Tuesday 27 November 2012

Winston's November 2012 blog

Winston’s November 2012 blog
Winston here . . . p’rrrrr . . . p’rrrrr

You may have heard I’ve been under the weather. I’ve always wondered about that – how can you be under the weather? Surely you can only be in it? Anyway,

 that’s what the humans say, don’tcha know. It means I’ve been poorly, not richly 
like what I usually am.

Phil-the-Vet says it’s probably been building up for a long time ‘cos if it had come on suddenly, I’d be flat. (I don’t know what ‘it’ is, though.*) At least I think he said flat and not fat. I’m not fat – well, I’m thinner than I was. I haven’t been eating much – the food smelt as good as it always does but I only wanted to sniff it and eat a little. When I stopped eating completely, on Saturday, Mrs Human took me to see the vet. It was one I haven’t seen before and I was a bit disappointed ‘cos I thought I was going to see Nadia-the-Vet or Kate-the-Vet and I like them ‘cos they always talk to me and make a fuss of me.

Well, the vet had a good look at me and then he made me cry ‘cos he hurt me. Mrs H said he didn’t mean to – he was just trying to find out what was wrong. He took my temperature – and you know what that means – but I didn’t wriggle too much. Then he said I had a fever and he was going to make me a pin-cushion. I didn’t know what that was but I think I do now. It means having pins pushed into you and he did one, then more than one and then more than one again but I was a good boy and I didn’t struggle.

Then he said I had to go back ‘cos they wanted some of my blood. I think I need all my blood for me, akcherly, but no-one asks me. So then I saw Phil-the-Vet and he shaved off some of my fur – I might need a scarf if it gets cold.

I think Phil-the-Vet likes me ‘cos he rang up my Humans and said he wanted to see me again today. I think I had to take a test ‘cos he said I’d failed it or I had failure or something, don’tcha know.

Last night my Humans put my litter tray in the conservatory and shut the door so I couldn’t get to it. What was that all about? It’s a good thing I wasn’t caught short, don’tcha know. This morning Mr H took me to see Phil-the-Vet again and he shaved off some more fur. I’ll be bald soon! Then he took me away and let me go in a litter tray. Phew! What a relief!

After that he stuck a pin in me, too. What is it with these vets? Are they trying to prove something?

Anyway, I am feeling much better though the Humans say I’m not quite myself. I think that’s funny – if I’m not myself who am I?

 I’ve got some special food and every time I eat the Humans get all excited and say how good it is to see me eating. Humans are funny, aren’t they? I mean, it’s not as if they’ve never seen me eat before.

I have to have tablets once a day and more than once a day for lots of days and then I’m going to spend a day with the vets. I expect I’ll like that ‘cos I’ll get lots of fuss made of me and I do like a nice cuddle.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Time for a zizz. Be good!


*Servant Editor’s note: ‘it’ is renal failure

Fifty Sheds of Grey

50 Sheds of Gray

The novel ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ has seduced women - and baffled blokes. Now a spoof, Fifty Sheds Of Grey, offers a treat for the men. The book has author Colin Grey recounting his love encounters at the bottom of the garden. Here are some extracts:-

We tried various positions - round the back, on the side, up against a wall . . . but in the end we came to the conclusion the bottom of the garden was the only place for a good shed.
    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
She stood before me, trembling in my shed. ‘I'm yours for the night,’ she gasped, ‘You can do whatever you want with me.’ So I took her to Nando's.
               *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
She knelt before me on the shed floor and tugged gently at first, then harder until finally it came. I moaned with pleasure. Now for the other boot.
               *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
Ever since she read THAT book, I've had to buy all kinds of ropes, chains and shackles. She still manages to get into the shed, though.
              *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
‘Put on this rubber suit and mask,’ I instructed, calmly. 
‘Mmmm, kinky!’ she purred. 
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘You can't be too careful with all that asbestos in the shed roof.’
            *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
‘I'm a very naughty girl,’ she said, biting her lip. ‘I need to be punished.’ 
So I invited my mum to stay for the weekend.
           *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
‘Harder!’ she cried, gripping the workbench tightly. ‘Harder!’ 
‘Okay,’ I said. ‘What's the gross national product of Nicaragua?’
    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
I lay back exhausted, gazing happily out of the shed window. Despite my concerns about my inexperience, my rhubarb had come up a treat.
    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
‘Are you sure you can take the pain?’ she demanded, brandishing stilettos. 
‘I think so,’ I gulped.
 ‘Here we go, then,’ she said, and showed me the receipt.
               *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

