Since the sad demise of my once morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley late last summer, my two year old son Joshua has not stopped talking about his friend who used to sleep by his cot, keeping watch every night. Our old house in Bristol is “Oakley’s House” and while you and I know that the old boy lies at rest next to the body of Kitosh and across the yard from that of his long time companion Tara who is under the rhubarb, Joshua and his mother and I have agreed that the three legged one has “gone to the jungle” where he is happy. But there is a gap in all of our lives anmd so yesterday we told Joshua we had a treat.
We headed up to the RSPCA facility in Wallasey where we had identified two four year old rescue cats who looked just like “da King” and so when we arrived we told Joshua we were going to see Oakley’s cousins. The RSPCA don’t normally house cats with families with a child under four but Quincey (playing below) and Sian (keeping watch) are very friendly I told a white lie about how Joshua was almost three and by the time we filled in forms the lady had marked him down as actually being three. The staff saw Joshua and the Mrs playing with Oakley’s cousins and there was no doubt that we were well suited.
The Welsh hovel is pretty cold but compared to their cells at RSPCA Wallasey it is balmy and both cats have settled in well. For a week or so they must stay in two rooms then there will be another two weeks roaming the whole house before they are unleashed on the outside world. As I type Sian is nuzzling my keyboardwhile Quincey is rubbing against my leg. Oakley would be delighted to see how friendly his cousins are.
The only moment of sadness was saying goodbye to the other cats at the RSPCA. There were a couple of adorable young cats, one of whom looked just like Mrs Chav’s pussy, who had been there almost since birth last August. Sian and Quincey have passed through RSPCA Wallasey twice in their lives, poor things. If you can spare a home and live in the Grim North….
I have noted before, how the cat belong to my next door neighbours, the Chav family, has been sitting in the flower bed next to our back door, fleeing her own house where there is now a very bouncy young dog. With the Mrs away, Joshua and I have now re-opened the cat flap used by the late Oakley and are providing food.. our cunning plan is now working well.
The chav's cat enters and leaves at will and when allowed will walk elsewhere in the house. She sits on chairs and, judging by the hairs on my coat which I threw on the sofa last night, our new friend spent the night at our house and is even getting to the stage where she is not afraid of Joshua and allows him to stroke her. It is not as if our neighbousr seem to mind...
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.
The lady at the vet called during last week and in a very sweet and sympathetic manner said that the ashes of the King of cats, the late Oakley, were ready for collection. And so on Saturday morning I drove to the cat hospital and said who I was and why I was there. "Would you like to settle your account before collecting?" said a mean faced old shrew. It was not a question.
£286.14 poorer - and that was only a fraction of Oakley's bills from the last two weeks of his life - I was presented with an ornate bag containing an ornate cardboard box containing Oakley's coffin which you can see below. Shake it and you can hear, what I hope are, his ashes inside.
On Saturday evening with my daughter supervising Joshua who was watching Paddington bear the movie for the fifth time in a week, myself, the Mrs, Oakley's biggest fan our friend and neighbour Mu and hipster pro cat-sitter Terry headed to the back garden. The coffin was placed in a hole about a foot away from where the wooden urn of Kitosh's ashes was laid to rest and is, I hope, now rotting away.
We all said a few words, a few tears were shed, we each raised a glass of Metaxa and toasted "the King" and then the urn was covered with earth which we have marked with a stone pro tem. We'd like to plant something there preferably a herb as Oakley really liked smelling mint or lavender. But the earth is underneath our fig tree and the vine in the garden only makes it even more shaded. So dear readers: what pungent herb would prosper in such shade? Answers in the comments section below.
Last night as I climbed into bed was one of those times when I really missed Oakley. Both the Mrs and I thought at the same time, how we wished he was there, launching himself up onto the duvet only to annoy us with a fishy kiss at 4 AM and a demand for his first breakfast. Joshua still refers to this house as Oakley's house but he is mentioning him less and less. He seems to accept that he is not coming back.
And thus there will be a small ceremony on Saturday. My daughter will take Joshua for a walk allowing a few of us to bury the urn close to that of Kitosh whose ashes were finally laid to rest here a few years after his demise and to say a few words of farewell. There is not room underneath the rhubarb plant where the body of Oakley’s Companion Tara lies.
Meanwhile, the Mrs is in Belfast on a piss up, I meant serious academic conference. I have been left strict instructions about washing, cleaning and other matters that can wait until Friday afternoon a couple of hours before she gets back. I have also been left a book called Goodbye Mog which I MUST read to Joshua.
Mog is a cat who lives with a ghastly family of tedious do-gooder liberals and my right-on sister has sent a number of Mog books for Joshua to read. I make a few changes as I read them to my lad, to make Mog’s dreary Guardian reading family a bit more entertaining. Your son wants to dress up like a Greenham Common woman? Fine. But allow me to explain to Joshua that this is not normal. Dirty Harry does not dress like that because he is a real man. Comprende? The daughter is a vegan? Whatever – that is why she looks like she has cancer. Eat some of Mog’s food FFS and get healthy you pathetic snowflake.
But this book, borrowed from the library, is about Mog’s demise and what happens next. It is predictably drippy but I will obey orders. I’m a good German. Last night, Joshua and I watched the Paddington Movie but maybe tonight I shall inflict Mog’s demise on the poor boy. And then we can watch an old Clint film to cheer him up.
Following on from the photos accompanying the obituary earlier this week, the Mrs offers up three more examples of classic Oakley, the King of cats. In the first he is still playful in his final year, in the second he shows his, rightful, contempt for Peppa Pig which engrosses Joshua and Paddington and finally he is simply majestic is he not?
Joshua adored Oakley, He calls the Greek Hovel, where I am staying on for a few days, “Joshua’s House,” The house in Bristol is “Oakleys house”. The “King of cats” he called “Oakley da King” and repeated the phrase endlessly. Da King would go to sleep next to Joshua’s cot to keep him company and would head into his room to listen to bedtime tales. He must have known more about the Gruffalo than any other cat.
I first met Oakley seven years ago when my previous companion, Kitosh, died very suddenly having travelled with me from London via Paris to the isle of Man. Grief stricken I headed to the MSPCA where two older cats were sitting unwanted and unloved. There was the very affectionate Tara, who passed away a couple of years ago, and another one who hid in his hutch but was, I was assured, very friendly, if very fat and lazy. That was Oaks.
They travelled with me after my rather hurried departure from the tax dodgers and for a while stayed with the pizza hardman Darren Atwater in Hackney. I know that Darren and his Mrs are devastated by the news. It was during this time that Oakley developed cancer and had his leg amputated. We were told that the big C would probably return within five years but that he was so fat and old that it would not be an issue.
At one point, even with three legs, Oaks tipped the scales at 6.6 kg. So he went on a diet. But in the past year his weight has plunged from 3.7 kg to just 2.7 kg and it was almost certainly the cancer that got him. There is a guilt in that his final days were spent without us. But he was receiving many visits a day from professional cat sitter Terry the hipster plus numerous visits from admirers such as Mu and Godfather Johnny. Perhaps it was a day spent with a junior doctor (Johnny) and being forced by the cruel Shipman to watch the hammers lose on MOTD that proved the final straw, oaks slept loyally in a West Ham blanket.
When Terry the most excellent hipster cat-sitter found him yesterday he had lost all his energy was not eating or drinking and was rushed to the cat hospital. By the time he arrived his eyes were losing colour, jaundice was setting in and there was only one outcome. The Mrs and I both had tearful final conversations with him, well monologues. He did recognise our voices, he really was fading fast. We told him we loved him and said goodbye. I am glad that Terry rather than the Mrs and Joshua had to go through those final hours. Sorry if that sounds selfish.
We will bury the ashes in the garden with a small ceremony as we did when the ashes of Kitosh were interred. Tara’s body was buried rather hastily underneath a rhubarb plant before Joshua could notice.
I think back to five wonderful cats I have owned. There was Big Puss ( aka Jesus) a gift from Uncle Chris when I was young who earned his blasphemous nickname by sleeping in the straw of our crib back at Byfield. He lived to a ripe old age, fathering many children. Poor babysitter, the great, Neil Masuda had to bury him. His replacement had enormous triangular ears and being born in 1982 was named after the bomber with huge triangular wings sending Easter presents to the Argies at that time. Vulcan lived a long life and died peacefully sparing my father a trip to the vets he could not bear to make even though it was the only option so decrepit was “Vulcs”. Then the much travelled east End lad Kitosh and then Oakley and Tara.
