Having started last night, as I showed here, the snow carried on till well after noon so we woke up to, perhaps, ten inches of global warming in some parts of the garden. The cat belonging to the Chav family next door went for a brief walk, as you can see below but thought better of it and is now back in our kitchen sleeping on the sofa. the little creature almost lives here now, my catnapping has worked. Joshua also enjoyed the snow.
This was his first snowball fight. I gather that snowballing is banned in many state schools on grounds of "elf 'n' safey" but Joshua, his godfather Johnny an d the Mrs and I had good fun this morning. Kids may be safer but they really don't know what they are missing out on. The Mrs and Joshua are pictured below.
On Wednesday evening with it almost dark I stepped outside of the Bat room to see one of the kittens racing past. A few minutes later as I put Joshua into the car to head down to Kambos I could see the kitten sitting on the drive and miaowing and I could hear its mother answering in the distance. I thought no more of it.
On Thursday afternoon after a day spent in the rain in Kardamili we returned home and at the bottom of the drive saw the kitten as you can see below. Rigor Mortis had set in and with a workman’s spade I flipped the body into the bushes so that Joshua would not see it and be upset. The Mrs was traumatised enough, I could not handle both of them blubbering.
Today I saw the cat. No kittens at all now just herself strolling across the hovel in search of prey as is her wont. All alone. I’m sure she is very sad. I certainly am. The incident has brought back memories of poor Oakley and the Mrs and I are starting to think about a replacement.
Last week I reported on how the, once morbidly obese, three legged cat Oakley had lost 1 kg since April and was in a bad way. It got worse on Friday when the vet suggested that it might be cancer of the stomach but the only way to find out was to do a biopsy which would require an anaesthetic which may well polish him off. Oakley was only nibbling at titbits of smoked salmon, honey glazed ham and other treats and we had a long discussion about quality of life and er..you know what.
The vet said that I should think about that but gave him an injection to try to stop his nausea, and to stiff me with another bill for £46. Sadly, I wandered home and when the Mrs returned from her mother's with Joshua in tow we talked it through. I suppose that, after a few days with the mother-in-law, talking about having your cat put down counts as light relief.
But then things started to change.
Oakley started to eat again and eat cat food to boot. Now he is eating like a horse. In hobbit fashion he demands three breakfasts and several lunches and supers. He is drinking from his bowl and pissing and shitting on the doorstep. it is just like the good old days. He does appear to be a bit less anorexic and he is moving about a bit more than he was , although he was never the most active of creatures. So thank you for all your kind wishes but "da King" as Joshua calls him is better. Long live da King!
It was not that long ago that my three legged cat Oakley tipped the scales at over 6 kg and was, rightly, described as morbidly obese. The vet warned us that he must diet. It is so very different now.
The old boy is now sixteen and has been my almost constant companion – bar a short spell lodging with Darren Atwater – since the death of his predecessor Kitosh in 2010. He, and his partner Tara, now residing underneath the rhubarb in our garden – were rescued from the MSPCA shelter in the isle of Man. No-one wanted them, kittens were picked up at once, the two older cats just sat there. But I was charmed.
Oakley was down to 3.7 kg in April but he has been off his food and also vomiting of late and yesterday we walked up to the vets and he is now just 2.7 kg. we must go again today for yet more b blood tests and Oakley is complaining loudly that he is not being offered breakfast. Right now for him meals are tinned tuna or smoked salmon, he will at least nibble at such treats.
He was never the most active of cats but although he can still hobble upstairs and, with a great running jump, manage to get onto a bed he is doing less and less.
Joshua adores Oakley who sleeps on the floor next to his cot. “Oakley da King” is wonderful with kids. His only problem is with people who use hoovers. But it does not look good. He has reached a ripe old age despite the cancer which saw his leg amputated six years ago. But as the Mrs and I discuss it there is a sense that we will enjoy his company, the bad breath kiss that serves as a wake up call, for not that much longer.
Our excellent hipster cat sitter sends photos of Oakley to demonstrate how well the old boy is doing in our absence. But as you can see what they really show is what a tart our cat has always been. A bit of food or chin tickling and old fishy breath is keen to kiss.
If you do not follow my financial writings you will not be aware of the Telit PLC scandal which I broke yesterday. This is a big high profile stockmarket listed company and what I revealed HERE was just amazing. Jaw dropping. The shares have duly crashed.
I have been wanting to expose Telit for years and have oft warned that it is an accident waiting to happen. I can now see no outcome other than 0p as I explained HERE. Since yesterday morning I have been on the phone on email chatting about this company almost non stop. I have served up nine articles and a podcast (as well as a few other articles on other matters). Ten pieces in thirty hours (with eight hours off for sleep and another four for Joshua care) is pretty good going. I am utterly drained.
Telit could call in the receivers this afternoon and I think I'd struggle to write. Thankfully while that will be the end game I don't think it will happen today so I can wind down and watch an old Inspector Morse with my three legged cat Oakley. But episodes like this are why i write. Even the Mrs got caught up in the excitement and brought supper to my desk last night so I could crack on. This sort of episode she now understands. It is a GOTCHA moment.
Of course the praise is quite pleasant too. Tweets like the one below from a chap called Steve, as well as emails have been flooding in. The Israeli press has been in contact as this is as Israeli run outfit.
Gotta hand it to @TomWinnifrith. For all his foibles he is second to none at finding AIM frauds and dodgy practice. 👏 👏👏 Positive recognition of your work is always pleasing. But I can live without that. What really gives me a kick is the internal buzz you get from exposing someone then turning the screw with some jokes and hard follow up pieces. It is going for the kill and knowing you are on the side of right.
Hopefully the past 24 hours reduce my gaping deficit with St Peter but even if it does not it has been such fun. And I earn money for having that fun. Why would I ever quit such a job?
In England life is so clinical and clean and removed from nature. Our food is covered in plastic. Seeing your cat wander through the cat flap counts as a wildlife encounter. How different life is for me in Kambos, Greece.
