The first time I saw him, he was a too-young-to-leave-his-mum kitten in a mad cat-filled room in one of the posher bits of Hampstead. I'd answered an ad about Abyssinian kittens in Loot and found a lady with quite a patrician manner, who was not about to let any old person take one of her precious brood.
There were about twenty or thirty kittens and four or five mother cats roaming about in the room. The kittens were kept in cages and let out to play according some incomprehensible routine she had.
I was put through a third degree, and given a lengthy accompanying lecture on how I must bring up any kitten from her home. Would I promise to feed them only on Hill's Science, forsaking sugar laden Whiskas forever? Would I agree to her inspecting my house before she agreed to assign Pashta and his sister to me? I did, but she never turned up, and didn't demur when I turned up to collect them anyway.
He'd stood out from that jostling bunch of kittens by his beauty and a combination of dignity and playfulness.
It started when, still a kitten, he perfected the astonishing art of taking a leap from behind me which propelled him into landing wrapped round the back of my neck like a scarf. I've never understood how this particular piece of cat physics was done, but he did it.
There was another trick of his cat physics, which is how he managed to detect the sound of my car as it approached the house we used to live in in Stoke Newington. Do all cars have a distinctive sound? It couldn't just have been the sight of me driving the car. We had a back garden, part of which was visible from the surrounding roads. And long before he could see the car, I could see the garden, and I'd see him leaping up towards the fence and trees, bounding across them to be there when I arrived.
And he always knew when it was me or my daughter walking up the path to our present house, even when he couldn't see us. He'd come racing down the stairs and be there when we opened the door. He never did that for anyone else.
Then there was his trick of leaping up and catching flies. And his utter fascination with water; he loved watching a bath being filled, looking as if he'd very much like to jump into it himself. I told my daughter he was convinced he was an otter.
He liked to sit on the top of the pergola surveying his territory. There was the day that a huge and beautiful owl suddenly landed on the pergola, just a couple of feet away from him. Both of them looked utterly startled, and I couldn't decide which of them was most scared. The owl flew off, leaving him still nonplussed, but proudly and indignantly in possession of his perch.
I haven't really taken in that he's no longer around. No, that isn't him sitting on the bed behind me, it's just a little pile of clothes. And no, that's not him by the radiator, it's a couple of rolls of black paper.
I was lucky to have almost thirteen years of his attention and companionship. Like most Abyssians, he decided when he wanted to be affectionate. He might let me pick him up, but he'd not stay and be hugged unless he'd decided he wanted a hug. But he showed his devotion by following me around the house and generally being unhappy if I wasn't around. When I had to spend a couple of weeks in hospital ten years ago, he responded to my return by very firmly sitting on me and refusing to be moved, as if to prevent me from disappearing again.
To almost his last day, he still managed to be playful, batting about a dropped bobble bead as if he were still a kitten.
Rest well, dearest Pash. I miss you.