Good evening, Food Fans! In deference to the small multitude of readers who’ve made their approval clear on our blog a few weeks ago – about the aging feline sleuth ‘Sherlock Romes’ – we have decided to bring you the next instalment of his deductive adventures. Apologies to any of my friends who might recognise this episode in my life (the basics of these ‘stories’ are really true) because you already know the ending. At least, after reading this, you will know how the details of the case came to light.
It was seven in the morning, and Janine was searching the living room. Sherlock Romes sat on his new, favourite ‘daytime’ perch atop the laundry basket and mused on the pyrrhic nature of Janine’s full time job. On the one hand, she was always ready to get up – even at 5am – to feed him an early breakfast. On the other, most days of the week the owner of his favourite lap was away for maybe ten or twelve whole hours, labouring at some ‘human’ task. Romy didn’t see much point in learning the values of ‘independent advocacy’ because he felt that he, himself, would never need it. Much better to hone his mental processes in the normal ‘catlike’ ways of eating, sleeping and lap-cuddling. But today his chief carer couldn’t find her work keys. Infamy for her, mused Romes with only mild concern; but (oh, horrors) she’d still be up and about, looking for those keys after she came home! The laundry basket was ok for the warmer, daylight hours; but it was unheated, and winter was on the horizon.
Sherlock Romes sighed, anticipating weeks of hardly any lap time. Duncan, his deputy carer, had a nice warm lap – but Sherlock’s brother Reiver, being by far the fatter animal, would ‘hog’ Duncan’s larger surface area every chance he got. Once secreted there, an earthquake would be unlikely to dislodge him. What was to be done about this intolerable situation? Sherlock Romes would have to come out of his cosy retirement once again, to save his chief carer and to get his favourite lap back.
As the days passed, Romes hunted all through the house. Once in a while, tired of this exhausting task, he would contrive to ‘flick’ a bit of his own food out of the bowl, aiming it for some tiresome place like under the sofa and making sure his brother saw him. As predicted, the young and cheeky animal would shoot Sherlock a look of triumph; then dart with as much natural grace as he could muster (‘none at all’ mused Romes) into the sofa’s underbelly after his prize. This had the effect of moving the whole sofa nearly a foot backwards, and left Romy with a perfect view of the floor underneath. Sadly it unearthed no keys; although Reiver managed to find a couple of treats he must have forgotten about. At least the ‘spherical one’ was happy, Romy sighed to himself.
Having deduced, now, that the keys were not inside the house, the Great Detective concluded that the simplest answer is also the most likely. They must be in the garden! This was tricky because the Johnstones were blessed with two gardens, and the front one was open to the world. With barely a decent lap-cuddle from Janine in almost three weeks, Romy needed to solve this one quickly. Eating a webbox cat treat for energy, he entered his mind-palace to look through the facts.1) Reiver was the bane of his life. 2) He got no peace when Reive was around. 3) Where did he chuck his brother, whenever he could? The garden. 4) Reive was not supposed to go out the front, because his total lack of insight meant that he could never recognise the front of his own house. Therefore it was less likely that he had been out there, barring opportunistic escapes, half as often as he thundered through the cat flap in the back door. 5) Anything going missing in this household usually had to do with Reiver. If Romy had named him, his brother would’ve been called Moriarty(!) Romy turned to face his deputy carer and mewed with some relief; ‘Elementary, my dear Duncan’.
Duncan, supposing that Romy simply wanted more Webbox, broke off another bit while the Great Detective tried to explain. Not understanding ‘feline’, Duncan had finished off dissecting the long treat (and Reiver had eaten a good deal of it) before Romes gave this up as a bad job. In desperation, Romy hurtled off the table, scratched once in a used litter tray and then pelted out of the cat flap. Mimicking his unexpected flight came Reiver, who thought this was all a game and thundered about, threatening to flatten the much smaller Romes in his rampage. Concerned for the older animal, who hadn’t been outside in weeks, Duncan followed – picking up the offending litter tray, to empty it on the way out. Frustrated by the time his plan was taking to come together (it was drizzling) Romes mewed urgently back at him; ‘Hurry! The game is afoot’!
Chasing the Great Detective, Duncan and the tray followed Sherlock up the path to the end of the garden. Reiver, who had no idea where they were headed, ran about in circles and tried unsuccessfully to catch a late bee, out enjoying the remaining raspberry flowers. Romy careened up to the pendulous and quite overpowering compost heap, fearfully hoping that it didn’t emulate the Reichenbach and fall…
Just as Romy had deduced, Reiver thundered behind them up the path to the end of the garden. Duncan’s lower auditory threshold meant that he didn’t hear the fat cat coming, and as he took a step back – crash – his foot was intercepted by that huge, two-tone hide. Sherlock had no time to lose. Flinging his still-lithe little frame clear of the maelstrom and striking out for the shelter of the garden furniture through the (only peripherally protective) gooseberry bushes, Sherlock turned at last and slumped there, in the shade of the table; out of breath, feeling the protest of his old body and wondering if his plan had worked.
As the dust cleared, a yell erupted from the pile of rubbish beside the compost heap. It was Duncan; As Sherlock had correctly deduced, weeks ago, Reiver had tripped Janine up as she emptied litter trays at the compost. Her keys had fallen out of her pocket, coming to rest in the top of a nearby compost bag. Unheard and invisible, they had remained there until Sherlock Romes (dripping wet, and at great personal risk) had led Duncan and the true culprit – Reiver- back to the scene of the crime. Upon his own descent, the much bigger Duncan had reached out – and his hand had grasped the bag, opening it at the top and revealing the hidden keys so sought-after by the Great Detective’s chief carer!
So ends the Case of the Missing Keys. We fed 28 households today, with bagfuls of fresh fruit and vegetables. Also some toffee apples. Nine crates of food was donated by Morrison’s (thank you so much, guys) and the Great Detective (along with his ‘eccentric’ younger brother) lived to solve crime another day. Many thanks to Adele, George and Fred; the volunteers who helped us today. Happy travels, folks, and God bless.