Friends

08 December 2018

FELINE CAPERS 4



CAT SHOW? NO THANKS!

Mom bought me some new toys yesterday, a small giraffe and a highly colourful snake. I don’t go a bundle on the snake because it has no extra bits to chew but the giraffe is soft enough to take to bed. Funnily enough I seem to fall asleep quicker when I have a new cuddly toy as well as my earless mouse.  I play with it for a while, and have a bit of a chew on an ear, if it has one, and then I feel myself drifting off. Dad said I’m spoiled rotten. What do you think?

Well, last night, I had a deep sleep which I can only think was induced by the new giraffe’s presence. Not a thing disturbed me until I woke to hear mom going on about a cat show. I’d spent hours dreaming of victoriously catching rodents and now it looked like I was entering a really bad nightmare. I pricked my ears up, heard something about a charity fete. So much for feeling happy! Mom is always raising money for something, and the show might be a good way of doing it, but she’s not getting me there. I had enough the last time. All that grooming and pampering isn’t for me. And then, horrors above horrors, I heard another word. Bath. That did it. When she wasn’t looking I slunk out, heading for the open kitchen door.

Once in the garden I belted towards the plum tree. She’d never find me up there, and there I would stay until the heat was off. I’ve never circumnavigated the pond so fast, though why I went round twice I’ll never know. Even so, I reached the forsythia in record time, scooted up the apple tree and jumped across to my private haven. Only I missed my aim. The forepaws made it to the big bough but I couldn’t get a grip with the hind legs. I struggled to swing them into position but it was no good. For some reason I had fleeting visions of the male chaffinch trying to get into the bird feeder; our positions were identical. He failed as well. I remember screeching a few times as the claws gave up the ghost. Down I crashed, hitting the dirt deck with a terrific thud, twigs and leaves tumbling with me. Even the birds scarpered. It struck me then that I was too old for climbing trees. 

I’m not sure how mom knew where I was but I’m glad she found me. The pain in my back leg was excruciating. Honestly, I whimpered like a human while she bellowed into the telephone. Even in my state of shock I thought it was a strange thing to do. I mean, the telephone hadn’t done anything to upset her. And she was truly upset. Tears rolled down her face; she had to keep dabbing them with a tissue. You’d think she was the one with a painful leg. Humans are comical at times.

The journey to the vets was fast. Dad drove while mom nursed me on her lap. She’d wrapped me in a patchwork blanket and kept stroking me between the ears. I would have enjoyed it but for the pain in the leg. I whimpered a lot to remind her that I was in agony and that made her cry even more.

When we got there a nurse took me from mom, placed me on the cold steel table and started to examine me. Then Mr Vet came in, had a quiet conversation with the nurse before uttering the word operation. It meant nothing to me but I sensed that it was something unpleasant. It was bad enough having to endure the smell in that place, a smell that would have put me off having treatment at all if I wasn’t in so much pain. Mom was in a bad way, sobbing on dad’s shoulder while he tried to console her with words like she’ll be fine and the operation will soon be over. Me, I wasn’t so sure. I’ve heard of cat’s going in there and never coming out.

When the needle went in I felt the hatred rising and decided to show the nurse how I felt. It was just a little nip but she didn’t half squeal. I didn’t care; it made me feel a bit better.

Next thing I knew I was lying on a blanket in a cot, with my leg wrapped in something white. Me... in a cot.  I knew I’d never live that down. I admit I felt better, the leg was sore but not as painful. Mom was there, uttering words I didn’t understand. Diddums den meant nothing to me but from the look on her face I knew I wasn’t in trouble. The fall from the plum tree was like a distant memory. I tried to remember every detail though, just so I could brag about the experience to Tom and Sukie.

After a short stay at Mr Vet’s place, I was taken home. It was good to get back to mom and dad, and my giraffe, the earless mouse, and the grey elephant, and all the other toys that live in a box next to my bed. Even the snake looked good.  I licked his skin a few times to show there were no hard feelings, after all it wasn’t his fault he’d been bought to share the life of a cat.

