Category Archives: Cat

Familiarity (part 3)

The continuing adventures of Sebaster the cat and Johannah the raven. You can read Part 1 here and then Part 2 here. The whole story, as far as I’ve written it by then, will appear in the soon-to-be-published “The Museum of White Walls : forty monkeybonkers tales and three poems”


SebasterThe hellbeast sat on the windowsill outside and laughed.

“Sebaster!” Johanna scolded the laughing cat, “you terrified me!”

“God, that was hilarious!” he snorted, muffled by the glass but still audible. “You even did a little crap as you somersaulted gracefully into the ceiling.”

“A polite creature would not mention such things of a lady,” she huffed, returning to the inside sill.

“Cats don’t do polite,” he said. “Come on, shift your arse. Let’s get going.”

“But how? How did you suddenly appear outside? Was it a relocation spell? Perhaps you transmogrified yourself into a mist to slip through the keyhole?”

“Nah,” he said. “Catflap. Come on, buggerlugs, get out here and we’ll set off. We can pick up some food on the way.”

Johanna cocked her head and regarded the cat. He seemed serious about going out into the fog-shrouded world to search for Natty G, despite all the dangers that would entail. For one thing, there was the weather. At the moment it was so foggy that they could not even make out the trees at the far end of the stony lane that led up to the cottage. It was cold, too – and what if it rained? Where would they shelter? Would they be able to find food? Come to that, how on earth would they be able to find Bee Ewe Rye? Above all else, though, one particular thing was stopping her joining Sebaster outside. What on earth was a catflap? She would have to ask, and hope beyond hope that it was not some distasteful habit of his.

“What is a cat flap, Sebaster?”

“Oh! Little door in the big door. Just push it, you’ll see. Get a wiggle on – adventure awaits, JoJo!”

“Once and for all,” she said, exasperated, “My name is …” but the cat had jumped down, and she was speaking only to the fog. She flapped down to the door, and pecked once or twice at the square of plastic that she had always taken for a ridiculously low-set window. It moved in response to her taps, swinging a little on a top hinge. Johanna gathered her courage and bustled through, which proved surprisingly easy. Sebaster sat on the paved path nearby. The air was chill, and smelled of damp ashes.

Johanna hopped to Sebaster’s side, and the two set off, the onyx-feathered raven side-by-side with the powerful ginger cat, his marmalade-and-fire fur glistening with tiny droplets of fog-water. As they rounded Natty G’s herb garden, Sebaster said “I’ve had a thought.”

“Wonders never cease.”

“Go fuck yourself,” Sebaster said jovially. “No, I was thinking – can’t you just do a spell to transport us to Bee Yew Rye?”

“Well, no. You should know that. We are but familiars. We cannot actually perform magic; we simply assist Natty G as servants, spies, protectors and companions, aiding her on occasion by strengthening her magic when she bewitches enemies, or divines information, or turns one thing into a different thing. That is why she created us, after all. Ah, the day she created me was a mighty day indeed! I was mindlessly pecking away at the rotting eyes of a dead sheep when Natty G happened along. She willed me to open my mouth and she blew into me a fairy which gave me self-awareness and a command of language, along with a ridiculously long life-span.”

Sebaster was staring at her. “You’re pulling my plonker,” he said.

“I beg your pardon, I am most certainly not. Why, how came you into Our Lady’s service?”

“She bought me from that pet shop in the village; ‘One Man Andy’s Dogs’.”

“You did not have a fairy blown into you?”

“Like fuck, I did.”

“You do not suckle from the witch’s teat as a reward for helping with magic?”

“The who the what now? Natty G’s tits? Ew!”

“You don’t have a spirit name? The name of the fairy that was blown into you?”

“No, just the usual three names here; my regular name – Sebaster, my fancy name – Zingiber Officinale, and my secret name that only I know.”

“So you are not Natty G’s familiar? You are …”

“Just a moggy, yes. Sorry.”

Feline Groovy

Just found this photo of the time in 1989 that we had seven cats. Meet Malley, Kizzy, Liverpool, Clint, Sherpa, Everton (complete with shaved bum & tail after a leg operation) and Cleo. Readers of my books will know this magnificent seven well, as they all appear in my book Warren Peace. (sorry about the title)

Seven cats

Bleakholt Sunshine

IMAG1604Since I got my hurty leg, I’ve been unable to walk the Bleakholt dogs. As well as losing the exercise, I’ve really missed the place itself. The staff, the other walkers, and most of all the dogs. So today I popped in for a quick visit. Had a few chats with the dog staff and found that BETTY SPAGHETTI had been brought back from her new home. Boo! Then I had a wander round the pens and said hello to some old favourites and some new arrivals.

