Neighbours got in a flap yesterday while I was out having Sunday lunch with Maggie; Harry was spotted out in the back lane - on the high back yard walls, to be precise - calling loudly, and no one was able to catch him or lure him down. Messages were left on my mobile, lying useless on the kitchen table, and on my answerphone. Harry has never been known to go out of his own yard without me, and, having a certain Billy Bunteresque build that doesn't lend itself to leaping in any direction, he has certainly never got over a very high wall whilst living here.
But when I arrived home, unaware of all the fuss, there he was, in the house, perky and pleased to see me; investigation suggests that he had got up onto the shed, and from there onto the wall, to roam unhindered, frightening the local populace who believe that he is on his deathbed and read all sorts of doom-laden portents into this sudden noisy appearance. I know he yowls loudly when we are out, but for anyone who doesn't know this, his mournful tone can be distinctly alarming. Sensibly, he made his way back home again after his adventure.
I can only think that the unexpected result of all that weight loss is a rediscovered ability to jump. But cats have secret lives, and for all I know, Harry's former portliness could well have been the result of midnight raids into other houses, and his leaping skills could have been kept well-hidden from spoilsport humans.
Melodrama of this type is not unknown in my house. Many years ago, we had a large lurcher who once got out of an upstairs window onto the bay window, terrifying passers-by by quivering (as lurchers tend to do, of course, being held together with piano wire) on the very edge, as if about to jump 20 feet into the street. A small crowd of elderly ladies had formed, anxiety fluttering, and the fire brigade was almost called, but we came home in time to haul the dog in and apologise for his imposition of half an hour of local terror. Kevin too, once a great acrobat, would often walk over bay windows and front door lintels, on one occasion getting stuck in an apple tree a long way down the street, and attempting to call the fire brigade himself with piercing cries.
So, let's hear it for the house tradition - yow, yow YOW!