‘Hurt me!’ she begged, raising her skirt as she bent over my workbench.
‘Very well,’ I replied. ‘You've got fat ankles and no dress sense.’
             *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

‘Are you sure you want this?’ I asked. ‘When I'm done, you won’t be able to sit down for weeks.’ 
She nodded. 
‘Okay,’ I said, putting the three-piece suite on eBay.
              *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
‘Punish me!’ she cried. ‘Make me suffer like only a real man can!’ 
‘Very well,’ I replied, leaving the toilet seat up.
              *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
‘Pleasure and pain can be experienced simultaneously,’ she said, gently massaging my back as we listened to her Coldplay CD.
    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Monday 26 November 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 Final update

NaNoWriMo 2012 Final update

I’m pleased, nay, relieved, to report that I have completed the challenge. The novel itself, such as it is, is unfinished and needs lots of work, but I’ll get to that later.

Meanwhile, my daughter’s baby has still not put in an appearance – I think he’s far too comfortable where he is – and she’s anxious to meet him face to face. By this stage pregnancy feels as though it’s set in for life! I remember it well.

Winston has had a little excitement. He gradually stopped eating and started looking not quite right. He stopped playing and chatting – he’s a very chatty cat – so on Saturday he had a trip to the vet (he was seen by one I had not met before) and was duly pulled around, some of which activity caused him to yowl in pain. I was at the business end and though he flattened his ears he didn’t attempt to bite or scratch. He’s such a gentle cat.

It transpired he had a high temperature but the vet didn’t know what might be the problem, though he mentioned pancreatitis. Then he gave him three injections and we came away with antibiotics and pain relief. Today he went back to have some blood taken and hopefully we’ll know the results in a few hours.

Winston’s temperature is down and he’s definitely feeling and looking much happier though still not eating as heartily as usual. His voice is stronger and he’s demanding attention. He resists his medication but doesn’t hold it against us when we’ve been manhandling him.

The dogs have reacted in typical fashion. First they were upset that Winston was going out and they weren’t. When he came home they each had to sniff him all over. Fortunately, Winston loves the attention.

For some as yet unknown reason one of my drives has disappeared - the one with the photos - so I cannot add photos to this post. 

Off to look at some blogs, now:-) 

Friday 23 November 2012

Pixie frog gets frustrated!

The pixie frog (Pyxicephalus) doesn’t have proper teeth but sharp tooth-like projections in its lower jaw which are referred to, confusingly, as teeth.

You can find out more about the African Bull Frog here.

Personally, I'd keep my hands well away from such a creature!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Literary Cat

The Literary Cat
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Winston decided to lend a helping paw for NaNoWriMo 2012

Actually, it was more of a helping bottom . . . J

Of course, it’s encoded . . . we can’t give away any of our secrets!

Monday 19 November 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 update

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A quick update - I have now written 35129 words so I’ve less than 15000 words to spin. Now, so long as my grandson doesn’t appear in the next few days – he’s due tomorrow – I’m on target to finish on November 27th (my son’s birthday!)
This is a significant improvement from a couple of weeks ago when I was destined to finish in January 2013 – that would have been a bit late, reallyJ

Tuesday 6 November 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

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I had decided I was not going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year and then - flibbertigibbet that I am - I decided on the spur of the moment that I would take part. And so I am - taking part, that is. 

I started last night - five days after the starting date - and I wrote one word, the title. Yes, folks, my oeuvre was to be called 'Missing.' I had no idea who or what was to be missing, for how long, or why, and whether it was ever to be found again. Would it be contemporary, historical, tragic accident or crime? I did not know - not a clue.

This morning I deleted the title and started again - well, started, really - and I've written 894 words. Only another 49106 to go and so far there's no title  . . . and no end in sight. If you hear strangled screams coming from the southern part of the UK don't worry - I shall be enacting something . . . possibly.

Monday 5 November 2012

Graduation Day

Friday 2nd November was a day we had been looking forward to. It was Gillian’s graduation ceremony at Guildford Cathedral.