Needless to say it was a fair while before I was able to get out into the wide world again and since there was no further mention of a cat show I felt secure.  I’d have to embellish the incident when I told Tom and Sukie about it; it wouldn’t do to be thought of as a coward by my best friends.

Must be off now, I’ve a bit more mental mouse hunting to do. Meow!


30 November 2018

FELINE CAPERS 3


THE CATTERY AND OTHER MATTERS

Honestly, I’m miffed. This morning I heard the dreaded word, Cattery. That must mean Mom and Dad are going away. I can’t say I’ve heard any conversations about going away but Cattery can only mean one thing. I’ve only been there once and that was enough. I was kept penned in a cage for hours and you know how much I dislike cages. I was only let out a couple of times a day to scratch on an imitation tree. Not once was I let out into a garden. Oh no, they believed in the residents using litter boxes. Very humiliating!  Have you ever seen used cat litter? It’s disgusting. No amount of scratching or scraping will completely hide what I’ve done. And to think mom and dad paid good money for my incarceration.

My stay there seemed endless. I had plenty of time to scratch my ears and damage the lino at the bottom of the cage. The lady was nice, though, a bit on the large side but quite gentle. She always wore a green apron that was ripped and badly stained. When she handled my food she donned a pair of see-through gloves. I thought that a bit odd since mom never wears gloves when she puts my food out; it made me wonder what the Cattery lady was giving me. It could have been poison for all I knew.  I needn’t have worried, it always tasted good and I was never sick after eating.

When she finished the lady threw the gloves into a bucket and proceeded to give me some soothing strokes down my back. I liked that. Her hands were so soft. One time when she opened my cage I jumped on her shoulder. She was a bit startled but she didn’t scold. Instead she put her hands up and moved me into position round her neck. Ooooh that was super. I stayed there while she sorted my bedding. I’d got the straw in a bit of a mess when I tried to make it more comfortable. Instead of smoothing it out I’d got it in a tangle and I’d accidentally upset the water bowl into the bargain. I tell you, it wasn’t very nice lying on wet straw.

Night time was best, especially after a boring day. All the cats would join in a rousing chorus, each one trying to outdo his neighbour. It was the best bit of being in a Cattery. Funny, I never think to do that at home. No need, I suppose.

The cat in the next cage to me was a bit of a looker. Handsome, with a sleek black coat and the biggest and shiniest green eyes you ever saw. His name was Romeo, and I could see why. When he turned those eyes on me I positively melted. The twins in the opposite cage sat and gazed at him for hours. They were only just out of kittenhood so it was understandable they’d go a bit goggle-eyed when Romeo turned his striking eyes in their direction.

My howling partner was a mangy looking cat with terrific street cred. The stories he told were hilarious. He had various occupations, robbing dustbins being his speciality. I couldn’t believe it when he described how he knocked the lids off bins to get at the food. There’s never any food in our bin at home and, yes, I have looked. I could hardly believe it when Chad, that was his name, told us about finding fish heads and meat bones and stale bread. It made me wonder what sort of place he lived in. It didn’t make me ever want to visit him.

Foxy was in the garden this afternoon, scaring woodpigeons, or trying to ... they flew off pretty quick when he appeared. He brought a yellow ball to play with, no doubt picked it up from a local garden where children live. Somebody should tell him he’s thieving. Those kids are probably wondering what happened to their ball. Naturally I scarpered back to the house, well you never know with foxes, do you? You hear such tales. The folks were enamoured by it, mom was almost drooling while she looked through the window, almost dancing with excitement. Dad even fetched his camera to take pictures. Come on, dad, why do you want pictures of a smelly old fox?

I’ve seen Foxy before. Last time he was having a kip in the long grass. Mom keeps telling dad to get the mower out but he’s a bit lazy when it comes to gardening. I don’t mind him leaving it; it’s more fun for us cats to play in long grass. I have a special hiding place in the old plum tree. It’s as dead as a dodo and covered with creeping ivy but nobody ever thought to cut it down so I use it as my special place. I feel like a queen up there.

