By Kathryn Evans
If you don’t know me very well, you may not know that as well as being a writer, I also run a soft fruit farm with my husband. Last year, the world of words and the world of fruit collided in the most serendipitous way.
I was asked to do an event with author, Jo Cotterill at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. We put on a pretty good show – and had a ball – so when she asked me if she could come down to the farm to research her new book, A Storm of Strawberries, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
I told Jo all about the realities of farming ( she captures the distracting stress of the parents in her book brilliantly) and we had a tour around so she could see what a hi-tech business soft fruit growing is now – although still very much at the mercy of the weather- storms are very frightening and quite often, very expensive – here’s a post I wrote after a real life storm on our farm.
We were just having another cup of tea when something horribly sad happened. My husband came in to tell me he’d found my adored young cat, Pike, dead in our driveway.
I raced to my cat and as I picked up his little body, trying to puzzle out what had happened, I felt a hard pellet under his skin. Somebody had shot my beautiful Pike with an air rifle. I was heartbroken. Pike wasn’t very clever but he was incredibly friendly. He was so loving, in fact, that it was hard to get any work done because of his demands for cuddles. Here’s a video I made, after he’d died:
I brought Pike home, wrapped him up and tried to finish giving Jo all the information she needed for her book – she’d travelled a long way and I didn’t want her to have wasted her time. When she left, I took Pike to the vet so they could confirm what I suspected. Yes, indeed, someone had deliberately taken his life. I reported it to the police – it is a crime – and they took it very seriously. I wrote an open letter to the killer that was shared far and wide and even made the radio and the press but we never found out who had done such a horrible thing.
We buried Pike in our garden and one of my lovely friends sent me a cherry tree to mark the spot where he is. I still miss him, it’s rare to have such an adoring little creature land in your life, but I’m grateful I had a little while with him.
Then Jo’s book came out, A Storm of Strawberries, and right on the cover, is the silhouette of a little cat, my little cat.
Not only that, at the end of the story – which, by the way, is a story so full of love and heart it near made mine burst – Pike gets a mention.
My funny little boy cat has been immortalized in a wonderful story.
What a gift.
Thank you so much Jo – I’m so happy our worlds collided xxx