The Scottish parliament is spending £250 a bird to remove pigeons nesting on the building. The crackdown was imposed when ministers heard rumours of a coup.
Friday, September 29, 2006
When people first meet me and find out that I am a writer, they always ask the same question: “Where do you get your ideas from?”
The answer is always that I do not know. If I did know I would go there more often. Haha. I do, however, do a lot of research, whatever I am writing about. This can help generate ideas, satisfies my innate desire for accuracy (in a sketch where I needed a man to refer to a train, I checked the GNER timetable and used a train that actually existed – it made no difference to the sketch, but made me infinitely happier that there was an underlying truth to the comedy), and is very enjoyable as I love finding out trivial facts and impressing my girlfriend when she comes home from her proper job.
In the past month I have genuinely had to research:
– Xylophones. (Wooden bars only – anything metal and it’s a glockenspiel. Don’t believe me? Well, xylophone is from the Greek for “wooden sound”. So there.)
– How long it would take to fall off Beachy Head. (Just under 6 seconds, assuming no air resistance. Ample time to say the required punchline.)
– Pornography featuring women over the age of 40. (Very pleasant – there were no such things as “MILF”s when I was a lad. And we had to look in hedges instead of on the internet.)
This week, however, I had to write a children’s story about a sofa. I decided that the best form of research was to sit on one. Mine. With a cup of tea. And, when the muse still didn’t strike, to lie back a bit. So, there I was, a man, lying on his sofa, alone in the flat, girlfriend not due back for hours, a bit bored. Inevitably, one thing led to another...
I didn’t hear my girlfriend’s key in the door.
I didn’t hear her colleague’s voice.
The first I knew of their presence was when they were standing over me, their faces a mixture of shock and amusement. Finally, her colleague broke the silence.
“Have you built a den out of the sofa cushions?”
I laughed nervously. “Er, no. I just took them off to vacuum underneath.”
We all looked slowly around the room. No one mentioned that the vacuum cleaner was nowhere to be seen.
Still, the den was a great idea for the story.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I am browsing the pages of Friends Reunited, mentally totting up who I am now more successful than, when I see that Jules, a university friend, has signed up. He hasn’t put any details on, but I am genuinely pleased to be reminded of him as we were very good friends. We shared a house for a couple of years and even played in some bands together. I haven’t thought about him for ages, and I can’t remember how or why we lost touch, but I am sure that it must be mainly down to me.
We used to make each other laugh all the time, and I particularly remember a joke we had that ran for ages. If one of us wanted the other to do something, we would say, “If you don’t do X I’ll do Y”, where X was something like “come to the pub” and Y was a series of escalating threats that eventually culminated in the phrase “kill your kids and sexually abuse your dog”. This was the worst thing that our undergraduate minds could think of, and we found it so funny that we pretty much stuck at that. Analysed by an outside observer this is probably about as funny as any “in” joke, but anyone who has had something like this with a friend will know that it is the repetition and inappropriateness that makes it so funny.
These were, of course, the days before mobile phones, so we would have to communicate by leaving notes on each other’s doors. (This may seem unfeasible to young people now, but I am sure that we didn’t miss out on anything. I, for instance, had sexual intercourse at least twice whilst a student.) I particularly remember coming home from an unexpected weekend away to find the following pinned to my door from Jules:
7:00 Where are you? Are you going to the pub later?
7:45 We have gone to the pub. If you don’t join us I’ll kill your kids and sexually abuse your dog.
11:30 Consider your children dead and your dog sexually abused.
The more I think about Jules, the more I want to be in touch with him again. So I write him an email giving a brief rundown of the last fifteen years, and saying that I hope that he’s well too. And I have a great line to sign off on:
PS If you don’t write back I’ll kill your kids and sexually abuse your dog.
I am pleased with this. If somebody took the effort to remember a private joke from a decade and a half ago and re-deliver it to me in an updated context I would be very touched. Even if the joke was about multiple child murder and bestiality. That was what our friendship was based on.
I click send.
A few weeks go by and I do not hear from my friend. I am a little surprised, but reason that perhaps he is busy and doesn’t have the time to reply. Then I log back on to Friends Reunited, only to find that he has removed his name entirely from the system. I can think of no reason why somebody would do this. You can simply put your name on Friends Reunited with no details of your life. You don’t have to reply to anyone. It doesn’t even give your email address, so the worst that can happen is that you occasionally receive a forwarded email from somebody, which you can just delete.
The only explanation I can think of for him doing this is that he was so offended by my email that he gave up the possibility of any other friend contacting him ever just to make sure that he would never hear from me again. And the only offence he could have taken is at the PS.
