This must’ve been a year or so after the Millennium. I’m standing in our kitchen doing the washing-up when Matt, our eleven-year-old son, comes back in through the side door. He’s been playing with a few of his friends down the alleyways and ginnels which thread between the terraced houses over the road from our house.
‘Had a good time with your mates, Matt?’ I ask as he enters the kitchen.
‘Yeah,’ he replies, ‘but it was a bit odd…’
‘Odd? How d’you mean, odd?’
‘We found a dead cat.’
‘A dead cat?’
‘Yeah, it was stiff.’
‘Stiff? You mean you touched it?’
‘Yeah, we picked it up.’
‘You picked up a dead cat…?’
‘Actually, we did a bit more than that, dad.’
‘We played cricket with it.’
‘You played cricket with a dead cat?’
‘We used it as a bat… but not for long.’
‘Why not for long?’
‘Cos one of its eyes flew out.’
Later he tells me that shortly after their game ended an old woman came out of one of the houses looking for her cat. When they showed her what was left of their bat-cat, she felt sure that it was her missing pet. Upset, but grateful that they’d found it for her, she gave them five pounds as a reward. A short while after this, not long after they’d spent the money on sweets from the supermarket at the end of our road, the old woman’s missing cat sauntered back from wherever it had been, neither dead nor rigid enough to serve as a cricket bat.