Midnight. Not a sound from the pavement. Has the moon lost her memory? Not if I have anything to do with it.
For I am here to remind you all of a very special anniversary, my ten years in office, serving this country to the best of my ability. My name is Larry the Cat, but most of you will know me by my official title — Chief Mouser To The Cabinet Office.
This week marks my decade of service prowling the gutters and sewers of Downing Street. That’s nearly 4,000 days and nights seeking out pests and cuffing rodents, while giving vermin and parasites no mercy. Yes, my job description does indeed vary very little from that of the Chief Whip, whose job it is to discipline and sometimes even exterminate disobedient MPs.
In my time here, I have loyally served three prime ministers —David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson. I have bonded with them all, in very different ways.
For example, there isn’t a corner of this building where I haven’t sat and lovingly groomed myself for hours, just like David. There is barely a sofa cushion or a tea towel that I haven’t shredded in rage and frustration, just like Theresa. And there isn’t a comfy chair where I haven’t stretched out, scratched my fluffy bits and snoozed away many afternoons, just like Boris.
During my tour of duty in the corridors of power I’ve seen it all, I’ve heard it all, I’ve sniffed it all.
I’ve watched great and powerful leaders come and go — from other countries, of course. Our lot are a complete shower, as you all know.
I’ve come to understand that in life, as in scratching posts, you have to take the rough with the smooth. One day you are the cat’s pyjamas and the next day you are Nadine Dorries. And that is not all I have learned. Ears up! Backs arched! This is my story.
Dressed to the nines in patriotic red, white and blue for Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton
Flying the flag for all my furry friends
Some cats get launched into outer space. Some are left a fortune by little old ladies. And some cats have to wear a Union Jack bow tie at moments of national importance.
You might think I look smart and handsome, but I felt humiliated. Oh, the cat’s whiskers I most certainly am not!
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the day of Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton.
‘I’m going to make you an outfit, Larry!’ cried Mrs Samantha. ‘Don’t worry darling, I am a dress designer.’
I dreamt of a nice waistcoat, a top hat, maybe even a tailcoat! Instead, she ran up a bow tie made out of a paper napkin, and stuck it on with a bit of Sellotape. Oh, the shame.
Larry the Cat en route from Battersea Cats’ Home to his new home in Downing Street in 2011
I’m the new top cat
There I was, minding my own business at Battersea Cats’ Home in 2011 when the summons was received — a five-bell alarm from Downing Street.
Urgently needed! A top cat to deal with an infestation at the heart of government.
At first, I thought they meant Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne, but no. It was even worse than that.
They were worried about real vermin, not just Lib Dem creepy crawlies. I unsheathed my claws, slipped inside my basket, jumped into the catmobile and headed off to meet my destiny.
When my call came, I was ready.
A prop to make him look more human?: Larry enjoyed a cosy cuddle with David Cameron
In the lap of power
‘I’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond.’ Here I am, sitting on David Cameron’s lap. A cosy scene.
Some people said that prime minister David didn’t really like me. That I was just a prop, to make him look human. To give him that common touch. To make him look kind and warm.
‘What is that mangy creature doing in here again?’ he once shouted during a Cobra meeting.
But he wasn’t talking about me — he was talking about Chris Grayling. David and I always got on fine.
Larry recalled that he and Theresa May didn’t always see eye to eye when it came to fashion
You can’t go out looking like that!
Like all cats I have poise and a natural sense of elegance, whereas Theresa May had neither.
We had a lot of chats about it. ‘Theresa, old girl,’ I would tell her, ‘you’ve got to stop going out looking like something I dragged in.’
She promised she would try. Yet I turn my back for five minutes, and look what she would skip out the front door in — I mean, this isn’t an outfit, it is a cry for help.
A blazer with a built-in life jacket? Who wears that? As you can see, I found it hard to conceal my disapproval.
Top marks for the flea collar, though – or should that be necklace, as you humanoids say? Theresa needed something strong and stable to keep the pests at bay. That monster seemed to do the trick. For a while, at least.
Larry had a front-row seat when former US president Donald Trump visited in 2019
Trump’s £1.2million armour-plated limousine provided the ideal shady spot from which to watch the proceedings
I’m the big beast around here…
Hang about. Who is this big ginger tom cruising on my patch in June 2019?
Prime Minister May told me to keep out of the way, but there was no way I was going to miss this show.
The big guys always love me. Obama still sends me a chew every Christmas.
Someone told me The Beast was outside. Palmerston again!
I investigate, but it turns out to be President Trump’s £1.2 million armour-plated limousine.
Fun and games with Boris Johnson who taught Larry how to flip-flop and soft pedal
We’ve both strayed
Here I am, helping Boris make important decisions. Already I have learned many things from him, chiefly that ‘flip-flop’ and ‘soft pedal’ are not fun games we can enjoy together, which is disappointing.
But I like Boris because he feeds me kitty bits and holds me tight when we hide in the cupboard to escape from his girlfriend.
‘I’m scared of her,’ he whispers in my ear. I feel the same way.
‘You were a stray before and you can be a stray again,’ she shouted at me the other day. At least I think it was me.
Larry was once arrested for committing GBH on a pair of Theresa May’s leopard-print shoes
Very strong on paw and order
Like all cats, I do my own thing. I take two bites of my lunch and walk away. I sharpen my claws where I damn well please.
But the only time I took it too far was when I was arrested by the police for committing GBH on a pair of Theresa May’s leopard-print shoes.
It’s all right officer. I’ll come quietly.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock can’t resist giving Larry a pat, even if it means breaking social distancing rules
Space please, Mr Hancock!
This much I know. There should be a health warning against Health Secretaries.
I heard that Andy Burnham was all right, but he always wanted to compare eyelashes with the government cats, to see whose were the longest.
Andrew Lansley? The name rings a bell. Jeremy Hunt was always good at hiding my medication in the salmon snacks, give him credit for that.
But I don’t know what to make of this Matt Hancock bloke. He’s either crying or laughing hysterically or asking me over and over if I have had my jab yet. Has he been wormed? Something has happened to him.
In 2012, Larry had a scrap with Freya (right), who belonged to George Osborne next door
Larry tussles with his archenemy Palmerston (left), the mouser from the Foreign Office
Facing off against a police sniffer dog called Bailey just before the 2015 general election
Here’s a taste of my southpaw!
Political life is one long sparring match, and it is no different for us cats.
In 2012, I had a scrap with Freya, who belonged to George Osborne next door. Look at her land a left uppercut!
My arch enemy, however, is Palmerston, the mouser from the Foreign Office. Black cats are supposed to be good luck, but he has done nothing for me. Yet we can form a coalition against a common foe.
Like in 2015, just before the general election. Here I am, snout to whiskers with a police sniffer dog called Bailey. I send him packing.
The Chief Mouser prepares to strike an unsuspecting victim who appears aware the end is nigh
Looking for the mouse of Commons?
Alcohol units nil. Calories consumed this week 8,400 (v.g., although would love something different from chicken, liver and fish). Mice caught over the past ten years; 745. Mice that got away; 19,582.
The statistics, as Rishi Sunak is always saying, speak for themselves. So no. I am not the best mouser in the business. That much is painfully clear. But I take my cue from my first boss, David Cameron.
‘Hug a Hoodie, Larry’ he once urged me. And his caring nature rubbed off on me. That’s one reason I don’t particularly want to Mug a Mousie.
Look at them. They are actually quite cute. The other reason is that they are too fast for me.