‘Make yourself comfortable, the kettle’s just boiled,’ she said bustling into the kitchen.
He selected the armchair by the window and settled back against the soft cushions.
His hostess came in with the tray and tea things, stopped for a moment as if she was going to say something, then put them down on the small table in the centre of the room.
‘Milk and sugar?’ she asked.
‘Just milk please.’
‘Biscuit or cake?’
‘Cake please. Is it homemade?’
‘Oh yes,’ she replied. ‘None of that shop stuff in this house, my Tom wouldn’t approve!’
It was the first time Jerry had visited Mrs Poole as he was new to the job and she was one of the elderly residents on his ‘watch’. He found it hard to believe she was 86, but as Site Warden, it was down to him to ensure that those in his care had everything they needed to be self sufficient, though each apartment had a direct Careline alarm in case of any emergency.
Making polite conversation, Jerry asked after Tom’s health and Mrs Poole said he was getting on a bit now but should be home shortly.
As if on cue, the door opened and in walked the biggest cat Jerry had ever seen.
‘There you are!’ Mrs Poole exclaimed as it jumped up on the settee, paddled the cushion with its claws, and plonked itself down. Resting its head on his front paws, he glared at Jerry, hostility etched in its entire being, as if anticipating the earliest opportunity to pounce on this intruder.
Slightly embarrassed at his incorrect asumption that Tom was ‘Mr Poole’, Jerry reached towards his plate upon which sat a very generous wedge of seed cake.
The cat hissed at him.
‘I don’t think your cat likes me,’ he said.
‘Oh don’t mind him. He’s just gets a bit cranky when we’ve got visitors.’
Jerry took a bite of his cake, commenting on the unusual flavour and texture, adding that neither his wife or mother could make a cake to save their lives.
‘I only bake when I’m expecting company now,’ Mrs Poole said. ‘Tom tends to eat too much otherwise, and one of these days he’s going to get stuck in that cat flap on the back door.’
Jerry took a sip of his tea and the cat started to wave its tail as it continued to stare at him through slitted eyes.
Jerry began to feel uncomfortable under it’s unblinking scrutiny.
‘I still don’t think you cat likes me Mrs Poole. Should I try to win him over by giving him a piece of cake perhaps?’
‘I’m sure he’d like that . It’s his favourite today, tuna fish.’
‘But I don’t think that’s the problem really,’ she continued.
‘You see, you’re actually sitting in his chair, and that’s his favourite cup and plate too.’