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The inspiration for ‘The Egyptian Cat’ came to me in a wonderful museum in Boulogne in Northern France, which has a fine collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts. I was very taken with a little figure of a cat and bought a reproduction that I have on my desk as I write this. I discovered that for the Egyptians the cat is the animal incarnation of Bast or Bastet, goddess of joy, love, and pleasure. She is the protector of women and childbirth. This coupled with Egyptian ideas about judgement in the afterlife – their heart would be weighed in the balance, the heart in one scale, a feather representing truth in the other – got me thinking.
Boulogne and the surrounding Boulannais – a region of rolling hills – suffered terribly under German occupation during World War II. People still know which families collaborated and which did not. That too plays a part in the story.