Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

You’re Het

Mousa in his stud pants

Mousa in his stud pants

I needed an excuse to kick start my blog. This last while my blog has fallen away for a variety of reasons (excuses) and over the last few weeks, despite having some good ideas I just haven’t got round to it, until now. The catalyst for the change being Martha Rodriguez, http://areelcoolsummer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/back-to-our-youth-authors-playing-tag.html ,  in a game of author tag. Hence, the title ‘you’re het’ a scottish variation of the usual tag term ‘you’re it.’ For some reason the idea has struck a chord and I have returned to my blog. The next blog, which I will post towards the end of this coming week, is something truly exciting found among old, 1930’s and 1940’s, political papers in our garage.  I’m sure that it will be enjoyed by everyone who reads it, but readers will have to wait another day or so for further details. Oh, for any new readers, I always include a picture of one of our cats in my blog. Why? I just do. The picture today is our large tom cat wandering around our livingroom with his anti-spray pants on.

 Back to the game of tag in which Martha kindly involved me.

The rules of the game, as supplied by Martha, are as follows:  
1.  Go to page 77 of your current WIP (work in progress).
2. Go to line seven.
3.  Copy down the next seven lines or sentences as written and post them to your blog or website.
4.  Tag seven authors.
5.  Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Like Martha, I’m still shy of 77 pages, I have taken my 7 line extract from page 27 of my WIP entitled ‘Seil’.

He pulled out a remaining  cheese and ham sandwich, removed the cheese and the ham and offered them to the cat. The offer was  received with gratitude, and little time was taken to savour the taste as the cat bolted the food down.

 ‘I told you, he was hungry.’

 ‘Aye! We have to get to school,’ said Zander.  ‘Leave him, let’s go’  

The two boys turned away and walked the two streets to the school. Behind them walked their newfound  friend, or more importantly Jack’s new found friend: a muscly lilac grey, proud cat. His smiling Cheshire cat face smiled more than before, his chest struck out with purpose and his tail stood as erect as a telegraph pole pointing directly to the sky.’

I have, in this game of chance, tagged the following authors

Ben Woodward http://www.booksbyben.com/

Rahma Krambo http://www.rahmakrambo.com/

Noah Murphy http://k23detectives.com/

AR Silverberry http://www.arsilverberry.com/ 

Susan Leigh Noble http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/susan-leigh-noble.html

Michelle I Brooks http://www.BoneDressing.com

Jemima Pett http://jemimapett.wordpress.com/



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No blog in a while; what to write? That question has been preying on my mind this last week once I had cleared a large work related project which had taken up most of my time over the last few months.

Mousa with his pants on

Should I bring forward one of the chapters of my second book, which has also suffered over the same period?  Should I proffer my apologies for the delays in releasing an illustrated copy of Bernie Bolts Bergen, for reasons beyond my control? Neither of these options felt right, but recent newspaper reports discussing aspects of Scotland’s unique diet, lack of sunshine and the arrival of two pandas provided an opportunity for a little wordplay.

First our diet, we Scots are famous for our unhealthy approach to food. Our love of fry ups, fish suppers, take-away Indian and Chinese, as well as the ubiquitous Macdonalds have helped to establish us as one of the world’s most obese nations.  This week’s addition of the Braveheart Butterball, deep fried frozen butter in an irn-bru batter served with Irn-Bru ice cream is a wonderful example of our love for the unhealthy. It’s not that we don’t know better, studies, published this week, show that we are well aware but either we can’t be bothered or we have decided that life is here to be lived for the day. 

Other studies this week show that people in Scotland lack vitamin D which can be increased if we all eat oily fish or increase our exposure to sunlight. The latter at this time of year is asking, if our current weather system is anything to go by, for the impossible. We have spent days recently with the house lights on for most of the day because it has been so dull; with low energy bulbs  it ain’t much better.

Munchkin in artificial light

Some professor appeared on the radio suggesting that the Scottish government should have supplements added to our food to remedy this deficiency, but surely another alternative would be to send us on holiday every year to sunnier climes to allow us to charge our vitamin D batteries. It would appear that the government is doing neither. 

