Meet Tarka, the inspiration for Sir Sebastian in The Santa Ban


Here’s Tarka in a pastel portrait of a much-loved pet. She is the inspiration for the character Sir Sebastian in my children’s book The Santa Ban.

Tarka is supposed to be a British Shorthair cat but, as you can probably see from the picture, nobody told her that so she has long hair. She used to be a cute scoundrel, but she has settled down to a more sedate existence now she is older, thank goodness.

In the book The Santa Ban, Sir Sebastian belongs to Mrs Highbourne. His favourite food is smelly fish and he is great at playing hide and seek – he knows how to make himself invisible when it suits him.

Here is an excerpt from my book The Santa Ban where Henry has to catch Sir Sebastian and put him in his carrier:-

“Sir Sebastian glanced at him as he entered, but didn’t bother to move. Henry closed the door carefully and walked slowly across the room towards the cat carrier, which was on top of the desk. He opened the top of the carrier and popped the dish of smelly fish into it, pushing it into one corner. Then he moved away and pretended to be looking at a book, so that Sir Sebastian wouldn’t catch on to his plan.

He waited. Every so often he glanced quickly at Sir Sebastian, but the stubborn cat didn’t move from the chair. He lifted his furry head and sniffed the air, but stayed where he was. Henry tried to be patient but after a while he decided that Sir Sebastian was too cunning to be tricked into entering the carrier and he was going to have to do it some other way.

This was going to be difficult – and possibly painful.

Henry took a deep breath, pulled the sleeves of his jacket down over as much of his hands as they would cover, for protection, and advanced on the crafty cat. Sir Sebastian immediately jumped off the chair and made for the door.

‘Ha! Got you now,’ said Henry as Sir Sebastian scratched at the door, trying unsuccessfully to make it open. He grabbed the cat as firmly and gently as he could, because even though he’d been scratched and bitten by him before, he still didn’t want to hurt him, but Sir Sebastian began to wriggle and then started to fight like a wild animal, hissing and spitting like a fluffy demon. White hair flew in a cloud around them as Henry struggled to keep hold of Sir Sebastian, and Sir Sebastian battled to get free.

After a minute or two, which felt much longer to both of them, Sir Sebastian won the skirmish by slicing the back of Henry’s hand with a sharp claw.

‘Ouch!’ yelled Henry, letting the cat escape.

‘Purrrr,’ said Sir Sebastian as he regained his seat on the chair and settled down as if nothing had happened.

Henry retreated to a corner of the room to re-group. He knew he had no choice, he had to get the cat into the carrier somehow. But how? He looked around the room to see whether he could think of anything that he could use to help, but there wasn’t anything useful, just books and piles of papers.

Now Henry was getting desperate. He slipped off his jacket and, as nonchalantly as he could, he walked around the room until he was standing behind the chair. Then, with a speedy movement, he threw the jacket over Sir Sebastian, wrapping him up and grabbing him. He carried the frantically wriggling body over to the carrier and almost managed to get it through the top hatch, but at the last second three, then four white legs escaped their covering. Even with Sir Sebastian’s head covered in the jacket he managed to fix all four of his paws on the corners of the carrier and, as he arched his back, he became virtually impossible to push down through the open hatch.

Sweat beaded on Henry’s face as he wrestled with the tenacious creature; trying to stuff him into the carrier without hurting him. Then, somehow, he managed to detach Sir Sebastian’s grip on one corner and seconds later the fight was over and the feline fiend was trapped. Only his dignity had been hurt. Henry, however, had scratches all over his hands and wrists and a jagged gouge across his neck. What was worse was that, in the tussle, Henry’s jacket had become trapped inside the carrier along with the cat.”


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