I wandered out out of Eleni's Kourounis taverna and round the corner to my car which was parked on the road whicfh heads up past the big new Church on top of the Kambos hill and then out through the olive groves and off up into the Taygetos mountains. There is a small right turning one hundred yards past the church. If you did not know it was there you would miss it.
It looks like someone's drive but is the way to another small road which winds its way past yet another tiny old church which can hold a dozen folks no more and on through the olive trees, eventually tumbling down the hill to meet the road to the Greek Hovel just at the bottom of abandoned monastery hill. It was on this road that I killed an adder with my motorbike two years ago.
I digress. I got in my car and there on the windscreen was a cricket. I drive off and it stayed there seemingly enjoying the ride, only departing as we headed down the sharp slope towards monastery hill. The greens and yellows and intricate patterns on its body are not really captured in this photo but, once again, I was left to marvel at how God's design work really is pretty special
I never thought that I'd be revelling in changing nappies, watching a baby throw his food everywhere and all the other joys of motherhood n the months leading up to my 50th birthday but I am loving it. The Mrs is away for a few days "working" and returns to full time work in ten days, in as much as that is not a contradiction in terms in the public sector and especially on liberal arts campuses. And so, right now I am the sole carer for nine months old Joshua and in ten days time I will become the primary carer. I am such a fucking feminist - I am almost tempted to chuck in work altogether and then go for a divorce taking the Mrs to the cleaners saying that I had to quit my job to look after Joshua. Only kidding.
Of course changing nappies is not really fun. All that stuff about how its okay if it is your kid's shit is just horse. Shit is shit and when he pees on you as you change it makes no odds that it is your kid's pee.
The only thing I really do not like is dropping him off at nursery (where he currently goes two days a week). As I hand the little vermin - as he is known - over to a charming young lady he realises that i am heading off and starts screaming his head off. I remember the same thing happening 15 years ago with my Islington elitist liberal daughter Olaf. Of course when he sees you at the end of the day I know that he will have calmed down about 30 seconds after I left and the reunion is a joyous occasion.
The Mrs has left me a stern three pages of notes on routine, food, drink and other matters. The truth is that I have shown a bit of flexibility on the regime, okay I have ignored her notes almost completely, and Joshua and I have experimented with the food. Sometimes not by design. I tried to follow the instructions making his morning porridge today but the end result looked nothing like what the Mrs serves up. But the little vermin wolfed it all down, disaster became triumph. Maybe I have it right and the Mrs has it wrong? You never know.
Yesterday it was runner beans and cream cheese for the vermin. And he loved it. Tonight its broad beans and pasta for Joshua. Broad beans and salmon for his diabetic dad. All new experiences. And after supper a mad rush to tidy up three days of mess created by the three amigos (myself, Joshua and Oakley the Cat) before the return of the Mrs who will no doubt be expecting her supper to be ready as well.
Women, they just do not understand how hard we exploited house husbands have to work...
PS. As I mix with the "other mothers" and wander round with Joshua I am yet to hear the words I dread but which will come sooner or later - "how nice of you to look after your grandson"
I guess that in England the owner of this dog and this truck would have been locked up by the Health & Safety Executive or prosecuted by the PC nazis at the RSPCA. The poor hound is not muzzled and not on a leash and travels in the back of the truck everywhere. FFS he is not wearing a seat-belt, call the old bill now!
It is a sweet nature if fearsome looking hound. As the truck wends its way along main street Kambos or in the country roads outside sometimes the dog puts its paws on the side standing up to look at what is going on. If it sees a cat or an Albanian it may bark loudly. But it is a loveable creature otherwise perhaps because of the freedom it enjoys. That awful freedom, I can hear the shouts of "animal cruelty" ringing from "animal lovers in Islington, Clifton and Oxford already.
Okay, as a proud father I am biased, but this photo below is rather sweet is it not? You are always warned that cats might react badly to a baby. I had no worries about my, no longer morbidly obese, three legged cat Oakley. There is not an ounce of jealousy in his body.
Indeed he suffers Joshua pulling his fur like a saint. And will lie there snoring gently in Joshua's room as the little monster bawls his head off refusing to go to sleep. The two are, as you can see, great friends with Oakley almost adopting the role of parent, albeit one who will occasionally view Joshua's play mat as a new lavatory.. .
The plants the Mrs and I have planted in our back garden have almost all suffered death by cat defecation. That is to say my fat, though no longer morbidly obese, three legged cat Oakley hads shat them into oblivion. And so during my brief UK visit I have led a drive to re-plant. To complete that task the Mrs, Joshua and I headed to a garden centre here in Bristol today. Before stopping to pick up a few herbs (me0 and some flowers (the Mrs) we sat enjoying an expensive coffee and watched the masses head by.
I could not help but reflect about how in two days time I shall be sitting in the Kourounis Taverna in Kambos, the nearest village to the Greek Hovel, enjoying a coffee at half the price and looking at folks wander in an out of our own garden centre run by Vangelis.
Here in Bristol there is no need for shelves of poison for your frigana or snake repellent or hard tools small farmers use for clearing ground or for some part of the process of caring for, nurturing and harvesting the olives. That is what dominates the shop in Kambos, it is a place for folks doing a real job.
Of course it has plants too which one can buy. But they are mainly vegetables or herbs. There is no money or need in Kambos for vast arrays of colourful weeds, oops I meant flowers. Here in suburbia there were any number of colourful weeds to choose from.
There were even little olive trees for sale at thrice or four times the price of a sapling back in Kambos. Of course the British trees will never generate an economic return, they are mere ornaments. If I told my friends in Kambos that my neighbours in Bristol will pay 30 Euro for an olive tree that would never create oil they would think folks here were very strange indeed. They would be right of course.
The garden centre in Bristol was packed. I guess it is what baby boomers do on a bank holiday weekend in Suburbia. There were probably more folks in that centre during the course of this morning than live in Kambos, and all the British suburbians just buzzed about, picking up things, lining up to hand over more cash than they should really be spending and then crawling home through the traffic with cars laden up with things that are not really needed.
And this is meant to be relaxing? Whatever. I shall be back in Kambos by Tuesday lunchtime.