Over on the right there, little PUDDING came and had a bit of a love despite being really hot and follollopy.

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Here’s TARA – always friendly and ready to lick you to death. She still needs to learn not to pull, yet. If I’d taken her out with my bad leg I’d have been horizontal immediately, being dragged around like Bill Oddie was by that kitten in Ther Goodies (oh God I’m old).

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TODD (one of my favouritest of all the dogs) and kennel-mate SAFFRON were just coming back from a walk, and I managed a big hello with them too. There they are back in their pen, Toddy-todd-todd having a huge drink at the back.

 

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There have been quite a few new arrivals while I’ve been away. I was quite interested in a 5-year-old black Lab called MARLEY. That’s the best pic I could manage, sadly. Perhaps I can take him out when I get back to walking. I’m hoping that can be next Monday, the way my leg’s going.

 

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And finally, because I love the cats too (we have two of our own, Buffy and Midge, that we got as kittens from Bleakholt eleven years ago), I nipped up to see them. Mostly they were basking in the warm sunshine. No fools, cats.

Spiders are our friends

DSCF8118I’ve never understood the urge some people have to kill spiders. They are innocent little creatures, doing their tiny best to get along with their arachnid lives, and helping us out by catching the far more annoying flies. They don’t want to hurt anyone; they’re just trying to get places. If they could speak they’d be saying stuff like

 “Hey bro, how’re you doing? Nice morning, huh? Yeah, lots of flies, I’m trying to take care of that for you, I’ll just stay out of your way on the curtain rail, but I might have to make a run down there at some point. I’ll be quiet though, yeah? Cool, man, ‘ppreciate it.”

Kit has two HUGE ones who chill out with her near her desk in the corner, and occasionally one will go for a stroll and get scared by one of the cats. One is big and greyish and prettily patterned, named Adonis, and the other one is smaller and sort of blackish brown. Much shyer, name of Makar. Apparently. Kit imagines that the spider neighbours have little meetings where they discuss spider-drama and they hang out and they’re best friends and they’re like “hey man wanna come over, share a moth?” “sure that’d be awesome I’ll see you in ten? Gotta freshen up, y’know.”

DSCF3023I myself have Travelling Spider as a companion. She lives on the wing mirror of my car, and has been all over the country with me. On journeys she’ll sometimes just nip out from behind the mirror into the wind-stream for a thrill, and to see how much damage is being done to her web. I’ll miss her when she goes.

See?  They’re wonderful. And yet some people just thoughtlessly snuff out their poor little spider lives, when they are just trying to do harmless spider things. It’s very sad.

Manchester EXPO

DSCF7464Three years ago (jeebus, was it that long?) me and Cat went to the London MCMExpo. Now that Expo was happening up North, and on our very doorstep, we could suffer no other action than to go again. Loved the fact that this year, cos we bought early entry tickets, we got in with just ten minutes of queueing, rather than two hours. There’s a SHYTELOAD of pics (and a couple of videos) here that I hope capture the feel of a joyous day full of happy, friendly, vibrant people. DSCF7459Enjoy. If you recognise yourself in a pic having stumbled across this humble blog, do yell “Ayup Wombat!” in the comments and give us a cheery wave of whichever body part you find most pleasing. Oh, and you can click on each pic to see a larger version.

 

Outside

DSCF7552I definitely recommend you click on this pic to see the large version. There’s lots of goodies to pick out from the crowd.

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Lolly chainsaw, cheerleader, weird scarecrow thing – what’s not to like?

 

 

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Decide on your own amusing caption for this one, cos I can’t even.

 

 

 

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Dance, girls, dance!

 

 

 

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I love the pop-quaffing furry on the left there. Working the pink hair there, kids.

 

 

 

DSCF7553DSCF7557Creature crouching

 

 

 

Jedi

 

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The steps were remarkably popular for resting, although they did give you a nasty case of Numbum.

 

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That awkward moment when your cloven hoof goes wonky

 

 

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“And you are Green Lantern?”

“ARROW, WOMAN! FFS!”

 

 

DSCF7579Assembled folk of all kinds, but every single one having a champion time. Yes I’m from Yorkshire, why do you ask?

 

 

DSCF7581Skitty & Bulbasaur

 

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Tim, Cat & Katharine

 

 

Inside

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Inside G-MEX – sorry, “Manchester Central”, its crap new name.

 

 

 

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Resting bananas. Be careful not to tread on them.

 

 

 

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No Luke, *I* am your helmet.

 

 

 

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Some weird Super-Ghost-Doctor mash-up that I can’t even.

 

 

 

DSCF7481DSCF7482Posing with dead Heath Ledger

 

 

Bots

 

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Spot the tiny Han! (Harrison Ford was 70 the other day, by the way. I KNOW!)

