The Mannings lived in a typical 1930s suburban house on the edge of Shooters Hill in east London. Brian Manning was a HR Director for Euro Bank and Joan was a legal secretary. They had one daughter, Helen aged seven. Their house had a large garden, great for kids, that backed onto Shooters Hill, separated from the park by only a wooden fence. Helen liked to play in the garden. One Sunday while Joan was sitting in the conservatory reading The Sunday Times Helen came running in.
“Mummy there’s a sick cat in the garden.”
Joan put down her Sunday Times.
“Let’s go and have a look.”
Joan took Helen’s hand and they walked down to the bottom of the garden. It was a sunny day and there were dark shadows under the rose bushes at the bottom of the garden. Helen led her mother towards them.
“Look mummy, there!”
Helen pointed to a deep shadow. Joan leaned over and looked carefully into the bushes. It took a few moments for her eyes to adjust.
She saw a brown tabby cat lying in the bushes. The fur on its chest was matted with blood and mud. It was filthy and it wasn’t moving.
“Is it dead?” said Joan.
“It’s just sick mummy.”
“I think it might be dead sweetie. Brian! Come here quick!”
“If we take it to the vets we can make it better,” said Helen. Helen and Joan were joined by Brian. He peered at the cat. It seemed to him that the cat had crawled into this dark place to die in peace.
“Is it alive?” Brian asked. His tone suggested he hoped the answer would be no.
“The vet can make it better, daddy.” Helen looked at her dad and said in a tone both appealing and assertive: “His name is Fluffy.”