It’s like being on lookout duty when I’m up in those dead branches. I lie flat so I can see what’s going on, out of sight of humans and birds. It’s a right laugh when birds land near my nose. I only have to flick a whisker and they clear off a bit smart’ish, squawking as only birds can. The blackbird’s the worst one for squawking. Talk about loud ... he could deafen a chick with that raucous noise. I bet he could hold his own in competition with the crows. Even I cringe when I hear him and it takes a lot to make me shy away. If Foxy comes when I’m in my hidey-hole I feel very safe. He could climb the tree but only so far. Anyway, I don’t think he’d have the patience to step over all those little branches to get at me. Generally speaking though, the best place is home when he’s around.

The people next door but one used to keep white rabbits. Oh my goodness, am I so glad they don’t have them anymore. Foxy would have a feast every day until Christmas. Anyway, I couldn’t match them in whisker twitching so I never felt in control when they were let loose. 

Talking about Christmas, mom’s sister had a belated gift. The story went that she had been promised a kitten for Christmas but had to wait until it was born. I think it was her birthday when he arrived, he being a Persian kitten with pure white fur and a very unusual face. He’s lovely but doesn’t deserve to have been named ... you’re not going to believe this, she called that kitten Woof. Have you ever heard anything so stupid in your life? Imagine being out at night and hearing a human calling the cat: Woof, Woof, come on Woof. Wouldn’t you think it was a dog out there?

Going now to get a bit more shut-eye. I do need to keep up with my beauty sleep. With a bit of luck I might dream again of catching mice. 

See you soon. Meow! 
next chapter 8 December

24 November 2018

FELINE CAPERS 2


JUST ANOTHER DAY

I had beef for dinner today. Mine comes in crunchy bits but mom gave me some of hers. I don’t normally eat human food but she knows I’m partial to a bit of cooked meat now and then. Best of it is I get it with gravy. You should see my tongue go when I get that; reckon I could win a medal for speed lapping. It’s always the gravy that hits the tummy first. I’m never given fish now.  I haven’t eaten it since a bit of bream made me sick. A man in the white coat, known as Vet, said I was allergic. I don’t see him very often, only when I’m under the weather or need one of those needle things that are supposed to keep cats healthy. Being the healthiest cat on the estate proves they work.

I did have fleas once. There was a right performance when mom discovered one jumping through my coat. I was whipped off to Mr Vet’s place faster than you could say Be Off. Straight away I was washed with some antiseptic solution that smelled revolting, even to me, and then the nurse gave mom some tablets to put in my food. I have one of those every day now and they appear to be working. My fur is scrutinised religiously once a week, mom and dad taking it in turns to do a full investigation.

After dinner I had a bit of a nap on the couch, then went for a stroll in the garden. It was pleasant, nice and warm and dry, just how I like it. I’ve no patience when it rains, can’t be doing with it at all, not since I fell in a fishpond when I was young. Anyway, I don’t like the way I smell when I get wet. You should see me after dad gives me a bath ... on second thoughts, perhaps you shouldn’t. You’d only laugh.

Smokey was just leaving when I reached the lawn; I saw his tail disappearing through the hole in the fence. The fence is a quite dilapidated, rotten wood that’s falling to bits. It’s not a very big hole but each time he goes through he knocks another bit of wood out of place. Stupid cat got his whiskers caught once, he didn’t half squeal.

Almost every day mom has a go at dad about the fence and every time he promises to get people in to replace it. So far he’s done nothing. When mom gets annoyed I try to calm her down. If I wrap my body round her legs she softens, picks me up and gives me a cuddle. It’s worth all the aggro just to get a bit of fuss. I like it when she whispers sweet nothings in my ear and tells me all her secrets. Some of them are real eye-openers, I can tell you, but it’s more than my life’s worth to repeat them. Dad calls me a little heroine for being able to shut her up. I can only agree with him.

