Jane patiently explained that she didn't think her husband, a busy dentist, would be willing to take half a day off work to visit a rabbit. The woman was unmoved. "That's our policy," she said.
So they would have to make another 60-mile round trip? "Afraid so, yes. And then we'll make a home visit, to decide whether you are suitable for adoption."
Jane digested this, and asked whether they could skip straight to the home visit? No. Well, could she come back just with Alice? A grudging OK.
So, a few days later, Jane drove back to Shrewsbury with Alice, who fell in love with Skittle. She explained that they would be making a family trip to the cinema in Shrewsbury the following Sunday afternoon, and was there any chance of the home visit being organised before then, so that, assuming they got the green light, they could pick up Skittle then (without having to make a fourth 60-mile journey).
The woman said she'd do what she could, and on the Saturday the RSPCA home visitor arrived, and promised to give Jane and family a lavish testimonial.
The next day, Jane rang to ask whether they could call in for Skittle on the way home from the cinema.
"In any case, she added, they were too busy, with several cats, two guinea pigs, and a dog to hand over"
Jane spent Mamma Mia! seething about this, but when James came out of the Bond film, he very masterfully suggested, in a Daniel Craig kind of way, that they should call round for the rabbit anyway. Which they did, but got short shrift. There was no question of their taking Skittle, not with pussies galore to see to, said the woman, if not in so many words. "So we have to drive back yet again?" "Yes."
"Well in that case, you can keep Skittle and we'll just go to a pet shop," said Jane, storming out.
That night, however, Alice cried herself to sleep at the thought of losing Skittle. So Jane had a change of heart and phoned the next morning, offering to drive back the following Thurs-day. "Sorry, Skittle's gone," said the woman.
"What, you've had her since June and someone's miraculously taken her this morning?" "Yes." Jane suddenly felt blacklisted.