Hello readers, it’s been quite some time since this columnist’s fingers danced gracefully across the keyboard to bring you gossip and amusements from charity land.
Unfortunately, Bosses finally caught wind of Diary’s side hustle providing communication advice to wealthy, if morally questionable, individuals in tax havens. They considered this something of a conflict of interest, especially when they discovered Diary was not working from home in damp England, but working from a sunny Caribbean island (Diary thinks they were jealous).
But happy days – an investigation cleared Diary of any wrongdoing, then intense negotiations about our future relationship began.
The good news is we have reached an arrangement: Diary may continue to earn ludicrous sums of cash elsewhere, but must conduct all charity gossiping from Civil Society Towers, so the editor can keep a close eye on what is happening.
Inevitably the requirement that Diary is physically present will impact on column’s output, making it a more sporadic service.
So on to this week’s exciting tail about how Diary became the star in our own version of Pet Rescue (a heartwarming Channel 4 television show from the late 1990s following RSPCA centres trying to find new homes for animals – episodes can be found on YouTube).
It started with a squeak
Just as the editor was kicking off our morning news conference we were interrupted by some persistent squeaking from above our heads.
Obviously, Diary was entirely focused on the important things the editor was saying about [check with colleague what editor was talking about], but a colleague leapt, literally, into action to investigate the squeak.
“It’s a cat,” they reported, to the astonishment of colleagues.
One-by-one we all clambered on the arm of the sofa to peer out of the, really rather large, gap in between the roof and the wall to confirm that yes it was indeed a cat.
And it was not just one cat, but a Mama Cat, who at some point the previous night had settled down in that nook thinking it was a nice quiet space to have a litter of kittens.
Clearly the roof of a small publishing company in the middle of winter is not an ideal place to raise kittens and we were very concerned. A call was made to the RSPCA who promised to send out someone to assist with a rescue by the end of the day.
Not content to sit still and wait for help to arrive, the entire office embarked on a mission to actually find a way onto the roof. The alternative would obviously be widening the hole from the inside, but there were some obvious draughtiness and cost implications to that option.
So off we marched, round the back of building, down a dark alley, up a rickety wooden staircase and, balancing on a wall, we managed to get within touching distance of the roof and Mama Cat! But were prevented from getting too close by some barbed wire (presumably intended to discourage animals from clambering onto the roof).
With nothing else to do, and an hour happily wasted, we returned to our desks.
However, Rishi Sunak, if you’re reading, the productivity of Civil Society Media’s office-based staff was well below that of those who were working remotely.
Throughout the day we took it in turns to check on Mama Cat and google “cat” for advice. (Aside: there is a lot of information about cats on the tinterweb, who knew!)
There were also important discussions to be had:
- Should we buy her some chicken?
- Should we shove a hot water bottle through the hole to keep them warm?
- Does she need water?
- When was the last time the kittens squeaked?
- Should we start a spreadsheet to monitor the frequency of kitten squeaks?
- How many kittens are there?
- What if she abandons the kittens?
- Can we name the kittens?
- Can we keep a kitten?
As you can tell everyone was anxious. Diary’s normal solutions in stressful times “how about a gin and tonic” or “shall we just give up and go home” were not well received.
The cavalry arrives
Night was drawing in, people had homes to get to and, “if the RSPCA turn up now it is going to be much harder to document the rescue for social media”, one reporter complained.
Just as we were beginning to give up hope and go home (or to the pub), the RSPCA arrived.
Disappointingly given the build-up we’d had it was all over in about 20 mins. Armed with wire cutters, the RSPCA inspector was able to get to Mama Cat and lift her out of the nook where she was hiding.
Diary, along with a gaggle of CSM-ers who were very invested in this story, bravely stood and watched as not one, not two, not three, but six, yes S-I-X, tiny kittens followed.
Sadly, she wasn’t microchipped (get your pets chipped folk) so we don’t know if she belonged to anyone nearby, so they went off with the RSPCA to a warm bed at an animal hospital and we waved goodbye.
Big thank you to all the staff and supporters at the RSPCA who enabled this happy ending. Mama Cat and her kittens are now somewhere safe (and normal productivity levels have resumed at CSM, almost).