In my worst times they would lie in bed with me as I watched old videos and were a great comfort. Oakley was always keen on jumping into bed even when with three legs it involved taking a long lollop up and launching himself like a missile. Not having him launch himself into our bed to offer up big fishy breathed kisses as a reminder that it was time for his first breakfast, will leave a big hole in the life of myself and the Mrs. As for poor Joshua, I just don’t know what the Mrs will say.
I am not sure I can face another pet death. I have had a cat in my life for almost all of my own existence but Oakley really was the king. There could be no substitute.
I take consolation that the King is now at peace with no more suffering. Below he is pictured with his long time companion Tara, with Joshua and alone
Shall we start with the good news, the bad news or more good news? Well let’s start with Oakley, my once morbidly obese but now painfully think three legged cat who is back in Bristol. While we are away we have a professional cat minder Tim, a bearded young man who sends us photos of him and Oakley nuzzling up together and looking happy, hence his name, the “cat molester.”
The bad news a couple of days ago was that Oakley was again off his food, very lethargic and had been rushed to his £300 a night (with drugs) cat hospital. We waited nervously and there was a message about “managing the pathway”. But old oaks is a resilient chap and after being rehydrated and given anti nausea drugs he has been discharged.
The cat molester is putting in extra, non billable, visits and a small army of Bristol well wishers are popping in to watch TV with the old boy who is now on his food once again, and in high spirits. I fear that, aged 16, his best days are behind him but for now all seems well. But these near collapses are becoming more frequent. The writing is, I suspect, on the wall.
The Mrs decided that evening not to eat her supper in full but to bring back the meat for the kittens and cat. I tried to explain that, like Aslan, they will visit when they wish and that might not be for weeks and you can’t just leave the meat out as that will attract other, unwelcome, members of the wildlife diversity community. But that was to no avail. So the meat lies in our fridge, slowly degenerating as we await another visit which may be tonight or may not be for months…
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.
We have not really fallen out but I have had to rebuke the old man sternly. I am staying with him in Shipston to start recording his memoirs which are actually really very interesting, not so much the later life but the years 1938 to 1956. I am not sure what I will do with the recordings but they are part of my family history but also an interesting insight into the war years in so many ways. We have hanged British Nazis, my grandfather, Sir John Winnifrith, in Churchill's bunker, evacuation with the nanny, Mrs No Cow and much more to preserve for posterity.
Amid this jolity Dad wishes to discuss his will. As we run over various matters I ask what is to become of his cat Obe, a fat black and white creature who hates all of humanity bar my father whom she adores. Obe, named after the worst President since Jimmy Carter, is a loathsome creature but I find myself leaping to her defence for my father says that he will have her put down after he dies.
I compare this to the Indian practice of suttee and continue to use words such as extermination and murder throughout the evening. My father suggests that I might want Obe. I do not. I have my three legged feline Oakley and that is enough. But Oakley makes my point - he and his late soulmate Tara came from the cat rescue of the MSPCA after their former owner passed away. And since then Oakley has enjoyed more than six happy years with me.
Okay Oakley is a lovely creature, notwithstanding his lavatorial failings, whereas Obe is a monster but that is not the point. My father says that he has not told anyone else of his intentions towards poor Obe as she looks up at him adoringly. I suggest to him that he keeps it that way. As executor of his will I will not be authorising any cat executions, even if that cat is the frightful Obe.
My three legged cat Oakley is getting old and so now needs a check up every three or four months. The vet is about 400 yards away but Oakley still weighs almost 4 KG so this time he travelled in style as you can see below.
The old boy is no longer morbidly obese. Gone are the days when he was well over 6 kg. In fact he has lost another 10% of his body weight since July despite eating like a horse. So more blood tests are needed. I am in the wrong business. I should be a vet it really is easy money. They warn you how much it will cost but for your best friend you just say "go ahead" and gulp.
It is hard to believe but on Saturday my son Joshua turns one. And s a treat for both of us my mother-in-law is coming to stay for four days, a truly long weekend. Yesterday he stood up for 14 seconds without assistance, he says a few words, plays with Oakley and in Greece went sea swimming for the first time. As for the pool, as you can see below, he is a natch...
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?
Until ten minutes ago the the Mrs clearly thought that I am a wimp and that man flu is a made up disease by those trying to evade nappie changing. Au contraire.
I walked home from the Stingrays gig last night. It was about a mile and a half and up hill. By the time I arrived back at the front door it was raining, albeit gently. I climbed the stairs, fell into bed and collapsed.
I think I was up and heading to the loo about four times during the night. On one occassion I returned to bed covered myself with a duvet and a shiver went right up my body. I was shaking. Today I have been useless. Even my three legged cat Oakley looks active in comparison. Just walking up the stairs is hard, my legs ache with every step.
The Mrs smiled but I knew she did not believe me when I suggested that I have picked up a cold from young Joshua. That was until about ten minutes ago when she said she felt all bunged up and her legs were aching and retreated to bed herself with a lemsip. Women can get man flue too. It's all Joshua's fault. We are agreed.
At 7 PM today I switched on my PC for the first time to approve articles by others. Nothing from me today and the laptop will be switched off shortly. It is a day when I really can't be arsed to do anything.
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 think the last dripping in sweat, post frigana chopping selfie photo was not very flattering. Apparently some of you think that i have multiple chins. Au contraire. That was just the angle. I have not commented on my trouser size for a while but since we are on the subject...
There has been no change. I shifted down from 36 inches to a 34 inch pair about six weeks ago and they now feel very comfortable indeed. I am conscious as I wander into the swimming pool each evening that I still have a bit of a belly but it is not, as it once was, a vast expanse about which I feel real shame. If I breathe in you can see my ribs.
I have not weighed myself for a long while. That is no longer because id be terrified of the reading but because, as I noted the last time I was back at 32 inches and in Greece there seem to be no scales here. I suspect that my BMI is now mildly overweight but not what is termed obese. My priority has been tackling blood sugars - now back happily in range after yesterday's freak reading - not weight loss. Anyhow I hope the selfie below shows that i do not have multiple chins.
Indeed on yesterday's skype call to the Mrs, Joshua and Oakley, the first post haircut, of which more later, the Mrs - without prompting - said my face looked quite thin. That may be relative to that of Oakley but it is progress of sorts.
Meanwhile my babies are growing. The more I look the more I fear that it will be a poor olive harvest this year. For my neighbours who need the income it is bad news. For me it is a minor frustration but one that I can live with. But those olives that are there are now up from tiny balbearing size to small ballbearing size.
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.
I am back in Bristol for a few days and was wandering back from lunch with Joshua when we happened to pass the Conservative Club. The door was open and i was conscious that I needed to renew my father's membership. Though not a Tory, or indeed a Bristol resident, he likes the idea of being able to access cheep beer at a place not far from our house.
Thus, while spending £16 on the renewal, delighting in the idea of pinning Dad's membership card up on a wall at Shipston just to annoy my pious left wing public sector employed sisters, I asked if anyone was in the office upstairs which the Conservative Party uses at election time. It seems not. They must have been obeying the election halt called by Mrs May after the Manchester attacks. "Shame" said I, "Joshua and i were hoping to pick up a poster."
Luckily the lady said that they had a selection behind the bar. I eschewed ones celebrating Mrs May, I wanted to have lots of blue and the word Conservative on it, in order to really ensure that the Mrs (Labour voting, Guardian reading sociology lecturer) was annoyed as much as possible.
We on the right believe in freedom of expression but the Mrs points out that she owns the house and I am only a lodger and has thus barred myself and Joshua from displaying our nice new poster. This is regrettable - should I refuse to pay my rent?
Eight month old Joshua appears to want to nibble the poster which I take as a sign that he is a good Tory. Remember my son: greed is good. I want to put it in the window of the spare room which is where myself and Oakley are sent when one or other or both of us are in the doghouse.
It has taken the older generation a few days to get our respective accounts working but tonight the Mrs and I finally managed a skype call, for the rest of the family are not joining me here in Greece for another couple of weeks. And by "rest of the family" I mean it: the mother in law is coming too. But that treat is for another day.
For now Joshua stared at the screen not quite sure what was happening but as I called out his name he twigged and broke out in a massive smile and just kept on smiling. Then it was Oakley's turn. The Mrs put him next to the screen but my, no longer morbidly obese, three legged cat is camera shy. There was a brief recognition as I called his name but then he scuttled off to play with Joshua.
I always have skype calls with Oakley when I am away but Joshua seems keen on playing ball for far longer. I am sure he is desperate to say "Daddy" but can't manage it quite yet. Not long now.
