Regarding a Newly Sociable Cat

Thinking about it, MasterB has had a fairly sociable autumn, and in the middle of December I recall remarking to Michèle that his social life eclipsed mine. He spent November living with Birgit, and both Reinhild and Celia visited. In the middle of December, Bridget, who stayed here in 2016 while I was in Australia, called round for a calendar. I knew she was coming and we had agreed to meet downstairs. I left the door to my flat open. While we chatted we heard miaow miaow miaow from upstairs, and then came himself, barrelling down, tail hoisted like a flag, to greet Bridget. I have absolutely no doubt that he heard her voice and was determined that if she wasn’t coming up to see him, he was coming down to see her. She returned a few nights later with Janet, his other auntie while I was in Oz. We had drinks, nibbles and chips. MasterB had a lovely time.
Now I am the first to admit that MasterB is not the sharpest knife in the drawer; invitations to join MENSA have been notably absent, and though willing, he struggles with games demanding much (any) intellectual ability. However, he does know he he likes and loves, and he remembers those people with whom he has bonded very well. I’d love to see his reaction if the student couple who rescued him turned up. So with B&J he was sooo happy. He rolled on the carpet, he sat in the middle of the floor, he remembered the games that Bridget played with him and played them all over again. Animals, non-human animals that is, don’t lie: MasterB loves B&J. Official. Continue reading

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Quite the Party Animal

New Year’s Eve, and all is quiet chez Isobel and Cat. The party goers are either in a different neighbourhood, or haven’t got started yet. I’m not sorry to miss them. It’s been a few years now since I have seen the New Year in. Friends have given up inviting me to join them watching fireworks. I used to like small supper parties that ended shortly after we drained the obligatory glasses of champagne as Big Ben tolled the end of the old year. But even that palled. Maybe one of these years I shall be seized with a longing to be in the midst of a crowd of revellers singing Auld Langs Syne, but not tonight. It’s questionable whether I shall still be awake at midnight, let alone revelling. No, I’m perfectly happy sitting here with the boy, writing a post, and with the promise of the new Kate Atkinson novel to read later.

I was out working today and tonight made a mean bowl of fresh tomato soup, then settled down to catch up with episode one of Les Misérables as adapted by Andrew Davies, the man who put Darcy into a pond and turned Colin Firth into an unlikely sex symbol. Tonight I got a view of Dominic West’s buttocks. Others will have enjoyed that view last night, but I was watching on catch up. I’d read a review in the Guardian online over breakfast. You can read it too if you like, just click here for the link.

The opening shot featured no buttocks at all, but instead Adeel Akthar cheerfully robbing the dead bodies on the battlefield the day after Waterloo.I felt a vicarious thrill of fame, Akthar’s parents-in-law are in our book group. One of the bodies wasn’t dead, he introduced himself as Colonel Pontmercy before once more losing consciousness, and although I have never read Les Mis, seen the film or the musical, I’m willing to bet a fairly hefty sum that the two will meet up again.
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Christmas is Coming

Crumbs. We’re already a third of the way through December. Funny to think that tomorrow it’ll be two weeks since I left New Zealand for home. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago; in others I still feel in my head that I am there. A sort of bicultural existence. I think it’s called processing. Most days I find myself thinking about Lyn and Malcolm, about Nadia. Nadia and I exchanged a few WhatsApps about a book I gave her; Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. Nadia and I became friends when we attended the same mosaics class, but there is more than mosaics to our friendship. Nadia writes. One of these days I am going to be crowing about her novel, which will be published after she has edited it for the millionth time. OK I exaggerate, but the draft I read years ago was pretty polished in my opinion, and I am getting impatient too see it in Waterstome’s. We share an interest in literature. Good books inform our lives, improve our lives. There was a moment on the train into Wellington when I was telling her about the book group I belong to. Nadia has resisted book groups. Like me, she has felt they are not necessarily A Good Thing. I explained how our book group works, and told her it is particularly good when M, a respected novelist, attends.She is extremely knowledgeable, never patronising, and keeps us on task. Nadia’s eyes widened. It turned out that M is one of her favourite writers. If only she still lived in London she could join us. On the other hand, I shouldn’t have seen Wellington with her and through, to some extent, her eyes.

