Persistent rumours of the existence of the notorious
"Purley Panther" were finally confirmed today when an Indian
leopard was spotted in this sleepy English market town. The animal was
first seen in the High Street by an Estate Agent walking his hamster
at seven-o-clock on Sunday morning. "It was rifling through the
dustbins behind Ponsonby's Greengrocers," said a shaken Mr Clutterbuck
(42). "I grabbed Spot—Spot is my filigree Siberian hamster—and dived into Mrs Shortbottom's back passage—then I legged it."
Later that morning the elusive animal chased two schoolgirls delivering
papers in the Brighton Road and made off with a Prada leopard skin handbag
and the younger girl's yellow Nike trainers.
"We were terrified," said Stacey Forbouys (15). "It
came out of nowhere and jumped Fanny while she was bending down to post
a copy of 'Naughty Nuns' through the vicar's letterbox."
"It was all I could do to stop it eating me Elle Macpherson thong,"
said her friend, Fanny Gussett (14). "Like, y'know, dat
was well safe and cost me thirty-six quid and now it's fuckin' ruined innit!"
This is not the first time the leopard has attacked the citizens of
this somnolent Surrey backwater. Over the past three months 17½
sightings have been reported. The partial sighting has been attributed
to a Mr Jeff 'Mad Dog' Gussett (36), who wrapped himself in a moth-eaten
old sheepskin rug decorated with black spots, in order to claim the
£500 reward the Police posted for news of the animal's whereabouts.
Despite the best efforts of the local constabulary, the nocturnal, knicker-noshing
feline has so far evaded every attempt to capture it. The entire district
is in the grip of a panic. The problem has got so bad that innocent
moggies are being mistaken for the predatory puss and being slaughtered
by the terrified residents.
"Nothing on four legs is safe anymore," said a dejected
Mr Thom, the owner of a local Cattery, which has been decimated by the
wave of anti-feline feeling sweeping the town. "This has really
put the cat amongst the pigeons. Pets are fleeing in droves. If something
isn't done soon, there won't be cat or dog left alive."
It's the humans I feel for," said Mrs Ida Plunkett (56),
the plucky proprietress of the Purley Hilton Hotel. "Things have
got so bad that people are afraid to go out at night. We used to be
packed at the weekend, but last Saturday's strap-on female domination
contest only drew three customers, and two of them were detective constables
from the Purley Vice Squad."
The leopard was finally run to ground today by Sharon Plunkett (no
relation), a checkout girl at Tesco's supermarket.
"I first spotted it loitering around the fresh Veg section,"
said the shapely, sharp-eyed seventeen-year-old shop assistant. "I
panicked and threw a courgette at it. The next thing I knew it had leaped
over the shelves and started ripping my clothes off. That's when I peed
my pants and called the manager."
In a bizarre twist, we discovered that the animal belongs to a Mr
Arthur A Pewty (58). When we questioned him about the wisdom of letting
a wild leopard loose in a busy supermarket he defended himself by blaming
"Tiddles is a pussycat," explained the bespectacled, shabbily-dressed
"I don't normally take him shopping with me, but the missus wouldn't
leave him at home on account of her disability."
"Disability?" we asked.
"She's claustrophobic and Tiddles clears a shop in no time."
"Wasn't that a bit dangerous?" we asked.
"I thought so too, but the missus says all young girls dress provocatively
"We meant the leopard."
"He was on a lead."
"Which broke, Mr Pewty."
"Only because that young slut excited him. If they allow disabled people
to take their animals into the store the staff should be trained to
deal with them when they get a bit frisky."
"Mauling five hysterical women, maiming three other customers and
biting the leg off a shelf packer is hardly 'frisky', Mr Pewty,"
"Tiddles was frightened."
"What about the other occasions when he's savagely attacked the
citizens of Purley?"
"That was—um...er—it must have been some other cat."
"With identical markings?"
"Leopards are very similar."
"But they don't all wear collars with their names engraved on them,"
"How do you know that?"
