Read an extract
Chapter One – A Perfect Day
“I just have to say… Downing Street is a really marvellous place to live. It’s always busy and there’s always something happening, or just about to happen. Lots of people rush backwards and forward visiting the Prime Minister and my master, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Why, it seems like only yesterday that my next-door neighbour, Humphrey the Downing Street cat, told me the exciting tale about the time his best friend, the famous secret agent James Bone, asked for his help on a top-secret mission to rescue the Queen of England. Let me just dip my pen in the inkwell so I can write down everything I’m telling you as I go along.
I can remember the story so clearly. It was early on a warm summer’s morning on the 14th of May. The sun shone brightly out of a turquoise sky and not a breath of wind stirred the air. Rolling over on his back, Humphrey looked up at the sky and gave a deep sigh.
“Now this is what I call a perfect day,” he said out loud. “The sky’s so beautiful it looks like an artist has just finished painting it.”
He was absolutely right. It was just like looking at a picture – a perfect picture, so fresh and so clean, as if the paint was still wet and the sun had decided to come out just to dry it. The only thing that made Humphrey realise he was not looking at a picture was the muffled roar of a distant plane and the fast -disappearing trail of white vapour it left behind, as it swiftly cut across the clear blue sky.
A loud series of clicking sounds woke Humphrey from his daydream and brought him back to reality. He rolled over onto his chest and peered over the edge of the windowsill to see what all the fuss was about. Far beneath, on the street below, the Prime Minister’s car had just pulled up outside the front door of No. 10.
“I see,” he said to himself. “The boss is back.” The clicking sound was the noise of the cameras firing off, as the waiting pack of journalists pushed forward, the noise of their cameras louder and faster than a field full of crickets on a summer’s evening.
“Time to pop down and make the PM welcome,” thought Humphrey. “He does seem to like it when I jump up into his lap and let him stroke me. I think it helps the old boy relax and de-stresses him a little.”
Humphrey arched his back, then stretched out for all he was worth, before he strolled off the windowsill and in through the open window. He jumped onto the bed, then down onto the thick, rich carpet. Casually, he took a look around before strolling lazily through the open bedroom doors, then out onto the landing. After another casual glance, he strolled gently along to the wide staircase, which would lead him downstairs to the PM’s study.
Humphrey peered keenly around the study door and spotted the PM, gently rocking backwards and forwards in his favourite chair. His eyes were closed, his shoes were off, and his feet were comfortably crossed on top of his desk. With one easy leap, Humphrey landed softly on the PM’s lap. The PM briefly opened his eyes, then began to lazily stroke the back of Humphrey’s neck; the cat’s response was to elegantly curl himself in a circle, close his eyes and purr deeply.
“Humphrey, you sound as loud as a motorbike engine,” said the PM in a sleepy voice. A few moments later, when the PM’s secretary popped his head around the door, they were both fast asleep; one purring loudly, the other gently snoring.
Suddenly, without any warning, the quiet of their afternoon nap was shattered by the loud ringing of the PM’s emergency telephone. The PM shot out of his chair. As he jumped up, he spilled Humphrey out of his lap and down towards the floor. Humphrey was already wide awake and executed a perfect back flip before landing safely on the floor. That just goes to prove the old saying, ‘cats always land on their feet’, thought Humphrey, as he settled down to watch a very flustered PM take the phone call.
“Yes… yes… yes… I understand completely,” said the PM, nodding his head furiously as he spoke. Then, for a second or two, he held the phone away from his ear, covered the mouthpiece, and yelled in the general direction of his office door.
“Get me the heads of MI6 and MI5 on the line immediately… if not sooner!” he added loudly, in an effort to hurry people along. Slamming the phone down into its cradle, he let out a huge sigh before easing himself back down into his chair. He paused for a second, then glanced over at a very calm -looking Humphrey.
“It’s all right for you Humph old boy; you’re so lucky you’re a cat and don’t know what’s happening. But I must say, it’s a pity you can’t understand what I’m saying, as I have a huge problem on my hands and right now I could use all the help I can get. Late last night, Humphrey… Her Royal Majesty the Queen was kidnapped!”