In the summer Alleycat and Bamber are always out and about, lying in the hedges, climbing trees and making sure that the neighbourhood is behaving. But Pink spends most of her time indoors on the kitchen table or out in the garden on the wrought iron chair. Snatcher always had time for Pink (or pretended he did) and she liked to be with him and listen to him singing and she still remembers those days and the memory makes her sad because she knows Snatcher was bad. Those were worrying times. Snatcher had her under his claw and sometimes they’d take a few little risks. Often they would disappear for hours and hours, and Alleycat would send Bamber out to find her. Bamber was younger and less capable then, so occasionally he’d run into trouble and Alleycat would have to go and bring them all back home. I used to help him. With Alleycat walking beside me, I’d call Bamber’s name, and yell for Pink, and of course they always came to us in the end. Snatcher was an ambitious, vainglorious cat and he left us long ago and went to look for his fortune. One day we may hear from him again, but Alleycat’s like a shepherd collecting the flock and Snatcher’s like one of those wolf-cats, bearing down on the fold. Pink loves them both and she can be bad sometimes too, when she remembers Snatcher.
Nobody likes Snatcher. When he first came to the Six Foot he stank like a sewer, and right from the start he was bent on destroying everything he touched and stealing everything he could see. He was only a kitten then, but he managed to drag all the other cats’ beds into the spare room (where he had his lair) and he piled them all up in the middle of the four poster bed around the red silk cushion he used as his throne. By the time he’d finished with that room he’d torn all the wallpaper off the walls and slashed the bed-clothes to tatters. He also had a monumental stash of contraband under the wardrobe and if it hadn’t been for Alleycat he’d have broken Pink’s heart as as well. Some of Snatcher’s wicked escapades are referred to in the book of the Ginge Club and if you’ve read it you’ll know what I mean. Snatcher left the Six Foot years ago, but we speak of him almost every day!
It isn’t mentioned in the stories of the Ginge Club, but the Car-man’s always wanted to live on a quiet country lane in a little Cotswold Village, in a chocolate box cottage, with an apple pie cooling on the window sill and an open fire for the winter nights. But that dream is over. When he moved into that cottage with Snatcher, Snatcher broke into the next door neighbour’s kitchen; he terrorized the neighbour’s cat, ate the cat’s food, left poo in the cat’s bed and fouled the cat’s bowl. That cat has developed a nervous condition. He can’t go out of doors alone in case Snatcher finds him. He has a kink in his tail and a quiver in his voice that was never there before and no psychologist will ever restore the poor creature’s peace of mind. But Snatcher did worse than that. The Car-man’s other neighbour was a knight of the realm and a true gentlemen. Snatcher broke into his house in the dead of night, stowed away under the bed and when the poor man was asleep he screamed in his ear at the top of his voice and jumped on his head with all his force. Fortunately that man was fairly robust and he forgave Snatcher’s bad behaviour, but no one can make Snatcher better because he likes being bad. When he lived in the Six Foot with Alleycat, Alleycat made him an honorary member of the Ginge Club and in return Snatcher stole the Looking Glass Lady’s pearls, and hid them under a creaky floorboard in the spare room. But although he’s let everyone down, ruined the Car-man’s peace of mind, turned the neighbours against him and driven him out of his precious, picture-perfect cottage, Snatcher and his owner still love one another. That’s why Snatcher keeps on behaving badly and it’s also why Alleycat will never entirely turn against him and make him leave the Ginge Club. He’s loved because he’s bad and we’d all be terribly worried if he started being good! That’s Snatcher in the picture, from when he was living with Alleycat in Six Foot Way.