Saturday, 27 August 2016

Nine And A Half Lives

Fourteen years ago, this little cutie looked more like the bruiser below......

Don't believe me....? leave a comment at the bottom of the page, there are plenty of people reading this blog who will enlighten you, and if their vision has faded with the years their olfactory memory wont fail them.  when he entered my flat via the fire escape the stink announced him !!!   green slime hung like kudzu from his tail and the ears had edges reminiscent of a Scandinavian coastline.

He wasn't a cutie by character either, more a collection of violent neuroses with fangs.  a bemused veterinary student asked why i kept caring in the face of repeated attacks.  the response bubbled up unsought.... "i can see the cat he could become if given the chance."   throughout my life i had used up a host of chances so how to refuse this scrap of rejected fluff.   my scratched legs would heal.
And they did..... though the scars remain. his many wounds, both physical and emotional, took much longer.  it was easy to forgive his random onslaughts by remembering the abuse he experienced as a street kitten, as  the root of aggression is often fuelled by fear.   as the years passed he mellowed..... mostly, though it's still wise to treat the teeth and talons with a measure of respect and NEVER TOUCH THE BODY.
Vets warned me "he wont make old bones after such a poor start." malnutrition had caused blackouts that could potentially lead to brain damage.  calcium depletion would weaken bone.  mineral and vitamin insufficiency would leave vital organs prone to early failure.   he might be a beast but not for very long.

Fourteen years later !!!   .....   his nine and a half lives have been used up and he's dying..

The old kidneys are packing in.  he's tired and at times depressed.   the medication is helping keep symptoms under control but it's only buying some time so pesky emotions can catch up with rational thought before it's time to let him go.

Friends ask if i'll have another furry.... oh yes, life would feel rather empty without one.   the plan is to foster.   look after the companions of those who are unable to fulfil  that responsibility for whatever reason.   perhaps older cats who need a quiet place to end their days or short term care when a fur-baby's human is in hospital or on holiday.

The furry creature has given me so much pleasure and entertainment over two decades it seems churlish not to share the love.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Tomato Or Not Tomato


There's going to be a heat wave, they said....

Super hot summer, they said....

Let's grow tomatoes, we said....

Played our part we did, loved them, fed them, watered them, tended them, nurtured them....


did the sun didn't play fair?   oh no it didn't.... not yet anyway.


Our little corner of Northumberland has had that infuriating weather cycle that sees  blue skies and sunshine at dawn and dusk, then for the rest of the day thick dark cloud rolls in and we descend into a mini ice age with high winds and rain.   having to put central heating on in August as i did last night is positively apocalyptic, enough to send a girl apoplectic.

So there they sits more like goose-gogs than tomatoes, green, hairy, SMALL !!!   but growing, oh yes definitely growing.   If August did what August should do they would be turning orange and getting fat by now, definitely tomato-ish in fact.   but we don't give up, there are four more growing weeks to go.... if the sun would shine.


We console ourselves with the knowledge that it's our first experiment, we started a few weeks later than optimal, our corner of the yard is in shade part of the day, we live in the north east and it was 10* last night.   Ten degrees.   TEN  DEGREES  IN AUGUST.

Despite knowing the science, surely there is something akin to trusting in miracles when burying a seed in cold darkness and confidently expecting a lush, green transmogrification to ensue with the warming of the world.   Of course all gardeners are optimists.... particularly if they live north of Watford Gap.  


To remain sane us humans convince ourselves that we live in an ordered world over which we have a modicum of control.  A + B + C = D.... or does it?   "hardworking families" will enjoy the benefits of their toil.... or do they when earning minimum wage?   stick to the speed limit and you will be safe.... but what about that idiot coming towards you on the wrong side of the road?   eat healthily, exercise and you will be hale and hearty into old age.... don't genetics play a role?  water and tend your tomatoes and you will reap a harvest.... unless the sun plays hookey.

If you want a short, sharp epiphany about the insecurities of life do some gardening. and if, as looks likely, the summer in little Hexham is a total washout we can always make green tomato chutney. 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Superlative Superhuman Olympians

Have you seen the  Channel 4 Meet The Superhumans trailer for the Paralympic Games?   if not have a look at the link below and prepare to have your mind blown, your flabb gasted and your dumb founded by mere mortals performing awesome feats - occasionally without feets and other body parts.   (click link on left for trailer)

The only sport i excelled at was cheque bouncing. games of any sort, Olympic or otherwise, tend to roll over me without a great deal of interest. though i admit to becoming caught up in the the emotion and drama of the opening and closing ceremonies in 2012 and appreciating the subtle, or not so in the case of Danny Boyle's paean to the NHS,  politicising that goes on, but when it comes to  the sport itself.....nah, not bothered. perhaps a childhood sense of shame rumbles away in the depths of my schoolgirl soul for "letting the side down" as i always hobbled  last, by several laps, over finishing lines.  i suffered education in an age when disability wasn't accepted as a reason for not participating in sports, no matter that the emotional fallout of constant failure, the imposition of pain on a child with surgery scars the length of her legs, the harassing and tongue lashing of a recently hospitalised pupil would be considered abusive today.
Dan Brooke who oversaw the ad is quoted as saying "We wanted to say any disabled person can be a superhuman."   agreed !!    for many of us with chronic illness getting out of bed every morning and facing the world with a smile requires a cape and a hefty dose of arachnid venom, though i don't think that's quite what he had in mind. Sam Ruddock the track and field athlete echoed the sentiment when he said "if we can do this, there is no reason anyone else can''s about a positive attitude."   

Now, i'm all for positivity, and have plenty of attitude after particularly bad nights, but i'm also a pragmatist and with all the will power, bloody mindedness and dedication in the world there are some who can and some who can't.  otherwise it's akin to expecting an able bodied, fubsy, five footer to run like Usain Bolt without being endowed with those legs of his that reach from the bottom to the bottom. when did you last hear an able bodied Olympian suggest that the rest of the population could attain Gold on the podium if they only tried a little harder.   if everybody could do it there would be no need to sponsor athletes or build Olympic Villages. football stadia would be obsolete as we would all be budding Beckhams, transport companies would be bankrupt and bank accounts would blossom as hordes of proles marathoned their way to work leaving the grind of the commute behind.

That we elevate these amazing athletes to superherodom isn't surprising as what they achieve is truly mind boggling, but i'd like to speak for the 99.9% who never had a hope of reaching those rarefied heights since not all damage can be surmounted by a positive attitude, not all maladies have an outward manifestation, not all disabilities are equal.   

When you see somebody in a wheelchair please don't see a failed Paralympian lacking the moral and physical fibre necessary to overcome gravity.   when a friend or colleague with an invisible illness drops out of a social event AGAIN don't assume they are being weak, lazy or lacking enterprise.   when a family member with chronic pain quietly leaves Sunday lunch early to rest don't see it as a rejection..... 

.....unless, of course, you too are prepared to expend the Herculean energies necessary to live the life of a superhero.