I am still percolating my New Zealand holiday. Odd things come to mind to be examined and considered from a distance in time and place. Nadia introduced me to a police drama series that one of her friends writes for. It’s called Brokenshaw. It’s dry, well written, funny, but not comical. I loved it. It turns out it’s on here too, on the Drama Channel, a channel I have never watched. So I settled down to enjoy an episode, only to find it was one I had seen in Wellington. It doesn’t seem I can watch others on catch up. Darn. Lyn and Malcolm like a programme called The Chase. It turns out that it’s a British programme, broadcast here on daytime tv. Since coming home I have seen several trailers for it. Funny I had never heard of it before visiting NZ. Continue reading

Wine Tour

No pictures tonight. Aeris has claimed my knee, and my bag, with my camera inside it along with other useful things like my phone is out of reach. The tv remote is in reach, as is my iPad. I have an old rerun of QI on, whuch features Barry Cryer which is great, but unfortunately Jeremy Clarkson is also on, which isn’t. Into all lives some rain must fall.
I can also reach my glass. Water, in case you are wondering.
Today I went on a Wine Tour. New Zealand is famous for wine and this is the main wine growing region of New Zealand, so not to imbibe would be almost st rude.
My guide, Greg, collected me from my accommodation which saved me a walk down into the town. We were a small group, just five of us, all from the U.K.. there was a couple from Isla which I guessed has a small population. I asked the, 3000 they said. So there’s a chance you know my ex neighbour Adam S, I said. Yes, he is a good friend of our son Alan, they got up to some mischief together when they were boys. There you go. Continue reading

Bloody Brexit and a Beautiful Blue

Honestly, you travel halfway round the globe and you can still meet a Brexiteer. It least it wasn’t Arron Banks, yet another sorry apology for a human being who bankrolled the Leave campaign. Obviously I am not able to watch Channel 4 news here in NZ, but I did see, via Twitter, this man, who does not seem to have the barest acquaintance with truth, being vilely rude to Fatima Manji. Just google Banks Channel 4 news and you can see it too. He accuses Channel 4 news of having an agenda. Yes it does, an agenda to get to the bottom of stories. Banks’ agenda, shamefully assisted by the BBC, is to obfuscate. What has happened to the BBC? I used to be so proud of it. But it has let Banks get away with an interview on the Andrew Marr show so full of inconsistencies it is worse than a leaky sieve.

Fatima Manji remained polite and pleasant throughout Bank’s boorishness for which she must surely deserve an OBE. Most of us would have clocked him. However, anyone watching that encounter who still thought Banks credible or even likeable must have serious issues. And that is frightening, because there seem to be sizeable numbers of people who condone his bullying, even smile upon it. He’s a bad boy of Brexit, a bit of a lad, all right at heart. But he’s not, he’s a nasty nationalist who wouldn’t understand patriotism if it leapt up and bit him. Is this truly the face of my company try’s future? Continue reading

At the airport

I know some people love to fly, love the moment when bag packed they leave home for the airport, love wandering through the duty free shops, feel a rush of happy adrenaline when they board the ‘plane and prepare for take off.

I am not one of those people. This morning I reached the point where I seriously questioned why I was going anywhere, let alone a place where I am going to be stuck in aircraft for the better part of two days. Celia had emailed me and I replied saying more or less what I have just said here. Her answer cheered me, perhaps insensibly, as she said words to the effect that she felt the same before going away.

She didn’t tell me I’ll be glad I did once arrived at my destination. But I am pretty sure I shall. This morning was spent buzzing about, getting all my bed linen washed and on the line together with the towels and so on, and making up the bed anew for Birgit who is going to be looking after my boy. He enjoyed the bed changing activity as many cats do. But by mid-morning, having given my bag a thorough inspection, he was eyeing me askance. He knew something was up. I cuddled him and offered him more play. He purred but kept watching me and refused to chase anything I proffered. Then I really offended him by vacuuming, having waved a duster around in a less than thorough fashion.