The day dawned bright and sunny, with a brisk wind. Gillian and Paul left early to collect Gillian’s gown and cap. I left later to drive Marnie, Kiri and Callum to Guildford. Barry stayed at home with the seven dogs and Winston. Sitting on a hard seat for several hours was not an option with his wonky knees and latterly aggravated hips.

Guildford Cathedral celebrated its half-century in 2011. Construction was started before the beginning of WWII then halted during the war. Building work was delayed for some years after the end of the war, lack of money being the prime reason. Indeed, people were encouraged to ‘buy a brick’ to help the completion.
We need to buy one million bricks to complete the nave. Will you buy one or more 2/6 each
In subsequent years etched glass and stone sculptures have been added to what is a very plain brick structure, somewhat utilitarian in appearance. The interior is rather different. It is a building full of light and space and has an extraordinarily peaceful atmosphere. There is very little in the way of stained glass, a circular window above the high altar and arched windows at the opposite end of the nave, above the West Front, and a couple of other small works. The vaulted ceiling soars overhead with inset lights.
Above the High Altar
 The vaulted ceiling above the Nave
Windows above the West Front
As the gowned dignitaries of the university prepared to process I was suddenly aware of a problem. I told Callum, ‘I need to find a loo’ and quickly exited the cathedral, heaving and hoping I wasn’t going to create work for the cleaners. Concerned helpers escorted me outside and alerted the Red Cross volunteers. All I wanted was to be left alone in the cold, fresh air, but these kind folks asked me questions, took my blood pressure, checked my pulse. I knew what was wrong. Before leaving home I had gulped some Gaviscon (a heartburn/indigestion antacid liquid). This is something I do if I am feeling queasy – I have a ‘nervous’ stomach. Unfortunately, in a hurry, I grabbed the wrong bottle, shook it vigorously and took a swig. As soon as it hit my mouth I realised it was calamine lotion. I looked at the label: Warning. For external use only. Well, I knew that but really I was checking instructions. They didn't say anything about seeking immediate medical advice so I was reassured. Plans need not be changed. I rinsed my mouth with mouthwash, swallowed some Gaviscon, got the children in the car and proceeded to Guildford.

Now, I haven’t a nervous disposition, I’m not easily disturbed, but even so, I don’t think the second Red Cross man’s opening remark to me was particularly diplomatic. ‘I hear you’ve been trying to commit suicide,’ he said. I laughed, rather grimly, it’s true, but I laughed.

‘You’ll have to go to A and E (Accident and Emergency)’  I groaned.  He said I could drive there. The only problem was that my car was in a city car park, not outside the cathedral. The children and I had taken a shuttle bus from it to the cathedral and I had no idea how to get back to it. So, he phoned the ambulance service. Eventually, two impossibly young and very charming paramedics arrived, took me through all the questions again and deposited me at the hospital, where I waited and waited and waited. 

The department was very quiet – I’ve never seen an A&E department so empty. Finally, a doctor saw me, asked the same questions and told me not to worry. (I wasn't worried, just fed up with myself.)

‘It’s inert,’ he said of the calamine. ‘Your body will get rid of it. You could have taken a glass of water or milk to neutralise it.’

Meanwhile, back at the cathedral, Gillian and Paul were wondering what was going on. As I was about to phone Paul, he phoned me. I told him not to worry, I was perfectly all right, and he and Gillian and the children were to go on to the reception. I would find my way back to the car and go home. At this point I wasn’t quite sure how I would achieve this but I’m quite a positive person. I knew the name of the road!

The cathedral stands on a hill, a noticeable landmark. With that in view, I set off in what I hoped was the right direction. I soon found myself walking along a dual carriageway so retraced my steps, found an out-of-town supermarket and phoned for a taxi that took me to the station. The car park was near a railway line but it was not the station car park. Hey ho! As I tramped along the road a vehicle sounded its horn behind me. Lo and behold, it was Paul. I thanked him but I was cross with him, too. He took me to the car park where Gillian was waiting, still in cap and gown.

Her first words were, ‘I was worried sick.’ Then she said, ‘The only good thing is that Dad doesn’t know anything about this.’ 

Barry has a tendency to go into Superman mode, moving heaven and earth and anything in his way to achieve his ends. This usually results in many people rushing round like crazed ants to do his bidding.

