‘So – how did you come to fall?’
‘I was going in to mindfulness class when I tripped on the step.’
Myrna is an engaging patient. Seventy-three going on seventeen, hair silvery blue and woven in plaits; tie-dye dress, yellow and black stockings, moccasins. Above her, hanging from the paper moon lampshade, a dream-catcher.
A large, tortoisehell-and-white cat struts in through the living room door into the middle of the carpet, its tail straight up, just the very tip of it flexing languorously left and right and left again.
‘Pippin!’ says Myrna, holding out her hands. ‘Where’ve you been, you naughty boy?’
Pippin wanders towards me for a closer inspection, cautiously sniffing the hem of my trousers.
‘Extraordinary!’ says Myrna, clasping her hands together. ‘He’s never done that before.’
‘We’ve got a cat,’ I say.
‘I don’t know,’ says Myrna. ‘I don’t know. He’s a rescue. He’s had bad experiences. There’s something else…’
Now that Pippin has our full attention he decides to put on a display. He walks round and round on the carpet between us, eventually collapsing to one side. Then he arches his back and stretches his legs, almost doubling in size. After holding that position for a moment or two, his ears go back, his eyes darken, and he suddenly starts clawing the carpet, hauling himself in a mad circle, which ends up with one back leg in the air and his nose stuffed under his tail to give himself a clean.
‘We’re making such progress!’ says Myrna.
Around her on the sofa are piles of red wool and a stack of knitted red squares. Myrna reaches over and picks one up.
‘Cat jackets,’ she says, giving it a gentle shake. ‘You know – jackets, for cats. When the weather’s bad.’
‘I donate them to an animal welfare shop. I used to work there, but the stories upset me too much and I had to come away. I like to doing what I can, though.’
She holds the half-finished jacket up.
‘I might trim it with a little fur, to make it more Christmassy. Mind you, I don’t really celebrate Christmas. When you think of all those turkeys and what they do to them. It just makes you… it makes you…’
She looks tearful. But then Pippin jumps up beside her.
‘Pippin!’ she says, putting her knitting down again and leaning forwards so they can rub heads. ‘What a truly magical little cat you are!’