The only government action taken that can be remotely linked to all of this, and I mean remotely, is that the Scottish Government has borrowed two big adorable Pandas and put them on display this week in Edinburgh Zoo. The pandas are, among other things, there to cheer us up ( I will be going to see them over the next few weeks) and go by the name of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, translated apparently as sweetness or sweetie and sunlight or sunshine, respectively. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Scottish government have brought us sunshine and sweetness. Will it make us any healthier – who knows.

The last comment on all this nonsense sits with Edinburgh Zoo’s famous penguins (see link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-16270214) who have poo’ed on the Panda parade and like the weather made it a little more difficult to enjoy any Sunshine in Scotland.


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I like geese. I don’t know why, but I do. I think it’s because they have presence, and are more than capable of letting people know of their authority, as those with guard geese can testify. My partner tells stories of  various family gander, in full honk, with wings flapping, charging at her as a young girl, before their Christmas demise.  I think one of the reasons I like these creatures is that they reassure me that, depite all the economic turmoil and other worldly problems, life continues. Throughout my life I have witnessed large skeins of geese flying overhead as they make their way to and from a local loch (nature reserve) about 7 miles from home. They arrive around late September and leave around April, spectacularly marking the seasons. Last week on my drive to work I saw my first pinkies, as they are known by some, of the season.  Last week’s gaggle of Pink Footed geese was a small one, less than fifty I suspect; while today’s sighting must have approximated 200-300. Up to 20,000 will winter here in Fife. (picture gobirding.eu)

As I drove past the gaggle in the field I had a strange thought. I wondered what would happen if a teenage goose (is there a name for such a goose or does it just move from being a gosling to a goose?), decided not to come. What if a teenage goose wanted to holiday elsewhere, with other teenage geese? At some point in time, every family’s holiday plans hit the independent cries of  that ‘sounds boring’, ‘I’ll just stay at home’,’I’d rather be with my friends’; usually accompanied by the some form of ‘you can trust me’, or ,’ more often than not, the phrase, or variation thereof, ‘after all I’m sixteen now; I’m a grown up.’ In a moment of madness I started to wonder if teenage geese pass through the same developmental phase.

OK, staying in Greenland or Iceland may not be an option for young geese given how cold it gets there and how hard feeding becomes. But if If staying at home isn’t a viable option, there does appear to be several other destinations where they can spend winter. A few miles from me is one choice and may be preferable to other geese resorts such as Montrose, Aberlady, (both Scotland) or  even Norfolk, the latter is warmer than any of the others but a slightly longer flight. Who knows, there may be some geese put off by longer flights. Which raises another question, which skein do the geese take? In September are there scheduled skeins leaving for different destinations and do different destinations offer different things? Is there an 18-30 club equivalent for teenage geese? Is Loch Leven,Fife, the party capital , the Ayia Napa, of Scotland for geese or is it Montrose, after all, Montrose is at the seaside? Maybe, Norfolk is a better choice after all more geese winter there than here, however, maybe,just maybe, it’s the other way around and Norfolk is the Costa Brava for geese while Fife is for the more discerning goose. It would also appear that some geese may actually fly from resort to resort moving south as the temperatures drop arriving at Aberlady, Aberdeenshire and if it gets too cold moving south from there. There may of course be another reason, that being that these geese are enjoying the best of all possible worlds by mixing the partying resorts with the quiet ones.

As you may have gathered from the above I know very little about these creatures and should, perhaps,concentrate on the cats, cue a cat pic.

Tigh, from our very first litter – still going strong.

Anyway, the geese have returned in their thousands once again. For the next six months or so, I will see them every morning on my way to work, perhaps, as they recover from the night before. But they will be there, reminding me that some things in the world continue as before and that there may just be a better and simpler life  than the manic one that we lead.



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As many will know we have 10 cats. They are all British Shorthairs, among the ten are three toms, one despite his large size is a little cowardly but the other two are large, confident, bold and personable cats.