 

 

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Scarecrow

 

 

 

Small child, HUGE ROBOT

 

 

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Inside KITT

 

 

 

 

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Dalek japes. EXTERMI oh wait…..

 

DSCF7511Them nice Merlin knights sign stuff and smile a lot.

 

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FREE HUGS!

 

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Raquel, phwoar.  Yes yes, I’m old.

 

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Totoro graveyard.

 

 

DSCF7548DSCF7549Cuddly K-9s!

 

Art happens!

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Shopping cosplayers.

 

 

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The footballers seemed out of place. Which dickhead spelled Mike Summerbee’s name wrong?

 

DSCF7584A weird fight between disparate genres.

 

 

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It was a family day – lots of kids, which was great.

 

 

DSCF7606Those Merlin guys on stage (yeah, I can’t be bothered to look up their names).DSCF7629

 

 

 

 

Mario entertains the kids.

 

DSCF7611DSCF7620How much money did YOU spend?

 

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I hope he has a green crayon.

 

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Mobile massage. Really relaxing, akshly.

 

 

Cosplay

A range of costumes that tickled me. Life’s too short for me to comment on every one, but oh, those Iron Men Girls Women. Iron Ladies? Oh no, that’s something else entirely …. ah, you know what I mean.

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Vic Mignogna Meets cat

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Videos

Just a couple – first up, some bopping to YMCA after Vic Mignogna had finished singing.

Sten and Stinky to the rescue

So, Dragon Age is SO full of delights. Here’s one of them:Screenshot20111005020201859My mage, Flax, has been captured and is being held prisoner in the Naked Dungeon of Nakedness in Fort Drakon. Oh no, poor Flax! Note louche fellow prisoner at the back trying to impress her with his coolth.

Screenshot20111005021438515Who will rescue her? Why, Qunari giant Sten and his good buddy Stinky the wonderwolf of course. All they have to do is to bluff their way into the fort:

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“What’s your business in Fort Drakon” – Let Stinky… bluff?

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“Stinky collapses”

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“What’s wrong with him?” – Leave this to Stinky.

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“He whimpers pitifully”

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“All right. All right. Take him into the side room there. I’ll go get the captain to let you through. Just…. hang in there, OK?”

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“This is pointless. We should simply go in fighting”
       –
Stinky whines.

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“And now I’m talking to an animal. I’ve been in this country too long”

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“All right, what’s this about?” – Leave this to Stinky.

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“Happy barking”

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“Is that a pure bred mabari?”

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“Very well, take him through. And tell Neville I want a word with him when you get there”

Good dog, Stinky! If you let Sten try to handle it, of course, things go a little differently…Screenshot20111005180453593

FIGHT!

Dressing up

1994jun024Two elegant ladies from 1994 on your right, and below – why it’s me and Mary in 1997. No, wait, hang on a minute…Cait as Daddy with Lassie, Elinor as Mummy with Dodo

Captain Hammer

drillhall

See this place? This is the Drill Hall in Bury, and is where Cat’s college are mounting the A Level Art exhibition. Today I went to help stick things up (yes, yes, that’s what she said). Here are some words and photos.

01 The hall itself was filled with chipboard ‘walls’ enough for fifty or so students to display their work. And, bugger me, there was some good stuff. Talent abounds among the 18 year olds of our mighty nation, believe you me.

I managed to snaffle a hammer, and so became Captain Hammer for quite some time for Cat and her nearby friends. Cat had yoinked a bigarsed staple gun (Damage 34), so we had all the bases covered. Except for height. I didn’t fancy leaping like Nureyev and whacking the staple gun at the chipboard while at the pinnacle of my grand jeté, so we spent a lot of time passing a chair around. That bloody stepladder in the photo was nowhere to be seen when we went looking.

02 I enjoyed the cameraderie, badinage and spirit of helpfulness amongst the students enormously. They were all constantly helping each other out. In the photo on the left, Cat is either waiting for a chair, bracing the chipboard, or playing ‘Catch The Hammer’ with Camilla.

Enough witter, let’s look at some actual art, shall we? Here’s a collection of smaller pieces by Cat. As you can probably tell, one of her chosen subjects was ‘Tools’.DSCF0823And look, in her final ‘Tools’ piece, those are my tools. I use that screwdriver! For like, screwing and stuff!DSCF0822 Here’s some work from Cat’s second subject, probably called ‘Naked Laydeez’ –DSCF0825 DSCF0826 And here’s her final piece, which I think shows a couple of Dali touches. I particularly like what’s going on with the arms. Plus, if you look closely, you might be lucky enough to see the nails that I, Captain Hammer, steered skillfully into place.DSCF0824DSCF0828And here IS Cat, with her completed display.