Anyway, back to the garden. There’d been a spattering of rain while I was indoors and I could see Tom stepping over a small puddle. Like me he hated to get his feet wet. There was no sign of Sukie. I thought about asking where she was but Tom looked so downcast I thought I’d better leave it alone. He’s too old for upsets. Well, not old exactly, not like me, but he is quite set in his ways. When I told him about the beef dinner he looked even more crestfallen. I promised to try and get him some meat next time I went in the house. I know where’s it’s kept in the pantry, all I have to do is wait for someone to open the door.

I noticed a scratch on Tom’s nose, wondered if he’d had another set-to with Smokey. Poor Tom was never able to stick up for himself but he was learning to since getting to know Sukie. I thought about that. It must be nice to have someone stick up for you. I’d never had that luxury. If there was a battle to be fought I was on my own. No back-up from other cats, but that was before Tom came to live here. I think I could rely on him to help out if the occasion arose. Not that it would. When I start there’s no stopping me; being female allows me to fight dirty, see. Basically though I have a gentle temperament; just ask mom, she knows what a softie I am.

As it turned out, the scratch was caused by Tom’s close encounter with a neighbour’s chicken. Apparently it got out of the run and Tom had tried to help Mr Man catch it. Tom told me that Mr Man kept trying to push him out of the way which was a bit hurtful when he was only trying to help. It’s not above us cats to be useful at such times. Well, the chicken must have decided it didn’t want to be caught because it struck out with its beak, hitting Tom right on the nose. Quite sensibly Tom decided to let Mr Man and his chicken get on with it.

Tom and I meandered round the garden. Me looking for bare patches in the lawn where I could have a good dig and Tom eyeing the birds. He has a thing about birds. He doesn’t mind them being there but when they fly he goes into an excited fit, leaping up as if he’s trying to do a pirouette. Daft as a brush! He seems to forget that all birds have beaks. I told him to calm down or he’d regret it. I said to him, you’ll do yourself a disservice, but he just looked at me as if I was out of my head. Oh well, he’ll learn in good time ... if he lives long enough. 

Mom called me in for afternoon tea ... hers, not mine. She likes her and me to have a cuddle while she watches the box in the corner. It’s called television. I have visions of my own when I’m on her lap being stroked. It’s nice being close to humans; I enjoy the smell of them, especially when Mom’s been cooking. Human smells mingling with cooking smells are like an aphrodisiac, I feel quite aroused at times, hence the loud purring. I asked Tom if he wanted to come in as well, but he said he had to wait for Sukie. Shame, he could do with having a few visions.

I don’t think Tom has ever had his ears stroked, his owner is always out at work. I don’t even know if there’s any cooking done in his house. I’m sure he said there’s only him and the man living there and as far as I can make out men don’t cook. Perhaps it’s as well he couldn’t come in, mom might get too used to having more than one cat in the house and I don’t really want to share her with anyone. Dad’s okay, he’s human, but another animal could make life very difficult.

I’ll go in now. I can see another grey cloud coming over. Anyway, I’ve got to see if I can filch some beef for Tom. It would have been so much more convenient if he’d come here himself but never mind. 

Catch you later. Meow! 
Next chapter 1st December

17 November 2018

FELINE CAPERS 1



Characters:

There’s me, Lee, a lady cat. This is my diary.
Mom and Dad, my human parents.
Tom and Sukie, my best feline friends.
Woof, a visiting Persian kitten with a daft name.


INTRODUCING LEE

Hello. My name is Lee and before I go any further I have to tell you what a pretty cat I am. I’m mainly white but I have some very fetching black markings on my back and the top of my head. I’m a ladylike cat, or so my owner keeps telling her friends and neighbours. She’s right, of course, I am very elegant and apparently royal because she keeps saying when I sit my front legs look like Queen Anne’s. I don’t know the woman but she must be okay if I sit like her.

It feels like forever since I arrived here in my third home, fourth if you count the market. I don’t remember much about the first one because I was shoved out when I was very small. Me and seven others.  I think we were related but it’s too long ago to remember exactly. We ended up at the market, cooped up in a cage. Even now I recall how hot and smelly it was and sometimes I wake in the night thinking I’m still there. I was rescued for a while by an old man who died a few months after I got there. It was just my luck to be whipped back to the market. What a relief to know those days are over. Now I live in a proper house. Brick built, carpets on the floor, a garden to explore, and toys to cuddle up to. 

