We thought it best to leave the cat with Ted
along with Grandma, when we went away.
No sooner were we home from holiday
than, bluntly, he announced the cat was dead.
"Listen!" I said. "Bad news is better told
obliquely – like this: ‘Bess went climbing on
the roof and fell. Her legs and back were gone.
They tried to save her but she was too old.’ "
Ted – who's direct but not a thoughtless man –
was chastened (so he said) and mortified.
"Don't worry, Cousin Edward," I replied,
"we all make gaffes. By the way, how's Gran?"
"Not great," he said. "In fact, to tell the truth,
last night she went out climbing on the roof..."