On the morning of October 4th 1997 my wife walked down All Saints Street in Hastings Old Town, near where we lived, until she came to an area at its end known as Winkle Island.
There she saw a couple taking breakfast on a bench. With them was a Persian cat on a lead.
She crossed over to stroke it and struck up a conversation with its owners, who introduced themselves as Mr and Mrs Greaves. It transpired that they were admirers of her writing.
She asked for the cat’s name and was told that it was "Mogadon."
That is the name of a type of sleeping pill.
Two years earlier Fiona had completed a novel set in Hastings called Baker’s Dozen. The family of the central character, Joshua, had a cat called Mogadon, and in her novel they live in Tackleway, which is the next street up from where she spoke to the Greaveses and comprised of less than fifty houses.
Fiona’s idea was that Mogadon sounds a bit like "moggie" and they are both things associated with "going out at night", i.e. a sleeping pill.
Later I was with Fiona outside Mr Greaves home, Winkle Cottage, No. 2 Pleasant Row, and I asked him where he had lived when they first acquired the cat.
He said that when they got him, in the 1980s, they were living in Tackleway, but had very shortly after moved to their present address.
On page 33 of the novel, Joshua heals Mogadon’s eye, injured in a scrap with another cat.
The real Mogadon had persistent problems with his right eye and in February 2001 it had to be removed.
On 23rd September 2001 I dropped in at the London home of Murray Sharp for a quick cup of tea before catching the train home from nearby Charing Cross station.
Whilst there we saw a few minutes of a TV profile of actor, John Inman. One snippet was from a comedy programme from the early 1990s called Grace and Favour.
I had never heard of it, but learnt that it was a continuation of the better known 1970s sit com, Are You Being Served?
In the clip, Mrs Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) was passing her cat to Miss Brahms (Wendy Richard). Mrs Slocombe made a remark about soothing the cat and Ms Richard responded with something like
"Perhaps you should give it a Mogadon?"
The same pun.
Murray noted the continuation of the earlier coincidence, which I had previously recounted to him.