CAT OUT OF THE BAG
A cat vanishes and provokes a Cabinet crisis. But the cat is Socrates, official Number Ten mouser and a national celebrity.
With his place at the top table Socrates not only knows more cabinet secrets than the Queen he is also the government talisman.
So much so, the opposition dirty-tricks expert seeks to exploit his absence politically, even deciding to eliminate him.
But when Socratesís animal friends suspect skulduggery even murder, they take their revenge on the people who have failed him.
The prime minister calls a special cabinet meeting to discuss Socrates, the official Number Ten cat, missing for more than two weeks.
No ordinary cat, Socrates is cherished by the PM, has his cabinet seat and knows more secrets than the Queen. Socrates is also the government talisman and a national celebrity. He must be found, says the PM.
Opposition leaders believe they can use the disappearance of Socrates to embarrass the government and lose it votes. Behind the plot, which includes murder, is their spin wizard, Alasdair Bellamy. He has an ace up his sleeve, a lover inside the Cabinet.
Animal friends of Socrates fear he has been murdered. Led by Rufus, the fox, and Tanya, the tawny owl, they see Socrates as a symbol of manís inhumanity to animals. A tiny shrew goes on a suicide mission to enlist the help of London zoo animals.
Kyle Dickson, Number Ten communications officer, is delegated to lead the hunt for Socrates. He finds his own cat and other animals behaving oddly, resentfully. Behind Downing Street he finds two ravens, and owl and the black rat marking a spot in the garden. When he digs he find a dead cat, Sheba, a mistress of Socrates. She has been murdered.
All this triggers a series of bizarre events around the Palace of Westminster. First it is rat droppings in the Commons smoking room, then a plague of ants, flies and other insects in the Commons and Lords chambers. During PMís questions, parliamentary broadcasts are blacked out when rats gnaw through the TV cables. The PM and his wife find their beds covered with bedbugs. The Irish caretaker in 12 Downing Street who is suspected of strangling Sheba, dies from allergic shock caused by several wasp stings.
But Bellamyís plot is working. When he confirms Socrates is dead, sold to a medical research lab, he writes and plants the story in a tabloid, causing panic in the government.
But Socrates is not dead. A lab assistant, Faversham, has saved him without recognising him as Socrates, and taken him home. Seeing tabloid headlines declaring him dead he alerts the police who say a Downing Street official will pick up Socrates at his flat.
But through his lover in the Cabinet Bellamy gets wind of this. He phones Faversham, claiming heís a Downing Street official and is coming to collect Socrates. Having compromised himself he now has to kill Socrates to save his own reputation.
Dickson is also on his way to Favershamís flat. He gets thereóbut just in time to see Bellamy seize Socrates from Faversham and make off with him in his car. Dickson pursues Bellamy, aided by two ravens hovering over Bellamyís car. Socrates has fought and wounded Bellamy but has been overpowered and is now trapped in a bag.
Still he is not finished; his claws shred the lacing closing the bag. And as they run alongside St Jamesís Park, Socrates breaks free and attacks Bellamy who crashes his car.
Now on three legs and injured, Socrates heads for cover in St Jamesís Park; but Bellamy, still intent on murder, is gaining ground on him. However, as he closes in, Socratesís two guardian ravens swoop on him and send him fleeing, defeated. Somehow, Socrates scrambles across Horse Guards Road, into Number Ten garden and leaps into the arms of the waiting Richard Marlowe, who has followed the action.
He was finally home.