It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an extremely minor blogger with a serviceable website must be in want of a fluffy kitten.
However little known the feelings or views of such a kitten may be on his first encountering a family, his instant effect on ratings is so fixed in the lore of social media, that he is considered as a key marketing tool in the battle to claw ratings from the cyber ether.
“My dear Mr Shrewsday,” I said to my husband one day, “have you heard that there is a cat in the next village who has given birth to a litter of fluffy kittens?”
Mr Shrewsday replied that he had not.
“But there is,” returned I, “for we have just popped over to your mother’s and she has told me all about it.”
Mr Shrewsday made no answer.
“Do you want to know if any of them are booked?” I cried, impatiently.
“You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”
And that was invitation enough.
Although, because I am not Mrs Bennett, (though I am perilously close) I could quite remember the particulars. A litter of kittens emerged from a respectable mother in the neighbouring village. There were quite a lot of them: one tortoiseshell, one black, one silver and a gaggle of gingers.
Actually, strike the respectable part. I have no idea how these small furry assets were conceived. The mother could have had one reckless night on the Victorian roof tiles with some one-night Casanova, for all I know. I’m sure I shall be regaled with the details when I pack the kids in the car and drive off to inspect the offspring.
And though it must be acknowledged that any small fluffy kitten goes viral with the ease of free tickets to Disneyland, I exaggerate the whole kitten-marketing thing.
We lost the angriest cat in the world, one who made a consummate art-form of fury, just a few months ago. She had been with us for 18 years, since Mr Shrewsday and I were young newlyweds. She had developed methods of torture of which the Spanish Inquisition would have been proud. And when it was time for her to go and for us to relinquish the small ball of turbulence which had agitated the heart of our household for so long, we wept.
The dog went into mourning too. He took us by surprise. We had him down as a callow soul who would do anything for a grubby deer bone and a pungent pile of fox poo, and this he may be: but he, too, cried on his cushion, when the penny finally dropped that the cat was not coming back. He hates being the only animal in the house.
The children began an unsubtle kitten campaign. And it could not be long before the proverbial dominos toppled, and we began to actively recruit a young blood to join our tight-knit, high-performing, noisy, chaotic team.
Yes, it will mean cat litter and smelly carpets. But it is hoped the new arrival will befriend the dog, jazz the children, dominate my husband and practice mind control on me. I have missed the feline iron paw in a velvet glove.
It is time to once more guard the litter tray zealously from the dog, to hear the clatter of the cat flap. To polish off the close-up lens more zealously than even Mr Demille. To weigh up names, and speculate wildly as to how the dog will ever cope with training a new kitten.
It is time for a new player in the company.