Like so many of our guest bloggers, Judy has a fascinating portfolio of skills. She spent several years as a dressmaker, painter and illustrator before writing her first book, Just For The Summer. She’s since written nineteen more. Phew! And now, after a two-year rest to refill the creative well, she’s working on book number twenty-one. Her many fans will be delighted.
Like many other writers, Judy has a furry friend — Veronica. And Veronica sounds to be quite a character, as Judy explains…
Veronica has her own ideas about what to wear…
My cat’s collar was starting to look like a charm bracelet. From it dangled her metal tag with her address and phone number, a magnetic gadget that opened her catflap and then this new addition: a soft blue disc that held a new device — a tracker.
“I’m sorry, but you’ve brought it on yourself,” I told Veronica (a blue Burmese, sweet but crafty).
She gave me a look that clearly said, “You expect me to go out in this?”
…and where to go
Veronica possesses a blasé entitlement to go through any open door in search of a carelessly placed tuna sandwich, a comfy sofa, a pet budgie to stare at. The venues have included cars —she was once missing for 6 weeks and turned up five miles away; a neighbour’s bedroom window — leaping onto his bed at 3 am and terrifying him; and the doors of local ground floor apartments, open to the sunshine.
People who brave her claws to read the phone number call: “We have your cat!” which is friendly enough.
“Your cat’s here again,” is slightly less so.
“She’s becoming rather a nuisance,” has me wondering if I’m supposed to tether her to a tree in my garden.
I go and collect her, apologising.
Veronica’s favourite place is Adrian’s flat. He’s fond of her and I can always tell if she’s been there because she comes home smelling of peachy laundry conditioner. He told me she brought him a mouse and I felt almost as hurt as if she were a lover, bestowing favours elsewhere.
Veronica, lady of the night?
Worryingly she took to staying out all night recently, sometimes not coming home till late afternoon. Adrian hadn’t seen her, and no-one was calling to complain she was raiding their larder.
So I bought the tracker.
I attached it to her collar and off she went, gone for a sunny afternoon, with me thinking, oh this is easy. If I couldn’t find her later, I’d walk along to where she likes to roam with the little hand-held remote and its bleeping — ever louder and with first red, then amber then the moment of a green light — would tell me where she was. And it worked, brilliantly.
Until a friend with an equally adventurous cat asked for a demonstration…
Veronica was out so I picked up the tracker’s remote and off we went.
“She’s not far,” I said confidently, starting in the direction she’d usually gone. The amber light was already flashing — she was within several yards. Friend looked impressed. We followed the increasingly fast beeps — getting warmer. No sign of the cat yet but…
We came to a garden wall with overhanging shrubs and the green light was flashing — she should be right there and yet… Nothing.
I called her, but no response, which wasn’t like her.
“Are you looking for your cat?” a neighbour asked. “She’s over there.”
Veronica was on my car roof, casually washing a paw.
The beeps on the remote receded from green to red and I realised what I’d been tracking was the collar, not the cat. She’d offloaded the whole damn thing: tracker, collar, tag and magnet, into impenetrable undergrowth.
She jumped down from the car and flicked her tail at me, rudely yet in triumph.
I never could find that collar.
More about Judy Astley
Many thanks to Judy for the story of Veronica’s triumph (and Judy’s defeat). I must admit I laughed. The story seemed to fit pretty well with how Judy describes her writing, too: “specialist areas (based on years of hectic personal experience) are domestic disharmony and family chaos with a good mix of romance and humour thrown in”.
Judy’s most recent book is In The Summertime (published by Black Swan). It’s a 30-years-on follow-up to her first book, Just For The Summer, and written entirely because Judy had always wanted to know what became of the characters.
In The Summer Time
It’s twenty years since Miranda, then sixteen, holidayed in Cornwall and her life changed forever. Now she’s back again – with her mother Clare and the ashes of her stepfather Jack, whose wish was to be scattered on the sea overlooked by their one-time holiday home.
The picturesque cove seems just the same as ever, but the people are different – more smart incomers, fewer locals, more luxury yachts in the harbour. But Miranda and Clare both find some strangely familiar faces, and revisit the emotions they both thought had disappeared.