Day 2 of my battle to tackle type 2 diabetes showed just exactly why there was no way I could do so without shoving my keyboard in a cupboard and changing every aspect of my life. I had to go to London to do some expert witness business for a friend. So it was all on board the 4.47 AM having done a very early morning blood test which came out at 11.7 down from 15.3 the night before. I know that post fasting measures will be lower but even so: I was told those new zappo pills would work fast!
Though I had only porridge on the train that was where the good news sort of stopped. I resisted biscuits in the meeting but by the time I walked out ( after four and a half hours) I was almost fainting and a bowl of pasta at Wedge Issue was much needed. Meeting, meeting, writing a bit for Steve Moore, some garlic bread, stress, it was all bad. I drank only water and coffee but I really felt tired and stressed and by the time I took my bloods very late that evening back in Bristol they were up at 14. The next morning they were still 13.7.
The bad news is that I discovered on Wednesday night that I was out of testing strips and have only just managed to wade through NHS bureaucracy to get some more. So I shall resume testing tonight - day 4. The good news is that two stress free days make me feel relatively confident.
Yesterday I drove up to see my father who remains in hospital and turned 79 on the first day of the new tax year. I showed him the present he will get on his return to Shipston but did so covertly, I sensed the NHS would not like bottles of ouzo being brandished about freely in Warwick Hospital. He was in cracking form and has suffered no further complications. God willing he will be at home within days. Despite having too much driving it was a semi-relaxing day for me. At least it started with me waking up when I feel like it. For the first time in 26 years there is no alarm set to ensure that I am staring at a screen by 7 AM.
While driving I listened to a most excellent programme on Radio 4 about sugar. We Brits eat an average of 30 bags a year - that is one every 12 days. It is horrifying. We eat it neat in our warm drinks, in cakes, soft drinks and puddings and in a way few of us notice in so many processed foods. Sugar consumption has soared and so too has the incidence of type 2 diabetes. The two things are linked.
In Greece I eat no processed foods at all. I, now and agai,n allow myself a pudding but not this year. And so I'd hope to be eating more or less no sugar at all. Here in Britain it is harder but I am cutting out the processed foods, puddings and alcohol so I really hope that I am well below the national average. Not that beating such a shocking score should be hard.
Today there was once again no alarm call. I have eaten very sensibly and I have taken three walks. They may be short walks but they are the sort of walks that I might well have done by car in the past. Now I consciously opted to walk even when carrying Oakley to the vets for his annual check up. My three legged cat is no longer morbidly obese. It is hard to tell beneath his masses of fur but he has lost a good amount of weight. Perhaps too much, expensive blood tests are called for.
But I digress. Let's talk about me.I know my bloods will keep getting better. I am not kidding myself. I know I have a very long way to go but I am heading the right way. And I feel it already! My father would say that this is not the sort of matter a gentleman discusses but I am less tired in the afternoon and, more noticeably, I am pissing far less often. I am now almost excited abut what news tonight's blood test will bring.
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.
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.
When the Mrs and I are away her cousin, Johnny the Junior Doctor, looks after our cat Oakley. Being a greedy junior doctor Johnny is awash with cash and thus, rashly bet me a pint of beer that we would vote against Brexit. Fair dues, Johnny popped by yesterday to pay up. His next gig is going to be in the Shetland Islands and when up there the other day he bought me a bottle of the Northernmost brewed beer in the UK. Valhalla beer tastes like an ash tray but after almost six months off the weed that brought back happy memories.
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.
As I mentioned at some stage last week my step mother is keen that fruit from the garden in Shipston does not go to waste. And so I returned home for an all too brief weekend in Bristol with a punnet of gooseberries that I had picked. Oakley's friend Tara was buried beneath the rhubarb earlier this year and, I apologise if you regard this as tasteless but it had come up amazingly.
Hence below are the gooseberries having been par boiled, followed by the rhubarb with plenty of demerara sugar then photo three is the dish with crumble. Photo four is the finished product and photo five a serving with lashings of cream. Photo six a roast chicken stuffed with lemon and parsley with side helpings of roast potato, sweet potato and chorizo. There was also some garlic buttered spinach but that I forgot to photo. The Mrs conceded that I have my purposes. Not a bad effort all round.
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.
For some reason I awoke early this morning. It is probably the knowledge that the Mrs lands at 11.30 Greek Time and so I have a fair bit of scribbling to do to ensure that you get your daily dose of golden prose and poisonous malice. As is my wont I threw open the front door ahead of doing to an olive tree what only a man can do. With a speed my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley could not even contemplate a small cat shot past me.
I am pretty sure that this little black and white creature visited me two summers ago when I gave it some milk. It is a little larger now and will be one of the numerous feral cats that roam the hills around here. There is clearly a domestic cat gene or two in it but it is wild and terrified of humans. What it was doing on the snake veranda last night I cannot imagine.
This member of the wildlife diversity community is most welcome. I am by nature a cat person but out here I want as many cats as possible roaming the property. For not only do they eat mice and rats but they will also attack snakes too and wll kill them for food. Before I could reach for a camera, Mr cat shot off into the fields where, after yesterday, I must wish him the happiest of hunting.
Snake hill is a stretch of, very rough and multi-potholed, concrete that tracks down from the quiet olive groves on my side of the valley to the valley floor. It ends at the dry river where the track once again turns to mud for a couple of hundred yards before one takes a sharp left to head up the concreted track next to the deserted monastery where, when driving at night, I still imagine the presence of ghostly phantom monks.
Snake hill got its name two years ago when my guest that summer made the grave mistake of going for a run in the midday heat and encountered a serpent sitting on the hill. She sidestepped the viper but the hill got its name.
Ever since then I have been waiting to see another snake there. I have seen plenty of lizards and heard lots of rustling in the bushes on either side of the road but not seen a snake. But today: two!
I tend to think that a more likely snake killer would be one of the feral cats that roam the hillsides around here. They are, apparently, perfectly capable of taking on a snake, even a poisonous one. I noted that one of the two serpents looked half eaten so maybe it was a cat that can claim these "kills".
Somehow I cannot see my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley coming out well in a one-to-one match up with a viper, but these Greek feral cats are made of sterner stuff.
It was 3PM and no articles had appeared on either site. last week I think I was averaging eight or nine a day and, so having filed only a handful yesterday, the complete lack of material was startting to ring alarm bells back in Clerkenwell. But Darren's texts went unanswered.
I truly feel rotten. Since Saturday noon I have been off my food, just about managing half of a small portion when the Mrs took me out to lunch. Life is about lying in bed with Oakley, drinking lempsip and orange juice and occassionally getting up to watch a back episode of Grantchester with the Mrs. She leaves Bristol at 3AM tomorrow for a business trip to Helsinki and I am really not sure how I shall manage the logistics of that.
Pro tem it is another lempsip and back to bed with the morbidly obese three legged cat.
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.
There are again lavatorial issues with our two cats Chez Winnifrith. One of them has disgraced himself or herself with a deposit just inside the front door. But it is the season of goodwill and as you can see below my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley is taking it easy...
And so Monday dragged on with Tara the cat refusing to eat or drink more than a few sips of water despite the £300 invested the prior day in seeking emergency treatment from the vet. By the evening we took matters into our own hands. The Mrs held poor Tara tight and I forced her mouth open and with a syringe (no needle) forced her (Tara not the Mrs) to drink some cat milk. She seemed to perk up a bit and was again allowed to sleep with us.
I was keen to slumber after a hard day in the private sector but the Mrs is now on her prolonged public sector funded summer vacation and so was keen to read a book on how capitalism causes global poverty or some such nonsense and so kept the light on. And that attracted a moth.
Oakley, our morbidly obese three legged cat, followed the little moth closely but was too lazy to do anything about it. But all of a sudden Tara was once again her old self, leaping around the room in active pursuit. Eventually, one big leap in the air saw the moth snared and then devoured. Eating again. Perhaps it was back to normal?
Sadly no. Tuesday saw another day of no eating or minimal drinking and thus Tara was booked in for a scan this morning to see if, as feared, she had a growth in her stomach. The Mrs was ordered to starve Tara from 9 PM. At 8 PM it was back to old Tara demanding food aggressively and she ate like a horse once more, until the deadline at which point the food was removed and both Tara and Oakley complained bitterly that this was a breach of their basic human rights.
