The year was 1946. I was alone in a church yard. Vandals had overturned gravestones and defecated in the porch of the church. My job was to catch them. No radios in those days. My whistle and truncheon were handy. The church was about fifty yards from the nearest usual point of human activity - and at just before two a.m. it was nil.
It was a moonless night with a slight wind and rain was in the offing. I felt sure the vandals would have been abed by then. So much so that, being a smoker in those days, I thought I would enjoy a cigarette even though I knew that if anyone was about, it would be a give-away. Such was my confidence.
Golden Virginia was my preference. It often smelt good enough to eat! I took out the paper and roller, dived a couple of fingers into my baccy pouch and skillfully selected just the right amount for a roll.
About to fill and roll the paper I became conscious of something nearby. I could see nothing but thought I'd heard distinct movement. The baccy stuff was immediately pocketed. Sure enough, there was something there, nearby. Why hadn't I noted it earlier before it could be anywhere near my presence?
I was fit and 'cocky with it' in those days, and had come through quite a few years of fairly intense events but this was different; I wasn't fearful but, as maybe they'd say these days, 'hyped up.'
I froze against the cemetery wall and strained my eyes around. Yes, there was definitely something. Despite my usual mental ability in moments of unease, and considering it wasn't quite a hair on the neck raising situation, I was nevertheless feeling rattled and was aware that my temperature had risen.
Ghosts were out of the question but who or what would be near me in a cemetery in the early hours? Somehow, the location was perhaps contributing to the circumstances. Daft, eh?
As I stood with eyes straining, I at first sensed rather than felt a very slight touch on the back of my neck then by my left ear. No-one, I guarantee no-one, can cope with calm in such a circumstance. I shot forward, away from the wall, turning round as I did, and whipped my torchlight straight at the position I knew I'd see something.
There are some things on this earth which can move silently and discreetly without even intending to so do and a cat is one of them!