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Posts by Beth Routledge

Here Comes The Sun

Today is the Winter Solstice.

It is the mid-point of winter, the darkest and longest of these dark days and long nights. It is the time of year when all the major religions of the world celebrate, in their own way, the coming of the light into this dark world. It is the moment when everyone on Earth stops and tells each other that we have come halfway out of the darkness.

We have had some terribly dark days, these last few weeks. We have had days when I have thought that that Advent God for whom we wait must look at his church with dismay and believe us to have abandoned all that he lived and died for.

On this final Sunday of Advent, we turn our eyes to Bethlehem, to the star that has appeared in the East, and to the promise that dark days give way to light and that, yes, yes, the age of miracles is not yet past.

For from these days of darkness has emerged a new dawn of hope, in the will and testament and action of the ordinary and now extraordinary people of God. They are people who work for the promise of that Advent God; of the bravery of Mary and the compassion of Joseph and of all that that child in the manger might yet do.

It isn’t simple. It won’t be easy. It’s not anywhere near done yet.

But as we look into that light, it becomes just a little easier than it was last week to believe that we will get there in the end.

Stir up in us O long-awaited God the will to join your revolution, to change your world, and to be in word and deed your living Body and the rock on which your Church can be rebuilt.

Letter from Clergy and Lay Readers to the SEC College of Bishops

The following letter has been sent to the College of Bishops in response to the guidelines on same-sex marriage which were sent out last Tuesday to clergy and lay readers. It was organised by clergy of the Diocese of Edinburgh, and it has been signed by some fifty or so clergy and lay readers from across the Province whose names appear below.

To every single one of them: Thank you.

*

Dear Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church,

We read with dismay the Guidance for Clergy and Lay Readers in the light of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.

We appreciate that we are bound by the law, and that until our canons are changed, we cannot legally perform same-sex marriages. However, we are disappointed by both the timing and the tone of the document. We have been urged by you to enter into ‘cascade conversations’ in a spirit of open and sensitive listening with people of all views on this matter. This document only makes this process much harder for us, even impossible for some. Far from acknowledging the reality of differing experience and views in the church, it gives the impression of a definitive answer to the question we have yet to discuss or debate. The document ought to make it clear that the restrictions it describes may be temporary, if the church decides to change its canons. Because of the confusion created by this document, we now believe that such canonical change should be decided in Synod as soon as possible.

But we were especially dismayed by the section of the document which refers to clergy, lay readers, and ordinands, should they be in a same-sex relationship and wish to be married. In particular, we find the warnings to ordinands, both currently training and those who might be training in the future, to be unrepresentative of the generous and communal characteristics of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Even though our church has not yet agreed to solemnise same-sex marriages, they will nevertheless become a civil institution which we will recognise like everyone else under the law. It is our firm belief therefore that any prohibition on obtaining a civil marriage is outwith the moral and canonical authority of a bishop.

We acknowledge that this process is one which creates anxiety for all church leaders, and bishops in particular. We empathise with the difficult situation that you as bishops are in, and reaffirm our desire to support you in your leadership of our church, and as fellow members of it.

Nevertheless, some of us are now uncomfortable about solemnising marriages at all until such time as all can be treated equally, and all of us will continue to feel morally compromised in our ministries, and wish to make clear our continuing commitment to affirm and support all people in our church, and to recognise and rejoice in all marriages, of whatever sexual orientation, as true signs of the love of God in Christ.

Yours sincerely,

Revd Carrie Applegath
Revd Philip Blackledge
Revd Maurice Houston
Revd Canon John McLuckie
Revd Canon Ian Paton
Revd Kate Reynolds
Revd Martin Robson,
Revd Malcolm Aldcroft
Dr Darlene Bird (Lay Reader)
Revd Jim Benton-Evans
Revd Cedric L. Blakey
Revd Andrew Bowyer
Revd Canon Bill Brockie
Revd Tony Bryer
Revd Steve Butler
Revd Christine Barclay
Revd Lynsay M Downes
Revd Markus Düntzkopfer
Revd Canon Anne Dyer
Revd Janet Dyer
Revd Jennifer Edie
Revd John L Evans
Revd Samantha Ferguson
The Revd Canon Zachary Fleetwood
Kennedy Fraser (Lay Reader)
Revd Kirstin Freeman
Revd Frances Forshaw
Revd Ruth Green
Revd Bob Gould
Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth
Revd Ruth Innes
Revd Ken Webb
Rev’d Canon Mel Langille
Revd Kenny Macaulay
Revd Simon Mackenzie
Revd Duncan MacLaren
Very Revd Nikki McNelly
Very Revd Jim Mein
Revd Nicola Moll
Revd Bryan Owen
Revd Canon Clifford Piper
Revd Donald Reid
Revd Colin Reed
Revd Canon John Richardson
Revd Malcolm Richardson
Revd Gareth J M Saunders
Very Revd Alison J Simpson
Very Revd Andrew Swift
Kate Sainsbury (Lay Reader)
Patsy Thomson (Lay Reader)
Revd Prof Annalu Waller

