That distant thud you may have just heard is the sound of my stunned mates collectively falling off their wheelie chairs. They're all pulling themselves back up to their desks now, convincing themselves that I must be yanking their chain. But I'm not. As of tomorrow, I will be a pet owner.
I think I'd better clarify a few things. First and foremost, don't be fooled into thinking that I'm now an 'animal person'. I still think there are far more worthy charities than the local donkey sanctuary, I still especially hate dogs (sorry Ant) and I'm still going to struggle to raise an 'aah' when forced to look at pet photos. Let me say this again: I. Am. Not. An. Animal. Person. It's like that thing so many people tell me about kids: they love their own, but hate everyone else's. And that's how it's going to be with me and Sgt Pepper. She's ace. She's pretty and inquisitive and super-chilled and I'm excited to the point of losing sleep about having her come to live with us. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to feel the same way about your pet, right? Or any other animal, for that matter.
So why the sudden decision to get a kitten? In short, this being-ill-at-home lark is so bloody lonely and boring that even I, Chief Animal Hater, am getting a pet. It's largely Tills's fault. She recently gave a home to an RSPCA rescue kitten and the damn thing won me over. It was the first animal ever to show a favourable interest in me (and vice versa), and it got me thinking how great it would be to have some company while I'm spending all this time in the flat on my own. (And beyond, of course – a cat's not just for Christmas. Or cancer.) When we got home from Tills & Si's, I even found myself feeling a bit sad that there wasn't a kitten waiting for me, and P made the fatal error of saying he 'wouldn't say no' if I decided to adopt one of my own. So it's kind of his fault, too.
I didn't ought to be so apologetic about it, really. The truth is, I'm can't-stop-grinning excited about it all. The bowls and beds and litter tray and scratching post are all in position (and all complementary to the décor – sheesh, I've not changed that much), and the Sainsbury's order has been amended to include all the things a soon-to-be-spoiled kitten needs. Even Mum, Deputy Chief Animal Hater, has been sucked in and has bought Sgt Pepper a catnip dragonfly toy.
My family are equally as baffled by all of this as my friends. The last they knew of me caring for an animal was Miss Ellie, the goldfish I used to stir around in its bowl with a wooden spoon. (And before you report me to the RSPCA, I was two.) But they're all on board for this reason: already, even before bringing her home, this kitten has made me happy. Planning her arrival has been something I've cheerfully sank my teeth into, and it's taken my mind off The Bullshit in a week when I'd otherwise have been terrified about it. Like P said, 'Whatever makes you smile this much can't be a bad thing.'
I hope that's enough to explain my way out of the kitten-decision. I'd not normally feel the need to justify myself this way, but don't doubt how much this is going to baffle my mates. To them, this is such an about-turn that I fear they'll be expecting a totally different girl to walk into the pub next spring. They'll be checking my bag to see if I still carry around a pen to correct any punctuation, spelling or grammar errors I see (affirmative). Anyway, I'm hoping that the Beatles-referencing name will make them realise that, kitten aside, I'm still me. Besides, Sgt Pepper is a far better name than Apostrophe.