So today came the scan (£254) and it appears that there may be some small growths in her stomach but the real issue is an inflamed pancreas. And so now she is spending a night in hospital on a drip to be rehydrated (£189) and the given a cocktail of drugs (£50) to treat the inflammation. The Mrs has discovered visiting hours and will be popping along shortly and tomorrow I got to pick Tara (and a bill for almost £500) up.
Oakley is showing no sympathy. He has had a ball. Each time we have presented food to Tara she has rejected it. Lucky Oakley then goes and enjoys yet another meal. He wants this farce to carry on in perpetuity. I’m not sure that my bank balance can take it much longer.
But at least the ordeal may be over and Tara should be home by tomorrow night.
Thanks to @facebook forcing me to use my real name, I am now at more risk of rape and death threats. But enjoy flogging that data, guys.
Where to start? Well Facebook is a company. It has costs. It tries to make a profit. I know Laurie is a lefty so thinks profits are evil but without them firms die. Laurie pays zippo for her facebook page. So Facebook has to minotise her somehow.
She is not obliged to use facebook. If she does not like the terms of trade offered to her to set up a facebook page for free she can always not use the service. I have a facebook page as does my cat, the morbidly Obese three legged Oakley who actually takes the silly world of facebook more seriously than do I, as you can see HERE. We pay nothing but accept that facebook has to generate revenue so accept its terms of trade. Laurie cannot pay nothing and then demand her own terms of trade.
It is sad that folks send death threats and harass people for what the write. Laurie is very silly and writes piffle but that is her right in a free world. But beng a controversial writer comes at a cost. Neither Oakley or I shelter behind pseudonyms, a writer who understands free speech uses his or her own name and does so with pride.
Tara was due a vets visit two weeks ago but cunningly broke out of the house, found some food and thus got a repreieve. The Mrs was not to be foiled again and so, on Thursday night, the thinner of our two cats was treated to a wet-food treat of a supper and then put on a strict regime. She and the morbidly obese three legged Oakley were locked up away from all food.
Friday morning came and the cats were in full cry. Sometimes in unison and sometimes in rotation they mewled and demanded food. But there was no relenting and at 8.30 Tara was put in her carrying box - which she hates - and bustled off to the vets. We need to discover why a cat that eats like a horse is so terribly thin. The results arrive on Tuesday.
Suffice to say that after her ordeal and Oakley's fasting, which he regarded as a breach of his basic human rights, both creatures have been spolied rotten by both of us.
Give the many admirers that my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley has (well Brokerman Dan at least) it is time that the old boy got into social media and so as of today his very own facebook page has gone live. If you want to "friend" the creature also known as Benefits Street, you can do so here
I had a routine doctor’s appointment at 11 and was dreading it. “How much do you drink? Do you know smoking is bad for you?” “No doc, when I said a bottle I meant a day not a week and no is it? When did they find that out?” But I was spared this little treat by Oakley, my morbidly obese three legged cat who started screaming at 10.40 and then showed himself unable to walk. His sole back leg was just being dragged along the floor.
I thought back to the demise of poor Kitosh, my old cat who behaved in this way as he was struck down with am embolism. He was dead within an hour. Oakley crawled into the corner. I called for the Mrs who scuttled downstairs and within 10 minutes we were at the vets and I was off the medical hook.
Oakley just sat there as the vet took his blood pressure and stuck probes and thermometers into various “openings”. After about half an hour with the Mrs almost in tears came the verdict: the strain of carrying his enormous belly around on just three legs had put too much pressure on his one hind leg and he had a swollen knee. A quick injection of some pain killers and Oakley was almost happy again. In fact he was so happy, as I worked out how I was to pay a bill for £106, that he urinated all over the Mrs and then did a shit on the floor of the vet’s waiting room. We were not charged extra for that.
A few hours later and the old boy is hopping around as if per normal. He has slept most of the day and has just headed off to the marital bed to lies down with the Mrs who brought home some extra treats for him – organic cat food made from hand caught trout and shrimp. The cat known as Benefits Street is back in his element, sleeping, eating too much and contributing nothing to the household while leaving the grateful taxpayer (i.e. me) to pick up the tab for his lifestyle choices.
I finally struggled back home to Bristol at 11 PM last night – 38 hours after leaving for London. I was greeted by two wailing cats, Tata and Oakley who guided me to where there food should have been. Cripes – the auto cat feeder had not worked.
Tara is think as a rake but eats like a horse. Oakley has three legs, is morbidly obese but is less greedy than his companion. He is just lazy. But both clearly felt aggrieved. I unjammed the auto feeder and poured an enormous bowl of food which they devoured greedily. Luckily, feeling guilty about abandoning them for so long, I had bought two cartons of cat milk, the sort of product daft Londoners love to treat their felines with.
I the relented on the ASBO and so far have not been punished with lavatorial naughtiness merely with loud meowing to demand food at 5 AM. I am forgiven. Just as long as the Mrs does not find out as she would almost certainly report me to the RSPCA.
Oakley and Tara are terrified of her hoover but the cats know that even more frightening would be the wrath of the Mrs were she to arrive back next week and see the State of the house. Thank God the cleaning lady has arrived and like the German army sweeping through France in 1940 she has cleared away all evidence of our various transgressions. Only one challenge now remains.
I leave for London on Tuesday. That means that I have four days in which to ensure that neither myself or the cats makes any sort of mess. I am thinking that to play it safe the cats and I should book into a hotel right now. The four day challenge begins.
The house is perhaps not as tidy as it might be in normal times. With the Mrs. away it is back to a student routine of washing a plate before you eat rather than afterwards. I sense that before the Mrs. gets back I may be paying the cleaning lady to do a double shift to hide evidence of what myself and the cats have been up to in terms of housework. Or rather lack of it.
The cats are in disgrace. The day before I left for London the morbidly obese three legged Oakley decided to use the bathroom floor as his latrine being too lazy to walk an extra flight of stairs to the garden. Meanwhile his co-conspirator Tara vomited in the bedroom. Hence they were locked in the kitchen for a week long ASBO in my absence.
On my return so happy were we all to be reunited that I relented and allowed them to sleep in what they regard astheir bed, that is to say the main bedroom. In the morning I awoke to discover that Oakley had used the front doormat as his latrine, so idle is he that he cannot even use a cat flap. The ASBO was reinstated.
And so I awoke this morning and for some reason remembered that I had taken my trousers off the night before in the kitchen. I cannot remember why but with the Mrs. away all normal patterns of behavior go out of the window. Stumbling downstairs I put on the trousers only to discover as they rise up my leg that Tara had been sick inside them. How very amusing.
The trousers went in the washing machine. I went for a shower. The cats are in the kitchen on ASBO waling that they want a day release to come and sit with me as I work. But the ASBO is now being enforced rigidly. After another day of working without trousers, both cats are 100% in the doghouse.
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
A younger wife means that I have to attend parties, something a man of my age should be dodging. Cocoa, slippers and a quiet night watching Midsommer Murders with Oakley, that is what I want on a Saturday evening, not a trip up to London for a party.
At least it will be recognised that I am an older man so I will be offered a seat in the corner where I can fall asleep as the young folk stand, chat and do whatever young folk do. Texting? Drugs? I just don’t know.
The hosts are among the least mad of the friends of the Mrs. That is to say they only fairly left wing and as it happens I like them. I am not sure it is mutual, as among the friends of my wife I sense that I am regarded as a reactionary and grumpy old man. I can think of fewer greater compliments.
But suffice to say I shall tonight be among a cabal of mad lefties who blame everything on Thatcher, bankers, capitalists and the Tories (plus George Bush). Normally on such occasions I find it simplest to feign illness or sleep deprivation and let it all wash over me but occasionally I rise to the bait.
The Mrs and I were away for the weekend and so were not able to file a couple of UKIP flyers that came through the door in an appropriate place. However my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley made his own political statement on top of them as you can see below.
Normally, when he opts to use the space where we once had a front doormat before he soiled it repeatedly as his inside lavatory, the Mrs – the woman formerly known as the deluded lefty - responds with an ASBO, that is to say locking him in the kitchen. But on this occasion she expressed a degree of pride and rewarded the old boy rather than punishing him.
Now let’s wait for the Labour flyers. I have had words with my capitalist cat Tara on how to deal with them
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.
The man at the hardware store in Kambos said there was no need to buy snake repellent canisters as they will not wake up till June and I’m back in May. I am not so sure about that as I distinctly remember meeting a snake on what is known as the snake veranda on my first visit to the hovel in April. But I did not argue, I said efharisto and shook his hand warmly.