(It’s Time) To Build A Cairn

The last seven days have been difficult ones. I know that I speak for a lot of people in the Scottish Episcopal Church when I say that we have been made to feel angry and ashamed. I stand in sorrow and solidarity with my LGBT friends who are called to ministerial vocations in the Church and who in this last week have been made to feel threatened. We are all left asking questions about what kind of church we are, what kind of church we want to be, and what kind of church we want to belong to.

I suspect that the answer is: not one that behaves like this.

It is clear that for those of us in the Scottish Episcopal Church, the fight is far from over.

But that’s for tomorrow, because marriage equality will become the law of our land at midnight tonight and that is a thing for which we must be joyful and celebrate. It has been a long journey and one that I am and will always be proud to have been on.

Through the ages, people on great journeys have stopped at important places and at decisive moments to build cairns at the roadside to which they and others can always return. Our lives consist not only in being but also in becoming — they are journeys in which we grow and are transformed. This has been a great journey that we have travelled and, in different ways, will continue to travel together. Today, we pause at a decisive and important moment for us all. We mark this decisive moment now, adding to the cairn the stones of our love, our pride, and our prayers. *

And now, one more time, all together, one, two, three:

* Adapted from the Marriage Liturgy of the Scottish Episcopal Church (2007).

Four Hours in A&E

I was driving home last night when I heard on the Radio 4 evening news that one of the top stories was a failure of emergency departments in England over the last week to meet the fabled “four hour target”.

The four hour target, which was introduced by the Department of Health in 2003, states that 95% of people attending emergency departments in the UK should be seen within four hours.

Or that’s what I hear every time there’s a news item relating to this target, so let’s clear up a couple of things.

And the first thing is that the four hour target states that 95% of people attending emergency departments should be triaged and seen and treated and moved out of the department within four hours.

I’m not quibbling the rights or wrongs of the target; we could go round and round on that forever. It’s an arbitrary number. It’s been the same arbitrary number for eleven years. That allows us to measure and compare and I suppose gives part of the impetus to improve performance. It has as much value as any other number that might have been chosen, which is to say that it has enormous statistical value and absolutely no moral value.

The target is what it is, but if we’re going to let the media take the NHS to the cleaners every December for a target that it’s failing to meet then I think they should be obliged to talk about that target as it is.

Even with those parameters, the four hour target was achieved for 91.8% of people attending emergency departments in England in the first week of December.

And that figure says something, but it doesn’t say that 8.2% of people attending English emergency departments last week were still in the waiting room at the four hour mark.

We don’t have any December figures for emergency departments in Scotland yet, but the media presume that they will be comparable with England. Last weekend, I was the receiving medic for an inner city Scottish hospital. I spent the first weekend of December trapped in ED (and I do mean trapped — I ate only because my FY1 delivered lunch and caffeine to me, which probably qualifies as abuse of one’s juniors on my part). I cut through the waiting room a lot. That less than 10% of patients were in the department for longer than four hours is fairly remarkable to me.

So far as I can tell, the patients who are well enough to be discharged home straight from ED are not the ones for whom the target falls down (although it isn’t difficult for me to envision a situation in which that process as a whole could take longer than four hours). The target falls down for the patients who are seen and, having had their treatment started, need to be admitted to the hospital.

There is a bed crisis in hospitals in the UK. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. It hasn’t been caused by doctors or nurses or AHPs, who consistently work their socks off and then some. From what I’ve witnessed, it is for the most part being caused by inappropriate attendance at ED less than politicians would like us to believe. It is being exacerbated by those same politicians, who bafflingly seem to think that closing hospitals and reducing the number of available beds is the way to fix it.

(Spoiler: It’s not.)

If a person needs to come into one of those beds, they will be found one.

If the specialty to which they need to come does not have a bed available right now, two things will happen.

First, we will come to you.