My father spent the night in hospital awaiting his operation later today. I head to Warwick later this morning to have a chat before he goes into surgery. Last night he kept himself amused reading a biography of Ted Heath that he had discovered on the ward. Poor Dad: has he not suffered enough? That left me alone in his house here in Shipston with only his cat Obe for company.
I have noted before that Obe (named after President Hopey Change, before Dad twigged that the cat was female) hates all of humanity bar my father and so she avoids me other than when demanding food. She saw my father's suitcase and saw him leave and has, ever since, been wandering the house clearly worried that he is not here.
This four hundred year old house was a bit of a wreck when my father and late step mother moved here twenty odd years ago. Now from every wall hang pictures of six children ( my step mother added three to the party) and countless grandchildren. Books are everywhere. They have stamped their mark on the whole house as they renovated it.
The garden was a bombsite but has been lovingly transformed and is bursting with colour from all sorts of flowers. Will the vegetable patch be planted again this spring? I somehow doubt it. I am staying alone in a house where every room or bit of garden tells the tale of a loving couple enjoying an active retirement.
Whatever happens today that era is drawing to a close. As I sat in the garden on a warm spring evening that was all that I could think about. That, and a bird that the wretched Obe had murdered and which she has left as a present by the door for dad when he returns.
Those of us who are hip trendsetters and thus watch Midsomer Murders (think Graham Norton, Mr & Mrs Adam Reynolds and myself) will remember the battle that the second Inspector Barnaby has with his Mrs as to what will be the first word that their baby says. "Mummy" she repeats often as she states at her daughter."Daddy" says the Inspector again and again. Natch, her first word is Dog, for we all know that - until his retirement - the star of the show was Sykes.
And thus the same battle is raging chez Winnifrith with Joshua now aged six months and a few days. But here too there is a third contender and I am doing my bit by repeating the phrase "Oakley is a cat and he says miaow" as my son sit on the sofa with the third amigo.
Joshua and Oakley get on like a house on fire. The morbidly obese three legged cat likes food and sleep and so does Joshua. Indeed the cat will sit next to Joshua's cot when the baby is screaming just saying nothing until Joshua goes to sleep. He is a great babysitter.
And thus this morning the Mrs and I both thought that Joshua's gurglings were actually a word. Yes it was Oakley. Not just once but, with a bit of prompting, several times. Okay it might have just been Oaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkeee gurgle gurgle but it might have been Oakley. Debate is raging.
If there is one thing that my morbidly obese three legged cat hates more than the working classes it is the sound of them at work. Switch on a hoover and he knows that it is the Polish cleaning ladies. Switch on a drill and he knows that it is a little man the Mrs has called in to do some little job for her.
As long as the working classes come just to yak on about something Oakley merely runs upstairs and goes to sleep on a bed. If the guest has dulcet middle class tones he knows they are bound to be a soft touch and sits downstairs to beg for food. Thus Oakley outed the vicar as working class as he bolted like a shot when the man in the dog collar arrived to talk christenings.
If a hoover is switched on Oakley goes on further, hiding underneath a duvet. All you can see is a rather large bump in the bed. He was therefore a bump in the bed an hour ago as the cleaners did their bit. As soon as they left he jogged down two flights of stairs and is now sitting in the front room with me watching me type.
Now and again he miaows. He never used to miaow where his friend Tara was alive. She did all the begging for the both of them and Oakley was almost silent. But since her passing away almost a year ago, needs must and the old boy is now really quite noisy.
Above the main field at Butterwell Farm in Byfield was a smaller field. On one side was a continuation of the dry stone wall that separated our land from that of Mr Peter Thompson, on the other the extensive gardens that my mother worked to create. At the bottom ,separating this land from the main field, was a giant old barn which contained a wooden three-seater lavatory seat among other gems. At the top there was another barn which in turn formed one half of one side of the yard behind our house. We we worked hard to turn the barn into a fox proof hen-house. and then started to build up a flock of chickens with the odd bantam picked up along the way, for fun.
This was part of the self sufficiency drive led by my mother. I think we offered the chickens a good home. The barn was secure. Our cat, to whom I will turn later but who had various names including Jesus Christ, ensured there were few rodents. The field was large enough and had a good patch of nettles by the dry stone wall allowing hens to lay enough eggs which were undetectable, to frustrate a boy sent out to collect breakfast. Why would a hen lay eggs in the nettles and not in the nice straw we laid down in the hen house?
Most of the chickens had no name. They were all the same red colour and so would it be racist to say that they all looked the same to me? I think that in the 1970s such an observation was not a hate crime. Such birds had a good life until one day they were unlucky enough to be picked up by father for a quick neck wring, plucking and a move to the pot.
At this point, any snowflake or Islington urbanite readers who had hitherto assumed that chickens were made by Waitrose and was unaware of how they are killed, may feel horrified and nauseated, I apologise not. Our chickens had a good, open air sort of life and their end was very quick. Perhaps not giving them names depersonalised the killing experience for my father who was the sole executioner.
There were one or two birds that had names. There was a bantam cockerel with black feathers and a fine red and orange plumage whose job was to "look after" the two bantam hens. He was, for some reason, named Mr Peter Thompson after the neighbouring farmer. Please note that in any conversation it was always Mr Peter Thompson not Peter Thompson. Again, there is no rationale or reason for this. Neither of the bantam ladies ever produced bantam chicks. Was Mr Peter Thompson (the bantam) something of a confirmed bachelor? He lived his pointless existence of laying no eggs and siring no heirs but just eating the food he was given, until a ripe old age and a natural death. Bantams are too small for the pot.
The chickens did now and then produce young, having hidden eggs in places which we could not find. In one brood there was a runt who was both small and stupid, somehow in the end contriving to drown himself in the stream which at the height of summer was so shallow that meeting such a death must have required real effort. My father named this poor runt Bill Whitehead after a colleague of his at the University of Warwick.
