and I were having a little bit of fun with Spike. Spike is a cat who appears in an important role in her book "Wasted". He appropriated me last northern winter. It was something to do with thinking that a southern summer might be preferable to an Edinburgh winter. I am sure he had no idea how hot it was going to be Downunder but he settled in. He recently returned to Edinburgh in the belief it is currently summer up there - and also in the belief that Nicola may need a good brisk licking.
He left me thinking about animals in books.
I was never a fan of "pony" stories. Truth be told I am not particularly fond of horses. I never had any desire to jump on the back of one and gallop off. My youngest sister was mad about horses but even she was not a reader of such stories. I read a few of course, "Rosina Copper", "We couldn't leave Dinah", "Fly-by-night" come to mind. I struggled through "Black Beauty" because I thought I should read it. A couple of "horsey" acquaintances insisted it was "wonderful".
I did think "The Little White Horse" was wonderful but not because of the horses in it. I was much more interested in the way the cat leaves a message for Marmaduke.
It is similar to the way the cats communicate with the humans in "The Magicians of Caprona". In both cases they use images rather than words. Is it the way they think? Possibly.
There are plenty of dogs of course. L'Engle's "Mr Rochester" is very much a pet but he is also a protection. And there are children who want dogs. Philippa Pearce's "A dog so small" is a gem of a book. So is the wonderful "One dog and his boy" by Eva Ibbotson - a book I wish I had written!
There are animals who speak of course. CS Lewis made full use of those in his Narnia books. Somehow though, for me, animals who speak lack the same magic as animals who retain their own characters and choose their own means of communicating.
I can imagine "Feline" or "Canine" or "Avian" being "spoken". It will be there in the tiniest twitch of a whisker, the left flick of a tail, the particular down beat of a wing.
So it was when Spike arrived for the summer. It was not supposed to happen. He moved in without asking me - or Nicola. In mid-autumn he went back. He has his own particular way of communicating. It is there in the twitching of his whiskers, the flicking of his tail, the turn of his ear and the curl of his tail.
I hope Nicola did not mind too much. He was no trouble here. Most of the time he was so busy exploring I did not notice him. He remained a cat.
It is the way it should be.