Well, well pussypots. February already, and the wild winds are howling and shrieking about us, here at the Artful Dodger pub. It is fur-flyingly freezing, the rain is like icy stair-rods, and the hurricane blew Fagin’s toupee into the Monkey Puzzle tree across the car park. Oh, how we giggled – even Nancy! Fagin’s head is so shiny without his wig. He was ever so grumpy! The toupee got hooked on the funny triangle-shaped spiky leaves of the tree.

The ‘Monkey Puzzle’ tree is from Chile, and it was given the name of ‘monkey puzzle’ by the Victorians who thought apes would be puzzled trying to climb its spiny spiralling branches. Bruce and I never climb it, although it does have an exquisite scent in the summer; if you rub your neck against the yellow catkins you get this gorgeous perfume and a good scratch as well! Ha, ha! Let us dream of summer. Last year on March 1st we had that big blizzard! Do you remember? Bruce and I put on woolly hats and gloves and played snowballs with Bullseye, the pub dog!

Ah, the scent of spring! But, did you know that springtime is the most dangerous time for cats? Yes, really. Cats love gardens but please be careful if you use those horrid slug and snail pellets, or cocoa shell mulch. They can attract cats and contain the same toxic ingredient as chocolate! Yes, chocolate is poisonous to cats, so we will never steal your Milk Tray treats. But kittens do not know this! So children, don’t feed your cat sweets! If your moggy starts twitching or having muscle spasms, call the vet at once!

Ah, well. I am sitting comfortably on a cushion, in front of a roaring fire of driftwood, while writing this on my new Casus Cattop computer. My friend Bruce – a very fine Persian Blue – bought it for Christpuss! It is a wonderful little machine – it has a screensaver of Bruce laying on his back on a pink cushion, wearing nothing but the new blue bowtie I bought him, while covering his modesty with a copy of the Bigbury News! Ha! Perhaps dear Louise will use it as the centrefold in next month’s edition! There’s always room for a little glamour, don’t you think?

Anyway, excitement, excitement darlings! Bruce and I are going to have tea with Rusty – the barking Bigbury parish pooch. The parish council elections are approaching and, you’ll never guess. Rusty and I are going to be candidates in our own election! Yes! And did you know that the US state of Massachusetts has the highest population of cats, while Devon is full of dogs? Ah, but what do dogs and cats think about politics? Are we all Demo-cats or Re-pup-licans?!

More next time, pusspots!

"Brilliant descriptions of characters and places enrich a twisty plot that kept me guessing right to the end. John Simes is a master story teller."James Stevenson, Author