Now, it goes without saying that Cat’s work was by far the best (hey, it’s my blog so I’ll be the judge, thank you very much), but I thought you might like to see a few other bits by her friends, including this rather wonderful work spread over four canvases by Cat’s mate Kathryn. (Yes, I hammered away like a good ‘un putting these up too. The big worry was always to avoid thrusting the nail all the way through the chipboard AND whatever piece of work someone have carefully mounted on the other side. Much measuring involved). Sorry for the digression, here’s Kathryn’s seascape:DSCF0829

I also fell in love with this, by the very talented Camilla (or Kamilla, I’m not sure of the spelling)DSCF0832Finally, here’s a couple of photos of Cat and Kathryn working on their displays, and then after several hours of mounting and making sure everything was just right.DSCF0836 DSCF0840 In my opinion, Cat’s Graphics work is several levels above her Art, so I’m sure I’ll be posting something about that soon.

Empowered Wombettes

Election Two years ago, Ellie voted for the first time.

This year, for the 2010 General Election, she actually took it far more seriously, investigating the various candidates and their policies, and jumping through several hoops to arrange a postal vote so that she wouldn’t miss out on the chance to have her say.

Cat voted this evening for the first time. She seemed surprised that it was “so easy”, and afterwards she “felt different, more adult”, as if she had gone through a rite of passage.

The points of this little post are –

1. don’t get depressed at all the lazy, apathetic dimwits who insist on not voting. There are far more people out there who realise its importance than those who don’t.

2. Jesus, how can my daughters be old enough to vote? Two weeks ago they were six. SIX, I tell you!

Oh, PS – how wonderful it has been this year to be able to personally communicate with the various candidates through Twitter. The LibDem, Labour and Pirate Party candidates have been particularly enthusiastic and forthcoming. I may or may not post the results tomorrow….

A Bristolian Wander

Dscf0614Well now, here we are with a couple of hours to spend in Bristol while Cat goes to her UWE interview. Bristol is bathed in Spring sunshine. Where shall we go first? Being female, Mary wants to find some shops, so let’s go looking, eh? First, we find this, which is large, old and churchy. I conclude that it is a large old church.

Shortly, we arrive at St. Nicholas’ Market, a fascinating collection of stalls, including foods from around the world, second-hand bookshops, unusual clothes shops and more. I suspect that the University students use it a lot. Also, it is quite beautiful – check out the shadows thrown by the roof:Dscf0618 Interesting clobber at this place, too –DSCF0616 After a meander around the market, which would have made a #wander all of its own, we headed back down to the Harbourside.Dscf0625 From here we strolled down towards this footbridge, which has what appear to be two giant cream horns sprouting from it,Dscf0627 

Dscf0628…passing some interesting sights on the way, although I preferred

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to photograph a rusty chain and a mooring bollard. I’m either sensitive to texture and spatiotemporal context, or I’m an eejit. Make up your own mind.

 

I also photographed these pretty flowers, though.

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Four cranes loom menacingly over the south end of the harbour, from where can be seen a row of pretty houses near yet another church.

 

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We still haven’t found any shops, have we? Around the next corner we stumble across the Aquarium, outside which is this proud beastie. Anybody got a giant cup and a huge sheet of paper?

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Dscf0643And here’s the Planetarium –

 

 

Yes, that’s a Wombat reflected in the glass there. Dscf0644

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up past the Cathedral gardens, looking peaceful and tempting of a sit down while gazing at the rather lovely windows, Dscf0648Dscf0649 

Dscf0651 … but no! For we are on a quest to find some shops.

I liked this clock that will always tell the right time.

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Now we catch sight of a few shops, but they sit on a very steep hill. I am reliably informed that @AhcomeonnowTed once cycled up this hill. How mighty-thewed must his thighs be, eh?

 

 

 

At the top (and along a little bit), we get this expansive view over Bristol.

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Just a little way on, Little Mavis takes this fantastic photograph, which I shall call ‘Trees’. Can you see why? Yep, thought you would.Dscf0657

Dscf0660 This is Zed Alley – I wonder if the lamp is tilted due to hundreds of kids swinging from the crossbar over the decades.Dscf0659

 

 

 

 

 

And Dscf0661finally, after passing this clock which must be real fun when it is working (which it was not), we found the Shopping Centre and bought some Pick and Mix.

 

On the way back to the Park and Ride we passed this extremely attractive graffiti in a passageway –Dscf0663 Finally, out of the bus window, I snapped this shot of the coloured houses on the hillside. A Bristolian Balamory, if you will.

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Cat’s interview, though, did not seem to go well, since those taking it appeared to go against what they had told us at the Open Day regarding Foundation years. Time will tell.