This was unfair. Bill was my father's closest friend and a real novelty in liberal arts academia, that is to say a staunch conservative. He and my father used to make a great show of crossing picket lines whenever their lazy colleagues in the English department, such as Germaine Greer, actually bothered to pitch up on campus on the basis that there was a strike to support.
Born in America, Bill was so right wing that he did not wait for the draft, he volunteered for the army saying he wanted to go to Korea. His wish was denied and so, much to his disgust having wanted to kill as many commies as possible, he dodged front line action and ended up at Warwick. But he was pretty short and it was his size that meant that a dimwitted runt chicken, which was a real contender for a Darwin Award, was named after him.
There was also the cockerel who was called Andrew Bowden after the vicar of Byfield who was a celebrated collector of rare breeds of hen. I am fairly sure that he is credited with rediscovering one species that was thought to be extinct and he had a large collection up at the vicarage. These days CofE vicars have their minds on higher things such as gender equality, fighting global warming or Donald Trump and worrying what to buy their husband's for Valentine's Day. Andrew was a rather more old fashioned sort of vicar, married to a woman, believing in God and that sort of thing.
I am not sure why the cockerel was named after the vicar but my parents soon realised that cockerels were a waste of space. It was far cheaper to buy laying hens than to try to breed and anyhow Andrew Bowden did not seem terribly keen on the ladies either. Perhaps that was a sign of things to come for CofE vicars across the land. And thus one day, in the name of efficiency, my father had to wring the vicar's neck as the pot beckoned.
It was Oakley's birthday last week. Thank you to those who left messages for him on his facebook page. He is now fifteen. But I need to record that he is now starting to behave very badly indeed.
Naturally my Guardian reading Mrs gives the cat the run of the house whatever the scale of his crimes. And thus at about four in the morning he comes, from his main bedroom, the nursery, galloping up the stairs to the main bedroom. After wandering to the end of the bed in a circular direction as if he was attempting a Fosbury flop he launches himself on the foot of the bed.
He has now taken to marching to the top of the bed, ignoring the Mrs and lying on the pillow directly on top of my head. If that does not wake me up he may stick his claws into my shoulders. Naturally it is deemed a "breach of his 'uman rights" not to allow him in the room. Thus this is a daily ritual which only ends with me waking up and as I amble downstairs Oakley shooting passed me to start bleating in the Kitchen for food.
I offer him some food and head off to switch on my laptop. By the time I head back to make myself a coffee Oakley has scuttled off back to bed where he sleeps on my side gazing at the Mrs. But not before he has left me a present on the front doorstep. Sometimes its wee, at other times worse and now and again both.
I am beginning to think that I might raise with the Mrs the issue of my 'uman rights rather than those of Oakley. Surely mine trump his? You might think that, but as I describe his latest crimes, the Mrs just gazes at Oakley and whispers sweet nothings to him. In her eyes he can do no wrong. I am at the bottom of the 'uman rights pecking order in this house.
It was in the summer of 2015, I think, that I made the acquaintance of a feral kitten at the Greek Hovel. The timid little thing was terrified of humans but I managed to persuade it to take a few saucers of milk. I did so because I love cats and who cannot love a sweet little kitten? I also thought how much it looked like Kitosh, pictured, the cat I owned before Oakley. And there was self interest at play as well.
I have now and again wondered if the little kitten had survived the winter as I have not seen it since. Until, I think, this week. Now it could be another young cat with Kitosh type markings or my memory could be playing tricks on me. But earlier this week I saw this magnificent beast striding through the olive trees beyond the ruined cottage, presumably on the hunt.
I made that sound you do with your lips to attract cats and it turned and stared at me. It gave me a look that said "whatever" and turned away to move on. Again, late ;last night the same cat strode close to the hovel and looked at myself and the two women as we thrashed olives wildly, and then just wandered off.
Feral cats eat both rats and snakes. So having such a beast regard the hovel as home turf is damn good news. I hope it is "my kitten" but the real news is that we have a vermin catcher in residence.
Now and again as the Mrs and I chat we wonder how our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley would fare against a rat or a snake. The conclusion is not that well. I suspect he would just sit there giving it a stupid "what are you" look. The Mrs thinks he would run as fast as his, three legs, could carry him. Oakley has his own charms. The feral cat/kitten is, however, a magnificent hunting machine.And my joy that it is batting for team Greek Hovel is very real.
Anyhow, Oakley bore the ordeal of his photo-shoot in a silly hat with a tremendous dignity. Or perhaps it was just too much of an effort to object.
These days babies are all dressed in silly costumes to make them look like bears, dogs or tigers so Joshua - who at 10 weeks is now almost as heavy as Oakley - also played ball without objection. There were a few who worried how Oakley would react to the new arrival. As you can see, he is utterly relaxed about the situation
Young Joshua will be roughly 14 weeks old on Christmas day. And so he will not know or care what is going on as long as he is fed and has his nappy changed and stays warm. So I could give him all the tea in China or absolutely nothing and it would really make no impact at all on him. As it happens various caring grandparents and others have already ensured that he has been swamped with clothes and presents for which we are grateful.
No doubt in a couple of years Joshua will, like nearly every other kid in Britain, be caught up in the consumerist and materialist spendfest that is Christmas these days. His mother and I both hope that he will appreciate the real meaning of Christmas, that it is not Winterfest that it is about the birth of Jesus and that sort of thing. But in Britain today I know we are battling against a strong tide.
Apparently some watchdog has just ruled that it is acceptable for Company's to have Christmas parties and say "Happy Christmas" without fearing of being accused of committing a hate crime against staff who are of another faith. That such a statement has to be made shows what a godless mess this country has become.
You may well say that Oakley, our morbidly obese three legged cat, probably also does not understand the true meaning of Christmas, yet he will be given a present by the Mrs and I. fair cop. We are sentimental fools when it comes to the cat. On Joshua we will take a firmer line. Are we missing something and likely to be reported to social services for this?.
