The Coronavirus Diaries, 20th March 2022

Octavia has got Covid. Triple vaccinated, she started feeling unwell on Friday, tested positive yesterday morning. We spoke last night and she was croaky. Today in a text message she says she’s feeling awful. Cases are rising again, yet all around precautionary measures are being cast aside. Fewer people are wearing masks on public transport. At the theatre last week the audience was asked to wear face coverings, but many people did not comply with the request. At the interval the foyer the jammed with people jostling for space. The safest place was undoubtedly behind the bar where perspex screens protected staff from contact with customers.

I sent Octavia a link to this piece by David Baddiel about cats. Cats are on my mind today. Not all cats, but MasterB who is currently outside in the garden, Hartley and Romeo the two garden cats, and the new cat on the block, named Treacle by Helena, who has joined the feeding regime, and has so far not been claimed by any neighbour. Also Freddy, aka Cat.

It’s eleven years ago tonight since he died. Reading David Baddiel’s piece moved me. Unlike Baddiel I came late to being owned by a cat. Freddy, a cat of Opinions, marched into my life, took over my home, ambushed my affections, stole Mother’s heart, and had Aunt wrapped round his paw. He was a joy, a tie, a distraction, a comfort, a worry. How I had lived so long without him became a mystery. He was macho, affectionate, demanding, imperious and a great companion. He loved eating or sniffing my cut flowers – carnations were his favourite – adored broccoli and would beg for noodles. He changed my life.

When I took him with me when I visited Mother she loved it. He knew the way from the car to the cat flap in her front door. He would announce our arrival by walking in and rolling on his back beside her. As her dementia increased he could calm her and bring her peace. She remembered his name when she forgot mine, though she often called him a little dog. She loved the way he knew her and showed her he loved her. He didn’t ask her awkward, difficult questions. He was beautiful. She loved watching him, admiring him. When others admired him she basked in reflected pride. So many of my good memories of Mother from that very difficult time are of her interactions with Freddy.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th April 2020

Another anniversary today, a happier one this time. It’s nine years since I brought MasterB home. On these pages he’s been known as Previously Known As, or more simply, PKA (what he was previously known as was Facebook, a name that did not last the train journey), and then Not Cat to distinguish him from Cat aka Freddy, until finally I felt it was unfair to call him by a negative so he became MasterB, Master being his title and B being the initial of the next of his string of names. If you asked him if he enjoyed the anniversary he’d probably complain about the vacuuming, but he is looking pretty happy right now, curled up asleep on the chair. I am of course sitting on the floor.

I watched an elderly lady walk down our street. She was talking to something or someone. I couldn’t see at first what or who. Then she bent a little and Smudge, Hartley’s brother, sashayed across the street to greet her. A nice moment for cat and human. We have the daughter of one of the other flat owner’s staying here temporarily. Her father lets the flat he owns, which used to belong to his mother. His daughter is a nurse in the NHS, but as her father has some serious underlying health issues, she has been told she cannot stay in the same house as him. Fortunately the tenants have just moved out. It must have been a bit daunting to move into a pretty empty flat with one cup, one plate, one spoon, one knife, one fork etc, but Hartley has made her the immediate object of his affections. He’s there on the window sill when she makes her breakfast, has visited her inside the flat, follows her across the garden. She’s already saying how much she’ll miss him when she moves out.

The most relaxed person I have seen since lockdown began is Barnaby the Bee Man. He has his bees, there are birds flying in and out of the nesting boxes, I suspect there will soon be tadpoles in the pond. Sometimes Casey, his partner’s dog, comes to work with him. Casey is part Staffie. Before Tracey got her from Battersea, Barnaby had embargoed Staffies. It didn’t take long for Casey to bring him round. Tracey emerged from the bathroom one day to hear him saying as he cuddled the dog, “Who’s my little baby?”

Nature and animals, better than Prozac. MasterB is the best companion I could have in lockdown, even when he has the zoomies as he did today. He’s vocal, demanding, affectionate, and just watching him makes me happy.

MasterB makes me happy

My constitutional was later than usual. Celia had walked the same route I was planning to take and told me of a new Thank-you NHS sign to look out for. She told me it was quite large. On the way I saw a cat on a wall watching something out of my sight. Then a slender fox, a vixen, slid between the cars. She was with another fox, a dog fox who, bolder than his mate, stopped and took stock of me.