This is not normal

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Small Triumphs

Against the brutalities of the world, small triumphs are like anchors, keeping me safe, secure while the waves crash around me: finishing a library book and returning it before the due date; recycling some small electricals; posting a present to a friend whose birthday falls when I’ll be in New Zealand. 

The news continues to broadcast from a world untethered, a world where interrogators arrive in planes with diplomatic immunity, bone saws in their luggage, and the President of the United States expresses a willingness to believe the Saudi Royal family  knows nothing about it. Given that country’s reputation for state control, and the Crown Prince’s hands on actions, are we really to accept that they were so busy watching the Saudi version of Bake Off that they temporarily abdicated that control to persons unknown? Continue reading

Captain’s Log 5th October 2018

B0CEA50F-6521-4B16-9399-EEFD03EA1ACAThe sky has now clouded over and there are just patches of blue in the white, but for most of the day it has felt more like early September than early October. MasterB and I were up betimes, showered, breakfasted, he then went to his new favourite post breakfast spot under the rug in the forecabin, I set to wiping off spider poo, dusting surfaces and vacuuming the floor.
I wondered idly what time Older Nephew would arrive and then thought to turn on my ‘phone to see if he’d messaged me. He had, and arrived shortly after eleven, armed with pizza and cans of lager.
We had to put water into the tank before we could set off. Annoyingly, right at the end of the season, it was empty. I shan’t be back before the spring, ON will be here with two friends to take the boat to the pump out, then drain the water out and winterise her. I realise as I type this we forgot to talk about anti-freeze.
So today we just enjoyed some time on the river which was millpond smooth. A few people turned up at the marina this morning to take their boats out, and we met others on the way to and from Ely. Tomorrow’s forecast is for rain and low temperatures so I am guessing those who were able to take advantage of today’s warmth did so.
We saw a bird I did not photograph with a pink mask at Ely. Three of them in fact. Having consulted all three onboard bird books we have failed to identify what it was. There were the coots and moorhens, mallards and swans, herons, geese and grebes, one sighting of a kingfisher. Some of the calves in the fields are tiny, at least one must have been only a few days old.


MasterB spent the day with us in the forecabin, at first still under the rug, then sitting out and enjoying a fuss, finally in a new citadel of cushions. I am hopeful that he is becoming more confident on our boat trips and maybe by the time he reaches double figures in 2020 may actually socialise with us when we go out.
I have put a few bits and pieces I don’t think I’ll need again in the car, I shall put the front cover on in a couple of hours. Supper is sorted, I know what I’m having from breakfast, the more packing up I can do now, the quicker we’ll be in the morning. The biggest job is stripping the bed then putting dust covers on everything and obviously that has to wait. In some ways it would make sense to go home this evening, and it has crossed my mind. But I think we’ll enjoy our last night afloat of 2018 and drive back to London in the rain.

Captain’s Log 4th October 2018

The forecast for today was good, so when I woke up to a morning where the thick mist muted the birdsong, I assumed it would burn off in an hour or so and the sun would shine down on das Boot. Breakfast, shower, washing up all accomplished and still no sun, MasterB had retreated to under the rug in the forecabin, placed on the seating to protect the upholstery from cats’ claws. So I kept my layers on, turned on the car heater and set off on my travels.
Nial and Jan met me at the cemetery. We were all armed with gardening tools, and I had a selection of bulbs. The chrysanthemum I had planted on my father’s grave had vanished, but at Aunt’s more extensive plot (Dad was cremated, so it’s just a small marker stone showing where his ashes were buried) we were pleasantly surprised to find quite a few plants were flourishing. So many in fact that quite a few of the bulbs will be coming back to London with me, even after planting a clutch of them on Dad’s grave.
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