You’re having an asthma attack? We’re not going to withhold oxygen and nebulisers until you get to the respiratory ward. You have a raging infection? The cupboards in ED have antibiotics too.

Second, we will keep you in a place of safety.

And it breaches the four hours and governments don’t like it and patients don’t like it and the media sort of love it, but emergency departments are a place of safety. And are better for patient safety than transferring unstable patients to a non-ED bed across a city, or giving a less sick patient a higher priority for a bed than a sicker one merely because of waiting time, or discharging patients inappropriately. And the days when those things are true are more frequent than anyone who works for the NHS would like them to be, so when they are true we do the very best we can with what we’ve got and we go home at the end of the day knowing that we worked for the good of our patients and not for obedience to a government target.

In Which I Consider Taking Up Drinking

I do not remember ever being so glad for Friday.

In the last “week”, I have:

  • worked twelve days…
  • … and a hundred and thirteen hours (and immediately regretted counting)
  • sneezed, coughed, and generally mucoused my way through it all while FY1s backed slowly away from my germs
  • (re)applied for Core Medical Training
  • done my first LP since the summer
  • led an arrest team
  • fumbled and stuttered my way through acting up as the med reg
  • reached momentous career decisions (fuelled largely by sleep deprivation and caffeine)
  • been made hurt and furious by the nastiness of the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church
  • flirted badly with a police officer as my cat took up residence in her hat…
  • … after I had my flat broken into and my stuff taken by someone who is clearly woefully lacking in Christmas spirit

Guidance from SEC House of Bishops on Same-Sex Marriage

Today, the House of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church produced a document containing guidance for clergy and lay readers relating to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, which comes into force in just over three weeks time on Hogmanay.

The key passages are:

Relating to the Blessing of Same Sex Marriages / Civil Partnerships 

“The SEC has no liturgical rites for the blessing of a same-sex civil partnership or marriage, and the College is of the view that it would not be appropriate to use SEC marriage liturgies for this purpose.”

“The Church cannot give official sanction to informal blessings […] each Bishop would nevertheless expect to be consulted by clergy prior to the carrying out of any informal blesing of same-sex marriage or civil partnership in his diocese.”

Relating to Clergy Entering Same-Sex Marriage

“The College recognises that once the 2014 Act comes into force, the possibility of entering into a same-sex marriage exists as much for clergy and lay readers as for any other member of the population.” […] “As things stand, a clergyperson or lay reader who chooses to enter a same-sex marriage will put themselves in a position outwith the SEC’s doctrinal understanding of marriage as expressed in Canon 31 […] the expectation of the Bishops is that clergy and lay readers will not enter into a same-sex marriage.”

Relating to Recruitment and Selection [of Ordinands]

“[…] a candidate in the recruitment and selection process for ordination or lay readership who has entered or is intending to enter a same-sex marriage would be unable to promise obedience to the Canons. The Bishops likewise expect candidates not to enter into a same-sex marriage in the current situation.”

*

I think it is important that this is read and disseminated widely. I may have additional commentary to offer on it in a day or two, but for now I am so filled with rage that I lack the erudition to do it properly. I simply leave it here, and I note:

1) That these questions are not hypothetical ones, but are real questions about real people and their lives and their loves. I think in light of the specific things that have been said today it must be noted that this is particularly true of people who are called to ministry within the Church.

2) That the answers and guidance given by the House of Bishops are regressive, and that we are further away from justice and equality today than we were even a decade ago,

3) That if we stopped allowing anyone in ministry or seeking to enter ministry within the Church to get married to anyone until this question was settled, we would have had a proper answer a year ago.

*

The full text of the guidelines are here as a PDF: College of Bishops Guidance re Marriage 2014

A response from Changing Attitude Scotland is available here: re: December 2014 Statement from the College of Bishops

Something Old, Something New

Back when the days were long and the evenings were light, when Scotland was warm (no, really) and the sun shone down on the River Tay, the City of Glasgow Chorus spent a weekend locked in the Caird Hall. Never has the Greggs on Dundee High Street done such a roaring trade in cups of tea.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 23.06.01

The result of those two days is the new CD, Something Old, Something New, which is available now for postal ordering from the Chorus website for £10. If you know a Chorus member, it can also be got from us with less hassle and no P&P charge.

The playlist includes the Charles Parry I Was Glad, choruses from the Faure Requiem and Mendelssohn Elijah, Howard Goodall’s setting of Psalm 23 (from The Vicar of Dibley), the Vivaldi Gloria, and the Bogoroditse Devo from the Rachmaninov Vespers.