London Fox

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Seven Years Plus One Day

Tonight Celia and I enjoyed our first g&t of the year sitting out in the garden chaperoning MasterB, who was, I am pleased to say, being very brave in the face of a fairly full on Hartley.

Last night, MasterB and I had a long session in the garden which delayed my bedtime by quite a bit. Hartley does not understand personal space and stayed close to me, leaving MasterB stuck under a car for a very long time until tempted out by play.

Perhaps not the best way to celebrate our Seventh Anniversary, but since his first night here in 2011 was spent confined to the bathroom in the company of his uninvited flea companions maybe it wasn’t so bad.

Today, pre and post g&t, but alas not during as I didn’t take my camera outside, I took some photos of Himself.


Pre gin:

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First Anniversary

This Saturday will be the 14th January. I understand that on the other side of the pond the floss-haired one will be inaugurated as President of the United States, something that strikes me as a being a joke too far, as well as being a jolly disrespectful thing to do on the first anniversary of Aunt’s death.

Or so I thought, but Lyn has just emailed me to say it’s the 20th, not 14th, so goodness knows where I got that idea from.


Auntie Mary october 2015

Auntie Mary October 2015

I meet quite a few Americans through my work. I have yet to meet one who says (confesses?) s/he voted for Trump, which may be significant in itself as I am meeting those who travel away from their home country, and I know a large number of US citizens never acquire or use passports.

A woman today, I’ll call her Jane, told me she is returning on Saturday, and marching on Sunday as a Nasty Woman who is not going to be quiet. She won’t be alone; just her party comprises two busloads of similarly nasty women. She cheered my heart. Continue reading


Yesterday marked the twenty-fourth anniversary of my father’s death. I remember it as though it were yesterday.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of MasterB becoming my cat.

Death and life march hand in hand. Or maybe that should be hand in paw.

MasterB doesn’t seem too interested in having any celebrations. He has refused to sit beside me on the sofa and has commandeered the chair.

I was at work all day, and when I got home, after a quick cuddle he just wanted to go out.

I imagine he’ll want to go out again before he’s ready to settle for the night. This is just a pause for supper, a wash and to catch up on himself. I am wondering when it’ll dawn on him that the garden is now a Cookie free zone. She went to her new home last night. Apparently she was a bit unnerved by the unfamiliar surroundings, but it was no great surprise to hear that within a couple of hours she recovered enough bounce to emerge from behind the sofa and to play with her new family.

That cat has nerves of steel.

Despite MasterB’s lack of enthusiasm for a champagne supper, I felt sufficiently moved by the memory to check back via this blog to see if I had the date right. I had.

This is how it began.

And here are some photographs from the last four years.

April 2011


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Pet Remembrance Day

Yesterday marked four years since Freddy the Gorgeous Boy, known on this page as Cat, died in my arms.

Here is a picture from a couple of months before he died.DSCN0428

His loss doesn’t hurt as it once did. People are right when they say time is a great healer. But you need to let time do its work. It is a slow business this healing. The memories are now a comfort. Continue reading

Garlanding My Wrist

It is exactly a year since I broke my wrist.

A few months ago, Kathy, in a comment on another post, asked me what I would do to mark the anniversary. I didn't have any plans then, and don't have any now, but as I write that, I think making an effort to get back on my bike would be the best way to celebrate the fact that I have recovered almost all my wrist function.

The other thing would be to toast the National Health Service in general, and the amazingly wonderful staff at St Thomas' Hospital in London in particular who saw me through the various stages of A&E, urgent care, surgery, fracture clinic and physiotherapy.

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Anniversary Days

It’s a year since I wrote this post.
I am so glad I was blogging a lot then. Now it is the anniversary of Mother’s last weeks and by reading back, I can follow the trajectory of those days; my visit in mid April and then the call to say she was dying; the five days leading up to her death. Afterwards.
Octavia and I were talking yesterday about the power of first anniversaries. Why does it feel so important that this month, day by day, I follow, relive, what happened then? The waiting for the inevitable; the knowledge that each time I left her might be the last time I saw her alive. Dementia robbed her of so much, but she was still recognisably my mother. Still someone I loved, with whom the connection was strong. So often those living with dementia are spoken about as though they no longer exist; no longer have rights; no longer have claims to be as human as us.
In the current issue of of the reader there’s a poem written by a woman about her mother who has dementia. It’s warm, celebratory, about the person not the illness. Continue reading