Later she said, ‘You could have been mugged.’

Marnie said, ‘She had the SatNav in her bag; she could have used that.’

I would have found the car park – I was on the right road – but I am an idiot . . .

I missed Gillian's graduation . . .
The Graduates walk along the Nave after graduation

Outside Guildford Cathedral - the traditional 'caps in the air' ceremony

Gillian, B.A. (Hons) 

Sunday 4 November 2012

Mag 142 Decorum

Thanks to Tess Kincaid who organises and hosts this meme. To read other responses to this prompt please click here.
Charis, Lake Ediza, California, 1937, by Edward Weston


Miss Blythe was a genteel woman who spent her spinster days preparing young ladies for their debut in society. She taught them to curtsey, to maintain perfect deportment, to dress for the occasion, to know how to respond to young gentlemen and countless other so important politenesses. Decorum was everything to her and the grand ladies who trusted their daughters to her expert tuition were always delighted with her results.  

Sitting demurely was something she insisted on. ‘Ankles should be crossed at the ankle, hands folded in laps – there should be no fidgeting,’ she instructed. ‘If you are overheated, employ your fan, but be aware of the language of the fan.’

The young ladies smirked at each other, careful not to let Miss Blythe see, for smirking was a lower-class habit and not to be encouraged. At the beginning of each season she was pleased to see her protégées depart for their sparkling lives of privilege and rich marriage and thought of her own mother’s exhortations to her as a young woman.

Miss Blythe’s origins were humble in the extreme. Her mother, a washerwoman, had wished great things for her daughter. ‘I don’t want you falling the same way what I did,’ she said. ‘Just you remember, my girl, keep your ‘and on your ‘a’penny. Save yerself for someone what deserves yer.’

‘Yes, ma,’ said Ethel Blythe and worked hard to discover the correct way of doing things, the way the toffs, as her mother called them, did them.

She did well, Ethel Blythe, and though she may never have made the leap across the classes as her mother had hoped, she lead a comfortable though husbandless life nonetheless. As she exhorted her young ladies to sit decorously, her mother’s words often sprang to her lips to be bitten back before expression.

‘A girl’s legs are her best friends,’ her mother always said, ‘And best friends should never be parted.’

‘Just once,’ she thought, ‘I wonder what it would have been like?’

Dona Nobis Pacem - Grant Us Peace

I went to Vimy Ridge thirty years ago and saw the First World War trenches and the cemeteries. It was a sobering experience. So many cemeteries, Allied and German and all harbouring the remains of wasted young lives. The saddest were those marked ‘Known unto God’ and the most moving and horrifying marked ‘Three soldiers of the Great War, known unto God.’
In other graveyards a single headstone marks ‘Seventeen soldiers of the Great War known unto God.’ Another such marks the final resting place of twenty-five unknown soldiers.
The two-minute silence we observe at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (the day marking the end of the Great War, 1914-1918, the war to end all wars) gives us an opportunity to stop whatever we are doing, wherever we are, to remember and reflect on the tragedy of war. The first minute is to honour those who died fighting for their country and the second minute is to remember those left behind, the parents, the widows, the siblings, the children.

The red poppy is the symbol most commonly associated with remembrance, though Quakers wear white poppies, the symbol of peace.
‘The field poppy is an annual plant which flowers each year between about May and August. Its seeds are disseminated on the wind and can lie dormant in the ground for a long time. If the ground is disturbed from the early spring the seeds will germinate and the poppy flowers will grow.
This is what happened in parts of the front lines in Belgium and France. Once the ground was disturbed by the fighting, the poppy seeds lying in the ground began to germinate and grow during the warm weather in the spring and summer months of 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918. The field poppy was also blooming in parts of the Turkish battlefields on the Gallipoli peninsula when the ANZAC and British Forces arrived at the start of the campaign in April 1915.’

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a doctor serving in Belgium with the Canadian Armed Forces was so moved by the devastation he saw that he wrote ‘In Flanders’ Fields’ in 1915: 
In Flanders' Fields
                                                                                                                                          In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields.
The most telling epitaph is that written by John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 - 1958) in the Kohima Allied war cemetery.
‘When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow,
We Gave Our Today.’

Our future, the future of our world, is in our children’s and grandchildren’s hands – I hope they make a better job of looking after this beautiful planet than we have.