I worked at the Kourounis taverna in the afternoon and headed up to the hovel to lay out sweeties for the rats. But on arrival I found myself staring at one patch of rocks where I had hacked down a particularly loathsome frigana bush in the summer. There was still some dead frigana branches by the fence which George had overlooked,
And so, having learned how to light a fire with dried grass and a cigarette lighter I set to work. As the skies darkened the flames took out not only the dead branches but also the old stumps on the ground and some of the new green shoots that had appeared. I love the idea of old frigana providing the blaze that burns new frigana. The rocks are now black. The rain will clean them up and wash the ashes away.
There was a time when the dark at the hovel frightened me. But no more. As I stood by the dying fire I took three pictures – maybe you can see the hovel in the background in the first and the mountains in the second and third. I laid out the rat sweeties, locked up and now sit back in the Kourounis tavern planning a farewell Metaxa and my goodbyes. I will be up at 5 AM your time as I start the trek back to the UK.
It is back to the UK not back home. The Mrs, the cats, my family are in the UK and so that is in a way home. That is where I pay tax. But this is also my home. Slowly I am learning Greek. In the summer I shall start work on preparing for the rebuilding of the hovel, sort out my residency, and buy a gun, a motorbike and a truck. A few tweaks to the way I run my work and I could live here all year. Of course I can’t yet. The Mrs has her career and Oakley needs looking after. My father is old.
But I am sitting here at the Kourounis tavern. At the bar Vangelis – the man in the pink shirt – is playing on his computer. Lovely Eleni’s mother in law is watching more bad news on the TV. A rather hungover Nikko the communist may recover from an all-day ouzo session to pop in later. And I sit in the corner tapping away as part of the furniture.
I start counting down the days to my return to the Mani in May on Wednesday morning.
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
Tara, who makes her video debut below, may not be related to Oakley but the two have lived together for all of their 13 years. She may be sleek and slim but she is the capitalist cat. Oakley does nothing all day and is thus sometimes referred to as Benefits Street. Tara believes that Greed is Good and thus eats far more than Oakley either from her food bowl or by snacking on human food whenever she can grab it. I guess she has a higher metabolic rate than Oakley and she also takes plenty of exercise patrolling the garden.
I first met the two of them in the Isle of Man after the sudden death of my previous cat Kitosh. His ashes travelled with me in the years that followed and are now buried in a wooden cat shaped urn underneath a newly planted thyme bush at the bottom of our Garden in Brislington.
At the MSPCA sanctuary as I wandered along seeking a replacement for Kitosh the sweet young kittens grabbed all the attention. But in one cage there were two much older cats Tara and Oakley. Well I was told there were two. Oakley rarely made an appearance as he liked to sleep all day inside a hutch but the staff assured me that he was a lovely creature, as indeed he is. Tara, on the other hand was flirtatious and friendly and I was amazed that after five months with the MSPCA no-one had offered them a home. Their destiny seemed to be to stay there forever. And so they came to live with me.
Tara will scoff food whenever offered but also begs for it at every opportunity. If you are cooking she wanders around at your feet miaowing suggesting that at least some of the chicken biryani, or curried pork chops should head her way. Thai Green prawn curry. Yum yum. Tara will eat anything.
If I am not cooking but just tapping away at my PC Tara’s strategy is just to lie on the floor wriggling and looking sweet. She knows this will catch your attention and then she can demand food. Right now the Mrs has gone to bed with Oakley to get some much needed rest. The public sector worker and Benefits Street feel overworked and exploited. Tara sits with me in the kitchen watching me work and occasionally looking up at me with that face that says ”you know I still have some Dreamies from my Christmas stocking over there don’t you?”
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.
My morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley now tips the scales at 9 llbs and so is meant to be on a strict diet. I suspect that the Mrs has been helping him snack when I am away and they lie on the sofa watching Coonation Street together. Since the Mrs works in the public sector she is not an early riser and so I hand out breakfast to Oakley and the ultra slim Tara at c 8 AM. It is now 11.30 and Oakley reckons that he is starving and begs for more
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.
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 had been as unsuccessful as my first but somehow I had been offered a third bite at the cherry and a letter had arrived. I was a young man again and was with my father who was also twenty five years younger than he is now. With no stick and still quite fit he was able to keep up with me as we strolled along some grass covered walls.
The sun was shining brightly and as we chatted there was talk of going punting after the interview. But we were not in Oxford. Where were we? The place seemed terribly familiar. Steep walls on a drive up to a fortress with wide grass banks heading back from the wall tops. It sort of reminded me of the approach to the great castle in Corfu town from the bus station side. But the grass was a pale green not a Greek summer brown. It was not Corfu but it was like it and it certainly was not Oxford. I am struggling on this point. Perhaps it is nowhere?
And then came the realisation. The letter had given a time and a place but so engrossed was I with other matters that I had forgotten. And for some reason the whole point of going to Oxford had also rather passed my father by as well. How was I to break the news to him that I had screwed up again and I had now failed to git in for a third time simply because I had not shown up at all?
As I worked out how to fess up and felt ever worse about it I awoke with a start, gently kicking a dozing three legged Oakley in the process.
Dreams are meant to mean something. Does anyone have any ideas on this one?
Oakley is somewhat in the doghouse after yet again leaving a deposit on the doormat and so today both he and his friend Tara are confined to the kitchen with myself. No run of house is allowed for either. But Oakley, who now weighs a disgraceful 9 llbs, has just three legs and is also known as Benefits Street becuase he dos nothing all day other than eat, sleep and watch trash TV with the Mrs, is the hero of the day.
For Oakley spotted another cat - almost as large as him wander into our garden. The normally fearless Tara did nothing. And so the old boy hopped off the sofa, hopped out through the cat flap and hopped into the centre of the back yard staring defiantly at the intruder.
The intruder fled. Oakley hung around outside for a few minutes savouring this unexpected triumph and then hopped back inside and launched himself onto the sofa. Such bravery earned him a couple of "dreamies" cat snacks and then it was soon back to sleep. A video of our brave warrior is below.
As you may know the Mrs has decreed that I cannot work in the house because I make it untidy, stop her having freedom to canoodle three legged cat Oakley, watch Coronation Street and “work” on Facebook, etc. And so I was consigned to the garage as my new study. As October turned to November I flagged up that the garage was a little on the nippy side.
And so for Christmas by biggest present was a radiator. I have until now managed to avoid using it and have happily worked away in the kitchen. The Mrs has this morning put her little feet down and so I am now in the garage. The radiator is blasting away against my left leg which is toasting nicely. My right leg is about surviving. But above the desk my fingers are freezing as I tap away. I suppose it keeps me awake. The Mrs is however almost quoting the blessed Margaret – of whom she strongly disapproves: “The lady is not for turning.”
Meanwhile as a birthday present I am to be allowed to give a lecture to the sociology students currently taught by the Mrs. These impressionable young people currently have their minds filled with all sorts of nonsense about the “science” of Marxist theory, the exploitation of workers and the third world and similar topics. Later this term they are in for a shock.
“Greed is good, capitalism makes the world a better place for all “is the working title of my talk – I suspect this will be the first time that these young folks have heard such a message. I have asked that the talk and the students/lecturers chucking chairs at me and howling abuse be videoed so that I can put it up here. Into the Lion’s Den I go.
Christmas was a kids heavy zone for the Mrs and I, mine, nephews, god-children, the works. From 26th December to January 2nd there were the various noises children make everywhere in our lives. In a house which normally contains two quiet adults and two quiet cats it came as a bit of a shock. And then suddenly it was all over. The last children departed and the house was just still. It seemed almost surreal.
And now the only noises we hear are keyboards tapping away, West Wing DVDs in the evening and a vomiting cat. It is not Oakley the three legged creature known as Benefits Street. Having hidden under beds and duvets for almost a week to avoid being smothered with infantile embraces he is now back to his normal routine of sleeping for nearly all of the day in what was once known as the marital bed but what he now regards as his bed. Occasionally he makes an appearance downstairs for food or to watch the West Wing with us.
It is Tara who is making the noise. Thin as a rake and very feminine Tara is the capitalist cat. That is to say she thinks that “greed is good”. Which of course it is. But when she cannot rouse myself or the Mrs to provide here with more food plus some of her Christmas treats (cat nip biscuits or 2 calorie morsels known as Dreamies) she has taken to eating bits of the Christmas tree. And then being sick in a most demonstrative and noisy manner.