My favourite toy is a tailless, one-eared mouse and that’s because I attacked it on sight. I wasn’t used to such things, you see. Not even real ones. Dad thought it would be great fun to roll the lifelike toy towards me and, of course, I went berserk. Pulled the ear off in one bite and felt victorious doing it. It was only afterwards I realised the mouse was a toy. Obviously I know the difference now, I’m not entirely stupid. Every night I chew off a bit more of the fur while imagining it’s the real thing.

Mom likes to kit me out in new collars. I’ve had four or five since I arrived here but most of them were lost while climbing trees. You should see the present one: state of the art tartan with a silver medallion bearing my name.  I don’t think it is real silver but I like to think mom gives me the best. I don’t have a pedigree or anything to say I come from a good background. In fact I don’t think even Mom knows where I originated. For all I know I might have unsavoury parentage but I do my best to act like I come from good stock.

You’ll have gathered by now that I’ve got human parents and I have to say it’s no bad thing. Mom and dad look after me well, good food and plenty of attention which I return whenever I can. If Mom picks me up I always put my paws round her neck and nuzzle into her. She adores that, she goes all soppy and tells me how much she loves me. You can’t blame me for stretching it out, can you? I like being told nice things. It’s good for my ego.

It’s a bit different with dad; all he wants to do is play with bits of string and rolled up silver foil. I join in, of course I do. It would be silly not to. I mean what would be the point of watching the foil ball roll past and not try to stop it. Actually I quite like the way my claws sink into it. It makes a soft crackling noise, the sort of noise that makes me want to do it all over again. Another game is called catch the pea but this drives mom mad. Dad will insist on throwing me an odd pea or two when they have them for dinner. Old as I am I never fail to catch one which is probably a good thing since mom keeps warning him that if she finds peas on the floor she’ll kill him. I’d hate to be responsible for that. When I hear the tension rise I disappear inside my paper bag. It’s peaceful in there. I usually have a sleep until the atmosphere changes.

I only have one complaint about living here and that’s the frequent visits of a Siamese cat called Smokey. Daft name for a cat but I suppose it describes his appearance. He has a cream body and a lilac face, ears, legs and tail.  Sounds more like a flower than a cat. Well, this Smokey comes through our fence and gazes round, positively radiating his snootiness. Even if he’s out of sight we know he’s there, that stupid bell around his neck gives him away every time. He thinks he’s important, walks up the path as if he owns it. I tell you, I may be a lady cat but I know how to fight and I won’t let that upstart put one over on me. 

One day, when I was lying in the sunshine, there was a right kerfuffle on our lawn when Smokey intruded on a tête-à-tête between big black Tom from next door and ginger Sukie from the other side. I saw it happen from my spot by the laburnum tree. They were minding their own business, planning a love tryst for all I know. They’d been pretty friendly for a while and I couldn’t fathom why they didn’t get together. Anyway, Smokey walked up the path in that highfalutin manner of his and barged in between the two of them. I put my head down. I knew what a temper Tom had and didn’t want to get involved. That’s the beauty of being an older cat; I can keep my distance without offending anyone. They just think I’m past it; little do they know what I’m capable of when roused. We’ll keep that bit of info between you and me, if you don’t mind. I don’t want all my secrets revealed. There are occasions when the surprise element is a valuable thing.

Generally speaking I can tolerate foreign cats but the Siamese gets on my nerves. There are two more in the road but they don’t ever step outside their boundaries. It’s only Smokey who does that. He acts like a grandiose VIP so it’s no wonder he rubs animals up the wrong way. Mom doesn’t like him either. She hammers on the window whenever she sees him, while dad’s face turns puce with temper. He rushes out and yells at the top of his voice ... Smokey soon disappears when he starts, as well as all the birds. The reason dad doesn’t like him is because he drinks the water in the birdbath and pinches the apple cores that are thrown out for what dad calls his feathered friends. Aren’t humans funny the way they conjure up silly names for animals? A cat down the road is called Charlesworth but I’d better not go on about him ... I’d probably die laughing.

