The emotional honeypot of master-manipulator local cats | Jack Marshall's column

To this day, Manchester City and England midfielder Phil Foden - widely considered one of football’s most promising up-and-coming talents - is known as Ronnie to his friends and family.

Ronnie, he of the highly-successful emotional honeypot
Ronnie, he of the highly-successful emotional honeypot

Born in Stockport, the young Foden possessed what can only be described as a noticeably spherical bonce as a child, leading his grandmother to dub him, affectionately, Ronnie Roundhead.

The moniker stuck and Ronnie reigns to this day.

Foden’s charming nickname came to mind recently when I met one of my new neighbourhood cats. He waddled over on comically stumpy legs, his squat limbs mirrored by his little tail flitting about as if trying to swat away some invisible wasp. Whether from side-profile or front on, his rotund little belly caught the eye and his jet-black fur - thick and plush - made him look even fatter.

He had a chunky little face defined by chubby cheeks which gave his noggin a definitively round shape. Whilst Phil Foden is decidedly more lithe and athletic, both share that trademark round head. And so there was only one unofficial name for this cat in my book.

Ronnie is exceptionally friendly. He introduced himself by inviting himself round whilst I was viewing the property to the general befuddlement of the estate agent. Sat outside the front door, he seemed to be sizing me up as if he had the final say as to whether I’d be living there. He must’ve signed everything off and now comes round quite often. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out he was the actual landlord.

It’s also become apparent that Ronnie is in possession of every trick in the book. When he’s bored and feeling in need of some attention, he’ll saunter along the front garden wall, leisurely searching for someone to pay homage to him. Knowing full well that there’s a school about 150 yards down the road, he appears as if by magic at 3pm like clockwork, rolling about and laying it on thick so as to encourage people walking past to give him a stroke. There he lies for a good 45 minutes, basking in the love he inevitably gets.

He knows which side of his bread is buttered. A neighbour recently mentioned that Ronnie has been playing the same honeypot game for six years or so. This cat has been flaunting

about, batting his eyelashes at folk, and rolling about in front of them since 2014. Put simply, this is a veteran campaigner we’re dealing with here; a master in the arts of emotional manipulation.

And, as I write this, there he is trundling along the wall. Must be 3pm.