For some reason I dozed off between the end of Skyfall and the tome to go to midnight mass. As such when waking up on Christmas day the stockings of myself, the Mrs and the cats were opened in something of a rush. Santa clearly thought that we had all behaved well in 2014. Clearly he does not know about how Oakley, the three legged cat, likes weeing on the inside doormat. And thus we were all well rewarded and after a splendid breakfast cooked by yours truly we wandered off to St Cuthbert’s Brislington.
Built in 1933 this church could easily hold 350. As it was with the Mrs and I in attendance there were 15 in the congregation plus vicar and organist. It is not as if midnight mass at Brislington is packed – there cannot have been more than 35 in attendance in 2013. One fears that a couple of cold winters could see just the mrs, the Vicar and I attending Christmas day 2018. We were the youngest in the congregation by a long chalk: what is happening to the C of E?
It is just that Christmas has become one great big godless consumerfest celebrated across the world by folks of whatever background. My 13 year old daughter Olivia – deprived of the alternate Christmases promised by her mother Big Nose 10 years ago, has never once attended Church on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. That I rather regret.
The Mrs and I do not take communion as I am very much lapsed in my faith and the Mrs has grave doubts. But we try to think of what Christmas is about and it is not as the Radio DJs insist on saying “all about family and friends”. However much the PC brigade insist otherwise Christmas is about Jesus. The fact we celebrate this festival and the traditions involved are down to Jesus. We give each other presents because we are celebrating God giving us his only son, whether we regard that as fact, belief or fantasy. To deny the involvement of Jesus in Christmas seems fatuous to me.
The sermon was bland enough but at least this C of E vicar managed to resist the urge to pray for peace in Palestine, the C of E codewords for “all power to Hamas”. And with that it was back to a Christmas lunch (Duck, perfect roasted potatoes and parsnips, carrots and cabbage) prepared by yours truly, followed by the Queen and then another TW culinary triumph of Christmas pudding. And the presents and given the mindless rubbish on the TV, we started watching my present to the Mrs, the Complete West Wing box series on DVD.
For me, a framed map of Southern Europe in Turkish times – perhaps not something to hang in Greece – and a radiator for my study, aka the garage. Most practical. And after long family calls to one and all in the UK, USA and India bed loomed ahead of a long trip for Christmas two – goat with the Greek brother in law of the Mrs and family. And yes, another Christmas pudding from the master chef loomed.
We all celebrate Christmas in different ways. For the Mrs and I it is a traditional day. Midnight Mass here in Bristol, perhaps with a swift sherry at the Conservative Club beforehand. It is on the way to Church after all!
And then stockings in the morning. Well I know she is getting one as she has been well behaved all year. I cook the duck and trimmings, presents, calls around the world to family and friends and then a collapse as we await Downton Abbey. It is on Boxing Day that the travel nightmare of family days starts with a Greek Christmas with the wife’s sister and Greek Husband in Hertfordshire. Goat followed by Christmas pudding.
For Oakley & Tara it is just even more food than usual and, yes, they have both been fairly well behaved and so get a stocking too.
Whatever you do, we all send you are best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
I had planned to stay sober until my return but I fear that I have been led astray. I blame OTE Telecom. I still cannot get on the interwebby at The Greek Hovel so spent all Sunday working from the Kouronis taverna in Kambos, run by lovely Eleni. At about 10 O’clock Greek Time I was done writing and asked for my bill. But instead I was summoned to the bar and asked to sit with four men.
Either side of me were two Gentlemen who spoke English. The younger (George) was a relative newcomer to the area, the elder (Nikos) is a greying stocky man with a walrus moustache. It was he who had cross words with me on my second day here when I supported the Krauts rather than the Argies in the football. Since then we have exchanged nothing but pleasantries. Behind Nikos was the man in the pink polo shirt (Vangelis) and behind George was another George, a Greek only speaking builder.
I was told “it is not will you have a drink but what are you drinking”. They were on the hard stuff and so I opted for ouzo. Nikos told me that they had decided they needed to know me better as I was now their neighbour.
They refused to let me pay and four hours later I was rather the worse for wear. Nikos was concerned about me biking home. He offered to drive me several times but since he was also a tad unsteady on his feet I declined and made it back to the hovel falling off only once as my bike meandered across the track at five miles an hour.
Poor Niko (husband of Eleni) had to pour round after round, happy in the knowledge that he had to get up at 5.30 AM to go to the fruit market in Kalamata.
The conversation was wide ranging. I told them my father wrote books on Greece, spoke Greek and drank more than me. They said they wanted him to come next summer not me. They asked how they could help and what I did. So I explained about the writing and mentioned the death threats. Not a problem. If any strangers come to Kambos and ask for me “We will shoot them..but only if you want us to.”
We talked olives. Nikos recollected planting trees with his father when he was ten and now they stand at the heart of his fields. Actually he is marketing manager for a Cretan organic food company headquartered in Athens. But since the downturn there is not much demand so he is back in Kambos with his friends and his olives, doing a bit of work by phone and on the web.
The four men will be the winter crew. In the summer all sorts of folks come here to visit friends and relatives. As winter draws in they disappear. And so by the time of the Olive harvest this will be the hard core drinking crew at Eleni’s. Vangelis will cook a celebrator meal of wild birds with his own wine when my harvest is done. I said that I’d bring a Christmas pudding as my contribution and started to try to explain but in the end just said it tastes great and has lots of alcohol in it. That seemed to convince them all.
We talked snakes. Apparently the answer is to get a cat as cats eat snakes. I tried to picture my fat three legged cat Oakley engaged in mortal combat with a snake and found it hard to imagine. Oakley regards having to walk downstairs as strenuous exercise but apparently his Greek cousins are made of sterner stuff. And so maybe the Hovel, when completely renovated will need a cat. Oakley, do you have your passport ready?
I felt dreadful this morning and on arriving at the Kouronis taverna was met with a knowing smile by a laughing Eleni and her mother in law Poppy. “Crazy Greek men” she said as I ordered eggs and toast and started mainlining orange juice.
Three of the e crazy Greek men are again at Kouronis tonight as I write. They are not drinking. Just to show them that I’m not a total pansy I am struggling to down a glass f the local cheeky rose.
Tomorrow I go back on the wagon and will make amends for a poor 24 hours on the diet front with a full day in the fields frigana cutting. Writing will be limited.
The Mrs is back in Bristol already sending me photos of our cats Oakley (three legs) and Tara (four) who she is no doubt hugging to death and spoiling quite outrageously. I am sure that I shall do the same when I head back in a few weeks’ time.
I was delighted when the Mrs was here but it had two drawbacks. Without her I have slipped once again into my no alcohol and one or two Greek salads a day diet. With her I was drinking and eating rather more. And so my weight loss was arrested, in fact reversed a bit. Now I am in overdrive as I have just over three weeks to finish the frigana cutting and so am upping my manual labour rate accordingly.
The other drawback is that whilst my commercial writings (shares) continued almost every day, with the Mrs here I have no time for my personal writings. I enjoy my musings on life at The Greek Hovel far more than financial writing but know that those articles don’t pay the bills. And so I have an awful lot to catch up including two murders in our village of Kambos and my own detention at Kardimili police station. And much more. It is all in my head and so I pledge three articles every two days on that catch up until my flight home on the 27th or 28th - I still have not decided how to get home yet in light of my concerns about Jihadis and Ebola).
The catch up starts tomorrow with the murders.
Meanwhile the Mrs will be delighted to know that the Greek Hovel seems to have suffered an invasion of giant millipedes in her absence. Some seem to be two inches long. Being a nice guy I am not killing them but do not fancy them crawling up the sheets as I try to sleep tonight so one by one they are being scooped up onto an increasingly battered copy of The Mani by Paddy Leigh Fermour and deposited outside with the rest of the wildlife diversity.
As one leaves the small Mani town of Kardamili the road starts to climb steeply. On the edge of town there are a couple of fish restaurants, some slightly newer housing including the house that Paddy Leigh Fermor built for himself. My family stayed there once as my father knew Paddy – it just happened that this was the one family break to Greece that I did not go on.
Paddy left his house to the Greek State to turn into some sort of writing school. You would have thought that after a lifetime here he would have known better. It is slowly decaying, neglected by a State that although bankrupt can still afford to give anyone with a couple of olive trees an annual grant of 500 Euro.
The first of the fish restaurants as one heads up the hill is the favourite of the Mrs and I. The food is great, the wine flows, the waiters are friendly and efficient and the view over the cove below is magnificent.
On one side of the cove is a small working harbour used by fisherman. At night you can see the lights on the boats as they chug slowly home. A jetty provides a breakwater for the waves although nothing much happens o it other than bridal parties posing for photos. At the far end of the cove is a concrete jetty which is totally empty. If you have seen the film Before Midnight the final scene was filmed there as it became a seaside bar for just one night.