On the day of the fracas Sukie actually made a play for Smokey. Well, not exactly a ‘play’ but she definitely gave him the eye. Now I know what mom means when she uses the expression fast cat because that’s what Sukie was being, a fast cat. She actually nuzzled Smokey’s ear. I was about to look away when I saw Tom’s paw fly up. His claws looked wicked as he struck Smokey on the nose. That did it. I flew into the house where it was safe. Female cats are difficult to understand sometimes. I mean, why eye another cat when you’ve got a good steady male who dotes on you? Daft, if you ask me. Yes, I know I’m a female feline as well, let’s just say I have no tendencies for flirting. Come to think of it, I don’t have tendencies in any direction. I’m content as I am, with just a mom and a dad to please. Can’t be doing with all that hanky-panky the youngsters get up to.

Oh well, that’s enough storytelling. I need my sleep. I might even go upstairs to lie on the bed, or inside if Mom’s forgotten to tuck in the sheets. It’s my favourite sleeping place, especially at night when the folks are in it. There’s nothing like nestling between two humans even if dad does moan about it.

Maybe I’ll catch up with you some other time.  Meow!

Next instalment 24 November

15 November 2018

MORE THIS AND THAT...




1.   Letters don’t normally come on Sundays, but it took several hours for me to realise it was Saturday.

2.   Charlie the cat has decided that my desk is the best place to take a nap. Perhaps he’s after the mouse!

3.   My window cleaner has a knack of knowing when the weather will stay fine.

4.   Switched grocery supplier. The old one didn’t seem to understand English!

5.   Thank goodness the clock changes are upon us! I much prefer lighter mornings.

6.   I only like cold mornings if I can stay in bed an extra hour.

7.   Charlie didn’t like the fireworks but I enjoyed him snuggling up to me and hiding his ears on a cushion.

8.   Hearing their three-year-old son crying very loud, his parents rushed into the room to see what was wrong. The boy had swallowed a penny and was convinced he was going to die. Nothing his parents could say would convince him otherwise. Finally, the father palmed a penny that was half hidden in a sheet, rubbed his son’s stomach and pretended to pull the penny out of his ear. The little lad started smiling when he saw the penny, though he quickly snatched it out of his father’s hand, swallowed it and said ‘Do it again, Dad!’

9.   Have disposed of pampas plumes, now all I have to do is cut back the knife-edged leaves. Wishing we’d never planted the damn thing.

10  I would have thought Chicken Tikka was too spicy for a cat but Charlie begs for bits of it when I’m eating. Obviously, I don’t give him huge lumps, I mean it’s really for me not him. 

11 November 2018

MEMORY FAILURE

My memory and powers of awareness have failed, and to think that only recently I was patting myself on the back for being astute. 
Each week I order enough ready meals to last me a week. They go in the freezer and I top-up when the numbers go down.
This week I gave the suppliers something to laugh about. I hope!
While the delivery guy was unloading my order in the kitchen, I hastened to make space on the kitchen counter. Several of the just delivered items were shifted to the fridge in the outside extension, then I returned to carry on helping the guy unpack the rest. After he left, I started to put the goods away. First, I spotted a huge bag containing sixteen (16) packets of cheese and onion crisps…. which I hate and which had not been ordered. I do have ready salted crisps in smaller bags of 6 so I don’t know where they got 16 from or cheese and onion.
After complaining by phone, I set about putting other stuff away. It was then I realised more items were missing. Six ready meals to be exact.
Of course, I had completely forgotten that I had shifted some and mentally accused the delivery man of not delivering the full order. I think I must have had the problem of the crisps in mind which stopped me concentrating on the job in hand, e.g. putting other stuff away.
Can you imagine how awful I felt after ringing the company yet again to admit my mistake? 
Within minutes I received an email to tell me I was being reimbursed for the wrong delivery of 16 packets of crisps, four of each flavour. I sent polite thanks but deliberately didn’t mention the state of my brain; nor did I request the attendance of a crisp lover to help eat the unwanted cheese & onion, salt & vinegar, or prawn cocktail. I can manage the ready salted on my own.