It is very good music, with a very good choir (and I’m biased and I don’t care) and a magnificent organ. I heard this in its finished form a couple of weeks ago and then parts of it again when I was driving home tonight. I’m very proud of the work that went into it by all of us, and of the quality of the end product.

Everyone likes a nice CD for Christmas.

Reflecting on the Cascade Conversations in Glasgow & Galloway

Over the last six months since General Synod, the dioceses of the Scottish Episcopal Church have been engaging in “Cascade Conversations” . You may remember from what I’ve previously said that this is the process which some senior members of the Church decided we ought to use to discuss same-sex relationships [sic] in the Church.

The conversations in my diocese, which is Glasgow and Galloway, concluded this weekend with an event in Galloway. There had been previous events in Glasgow and in Ayrshire. I have attended all three of them and have engaged with the process as best I was able.

The process has followed on from the conference held in Pitlochry shortly after Easter and the presentation which took place at General Synod in June. This “cascading” process has involved series of conversations, which have begun to be arranged and take place in the various dioceses of the Church. The intent was for the conversations across the Province will have broadly the same format as the conversations that were held in Pitlochry, beginning with reflections from invited speakers and then breaking into small groups for further conversation and reflection. The further intent, so we have been told, was for those conversations to “cascade” further into churches and communities. It was thought that the result would be a whole Church conversation.

I have chosen not to speak publicly about my experience of Cascade until the events in my diocese had ended, because I did not wish to prejudice the process. I am going to write publicly about them now.

I know that some of you who were there and others who have heard reports will know that there was a social media embargo. For the first two events, that embargo was only in place for the time we were meeting, and each participant was given guidelines which stated specifically that we were entitled to speak freely about process including on social media. At the third event, we were specifically asked not to discuss the event on social media. I think that is an unhelpful and dangerous embargo and although I’ve respected the embargo while physically in the conversations, I am deliberately disregarding it now.

You may also know that there was a rule of strict confidentiality, specifically that anything said in the small groups and in the room was to remain entirely confidential to the groups and to the room respectively. I am not going to break that rule of confidentiality at this stage. It has been stated on multiple occasions by the House of Bishops and by the Design Group and it was reiterated at the events themselves by the facilitator that the purpose of these rules was to ensure that the process was a safe space.

I have been openly and unashamedly critical of the process since it was foisted upon (not chosen by, not agreed to) a vocally dubious General Synod in 2013. I have criticised it in social media, I have criticised it to my Bishop and to the Primus, and, with considerable support from those both inside and outside of the Synodical processes, I openly dissented against it at this year’s General Synod. I had my doubts from the conception of the Design Group, which arranged the process beginning with Pitlochry. After hearing a little about it at General Synod 2014, I wept tears of anger for myself and shame for my Church as many of my worst fears seemed to be confirmed.

In the end, I did not engage with this process because I think it is the best or the most appropriate process to handle this bit of Church debate, but because it was the process I had been left with and my option was to engage with it or to not be involved at all. In September, at the first Cascade Conversation in my diocese, I was an invited speaker, and I made the terms on which I had eventually engaged very clear to the participants.

But I do confess that despite all of this I did not go to the first event looking to be offended by it. I had heard good things about the event in Pitlochry, and it was clear to me that some participants had found it extremely valuable – some of them people whom I respect and like a great deal. It is not actually in my interests to torpedo what is presently the only mechanism we in the Church have for discussing a subject that matters a great deal to many of us, and I wondered if perhaps by engaging in it I might at least start to see some of the good things that others so obviously had.

It is disappointing that I come away with a sense of having not seen those good things.

I give credit where due to those particular members of the planning committee in Glasgow and Galloway who, having been present for the horrific situation that unfolded at General Synod when the Cascade Conversations were discussed ,worked hard to make this a more positive experience than that. I acknowledge that they were able to do that only within the Provincial framework that they had been given. I acknowledge that some people did indeed have positive experiences at these Diocesan events and say that they have learned valuable things, and I think that that is good and I have no wish to take that positivity away from them.

However, I think it is important that the voices of those who have had negative experiences are not silenced. My experience of this process is that the provincial Design Group and the House of Bishops do not wish to hear from those of us whose experience of this process is that it has been dreadful.

The pitch at the beginning of each event that I have been to has been that there are no outcomes to the day, that there are no decisions being made, that nobody is to take a position, that nobody is to challenge anyone or ask anyone any probing questions. The whole point of the day is simply to listen. The day takes place on holy ground, we were reminded constantly, a refrain that was also uttered in the General Synod presentation about the Pitlochry meeting, and that, while perhaps done with the best of intentions, came across to me as grossly manipulative.

