Hi, my name is Smoky. I’ll be with you in a Jiffy.

A package of books arrived early this afternoon: our Christmas present (well, one of them, anyway) to ourselves. For Shana, ‘Granny Square Crochet’ by Catherine Hirst. Beautifully photographed and, apparently, rather nicely written too. I have only Shana’s word on this, as I don’t know one end of a crochet stick from another. Anyway, it looks like a real gem of a book.

For me, a four-pack boxed set of Daily Telegraph cryptic crosswords. Over 300 puzzles. If I can’t solve the clues, at least I can colour in the white squares.

And for Smoky? Well, he doesn’t usually read much more than the flavours on his food packets. But he will hop into just about any box that used to contain a parcel for us. His most recent acquisition is a good-sized brown box from Amazon. He likes to sit in it and use it as a scratching board.

Unfortunaltely, our books were not boxed. They came in a white Jiffy bag, about 12 by 18 inches, and padded with a bubblewrap lining.

Ten minutes later, catching up on an old (almost prehistoric) episode of Time Team, I heard a rustling by my feet. I looked down to find Smoky settling himself on top of the Jiffy bag, as if it was a cushion made especially for him. ‘If he loses a bit of weight,’ I said, ‘we could put him inside the Jiffy bag, seal it up quick, pop lots of postage stamps on it, and send him on a round-the-world trip.’ I wouldn’t really though. I’d miss him. Besides, who else would eat all those pouches of shrimp and prawns that are piled up in the cupboard?

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