07 November 2018

A FALSE FACADE



~A FALSE FACADE~

Holding aloft the two glasses of Chateau Robert, Sonny Blake pushed through the crowd, nodding to colleagues as he sidestepped the potted palms. He was a popular figure at these thespian functions. Until the conclusion of Crisis, the hospital soap, he played the leading role which set budding actresses clamouring to take his arm; an irregular countenance and lopsided smile giving him that rugged appearance which was so in vogue with the younger set. His enforced retirement meant nothing to them. He was legendary; his position was influential.

As he pressed through the swarm of performers he flirted with the starlets, knowing his overtures would not be taken seriously. At fifty-nine his inclinations had subsided; only the memories remained.

Proceeding towards the Windsor Lounge Sonny was hailed by Susan Craig, an erstwhile star whose fortune was in decline. Over the months he had led her through the intricacies of everyday accounting, but Susan felt more comfortable spending money than saving it. Not having time to chat, Sonny inclined his head and nodded as if to say, Tomorrow, I'll call. Tomorrow, I will counsel you further. Susan gave him a dazzling smile. She understood his meaning. Taking a sip of wine, Sonny pinned on a jolly smile and carried on.

He spotted his friend, Peter Vaughan. 'Fine crowd tonight,' Sonny said, raising his voice above the hubbub. 'It's taken me a century to get these drinks through. Meryl will be wondering where I am.'

He started to move away, but Peter clutched his dinner jacket. 'Before you disappear I'd like a word.'

Sonny glanced towards the Windsor Lounge, imagining Meryl's frustration at having to wait so long, but the anxiety on his friend's face prompted him to enquire, a touch facetiously, 'Which word would that be, Peter?'

'You said you'd help with access to the kids.' Peter glared at a highly made-up woman who was endeavouring to get by. 'Weekends are dreadfully inconvenient but it seems I have no choice. Damned solicitor's taken Josie's side. Now, if you could collect them…'

'I will collect them, Peter, and I’ll take them to your flat on the understanding that I join you for lunch. I'll contact you tomorrow for instruction. Now I must get on. Meryl will be organizing a search party.'

As Sonny turned away, Peter remarked to his female companions that Sonny Blake was the very essence of compassion, an absolute rock of dependability. Who else would drop everything to drive twenty-five miles there and back to escort a colleague's brats.

Sonny paused at the doorway to search for Meryl. She would by now have forsaken the couch and joined a group most beneficial to her trade. He acknowledged a couple of agents, one of whom had sought his advice about his ailing mother. Sonny had recommended the relevant organisation. An intelligent suggestion, held the agent. One obvious to a five year old, deemed Sonny.

Meryl's piping voice emanated from the vicinity of the fireplace. Sonny moved in that direction. One of her routines was in full flow, the one he had taken such pains to perfect; hours of instilling into her that to successfully impersonate Joan Rivers she must remember to use the proper accent.

Standing at the boundary of Meryl's audience Sonny signalled his presence, lifting the wineglass for her to see. However, Meryl was absorbed in entertaining the crowd, using the grey marble fireplace and a damson-coloured chaise-longue as backdrop. Sonny watched and gloried in the fact that her performance was outstanding.

At the end, amidst well-deserved cheers, one beefy American roared his intention to engage her for his next revue. Smiling triumphantly, Meryl ran to Sonny and kissed his cheek. He handed her the drink and put his empty glass on a small onyx table. 'It worked,' she said. 'Your badgering worked.' She hugged him. 'Where would I be without you.'

At midnight, after installing Meryl in a taxi, Sonny headed home, tugging his collar round his neck, battling against the rain. His black shoes squeaked as they always did when wet. His blue-black hair was soaked. He regretted not having brought a hat but who expected to see such a deluge after all that heat. A car drove by, splashing water on his trousers.