"Because the police have actual video footage of 'Tiddles' ripping
out the throat of a tramp who was sleeping under a security camera in
the High Street last Wednesday night."
"Oh—ah, well, he did then," admitted the cat-loving chiropodist.
We asked Dr David Quartermain, a game hunter, and the world's foremost
authority on big cats, why 'Tiddles' had turned on the shoppers.
"It's only natural that conflicts between humans and predators
will increase as urban areas spread closer to the wilderness."
"But Purley is hardly a wilderness," we objected.
"No?" bristled the bucolic big-game hunter. "Why, only
last week I saw a primitive young woman with a toucan perched on her
head dressed in nothing but a ripped dhoti held together with two safety-pins
attached to her nipples. You don't see that kind of thing in India."
Clearly, the zany zoologist had been out in the noonday sun too long.
We steered him back to the subject in hand and asked him to elaborate.
"The type of prey taken by the leopard is dependent largely upon
its locale. In the dense forests of southern India it will commonly
take monkeys and small herbivores. As these are a bit thin on the ground
in Purley it does not surprise me that it should have attacked Mrs Farley
and her nipper in the baby-changing room."
"Why is that?" we asked him.
"Well," began the heroic hunter hesitantly, "She's a
vegetarian, isn't she, and her baby's no oil painting is it?"
"And the attempted rape of the young shop assistant?" we enquired.
"If I am not mistaken, and I rarely am," began the self-appointed
expert, smugly, "Sharon Plunkett was in heat—"
"—In heat?" we interrupted.
"Oestrus," explained Dr Quartermain. “A regularly occurring
period of sexual receptivity in female mammals during which ovulation
occurs and copulation is strongly desired."
"Thank you, doctor," we replied, "I think our readers
know what the 'curse' is. Can we skip the biology lesson and get back
to why 'Tiddles' attacked these poor, unfortunate women?"
"Certainly," replied the nit-picking naturalist, nonchalantly.
"Humans attack when they get stressed—whether by drought,
famine, or other animals competing for their food supply—and
the leopard only responded in kind. Extermination follows extermination,
as surely as nausea follows sex."
'Tiddles' was finally captured by two policemen outside the door of
the baby-changing room where the remainder of the customers had taken
refuge. There they might have remained, had it not been for the intervention
of a trigger-happy military martinet, who blasted his way in with a
shotgun. We caught up with the septuagenarian soldier in the
car park. Major Clive Fanshawe DSO (and bar) was clearly enjoying his
moment of fame and seemed quite oblivious to the fact that he had wrecked
the finest supermarket in Purley and caused the Store Manager to soil
a perfectly good pair of designer knickers. We asked the old war-horse
what had happened.
"Manager said there was a wild animal prowlin' round the shop covered
in filthy spots!" explained the major. "Can't abide vermin—so I fetched me Purdey."
"Purdey?" we asked.
"Double-barrelled twelve-bore. Never travel without it. Can't be
too careful nowadays. Queer folk about. Bally nearly bagged the blighter."
"You mean the leopard?" we enquired.
The soldier nodded. "Filthy creatures. Shouldn't be allowed in
supermarkets. Unhygienic, what? Kill the bally lot of them, I say."
"Aren't they a protected species?" we asked.
"Lepers?" repeated the have-a-go major. "Why
would y' want to protect lepers? Lepers are dirty rats. Vermin; that's
what they are."
"It was a leopard," we repeated.
"Leopard?" ejaculated the major. "Love leopards. "Never
shot a leopard in me life. Noble, intelligent creatures. Never dream
of shootin' one, but lepers are filthy, disease-ridden vermin. Shoot
lepers. Exterminate the bally lot of 'em!"
Clearly, the eccentric old war-horse was several sandwiches short of
a picnic hamper. Kitty Littre left him in the capable hands of the Store
Manager and beat a hasty retreat.
We are happy to report that Mr Arthur A Pewty and 'Tiddles' are now
securely under lock and key—though not in the same building
and that peace and tranquility have once more descended upon this quiet
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