Leo in hiding

Being cats they know how to manipulate their humans in order to gain food, attention and by and large anything else they want. All cats have these innate skills and have reached their position of power in households across the world by deploying these skills with great mental acuity. Numerous sayings have developed over the years from ‘Dogs have masters, cats have staff’ , “You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals,’ to Churchill’s famous ‘I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.’ But the coolness, control, superiority and decorum of our cats was visibly shattered this week. Other cat lovers confirm our findings that the cool, elegant and at times imperious nature of these creatures disappears when confronted by small humans.

This week we had two of our grandkids over, two children, one aged 16 mths and the other 5 yrs of age who proved to be too much for ten cats. Within five minutes not a cat was to be found, a whole battalion of mice could have wandered through the house, followed by flocks of budgerigars, sparrows and finches, flights of butterflies and flutters of moths. The offer of such bounty would not have brought the cats out of their various hidey-holes so long as the little people were present. Large male cats, even our overweight female queen ignored the whisker test and squeezed their bodies into holes that even the mice would have given some thought to before crawling through.

Cleanest, but maybe not the cleverest hiding spot

The stand down was maintained for a couple of hours; one cat thinking that the grandkids had left, carried out a brief scouting mission only to realise that the kids were in the back garden. He quickly turned about lowered his chest and stomach to the floor, halving his height, and skulked at pace back from whence he came.

Eventually, the kids went home and one by one the cats started to reappear and assert their authority once again. Order was once again restored and the cries for food, attention and anything else they wanted resumed as if nothing had happened.

Yes, the cat may well be superior to us, but perhaps only when we are at a stage where our minds have developed sufficiently for the cat to exercise control. Mini-people represent a challenge best left for mum. If mum, and it is a debatable point, can knock off the rough edges and provide the basic skillls the cat can then work on the rest. Until then, I’m afraid the little terrors (oops children) hold the upper hand.


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It’s been a while since I posted a blog. Life has been busy, whose life hasn’t and I’ve kinda lost my blogging and writing mojo over the last few weeks. To lose one mojo may be an accident, to lose two could well be neglect. I’ve had several ideas for making my great writing comeback, but each idea  has met a premature ending and that may well be where the problem lies i.e. I’m searching for that great idea, in football (soccer) parlance the World Cup ball, when all that is needed is ‘the simple pass’.  Both  terms are used often when playing or coaching, but what do they mean. Searching on the internet failed to provide a definitive definition of either, in fact, the search yielded very little insight to either term. Yet, both terms are used by pundits, fans and players alike  and everybody nods, as if we all know and share the same understanding. To take the blog forward I need to profer a definition of sorts; here goes.

Leo watching intently

World Cup ball:  Usually a long range pass which leads to a game winning situation. The pass is usually one that requires precision and accuracy over distance and carries a high failure rate.

The simple pass: a short range pass which in itself may or may not create a game winning situation. Successful completion rates are high and carry less risk.

There is a suggestion that ‘the simple pass’ by its very name is safe, uncreative and boring whereas the ‘ World Cup ball’ is viewed as dynamic and creative. Yet, the truth is often very different; rather than being creative, the World Cup ball, or the attempt at the World Cup ball, is, in many cases, reckless. On the other hand, the simple pass, as many fans and observers of Barcelona Football Club will testify, can be creative, imaginative and powerful when harnessed fully, and in Barcelona’s case epitomises the beautiful game for many.

There are without doubt, books that are the equivalent of the ‘World Cup ball’  that stand out because of their daring, creativity and boldness in challenging conventional thought. There are also books constructed of simple beautiful passes that weave together to present a novel of considerable beauty. I have no intention of starting a debate of which writer fits which category and will leave that to you the reader. I’m open to suggestions should anyone wish to offer one.

A young Rhumtetum showing how to win

Where, does that leave me and my writing. I can only dream about the ‘World Cup Ball’, the reality if I’m lucky is the simple pass. But the simple pass isn’t any more reachable than the World Cup Ball. In fact the simple pass may be harder to attain, because the beauty of the simple pass lies in its disguise. To execute it fully, requires understanding, foresight and the ability to synthesise words, story and reader in perfect harmony. To achieve this harmony requires, not only, a continued study of the art , but practice, more practice and even more practice. Bernie Bolts Bergen is a start, but my writing has still some way to go and may be, at this point in time, more Raith Rovers, our local team, rather than the silky soccer of Barcelona.

