Sitting in the study, I heard a crash. Then a bang. Then a bump. The unmistakable sounds of Something Which Should Not Be Moved being moved.
In the living room, I am greeted by the sight of two cats, frozen in mid-step, eyes wide open with the look of deer caught in headlights - or little children caught in the middle of doing something bad. A quick scan showed nothing obviously out of place. No broken cups - no upset furniture - no upended Things Which Should Be Upright.
But, clearly, some wrong had been committed, and one, or both, cats were responsible. So I stood there, and gave them the Look. The one that says:
"I know what you did. In fact, I know exactly what you did. I may not have started screaming at you yet, but I will. Soon. Your only chance of assuaging, however slightly, the Wrath of the Gods is to own up. Right. Now."
And then, in a flash of recognition, I realised this is what parents and teachers did, all the time, when we were children. I suddenly understood: it was always a mind-game, after all. This is what parents do.
Iffy sidled up to me and mewed piteously, so I gathered it was probably her that was making the noises. However, knowing my cats, Twinkle was probably just as responsible, and was most likely the one chasing Iffy around the furniture.
In the absence of definitive proof of guilt, both of them got the Glare of Disapproval (another parenting tactic, specifically a Fatherly tactic: blame 'em all, let Mom sort 'em out) before I returned to the study.
Needless to say, the noises resumed in a short while. Children. sigh.