Because his mind is occupied with matters abroad, I'm going to forgive David Cameron the lack of gratitude he has shown me recently. He never writes, he never calls, he doesn't send me so much as a measly text with a "thanks! Lol :-)" on it. But were it not for the selfless actions of my sister and me, he might have a lot more in his in-tray. Namely, a really stupid Downing Street cat.
I know Larry's rat-catching skills have left a lot to be desired since he moved in to No 10 earlier this year. Cruel politicos have briefed the lobby against him. They say he is more interested in sleeping than killing vermin, that he has even left hairs on the Prime Minister's suits. Last week, it was reported that Larry had tried to escape from the corridors of power. He was apparently spotted on the wall separating Downing Street from St James's Park, and Craig Oliver, Cameron's PR chief, demanded that he be enticed back to avoid "rat-catcher deserts ship" style headlines.
But Mr Oliver has no idea how blessed he is to have Larry. Because had the good people of Downing Street arrived at Battersea Cats Home a few days earlier, they could have wound up with our pet.
Like Cameron, my sister went to Battersea because we had a problem with mice. And like Larry, our cat has proved useless at catching vermin. So useless, in fact, that we now live in Battersea Mice Home, the local rodents feeling safe and content in a flat with a cat whose only interest is eating salmon Whiskas (though not the one in jelly, which she turns her pink nose up at).
When we got the cat, she was called Naomi. But as that is also my sister's name, my middle name, my cousin's daughter's name and my dear departed grandmother's name, we felt the need to prove that our family was not completely devoid of imagination or originality. So we nicknamed her Milly-Molly-Mandy, as this seemed a suitable moniker for a creature who is so completely away with the fairies.
I have grown to love Milly-Molly-Mandy, despite her stupidity. This is a feline so bovine that she is unaware there are two syllables in the word "meow", preferring to make a noise that sounds something like "moo". She does this all day, every day, at quite an impressive volume. We believe that this is to make herself heard in a household where both occupants make an air siren sound like a pin drop.
The problem is, she also does it outside. Off Milly-Molly-Mandy goes to carouse with her chums Little-Friend-Susan and Billy Blunt, and the neighbours fear a cow is stampeding through our corner of south-west London. "Moo, moo, moo," she goes, dancing through their gardens sounding deranged.
Anyway, I recently received a phone call from Battersea Cats Home. "We have Naomi," they said. "Which one?" I replied. "Eh?" said the nice women on the other end of the line. "Never mind," I muttered.
She – not the cat's mother – went on to tell me that some neighbours had brought Naomi/Milly-Molly-Mandy in at five o'clock the previous morning. "They found her on the street and thought she seemed distressed."
"Not like a cat," the woman said.
"Oh, she never sounds like a cat," I explained, before asking if Milly-Molly-Mandy the cow cat was OK. "Oh yes, she's absolutely fine. Right as rain. She's just quite..." There was a long pause. "Chatty."
They said we could come and pick her up. I wondered whether we had to pay a small fee to release her, as you would with a clamped car. My sister told me not to be so silly.
So as you can see, the Camerons had a lucky escape, for which they should thank us. The next time the staff at No 10 moan about the rat-catching skills of Larry, they should just be grateful they don't have a cow cat distracting them from the mad dog.
SOURCE: Direct from the Telegraph by BRYONY GORDAN