Not only does the Mrs insist that I need to buy a Christmas hat for our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley but she then tasked me with making the purchase. And thus I found myself in a store called The Range which is a consumerist paradise for poor people with no taste whatsoever. You want a masturbating Christmas gnome for your garden? This is the place to get it. Ghastly Christmas decorations utterly unrelated to the nativity in 15 shades of gold and silver for your council flat are what you crave. Come along to The Range and you will be spoiled for choice.
I waited until after dark lest anyone recognise me and wandered in moving swiftly to the pets section where, naturally, there was an abundance of Christmas gifts for your dog and cat. The Mrs had mentioned getting a whole Santa outfit for poor Oakley but sadly while there was one for dogs it was probably too small for Oakley to pour himself into.
But there was no complete escape. There was no Santa hat but there was an elves hat complete with brown ear muffs and a strap to keep it in place. Naturally Oakley will pose with patience in this hat, for our home made Christmas cards but I'm not so sure that it is a terribly spiritual message about the Season of Goodwill that we will be sending to our nearest and dearest.
I could not help but wander along aisles and aisles of complete and utter tuch. It was voyeurism as I gazed at a world that is just not mine. I suppose I should be thoroughly ashamed for being such a complete snob. But the place really was ghastly, an emporium of bad taste.
Consoling myself with the purchase of a packet of dried banana chips, the healthy option, I headed to the counter and with some shame put the chips and the elves hat on the counter. Having parted with £2.49 I buried the hat of shame deep in my pocket and headed home, a much postponed job completed.
I am the main shopper in this household, spinning down to the local Sainsbury once a week to provide for myself, the Mrs, Joshua and, most importantly of all, my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley. I work with a mental shopping list and wander around in track suit bottoms to blend in with my fellow shoppers. I plod slowly trying to take in the full horror of life in modern Britain. It is addictive but each week I return to then emerge in ever greater despair.
It is three weeks to Halloween or, for my Manx readers, Hop-tu-Naa. And thus there is a whole aisle stuffed with junk for the festival. 95% of it is either plastic or sugar filled high cal treats to rot the teeth of the nation's young. I wonder what percentage of those celebrating Halloween know of All Soul's Night. I wonder if they can guess from the Manx festival why we, in a (nominally) Christian country, celebrate anything at that time of year at all.
I remember Halloween when I was a child. There was no trick or treating although we might have been making a guy as in "penny for the guy" at this time of year. My mother made toffee apples, we played games with bobbing apples. Perhaps there might be a bit of the fudge and black toffee she was making for November 5th on offer. But there was none of this commercial nonsense.
I note that there are large rows of pumpkins already on sale in Sainsbury's. Buy one now, carve it and watch it go mouldy next week. But still we are urged to buy and carve anyway. I wonder how many of those who do buy and carve will do anything other than throw away what is inside. You can make a cracking pie (it is sweet and so a pudding) or wicked pumpkin soup but how many bother? For my manx readers carving a turnip for Hop-tu-Naa, what you scrape out can be the basis of a fantastic creamy crab soup. But in 2016 Britain we just carve and bin.
Next to the Halloween aisle is the Christmas one. The yuletide started some tiime in early September at Sainsbury's but now, eleven weeks ahead of the event, it is in full swing. The Noel aisle is, like that for Halloween, stuffed with plastic junk or junk snacks. None of it will be anywhere other than clogging arteries or landfill sites by the New Year.
I think back to Christmases in the 1970s to when we decorated a tree brought in from the garden on the 24th and ensured that it was back in the garden by twelfth night to prepare for another year. I remember that Christmas stocking chocolate was such a novelty that we really cherished it, eating it over days to savour the pleasure. I think back forty years when the Church was part of our lives. Do the fat little children of 2016 wandering down the Christmas aisle demanding more sweets from their parents, know why we celebrate Christmas at all? And if they do, do they care?
Eventually I made it to the counter. As a treat for today (for the Mrs, myself and Oakley) I bought a three fresh kippers. The woman at the checkout stared at them and said "I have never seen them like that, they always come in plastic don't they?" Saints preserve us.I thought of trying to explain but my mind was deadened by 45 minutes of shopping and staring so I just stared back blankly
I returned home and want to show the Mrs pictures of a ruined Irish castle with enough fresh water and land to be self sustaining and to urge her to adopt my plans for a Greco-Irish existence away from this appalling modern consumerist existence. I do not. I know that she will stare at me with a look that says "he is barking mad, if I humour him for a while he will calm down: Sainsbury's brings out the worst in him, it will pass."
The madness is in the eye of the beholder. that my anger will pass is another matter. It will not. I shall be back at Sainsbury's in a week and will be annoyed by something else. Last week it was the array of cooking chocolates. It was all so unnecessary and wasteful. Next week I don't know what it will be but it will be something.
A couple of midwifes have just visited the Mrs and the 13 day old baby with no name. As I heard the latter screaming I thought I should head upstairs to see what was going on. I am, as you know, a supportive progressive partner if not an outright feminist.
It appears that my son did not like being weighed. I know how he feels. I really do need to get down to the gym. But conversation soon moved on. Before I knew it the midwife was on to the matter of self expressing, that is stimulating milk production and was about to demonstrate finger technique.
There are certain matters that a gentleman does not discuss in public and even as a spectator sport... well I am perhaps not of the modern generation. It was clearly time for myself and my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley to leave the room.
Actually I call the baby Patrick as I fear that in 40 days time when he is registered he will have another name so I shall enjoy Patrick while I can. In his first night on this planet at the hospital he was an angel. Other babies bawled he did not. However, one night does not make a lifetime.
He is back home now and has been introduced to the morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley. Patrick is indifferent, Oakley shows mild curiousity and certainly no hostility. None the less it was decided that, last night, Oakley would have to share a bed with the in-laws.
Patrick was no longer an angel. I had forgotten how tiring this baby malarky can be. And at this stage the Mrs is being a feminist, which I support naturally since I am a feminist too, and breast feeding. But i am cream crackered and now sleep deprived.
I tried to say "sssshhh you will wake Oakley" every time the baby screamed but I think Patrick must have already twigged that very little wakes Oakley and so just carried on bawling.