The pitch has also acknowledged equal marriage legislation, but the process has never been said to be about equal marriage – we are, so far as I know and reflected in all of the conversations I have participated in, still having a conversation about issues around same-sex relationships, which, with no definition, cannot be and has not been a cohesive conversation.

My main trouble all along with a broadly defined listening process is its existence as the only process. If it were happening alongside a Synodical process, or in the context of (defined) equal marriage legislation and the (defined) processes of the Church, or even with a sense of general timeline and an idea of what might happen next, I would probably think that a listening process in which the whole Church can participate was a good idea. But absent those things, what results is a roomful of people who aren’t really certain what they’re meant to be talking about. It leads to people sitting around in their small groups not knowing where to begin, or leads to entirely separate conversations about different things with no common thread and not really getting anyone anywhere at all.

We were told at General Synod that the diocesan Cascade Conversations would be over by the end of November, which was later altered to the end of the year, which has been further extended as we know now that one Diocese is not holding its events until the spring of next year. And once these events actually are over, we will have “further conversations” in Diocesan Synods. And what will happen after that? Bishop Gregor spoke briefly about plans that the Faith and Order Board have for options that might be offered to Synod, but no suggestion as to what form those options might take or what timescale they might take place over.

A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting where someone asked about the timeline of the process and when it would end. This was not a Cascade event – this was a different meeting, public and minuted and with no expectations of confidentiality, all of which means I am allowed to say that a member of the provincial Design Group was present and their response was that the process will never end because the Church must always keep talking about lots of issues. I acknowledged the truth to this but said that, as I had been told by the Province and by the Diocese and by the House of Bishops that nothing else could happen until the Cascade process, as it had been pitched to us, had ended, it must end. I have still not been given an answer as to when it will.

The best thing I can say on a personal level about the Cascade Conversations in this Diocese is that on one occasion I found them blandly inoffensive and lacklustre, and I left wondering what it was I had just wasted my Saturday on.

Now, let me return to this idea of strict confidentiality and let’s talk about the principle of safe space.

For when it has been worse, the worse has been created by this wilful misunderstanding of the difference between confidentiality and secrecy.

I was one of a number of people at the Diocesan Synod in Glasgow and Galloway, long before even the Pitlochry event, who tried to educate the original Design Group on what a safe space actually is and why an imposition of confidentiality on a group that is on the wrong side of a power imbalance is dangerous and abusive.

That word, “abusive”.

I do not use it carelessly. I do not take it lightly when I say that a harmful thing has been done wilfully, but in this case a harmful thing was deliberately included in a process after multiple people who have some experience in this matter had tried to talk about what a safe space is and what it is supposed to be, and were ignored.

In the course of the Cascade Conversations that have taken place in this Diocese, a number of offensive and inappropriate and factually inaccurate things have been said, each one of them about LGBT people, and none of the LGBT people there were allowed to talk about them afterwards.

We are not allowed to talk about them to each other, or at Synods, or in public, or online. And when the Province tells me how wonderful this has all been and I tell them that it hasn’t, I am not allowed to say, “and this is why.” I think it is harmful that when offensive things were said to me in my small group, I was not allowed to tell the rest of the room what had been said. I think it is harmful that I was not allowed to challenge those things and that I was expected to receive them with “respectful listening”. I think it is harmful that I am not allowed to report them at Synod or talk about it online. I think that telling me that I am not allowed to speak about any of those things or repeat them to anyone else, ever, is a harmful process and is the very opposite of what a safe space is meant to be.

And don’t forget, I’m not the one who has the most to lose in all of this.

I could lose my church, and that’s not nothing.

But I have friends who could lose their careers, their homes, and their relationships over this, and that’s a lot more.

If a process which was designed by a power structure to talk about a minority group has as one of its core principles that members of the minority group must be silent on the matter of what was said about and to them, that is abuse.

It is my understanding from a member of the provincial Design Group that this Cascade process and how well it has gone has been informally reported to bodies outside of Scotland and outside of the Anglican Communion, and they are so pleased with how well they are being told it has gone that they are considering adopting the process for themselves.

This is not being done in my name.

New Fangled Terminology

Beth: It’s for a patient with a background of Yadda Yadda who has come in with Symptoms, and has a new acute kidney injury. So, I’ve spoken to renal and…

Person To Whom I Am Handing Over: [interrupts] Oh, my God, what happened to their kidney? Did they fall on it?

