Personal and undiluted views
the cats

656 days ago

Photo Article from the Welsh Hovel - the Ceiling in my study collapses, a narrow escape

The Mrs had taken the kids to Liverpool for the afternoon and thus I was not, as I would normally be, pushed from working at the breakfast table to work in my study. Thus the cats also stayed in the kitchen. At about 3 PM I heard a loud bang from the study.


661 days ago

Photo Article: The last view we will see from the Greek Hovel this summer

This was last evening as the setting sun really does make the mountains above the tree line look pink. It is the view as you set off down the track from the Greek Hovel, something we will do early this afternoon for the last time this summer. The Mrs and I rose early to store crockery, start packing and to start closing up the shutters. I must console myself with the thought of a reunion with the cats for this is always a depressing day.


3049 days ago

My Third Oxford Interview…I wake from a nightmare

The Mrs is away visiting her folks in the grim frozen Northern post-industrial wastelands and so it is just myself and the cats living a chaotic life here in Bristol. I am not sure the house is terribly tidy and my routine is shot to pieces and so at 6 PM I went up to bed for a nap with the cats but awoke with a start two hours later thanks to a shocking nightmare. 

This rather startled the cats who were somewhat perturbed at the intrusion of a stranger in what they regard as their bed although it is in fact that in which the Mrs and I sleep.

As it happens I had two interviews at Oxford, one not quite as successful as the other. Like Evelyn Waugh I was rejected by Christchurch, The House, the college of the establishment and the thick aristocracy and also the college attended by most of my family. And like Evelyn Waugh, I ended up at Hertford, a modest and impoverished establishment rather looked down upon by House types for admitting women, Northerners and grammar school boys.  I was thinking about those two interviews as I lay awake pondering my nightmare but the actual history is for another day. 

Suffice to say that there is a tradition of great writers being rejected by the House only to end up at Herford. 

Back to the nightmare. For some reason it appeared that my second Oxford interview has been unsuccessful as my first but somehow I had been offered a third bite at the cherry


3096 days ago

Reasons to divorce the Mrs – Giving money to Simon bloody Cowell of X-Factor

I am not thinking of divorcing the Mrs but if I were I might start with X-Factor. In my single days the cats and I used to watch DVDs of Inspector Morse or, as a real treat, The Sweeney or Foyle. These days the Mrs is the only one smart enough to work out how to use the three remote controls needed to work her ultra-modern TV. As such she has power and that means that the cats have to watch the X-Factor.

To show solidarity with the suffering felines I have occasionally wandered in and, I confess, have become quite hooked as a range of chavs strut their stuff on stage. Of course the real stars of this lack of talent show are the judges, uber-camp Louis Walsh who is nice to everyone, Britain’s leading chanteuse and intellectual heavyweight Ms Cheryl Cole, or whatever she is called these days, an old spice hag and the waspish plutocrat and brains behind this money making machine Simon Cowell.

Watching is, I admit, pretty embarrassing but as we sat glued to Saturday’s final part one the Mrs grabbed her phone. Who are you texting? I asked. “I’m not – I’m voting for Fleur East.” The Mrs had listened to host Dermot and knew that her vote (cost £1.50) really mattered. Ching Ching. More money from Mr Cowell. It got worse…


3174 days ago

A final farewell to Kambos and the Greek Hovel (for this summer)

I write this on the train from Reading to Bristol. A journey of bike, car, plane, train, train is almost over. I am back in the UK. I am back in a land of folks with horrible tattoos, of fat people swilling beer in concreted pub gardens, of nasty, smelly and expensive takeaway food. I am back in a land of surveillance cameras where there are far too many people jostling each other to get ahead. I am back in a Country that is just emerging on another illegal war, where jingoism and English or Scottish patriotism combine for a poisonous mix.

On the other hand I cannot wait to see the Mrs who will pick me up at Temple Meads, to give the cats an enormous hug and to catch up on last week’s Downton Abbey. I am really looking forward to a mug of tea, to sitting in my back garden looking at the grapes which we will harvest tomorrow to turn into wine. The Mrs has videod the start of the new season of Dallas and the episode of Corrie when Ken returned to the Street. I am sure the Mrs will cook me a wonderful supper.  But I can’t but help think about my friends in Kambos who will be gathering right now at the Korounis taverna, run by lovely Eleni, to chat, watch the football and look out on the stars in a clear sky.

As I rode into Kambos on Friday night it was one of those splendid Greek evenings. The sun was going down but it was warm and as I headed down snake hill the valley opened up before me. The – I think – deserted monastery or convent stood solid in front of me, up the hill above the spring. Further along the valley is a small house where the village baker lives. Why would anyone leave?

To Eleni’s to load videos and upload articles and to enjoy one last portion of her meatballs. Knowing that it was my last night Vangelis (the man in the pink short, not the man from the frigana chopper/snake repellent shop or the Vangelis who will win an Olympic gold in frigana chopping) bought me an ouzo. Naturally I reciprocated and I was soon sitting there with both George’s, Nikos (the football man) and a new pal Dimitris.