Like Labour front bencher Emily Thornberry, our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley is terrified of actually meeting a member of the working classes. Thus when a man fixing the bathroom wanders in or the cleaners arrive, as soon as they start speaking Polish he bolts and hides. Maybe Oakley is a racist and does not like Poles? Actually It is not that they are speaking Polish as on the odd occassion we have found Brits who will eschew welfare to work for £12 an hour, he also runs, especially when he hears a hoover revving up.
It is not that he is scared of people. When we have guests, even the mother-in-law who visits tomorrow for an extended stay, he is most affectionate. But when a member of the working classes crosses our thresh-hold, Oakley runs upstairs into a bedroom and buries himself under a duvet. He will only emerge when the house is once again free of the working classes.
I wonder why he became such a snob? I suspect it is the middle class Guardian reading public sector employed pals of the Mrs teaching him bad habits. "Oakley watch out there is a white van pulling up outside! Run...he has a real job and might vote Tory! " Meanwhile No 1 friend of Oakley, Mu, who is a novelty among the friends of the Mrs in that she actually has a job in the productive part of the economy, is still acting like a crazed Millennial and playing Pokemon Go on a daily basis. And on her last visit she once again detected a Pokemon above Oakley. He was, as you can see, not impressed.
Once again the Mrs and I tried to assemble the cot yesterday afternoon. It ended with me swearing and she insisting that I was not celebrating the impending birth and bursting into tears. I am really excited by what is happening but not by trying to make this ffing cot. We agreed to try again later.
At about 4 AM today I sensed that the marital bed was a bit empty. I was there. Oakley our morbidly obese three legged cat was sprawled out at the bottom and purring loudly but the Mrs had disappeared. I roused Oakley to point out that there was a space at the top of the bed with stacks of pillows and he sought out more lebensraum accordingly.
I headed downstairs and there standing smugly in her study, the nursery to be, was the Mrs and a fully assembled cot looking just like the one on the box. That was a man's job and I failed, She knew it.I knew she knew it. Humiliation defined.
Given that she is due to give birth to our son in nine days time I might just forgive her but the Mrs is pushing her luck.
Among the very few possessions of mine that are allowed in the house as opposed to the garage are a signed and framed Mark Cavendish shirt which, given what team it is from, is actually quite rare and a framed and signed Geoff Hurst 1966 Replica shirt. That is far less rare and so worth less but as it is from the year West Ham won the World Cup it has sentimental value. And it reminds me of a girl I knew once.
The Mrs would rather have a poster for a mythical country called Palestine on the wall and so my shirts sit hidden behind a sofa. They will go to the Greek Hovel if it is ever ready. But back to the divorce.
The Mrs said "I think we should sell the framed shirts on ebay or give them to Oxfam." Bloody hell, if that is not grounds for divorce on the basis of unreasonable behaviour, what is? Saying she has bought a season ticket to Spurs? Investing all her money in African Potash shares? Vetoing calling our son Thomas? Putting my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley up for sale on ebay? Few crimes could be worse than the one suggested today.
Our friend M popped by last night for an amazing supper prepared by yours truly. The roast chicken stuffed with lemon and ginger really was superb. I would be modest about my culinary skills but it is hard to find anything to be modest about. The strawberry and dessert gooseberry crumble was almost magical. It was almost a perfect 10. I digress. M has in the space of seven days become addicted to Pokemon.
She now logs onto the app one hundred times a day. Morning noon and night she is at it. With great excitement she described how one could buy food for your Pokemon or go fight other players in a virtual sense at the Pokemon gym.
As she explained the joys of her new addiction with the enthusiasm a drug addict would display on news that the Candy man had arrived, it was one of those moments when I despaired of the modern world completely and wished that I was back at the Greek Hovel chatting only to the Shepherd, him speaking Greek and me English and neither understanding each other.
But at least I think the Shepherd and I are roughly on the same page. I am sure that we can both agree that Pokemon is pointless and that milking a sheep is not. Chatting to a Pokemon player is, I imagine, like trying to converse with a Martian or a dolphin.
just do not get it. Nor does Oakley, my morbidly obese three legged cat. As you can see there was a Pokemon in the room above his head. Quite rightly the old boy was just not interested treating it, as you can see below, with the disdain it deserves.
Who would believe that the fine cat below is the same species as my morbidly obese three legged moggie Oakley. The latter, for some reason, has a deep aversion to the working classes and so when middle class folk arrive he is uber-friendly. When tradesman arrive it is rather different. Right now plumbers are installing a new bathroom for the Mrs and Oakley is spending his entire working day cowering under the duvet in the top bedroom.
Back here in the Greek mountains I was driving down from the hovel last evening and towards the end of the track through the olive groves about 200 yards before snake hill I spotted this cat.
Though domestic in terms of gene pool, he or she lives totally in the wild up here in the area around the hovel. They are afraid of humans but not of snakes, rats, mice, lizards or indeed more or less any other member of the wildlife diversity community. All are considered fair prey for supper.
Oakley, who could not catch a cold, would not last up here for more than a day. Like the Mrs he is not cut out for hovel dwelling and would be demanding a move to a posh hotel by the sea, very quickly. His cousins are in their element and the more members of the wildlife diversity community they devour, the better.
It appears that in our absence, Oakley's cat sitter junior doctor Johnny has done his best to watch TV with the morbidly obese three legged cat. First it was Nigel Farage, Oakley was attentive but naturally he is an "outer" already.
Then it was the football. Ronaldo FFS? Don't junior doctors know anything? We're not Brazil we're Northern Ireland...lets watch a real team says Oakley.
When you are away for a short break what is the priority of the Mrs? It goes without saying that it is worrying about how our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley is doing.
Is he alright? Is he lonely? Is he eating enough? Is he eating too much? Has he done a naughtiness on the doorstep? Who is talking to him? And thus there are a stream of texts to Oakley's army of carers, back in England.
Back come a stream of replies, the old boy is fine. And today an added bonus...a photo of him in action. Or rather in lack of action. Needless to say Oakley's facebook page has now been updated as you can see HERE
I forgot: belated many happy returns to my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley It is only now that I logon to facebook for the first time in a week that an alert comes up. How could I forget? Oakley turned 15 on Tuesday. It is on his facebook page.
