Earlier this evening I twice went into the garden to help Alfred see off his doppelganger, another large black-and-white tom who has been in the house recently and, having found food on offer, has been back more than once since. As I've seen him in both back and front gardens and at both ends of the street, I assume he's on a mission of conquest reminiscent of Alexander the Great, and he's not giving up on number 63 just because he's up against two cats and a prematurely middle-aged man.
Anyway, just as the doppelganger had run off the second time, I heard three loud bangs from the direction of the street, in roughly the same place where a man was shot to death in November the year before last. I waited to see if I could hear anything else, and as no shouting or screaming followed, I assumed that nothing was amiss. I don't actually know what a gunshot sounds like. In fact I'm pretty sure I've never even seen a loaded gun.
Then, when I got back indoors, I heard three more bangs. Curiously, this had a reassuring effect. I suppose if I were firing three shots at someone I wouldn't wait for thirty seconds and then fire three more. So it can't have been anything serious.
Unless of course it was actually Alfred, going after the other tom with a six-shooter.