And so the other day we wandered down to the cove along a small road with not a human in sight. At the bottom we were greeted by a white goose, a white duck and a rather fat mallard male. The goose stared at us rather stupidly. The white duck ignored us. But the mallard started to follow me in a gentle ambling sort of fashion.
The Mrs thought this rather sweet and cried out “pudding” which is her pet name for my cat Oakley whom she adores. But while Oakley is sweet the duck was not. Encouraged by the thought that it might be, I leant over to touch it at which point t moved swiftly forward and bit my leg. The Mrs thought this very funny. I moved off at a swift pace but the duck pursued me keen to have another go.
“Bloody hell I am six foot tall and eat duck. You are a duck” I said to myself, turned, faced the enemy and kicked the air in front of it. The duck beat a hasty retreat, the Mrs was still laughing. The duck should consider itself lucky to have escaped so lightly – seven weeks of Greek salads might make a man think of suitable accompaniments to Orange sauce.
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.
In the end the Mrs could bear it no longer and left a day early to secure the release from cat prison of her two “puddings” Tara and Oakley. For the last five days of the holiday it was “only four days to the puddings” and only “three days and 16 hours” to go.
Every time we ate in a restaurant and were inevitably surrounded by a bunch of scrawny Greek cats we would both throw them bits of food to ease the guilt of confining Tata and Oakley to cat prison. “Should we order an extra portion of whitebait just for the cats” we asked ourselves.
And so at ten am the doors will open at the cat prison. The Mrs will, having arrived back in Bristol at 1.30 AM, having been waiting impatiently outside for quite some time. The reunion will be joyful. I am expecting – and am happy to pay – a huge roaming phone bill – as text images of Tara and Oakley are sent over this morning. By 10.30 the cats will be back home, being pampered with treats and sitting with the Mrs as she catches up on two weeks of Coronation Street.
Did I mention that the Mrs is hooked on The Street? I really do not understand it at all. I guess it is something for those from the Grim North only.
The Mrs booked our two cats, Tara and Oakley, into what seemed like a nice cat hostel before we left. We were told about how they would share a chalet and be well looked after and it would cost £15 a day. I shall not name the hostelry but suffice to say that they neglected to mention that it was VAT on top and then compulsory insurance (60p per day per cat) and then VAT on that. Oh and they charge for the day of drop off and the day of collection as well.
For providing a basic cell and 2 bowls of food a day per cat this is money for old rope. Okay the concentration camp has now had to take two calls in six days from the Mrs worrying if her “puddings” are alright. The Gauleiter says that they are and braces herself for another call next week.
But this makes me think that there is a great business opportunity out there. The most shared images on twitter and facebook are …cats. So how about this as a business plan?
I set up a cat hotel which offers not the thin prison blankets that poor Tara and Oakley were provided with before the Mrs intervened (the darlings are used to a duvet after all) but luxury rugs. We offer twice the space of a conventional hotel and all day heating not just at night-time. And we also fix a webcam in each luxury en-suite facility. And then we stream the pictures over the internet with different streams for each luxury enclosure. The owners would be told which stream their cats were on and perhaps for owners there could be a secure log in allowing them to talk to their cats on Skype? For folks like my Mrs this would be a great reassurance.
The general public would not have the Skype facility but for folks like Mu (the normal cat sitter for Oakley and Tara) this would be a dream website where they could drool over cats all day. The traffic would be enormous and I am sure that Iams, Whiskas, Pet Insurers etc. would be paying a fortune for advertising. It’s a win win, the Mrs would not bleat about paying £19.34 (inc VAT) per day for such a luxury facility and so we could make 90% gross margins at that end, while we would coin it in at the other end from our web-presence?
I have seen dafter propositions secure EIS funding, what do you all reckon, shall we band together to launch Luxurycathotel.com Ltd?
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:
Long time readers will know that I face a perennial battle with my weight. My scales are broken and so I am reduced to monitoring the great fight by trouser size. At my fat bastard peak I was a 44 inch waist (19 stone six). Awful. My fighting weight sees me in 32 inch waist trousers and at just over 14 stone – that is easily a normal Body Mass Index.
Being a real man I loathe shopping for clothes but reluctantly agreed with the Mrs that a new pair of black jeans was needed last week. I ventured into Top Man and nervously wondered what size to try on. 32 inches was not an option, I am aware that I have put on a few pounds. Rather timidly I tried on a 36. And they seemed to fit so I quickly invested £30 and scuttled out as fast as I could.
Five days into my Spartan, in sympathy with my obese three legged cat Oakley, diet and off the sauce it strikes me that the situation is not as bad as first feared. My trousers are falling down. That is the first bit of good news. The second is that I am rather enjoying being off the sauce, I am more productive and feel less tired. I am also avoiding my other great weakness, cheese. Carrots are not that bad really.
The bad news is that I must again trot along to Top Man and splash out another £30 as I am clearly a 34. At this rate a 32 beckons by the time I have completed some April walking in Greece.
As for Oakley…do not ask. He is really not taking this seriously at all.
On Saturday I wore my London Irish shirt from my playing days, I suffered for 95 minutes which seemed like an eternity and I thanked God for agreeing to my suggestion that West Ham lose but Ireland triumph. Today I am asked to celebrate St Patrick’s Day but I will not do so.
For this day is a day when the whole world becomes Irish, hundreds of thousands don ghastly fake leprechaun hats and everyone gets drunk. By midnight the streets of Britain will be littered with discarded fake leprechaun hats, piles of vomit and folks collapsed on the street singing Swing Low Sweet Chariots as they remember who they really are. St Patrick would no doubt be truly honoured.
Party of my Irish ancestry comes from the Mathew family who were great temperance campaigners. The last of the line (named after its founder) died of an alcohol related illness some years ago. I cannot say that I am a man of temperance, quite the opposite.
But as it happens I have made an agreement with my three legged cat Oakley. The vet suggests that, especially has he only has three legs with which to support his body mass, he is a little plump. In fact I think the word she used was obese. So Oakley is on the low fat Iams and is being forced to take some exercise. In sympathy I have been off the sauce since Friday and am also on a Spartan diet. The Mrs reckons, not unfairly, that I could do with losing a few pounds and so Oakley and I are suffering together. As such I have enjoyed three days of complete sobriety which is all rather a shock to the system.
I digress. The wholly commercial exercise that is St Patrick’s Day is not something I shall take part in. On any other day of the year I’ll happily sink a pint of Guinness at the drop of a hat. But today, I will as I now do every year, give the whole thing a complete miss.
My poor cats, they must be getting culturally confused. Tara & Oakley were born in the Isle of Man although like 99% of Manx Cats they have full tails. Rescued by me from the MSPCA they then came over to England with me but having to watch me heaping abuse on England whenever the rugby is on. So are we Irish daddy?
Of course on Sunday they will suffer extra confusion as this household stands shoulder to shoulder with our Celtic brothers in Wales. Come on the sheep shaggers please put the old enemy to the sword. Humiliate them!
But the confusion gets worse for in taking them to a new vet for their booster jabs the Mrs made the appointment. Being a deluded lefty, the Mrs is not Mrs Winnifrith but has retained her own (Indian) surname. What say you? Political correctness gone mad?
As such the cats have come back with a form showing that they too now have an Indian surname. Born Manx, naturalised English, adopted Anglo Irish and now finally Indian. Such is the melting pot that is Britain today but it is understandable if Tara and Oakley are this morning feeling a little culturally confused.
Incidentally the vet said both cats were in great nick although Oakley (the one with three legs) was a little on the plump side and could do with a bit more exercise. Plus ca change on that front.
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.
Staffed entirely by global warming nutters the Met Office finally admitted in the Autumn that the world was not getting hotter and thus that its long term forecasts were …wrong. But at least we can rely on its short term forecasts then? Er…no.
The Met Office three-monthly outlook at the end of March 2012 stated: "The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier than average conditions for April-May-June, and slightly favours April being the driest of the three months." The Met Office has now ‘fessed up and states: "Given that April was the wettest since detailed records began in 1910 and the April-May-June quarter was also the wettest, this advice was not helpful."
But maybe that was a fluke? Er. Try this one: 20 December 2012: "For February and March the range of possible outcomes is also very broad, although above-average UK-mean temperatures become more likely". This week: The Met Office confirms that it could have been the coldest March in the UK for 51 years.