At least he has had a great week. The Mrs has been feeling a tad under the weather and so has taken time away from the high pressure life of a public sector worker to spend most of the time in bed. And naturally Oakley has decided to show solidarity by joining her.
If I head upstairs to offer a cup of tea Oakley glowers at me as if I am some sort of love rival. Perhaps he was glowering over the lack of Birthday treats. I will see if I can dig out something from the shops a bit later, a belated congratulations for making it to 15.
Almost thirty years ago, when I lived with the folks who are now godparents to my daughter in Prospect Heights Brooklyn, they went away for a weekend leaving me in charge of the dogs and cat. One of the dogs crapped in the house and in clearing up the mess I contrived to block the downstairs loo. Red faced, I confessed on their return.
There was well concealed displeasure but clearly they viewed me as daft. I am staying with the same folks, now in Crown Heights Brooklyn, and tonight they went out to a play leaving me in charge of my daughter and a cat called Parker who has certain lavatorial issues.
I am sure you can guess what happened next. Yup, Parker crapped in the hall. I cleaned up and flushed just two small pieces of kitchen paper down the loo which is clearly tighter than a virgin gerbil as it got blocked. I just could not face a repeat of the events of 1986 and thus I spent the evening alternately watching a slice of Foyle's War on video with my daughter and sticking a wire hanger I had with me further and further up the U-bend.
As Foyle sent yet another chap to meet justice and the rope - in this case a German spy - triumph in Brooklyn: a successful flush. I have felt guilty about blocking up that loo for almost thirty years. Suddenly there is a great weight lifted from my shoulders.
The local evangelical C of E church seems to be on a recruitment drive and Debbie the vicar has posted a flyer through my door saying that next week she will be praying for my road. Do I have any special requests for her prayers?
Hmmm…could she ask God to ensure that I get a parking space next time I take the car out and come back to find the street chocca? Might the vets practice decide t overcharged me for treating my cat Tara and send me a large refund? Could God ensure that West Ham win its next match as easily as its last two?
Praying for my road…truly how incredibly silly the Church of England has become these days.
Just a week ago Tara the cat appeared to be a death's door. Now I am £900 worse off but she seems fit as a fiddle.
She semed delighted to see me on Friday morning when I picked her up from the vets, though I was still reeling at the bill. She has a big bald patch on her tummy from the scan and is now on medication six times a day. But that ends in a day or so. She does not appear treatment and has bitten and scratched her impoverished owner several times as I have given her drugs to drink or pills to swallow.
But she is now eating normally, in fact for the first time in ages she is not demanding food at all times but just eats three times a day. She is not vomitng and last night she again supplemented her diet with a moth she caught in our bedroom. So all is well.
Meanwhile my membership of the Labour party appears to have been approved and so enthusiastically I suggest another policy initiative for our future leader, the man who wishes to reopen all the coal mines but not produce any coal as it is environmentally unfriendly, comrade Jeremy Corbyn.
Comrade: when you have finished renationalising the railways might you also nationalise all vets. They are simply a way of extracting vast amounts of cash from the proletariat to benefit the bourgeois, Vets simply live of the sweat of the working man and woman and it is time to end this exploitation. Vets may not be he commanding heights of the economy but they should be in public hands.
The Mrs popped along during visiting hours to see Tara on her overnight stay in hospital. She seems to be perking up and when I have taken out a second mortgage to pay the vets bill I shall go pick her up later today. She seems content and is eating like a horse which is good.
Thanks for all the enquiries about my cat Tara, who I snapped as she slept earlier today as you san see below. Last night we took her to the vets for emergency blood tests as she was refusing to eat or drink and barely moving. She had lost 600g in bodyweight in six weeks (going down to just 2.7kg) and we feared the worst.
She came home with a jab to combat nausea but still refused to eat or drink despite being dehydrated and very thin. We had also lost 254 pounds during the visit to the vet. Fearing the worst when the results came in she slept on our bed last night. I moved round to sleep with my legs on the floor but next to her. We both thought this could be the final night.
This morning she was a bit perkier. The blood tests showed nothing wrong. And she has nibbled at food for the first time in 48 hours. She is perking up and so today’s vets visit (£39 inc VAT) saw a discussion about a possible growth in her stomach. We are now considering a full scan (£254) as the next step.
Pro tem, the Mrs and I feel a bit poorer. Tara less poorly. Thanks for all the kind messages.
The cats were hungry. Capitalist cat Tara is skinny but greedy because greed is good. Morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley is always hungry and they both let me know that after a hard day in bed they need food
No-one in this house will be voting UKIP and indeed our morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley has made a visible anti UKIP statement of which more later. But Nigel Farage is right on scrapping all race discrimination laws at work - indeed he should have gone further. The BBC's coverage of this here in Bristol is a total shocking disgrace paid for with my taxes and I am livid.
Once again apologies to any pervs who are disappointed having found this page via SEO. For the first time Tara ( the sleek but greedy cat) and the morbidly obese three legged Oakley are in action (or lack of it) together. As you can see Benefits Street when fully sprawled out takes up half a double bed. He thinks it is his bed. The Mrs and I used to think that it was ours.
I guess some of you might have arrived at this page via google or whatever expecting something different. Sorry pervs, this is just another video of Tara, the lifelong friend of my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley. Unlike Benefits Street who will play up to the camera, Tara seems terrified of it. As I prepared to shoot she was waving her paws around for no apparent reason. The camera appears and she just stares at it - very sweet but more inaction than in action
It strikes me that videos of my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley are now getting more views than some of the writers on ShareProphets. Perhaps I should fire a few of the scribes and just go into business with my cat? Maybe not. As Oakley is a 14 year old obese cancer survivor the actuaries would not rate this long term business model.
