, he went straight into the bedroom and fell asleep at once, for several hours. After Gemma came home that day, we decided (tentatively) to keep him. After much deliberation, we decided to name him Pantoufle, after the little girl's imaginary friend in the novel Chocolat by Anne Harris. I had always wanted a cat in London, but not having a garden and leading a fairly irregular life of late nights at the office and triathlon training schedules meant I didn't feel I could be a legitimate cat-minder. Now, with a garden in our lovely mid-terrace home, a cat has about forty other adjoined gardens to play in and in some ways, life has normalised to a certain extent. The point is in any case moot, the moment he jumped up on that window-sill, he was here to stay for better or worse and even when he wakes me up at 4am, for food and to be let out, he's still the best little ginger cat in the world.

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