For the non-medically minded, sometime about five years ago it was decided by the universal powers that be that we couldn’t call acute renal failure “acute renal failure” anymore. The only other time I’ve ever encountered confusion is from the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, who panics and starts asking questions if you don’t point out on the death certificate that “injury” =/= “trauma”.

What Are You Doing In There?

I live with two cats.

They are called Harris and Kilda (all the best cats are named after Scottish islands). They are nearly three years old, and the longest they have spent apart since they were born is about three hours. A trip to the vet was involved. It was very traumatic for all concerned.

Kilda is the brave one, and the more sociable one. If new people come to the flat, she comes out for a sniff and a cuddle and to let them photograph her. She is more talkative. She has been the first one to come out of the box in every new place they have ever been to. In my parents’ house when I first brought them home, in my flat after a five hour journey during which neither of them had been able to pee, and at church for a St Francistide service – and when they were both finally out, she went to say hello to the dogs while her sister ran for cover under the organ pedals.

I'm beautiful and I know it

I’m beautiful and I know it

She is utterly baffled at the idea that you (if you were a cat) might occasionally not want to be jumped on and licked half to death.

Recently, someone told me that they were surprised Harris had ever come out of the box. And the thing is, they weren’t wrong. Harris is an introvert, which mostly manifests in her propensity to take herself off for parts of the day and spent time by herself. And before you accuse me of anthropomorphising the two of them, consider this: not too long ago, when they were both locked in the sitting room with A Magnificent Human for the better part of the day so that electricity workmen could do things that involved having the door to my flat open, Harris sat in the litter tray for an hour with the door shut.

Me, do mischief? This face? No!

Me, do mischief? This face? No!

Kilda spent the same time learning how to hold a crochet hook.

There is photographic evidence of this somewhere.

Harris’s tendency to take herself off includes an ability to get locked into places that you never ever imagined a cat could possibly get into in the first place.

Sometimes, the result of this, combined with the fact that Kilda is the smother-you-all-with-loves sort of sociable and the fact that they’ve never really been separated, is that my evening goes as follows:

[ARRIVE HOME, LADEN WITH WORK CRAP AND GROCERIES]

KILDA: MROW.

ME: Hello. No, let me put this down first. Dinner? Hello. Where is your sister?

KILDA: Mrow. [runs around flat like a maniac]

ME: [serves dinner] I’m sure she’s in here somewhere, she always is.

KILDA: [ignores dinner] MROW. MROW.

ME: [opens up all the doors that a cat might reasonably get stuck behind]

KILDA: [runs through all of the doors, comes back out of them looking crestfallen] MROW.

ME: Well, I’m going to make dinner for me. I’m sure she’ll come out. I’ve looked in all the places she could be locked.

KILDA: [glares accusingly from the kitchen door while I chop]

ME: I’ll have a better look in a minute. I’m going to just get this in the oven.

KILDA: [loses patience and pats me on the face] Mrow. This is a situation of great emergency. Mrow.

ME: Yes, but she can’t have got out, so it’s fine.

KILDA: MROW MY SISTER IS MISSING AND MY WORLD HAS BEEN TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AND IT HAS BEEN FOREVER AND MROW WHY ARE WE NOT LOOKING FOR HER MROW. MROW.

ME: Oh, for God’s sake.

[MY DINNER BURNS AS KILDA AND I EMBARK ON A CAT-HUNT]

[HALF AN HOUR LATER. IT IS NOT A BIG FLAT.]

[I MAY BE PANICKING SLIGHTLY NOW.]

ME: [leaves flat briefly to check stairwell in close, because she can’t have got out but what if she got out?]

KILDA: [in flat] MROOOOOOOWWWWW.

NEIGHBOURS: [call RSPCA as clearly I am doing great evil to a tiger]

ME: [on phone to landlord / parents / long-suffering friends] Oh help I’ve lost a cat.

LANDLORD / PARENTS / LONG-SUFFERING FRIENDS: Which one?

ME: Which one do you think? I’ve looked everywhere that she could possibly be! What if she got out? What if there was a car? I’m panicking really quite a lot oh God.

[OPENS A DOOR THAT NO BEING WITHOUT OPPOSABLE THUMBS COULD POSSIBLY HAVE OPENED]

HARRIS: [blinks] Oh. Hello. Yes. How can I help you? You weren’t looking for me, were you?