When the cat goes missing, I have an awful sense of fear

Harry is an online dating asset – all my matches like cats. He is also the ersatz fourth member of the family

Something is wrong. “Is Harry in?” I don’t claim a sixth sense but, with no rational reason, I have arrived home and am immediately fearful for Harry, Helen’s humongous Siberian cat. “As we left for Matt’s music lesson, Harry headed into the garden,” replies Helen’s sister Sarah, who helps on Mondays, bringing her sibling’s joy and values to the kids. I peer out into the darkness with inexplicable apprehension.

Once, when Millie was three months old, I left her in her pram at a post office. The further I walked, the greater the grip of ill-defined but icy unease. Back at the car, this became a double-handed yank of manic panic as the empty straps of her car seat shouted, “You’re a dad now, dickhead.” I sprinted back pursued by hellish visions of loss and calamity that might befall my abandoned baby. She was fine and I’ve been lucky not to feel that same cold touch since; until now. I run into the garden, shrilly screaming, “Harry, Harry, Harreeeeee”, like a tweeny Potter fan on premiere night.

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Alex Vidal