All in all, it’s good to be back



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Stir Crazy Cats

   Two weeks into the New Year and, at last, I have found time to sit down and write my first blog of 2011.  Since my last blog I have read all the blogs that highlight how easy it is to lose followers, friends and fans due to, inter alia, intermittent blogging. The message is clear. Yes, I feel guilty and I know that I should have put together a fresh blog, but I truly just have not had the time. New Year came, I had a thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable time catching up with family etc and I did no work or writing at all.

The plan was that when the world started up again, I would be fresh and ready to go. The first few days back at work were nice and gentle, all was well. What, I didn’t realise is that the carriage I had jumped on was being slowly pulled up to the top of a track under the cover on darkness. On Monday, the start of my first full week back, the chain was released and the journey downhill commenced and it wasn’t long before the carriage picked up speed. A week of meetings, lectures, timetabling, budgeting, two really late nights and a few problems to solve have all conspired to eat up the time.

Meantime, on the domestic front there have been other bits and pieces to do including laying a laminate floor on Sunday for one of our daughters at her house. A couple of other items, including a piece of work that I returned/rejected before Christmas that required my attention, squeezed through the letterbox during the week. As a result of the long hours and heavy workload, my need for sleep has increased, but sleep has become precious. I rise about 06.30, so early nights, every now and then, are worth their weight in gold but grabbing that sleep has proved difficult. The reason – snow, freezing temperatures and cats.  

On 30 November, I blogged about my 5th day of snow, little did I know that more than one month later we would still have snow on the ground. In fact, today is the first of us being able to see any grass on our back lawn. As a result of the snows and its associated prolonged cold period we have had to bring all the cats into the house. The cat runs and pens have sat under a pile of ice and frozen snow. Each room now has at least 2 cats in it, there are cat trays everywhere and keeping the rooms tidy is an absolute nightmare. At first, all the cats were delighted but they soon tired of it all. New toys, new foods, room rotations and new attention regimes have all been adopted to keep them occupied.  However, 6 weeks later the boys Mousa, Costa and Leo are singing their hearts out, each knowing that there are at least two other Tom cats in the house. The girls know that there are three entire boys in the house and they like to sing too. The neutered cats are completely bemused and join the chorus. Each night requires a ritual of cat management to ensure every cat is happy so bed time is always late and 6 hours undisturbed sleep is, but a memory.  The rain is coming, the snow is disappearing and there is a chance the cats will get out this weekend. With luck the caterwauling will stop, I’ll get a sleep and I can find some time to get back to my writing.

Purrrrrrs and Nudges


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The title of this blog is borrowed from the title of a song by one of my favourite bands, James. As I struggled to load material to Cafepress last night the words of the song came to mind. This last week has been full of frustrations; Bernie Bolts Bergen is still awaiting its Amazon listing; the web page that we designed for my other half’s business has to wait 24-48 hours before all the links go live; due to work load I have been unable to find time to write my blog or develop the new book idea and/or even finalise the promotional aspects of Bernie’s book because of the Amazon thing and I am now way off plan. I even struggled to find time to tweet. Just to prove the point my internet connection crashed in the middle of writing this blog.

‘All this frustration
I can’t meet all my desires
Strange conversation
Self-control has just expired’

I could have thrown a tantrum but my days of tantrums are gone now; I could have thrown things at the TV, but that would cost too much; I could have shouted at the cat but that would have required a decision as to which cat to shout at, bearing in mind we have 10. Costa, one of our Toms, would have thought that the shout was a form of affection and would have run towards me; the other boys would have probably looked at me in disgust, the girls may have slowly raised their bodies off the sofa and the bed and then slowly walked away, while old Torsay might have raised her head or, more likely, a single whisker. In any case when you are bottom of the pecking order behind 10 cats there doesn’t seem much point in throwing a tantrum

A little clip of a young Bernie expressing his frustration.

‘Stop stop talkin ’bout who’s to blame
When all that counts is how to change’

The promotional plan for Bernie Bolts Bergen has to be reworked. Meantime I’m off for another beer before this network of mine crashes once more.

Frustrated Purrs


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