I could go on and on. The fact is that The Met’s long term forecasts have all be wrong and its short to medium term forecasts are sometimes wrong and sometimes right. Now if my three legged cat Oakley was making forecasts he would be right sometimes and wrong other times. But Oakley would cost the taxpayer far, far less. Is the Met Office a) fit for purpose or b) good value for money or c) neither?
Brokerman Dan and others have asked for an update on my three-legged cat Oakley. The old boy seems fully recovered from the operation and life is back to normal. Sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, sleep, sleep and an occasional visit to the litter tray. It is as if nothing has changed. He has never been a very active cat.
To keep his army of admirers happy I attach a few recent photos of Oakley and his friend Tara. Oakley is the one with longer hair, more body mass and er…three legs
Forget the fiscal cliff, my share tips of the year or why Fat Sam should be sacked as West Ham manager in May. Forget my pilgrimage to Margaret Thatcher’s birthplace, my Christmas culinary triumphs or my witterings about music – I am currently listening to Lene Lovich in case you were wondering. Judging by tweets, postings ion the blog and emails what folks want to know about is Oakley, my eleven year old cat who as of the week before Christmas has only three legs. Quite right… first things first.
He is not quite himself but the trend is positive. No longer does he have to wear the collar of shame to stop him scratching where his leg used to be before it was removed to deal with the tumour. He can scuttle around the place at quite a rate when he wants to. Which is not often. He can now jump up onto a bed. Rather frighteningly he was also able to jump out through a window and onto a slippery ledge four stories high. I panicked (being someone who suffers from chronic vertigo). He waited until I had left the room screaming and then hopped back through the window and sat there calmly grinning at me as I rushed back in.
Tara, my other eleven year old cat, is now sleeping alongside him and seems to have come to terms with his new shape. Indeed she rather enjoys the fact that Oakley demands to be carried to food since she can nick most of his meal before he realises it is there. In some ways he is back to his old self, crawling up the bed so that he can look directly into your face all night. In other ways there is still a bit of hesitation. There is a tendency to hide away most of the time under a bed or behind a door waiting to be fetched to be plonked onto a sofa.
He seems to be slowly coming to terms with what has happened although the poor creature will never understand. It is only two or three weeks ago that his leg was removed and so I am not surprised that he has not fully adjusted mentally. But the trend is positive. Thank you for all your kind wishes. I shall endeavour to post a couple of new photos next week.
Oakley (my cat) is through surgery. That is to say he now has only three legs. He is still at the vets but is expected to leave this evening. He appears to be more interested uin the fact that the nil by mouth regime is over and that after a day of fasting he can once again stuff his face. He was not known as fat cat for nothing.
There is one last trauma and that is that Tara ( his soul mate) has shifted to a Christmas home. She has showed her displeasure at the separation by a) mewling constantly and b) urinating in a bedroom c) refusing a breakfast of fine bacon. The two animals are not brother and sister but have not been separated in 11 years.
The great reunion is either tomorrow or Friday depending on other family matters – I trek back to Warwickshire tonight.
A photo of the patient will be posted later. Thanks again for all your kind enquiries and best wishes.
Thanks for all the emails and the odd tweet. Oakley’s operation was delayed but his leg was finally removed later afternoon. He is spending the night at the vets and should be leaving there tomorrow. Tara – my other cat is not happy having spent her entire life with the Old Boy. But we are getting there. Thanks for all your kind thoughts. Roll on Christmas and recuperation for us all.
I admit that one reason for light blogging is that I was led astray by Lucian, the Goddess and a few others at the Real Man Christmas drinks. I feel a bit fragile today. I am too old for all of this. But there is another reason for light blogging – Oakley (my cat) is back on the Vet’s operating table as we speak.
Greedy vet one clearly feels a bit guilty about the fact that he has stiffed me with an £846 bill and the operation has failed. Oakley’s leg was so weakened by the tumour that the skin cannot heal. And as such Oakley is off to a charity vet today. I shall leave without £140. Oakley will leave without one of his legs.
I know that he is just a cat. And I am all too aware that there are humans in much worse shape. But it is still not a day that I expected to come. It has all happened rather quickly.
I was trying to think of some convoluted and clever sentence involving the flag of where Oakley was born (the Isle of Man) – the triskelion , three legs. But I am a bit too hungover and worried to string words together. I am told that the Old Boy can have a good quality of life with three legs but somehow that seems a little hard to believe. To misquote animal farm “three legs good, four legs better.” It will all be over soon and then back home for a restful Christmas. Extra duck for Oakley.
The ridiculous red plaster on his paw post tumour removal has come off. But as you can see ludicrous footwear has been replaced by preposterous headwear. This is to stop him nibbling his leg but the Old boy is not impressed at all.
Before he gets paranoid and I get a snotty letter from Kerman’s this is not a story about the life of Dick Gill. Nor is it about life on this blog where we seem to have more and more readers. Unlike certain places I could mention. But it is a true story from the world of academia and Bristol University.
I spent a happy Sunday afternoon in a Bristol pub last week celebrating West Ham’s triumph over Chelski and met two academics who had been encouraged by the University to write a joint blog article for an in-house blog. That they had done and seemed to have enjoyed the exercise. So, er how many folks will read the piece I asked?
Easy, they replied. We can track it. Our article has been read by one person. Er… well it is behind a secure wall so few can access it and no-one is alerted to it. So there has been exactly one reader. Who knows, by now the readership could have increased by 100% or even 200%. But one is not a bad place to start. Some blog entries there do not even manage to get that many readers. So this blog post is 100% more read than some.
Does it matter? Well you might wonder why your taxes are going on paying academics to write articles which are read by precisely nobody. Or on a good day by one other state sponsored academic. Arguably Bankrupt Britain cannot really afford this. But if we can afford to give £2 billion for African windmills I guess this is minor luxury.
As for the academics? Hell no. In a sense it is good news that these liberal arts folk are writing articles no-one reads rather than polluting the minds of impressionable students with deluded lefty Guardian inspired nonsense. The point about writing is to enjoy yourself. If these folk had done that by writing that is a reward in itself.
I sometimes wonder if, when I write about Oakley or snow falling in Shipston, whether anyone really cares. Occasionally some folk suggest that I should stock to creating pizzas rather than writing. Fine. If it gives them pleasure to write such comments good for them. If it stops folk like Bulletin Board pest Bob Burnard from beating his wife, dialling into Asian porn or whatever else he does with his miserable existence that is fine. No-one pays to read my stuff. I am not asking for a state subsidy to write about Oakley and it gives me pleasure. So more Oakley articles on the way.
The old boy had the operation yesterday. He is now back from the vets missing a chunk of tumour/leg. He is feeling sorry for himself. I am still feeling miffed at a total bill of c£750 from the greedy vet. The operation was a success in that most of the tumour was removed. But, there is a but.
The tumour was not benign, as originally diagnosed, but malignant and a small bit of it was too close to the veins to operate. It will grow again. We must hope that it grew as slowly as the last one in which case by the time it becomes an issue Fat Cat, as he is known, will be well past his fifteenth birthday and years of a sedentary lifestyle and over-eating may well have taken its toll anyway.
If it has not, then it is not fatal. But it would mean the loss of a leg. I am told that cats can operate quite happily on three legs and it is not exactly as if Oakley’s existence is one based on frenetic activity. If you spend three quarters of your life asleep, 20% eating or complaining that you should be eating and the other 5% either squatting in a cat litter or very occasional wandering slowly between bed/sofa and food and back again, do you really need four legs?
It is not something I wish to contemplate. But it will happen at some stage. For now I am glad that the operation is over and that Oakley is on the mend and, like me and his long term companion Tara (aka vicious cat – a total misnomer), can look forward to a large roast duck, Downton Abbey and a good rest at Christmas.
I thought that some Doctors were greedy but vets! Ouch. My oldest cat Oakley has a bit of a problem. And so the old boy ( pictured in his red black moriah) had to go to the vets today. Consultation and a couple of tests …that will be £220. Ouch. But it gets worse.
He has a tumour. It is benign but growing and is now affecting his leg and causing droplets of blood to fall on the carpet. An operation is needed urgently. That will be another £600. Ouch and double ouch.
Overall this is about three to four hours of vet time and I am £820 worse off. That will pay for the Christmas party at the vets. Some might say that, given that Oakley is now eleven, this is not a good long term investment. Clearly it is not. Pets are very expensive but is there an alternative?
As for the vet… has he not listened to our dear leader Mr Cameron? Does he not know that we are all in it together?
— Tom Winnifrith
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