Reaching his basement home, once a high class Victorian dwelling, he gripped the iron handrail and began to descend, treading carefully on the slippery steps. One by one the street lights were extinguished. Raucous laughter emerged from distant revellers. A clock struck the quarter-hour, its clarity dulled by the rain. A cat meowed nearby. He fished in his pocket for the key, shaking away the drips from a leaking gutter.

The door swung open. Sonny knocked the light switch with his shoulder and the bed-sit was flooded with harsh light. Nine months he had lived there and still the bulb was naked. The tiny sink was cluttered with soiled crocks. The blue plastic curtain which hid the pipes was torn where once he grabbed it to break a fall. On the opposite wall was his unmade bed. Each night he vowed that next morning he would straighten the sheets, but he was prevented by apathy from attending to domestic tasks. Little point when the only spectator was him.

Taking the bottle of Gordon's from the shelf alongside the sink, Sonny filled a Horlicks mug. Thinking again of his dead fiancé, killed through his own neglect, a little thing like failing to spot the faulty brakes on his car. He felt despondency setting in, once again acknowledging that without his beloved Gloria his life was worth nothing.

Accidental death; accidentally caused by him.

This evening had been like slow torture and he knew he couldn't go on much longer pandering to the whims of others, aiding and advising, supporting and succouring, getting nothing in return. Good old, reliable Sonny. Rock of dependability. If only dependability could pay the rent or reliability settle bills. Advising Susan on budgeting had been easy but for him the road ahead was littered with court orders and final demands. And he still had legal costs to meet.

A profound sigh ripped through his lips. His temples throbbed, a common occurrence after consuming red wine. Refilling the mug with gin, he drank from the chip-free side. If nothing else it would ease the pain.

THE END

01 November 2018

HERE IT IS AGAIN... WELL, IT IS NOVEMBER


I had a serious burns accident in November and that is why this piece of writing gets aired every year. I wrote it specially to say 'be careful'


The Prose 
November is perhaps the most moving month of the year, steeped in tradition and teeming with expectancy. Why yearn for sunnier climes or a terracotta tan when November's seasonal pulchritude comes free of charge. Broad avenues awash with colour and piled high with copper jewels: red-gold gems, cascading from majestic trees, making way for fresh creations of embryonic buds.

Natural beauty contrasts sharply with more morbid attractions. Searing bonfires concoct a vivid tableau. Orange flames triumphantly lick the feet of man-made guys, egged on by a jubilant audience gobbling sausages and baked potatoes. Historical, traditional, and macabre, as are the fireworks: pretty explosives noisily winging, gloriously beguiling.

Scarlet poppies adorning our attire signify remembrance for the soldiers who fought for liberation … the war dead, who gave us optimism. Yields of mistletoe and holly and sometimes early snow prompt thoughts of Christmas celebrations, of nativity, and gatherings of families and friends. 

Thus, November is a month of diverse elements: breathtaking, poignant, and sad. But it is never dull and those who claim that it is should examine its true potential, and wrest a soupçon of comfort from the depths of the sombre monotony that exists solely within their hearts. This is November. Enjoy.

The Poem 
Broad avenues awash with colour,
Red gold gems tumbling to the ground;
Evolution preparing fresh creation,
Embryonic buds already sound.

Beyond the mists stem glowing vistas.
Nature sighs in resignation,
No challenger for graphic scenes
Of morbid fascination.

Poppies, red and unembellished,
Symbols of commemoration
To men in bloody trenches; soldiers
Sacrificing lives to give us liberation.

Carousals of darting, searing fire,
Triumphant flames of orange hue,
Incited by beholders’ hearty cheers
To kiss the feet of guys, and maybe you.

Motley fireworks, spectacular and loud,
Spiralling in the darkening night,
Gripping young ones, riveting them to pain.
Inevitably their shocking plight.

Advance through crumbly autumn leaves
Amidst displays of deciduous attraction,
But heed the groans as flames descend
And human euphoria condones the action.