Oakley regards our marital bed as his own and gives me a dirty look when I intrude on him and the Mrs. Normally fishy breath snuggles up to the deluded lefty and gazes adoringly into her eyes. And she reciprocates and they talk about Coronation Street and other matters that concern folks from the Grim North. But if he hears my footsteps he heads off to the other end of the bed and plays all innocent.
And so as the public sector worker (the Mrs) received her 8.30 cup of tea in bed, served by the wicked capitalist who was already 105 minutes into his Saturday working day), Oakley heard my footsteps and scuttled to the end of the bed. I am sure that as I returned to my evil capitalist desk, he returned to his normal position to once again gaze into the eyes of his girlfriend as they laughed together at the toils of the wealth producing classes.
In response to popular demand (The Mrs, Mu, Darren, Martha and Brokerman Dan) I bring you a short video of my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley taking his morning exercise and negotiating the (extra large) cat flap.
It was something about being untidy. Oh and loud conversations with Lucian Miers about the same “boring stuff.” Anyhow the Mrs has issued a diktat. My office is now in the garage rather than the kitchen or living room.
It is not so bad out here. The garage is effectively a storage room as it backs onto a grassy path which no-one uses. It is light and spacious although a good part of it is taken up housing possessions deemed surplus when combining the households of two folks who only hooked up twenty years into adult life. I think it might get a little cold in the winter and I might beg for a Yuletide transfer back into the house as the snow starts to fall.
But pro tem I am now banished to the garage. Oakley, my three legged cat may be next. He has again disgraced himself in the matter of his lavatorial habits and is currently suffering an ASBO, allowed only in the kitchen. I sense that any more transgressions could see him joining me in the garage.
I have no idea what set him off but Oakley, my three legged cat, is in disgrace. Repeatedly he has been doing his ablutions not in the garden but on the first floor landing. He has been spoken to firmly and on a number of occasions but to no avail. The vet says we must not spank him and so we do not. But there is no alternative, an ASBO has been issued.
As such he is now confined to the kitchen where there is no carpet to tempt him and from where it is only a short hop to the garden. I think the problem is sheer laziness. All that Oakley does is sleep (historically under the duvet in the spare bedroom), eat (too much), drink and that is it. Not a lot goes through his brain because he is not a terribly intelligent beast. All in all he is ideally suited to become an investment analyst at Numis Securities.
From the bedroom the landing is s short hop, the garden involves going up and down the stairs and a long hop. So it is idleness that has caused the Anti-Social behaviour. In due course carpets will be replaced with floorboards and Oakley will once again be allowed the run of the house. But pro tem, and despite numerous mewlings and complaints, he must slumber in the kitchen on his West Ham blanket. The ASBO is being strictly enforced.
Heck it is on twitter so it must be true. Apparently following an exchange of comments about Tom’s piece earlier today on POS stock Iofina (HERE) the headhunters have been instructed to approach Oakley (pictured below).
Oakley is the one on the right. Tara still thinks that if you slash forecasts you keep the target price unchanged so she should not be an analyst should she?
Does a new career as an analyst covering junk AIM stocks such as Iofina beckon for Oakley? Well at least he understands that if forecasts are changed then by definition the valuation of a stock must change. You don’t need to be FCA regulated to get that do you? Even if tara and certain others have not worked it out yet.
The tweet which unearthed this surprising news is below:
Kitosh came to me as a kitten and had a varied life in Islington, Shoreditch, France and finally in the Isle of Man. I remember well the Paris to Douglas train, taxi, train, train, ferry and taxi journey we made together. His sudden death in Douglas a few years ago was a real blow. His ashes have travelled with me since then but have remained for almost two years in a wooden urn hidden at Real Man Pizza in Clerkenwell. Now his final journey begins.
Born on a council estate in Walthamstow he would not have imagined that he would have been so well travelled. But the travelling is now over.
Now that I have a sense of permanence, the Mrs and I have agreed that Kitosh’s urn can be buried in our garden underneath the fig tree. We are not sentimental enough to contemplate some grand ceremony. It will just be the Mrs watching as I dig a deep hole and in goes the urn. The tree marks the spot.
During some years of upheaval for me Kitosh was the one constant in my life and a portrait of him already hangs in the new house as a reminder of that. I am not sure the Mrs is that impressed but she has let it go. So this weekend it is the final farewell, RIP Kitosh my good friend.
Of course Oakley will always be Oakley and later this week we look forward to the installation of a dog flap which allow the obese but adorable creature to venture outside without us opening a door. Currently he can get no more than his head through the cat flap.
The Mrs has fallen in love with Oakley and has started calling him “Darling”. That used to be my name! As an alternative she is calling him “Pudding” which given that she is from the Grim North must be a reference to something that comes in a large portion and is very thick.
My own recently coined nickname is “Benefits Street” on the basis that Oakley spends the whole day in bed, will occasionally do a mess on the carpet because he thinks he has rights without responsibilities, while now and again popping downstairs to demand an extra-large hand-out from the Food Bank.
I stumble out of bed at 5.30 determined to sub more of Zak Mir’s book before the markets opened. But I have an excuse, the back door is open and whilst one cat (Tara) is sitting there waiting for breakfast, my aged three legged cat Oakley is nowhere to be seen. Aha…hunt for Oakley and I can defer the torture of subbing Zak’s book – great news.
I stroll out into the garden and hear wailing from next door. Peering over the wall I see that, somehow, a hugely overweight cat with three legs has managed to make it over. But he appears unable to attempt the return journey and is just wailing. But it is 5.35 and our neighbours do not strike me as early risers. Indeed by 7.15 when the Mrs emerges to cook my breakfast there is still no light on at Number 58.
But then there is a wailing from outside the back door. It is Oakley. After God knows how many hours he has managed to remember how he got over the wall in the first place and has returned. Since he is far too obese to fit through the cat flap (we are buying a dog flap this weekend) he now demands to be let in. The Mrs, who loves Oakley more than she loves me, enjoys a tearful reunion with possibly the stupidest cat in South West England.
Drama over. Now to Zak’s book.
— Tom Winnifrith
Register here for The Tomograph
Tom's newsletter with original articles and a free share tip of the week, not found on this website.