THE INTRODUCTIONS were reasonably formal. Pale, steady eyes gazed at me unflinchingly. Which one of us would look away first?
I stood quietly as the master of the house padded around, clearly musing on whether we were going to be friends.
Relief as Nokia, Deric Longden's cat decided I was a suitable addition to the kitchen at the family home and wandered off so that the humans could talk.
Deep snoring from a far away corner soon after signalled a contented cat and an owner, Deric now free to pour coffee and chat about his latest book, Paws In The Proceedings.
Deric is an award-winning writer whose gift for finding humour and compassion in life is extraordinary.
After all, on the face of it, his life has hardly been the stuff that comedy is made of.
Deric nursed his first wife Diana through a debilitating illness which turned out to be ME, his second wife, the highly successful writer Aileen Armitage is blind which means that Deric is the chief cook and bottle-washer in their house. His mum had her share of problems, her final years being blighted by a series of strokes which robbed her of speech.
But in spite of everything Deric, and in fact all those closest to him in life, seem to have a resilience and an appetite for life which is nothing short of inspirational.
Many endorse that view, having shared Deric's story through best selling books such as Diana's Story and Lost For Words (a tribute to his mother) which were both then adapted for TV.
We gaze at the Emmy which sits in his handsome Victorian house and which made life for both Deric and Aileen go slightly crazy.
They flew to New York to collect the International Emmy for a TV dramatisation of Lost For Words which starred the late Dame Thora Hird and the actor Pete Postlethwaite.
After that, offers came in thick and fast. "There were all sorts of suggestions of things that we might do."
But sadly, just as life was lookingly gloriously optimistic, Deric became unwell. "I remember being in Hull where I'd gone to give a talk. I realised that there was something wrong and heard myself saying that I couldn't finish."
Deric collapsed - broke, he says ruefully, a chair and a table - and found himself at guest in Hull Royal Infirmary.
He admits that for a number of years since, his health has not been good, but with medication and time, he is now back on his feet. Most of the time.
"I did it again about a month ago. With the new book out I'll be doing a few book signings and talks. I thought I'd get a bit of practice in and a mate organised for me to give a talk. I'd done about an hour and was quite proud of myself. I thought it had gone well.
"Someone stepped up on stage to give a vote of thanks and I politely stepped aside - and fell. I landed on top of a lady in the front row and we are now the closest of friends."
A repeat of his health problems? I ask. No says Deric. "Stupidity."
Our homage to the Emmy (mine not his because it is after all, a stunning piece of sculpture) was a detour from what Deric really meant me to see - the quite astonishing view from Chapters, the home he shares near Greenhead Park with Aileen and the inspiration for the cover of his new book.
From their first-floor sitting room there is an open view across the park to the hills beyond. Today, in bright sunshine, there's a Jack Russell racing around, two groups out picnicking and a young couple wandering arm in arm.
"It's wonderful, just to be able to sit here and watch the world go by."
That world isn't always what it seems.
Deric tells a terrific tale about the kind of car owner whose boom, boom music is shared by all whether you want to hear it or not. Despite retreating to the back of the house, Deric could still hear the car parked outside with the intention of rocking the entire road.
"I cracked and went out to have a word."
Off snapped the radio and off went the car. It was only then that Deric realised that he still had in his hand the old hunting knife that he was using to prise up the weeds.
"As they drove away, a hand popped out of the passenger window and a bundle of half-eaten fish and chips parachuted down on to the pavement.
"I went out through the gate to tip the whole sorry mess into the rubbish bin and stopped abruptly.
"A squirrel had beaten me to it. He was squatting on his haunches holding a single chip between his paws and nibbling away contendedly. Could do with a drop more vinegar."
It's the world that Deric loves and one that would be incomplete without Nokia, now the only cat to share Deric and Aileen's home.
Nokia was once an orphan. A street kid who had clearly listened to his old dad's advice and headed for somewhere where, if he played his cards right, he might find a few home comforts.
Living rough in Greenhead Park, Nokia hit the road and found Chapters.
"We used to enjoy the intermittent company of a black feral tomcat called Eric. He would use our cellar as a refuge now and then, whenever life seemed to be getting on top of him and he needed to get away from the wife and kids for a few hours, he'd chill out and then warm up his bum on the central heating boiler," said Deric.
"He was a fine animal, about two or three years old and as hard as nails. But he had clogged up eyes and a nose to match and if he went on living wild in the park there weren't all that many months left in him."
One day, Deric saw a newspaper item which said that the RSPCA had captured a pair of feral cats in the park and had them spayed along with their three black kittens. A fourth kitten had escaped and was still living rough in the park.
"Next morning I went into the courtyard and there on the old wooden bench sat a half-grown kitten, as black as coal, looking as though he had walked straight from the page of a children's story book.
"I sat down beside him and he backed away nervously. 'Hello, young man. I was reading about you only last night.'
"I think I knew your dad - slightly."
It was the start of an extraordinary relationship between Huddersfield's leading literary couple and a handsome, jet black cat called Nokia, son of Eric (get it?)
* Paws In The Proceedings is published tomorrow by Bantam Press priced £14.99. Deric will be signing copies of his book at the Orchard Bookshop in Denby Dale (11am) May 19.