What if his memory isn’t as good as mine and he has forgotten about our joke? What if it’s my memory that’s defective, and what I recall as something hilarious that ran for months and months was something that we just said once and moved on from? What if his children have recently been murdered and/or a much-loved canine pet has been interfered with?
Jules – if you’re reading this, drop me a line. If you don’t... Well, you know what’ll happen.
Monday, September 25, 2006
I was very perturbed to receive the above letter from the property management company that looks after my block of flats. It would appear that the CBeebies repeat fees are dwindling, and that Teletubby Po is now having to do exterior decorating to make ends meet. She has obviously managed to undercut the local tradesmen by submitting a tender that specified that she would only want to be paid in Tubby Custard. And perhaps a big hug for a job well done.
With the proposed cuts to the broadcast hours of CITV we can expect a lot more of this, as my postman, Pat, told me this morning. But it is ridiculous that my property managers are employing Po. Everyone knows that Tinky Winky is the tallest Teletubby, and would therefore be best at painting the high bits.
Friday, September 22, 2006
My water tank’s overflow is dripping. It will be a simple matter to replace the washer in the ballcock, and I intend to do the job myself because this will be cheaper. I can think of no circumstances where it is better to get a professional in if I can save money in the short term by having a crack at it myself, particularly as I have at least some of the right tools for the job and am quite good at improvising with others.
The only problem is that the water tank is in the top of a tall cupboard. If I stand on a chair I can get to the tank, but can't quite reach the valve. I could really do with a stepladder, but I do not own a stepladder because the only cupboard in my flat tall enough to store a stepladder in is full of water tanks.
I do, however, have an ironing board. I have seen people on television standing on ironing boards in a humorous fashion, usually pretending to be surfing. I can only assume that these people would have undertaken a full health and safety audit before attempting such a stunt, and that an ironing board is therefore fully capable of supporting a man’s weight.
It is just as I am unscrewing the whole ballcock assembly, thinking “I had better not drop these little bits of valve in the water tank – they are probably Very Important”, that I make a sudden lurch downwards and to the left. There are three tiny, but ominous splashes as I drop the Very Important Bits of Valve.
I get up off the floor and look around the flat for hidden cameras – this would make great footage for “Britain’s Biggest Idiot”. The ironing board is now leaning at quite a rakish angle. By “rakish”, I mean “unusable” – both for standing on, or ironing. I cannot believe that in trying to mend one thing I have made the first thing worse, and also broken a second thing. It is this kind of situation that is often rejected in my sitcom scripts for being “too unrealistic”. Well, who’s laughing now, eh, BBC?
I try to straighten the ironing board’s left leg, but despite years of hard physical labour at a computer keyboard I lack the upper body strength required to bend tubular steel. But my girlfriend will be bound to notice that something is different about the ironing board when the bottom halves of her skirts and blouses are more creased than the top halves because the iron keeps slipping down to the left. I suppose that I could stand on the ironing board again and try to bend the right leg by the same amount to level it out. My girlfriend might then say that the ironing board is lower than usual, but I will just say that she must have grown. She is not very tall, so will probably be quite pleased with that explanation and not question it any further.
I stand on tiptoe on the chair and shine a torch down into the depths of the tank. I can see the Very Important Bits of Valve glimmering on the bottom like pearls, far out of reach. Alongside them are some identical Very Important Bits of Valve. Clearly I am not the first idiot to have lived here.
I leave a note for my girlfriend explaining that the water is turned off and head to Homebase with a list that reads “
washer, whole new ballcock, stepladder, ironing board”.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
How Are We Going to Get This Dutchie Going Around?
Bela Lugosi’s Unwell
Peckish Like the Wolf
Things Can Still Get a Little Bit Worse
Begin to Suspect the Boogie
Oops!... I Did It
Bang You’re Seriously Wounded
It’s My Party and I’ll Tell You You’re My Best Mate and I Love You If I Want to
Smells Like Some Kind of Spirit
Do They Know It’s Only September Yet the Shops Think It’s Christmas?
(Like these? Try these.)
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
A letter arrives from a neighbour asking if we are interested in clubbing together to buy the freehold of our block of flats. This sounds like a good idea, as the lease is about to fall below 80 years. In fact, the more I think about it, the more worthless leasehold properties appear. I try to explain it to my girlfriend.
“A lease of zero years is worthless, right?” I posit.
“And no one would buy a property with a lease of just one year, because in a year’s time it would be worthless, right?”
“So no one would buy a property with a lease of two years, because we’ve just said that a property with a lease of one year is worthless, so even a property with a lease of two years is only a year away from being worthless. Which we’ve just said is worthless.”
“So therefore, by induction, all leasehold properties are worthless, regardless of the length of the lease”, I say, triumphantly.
“It’s a method of mathematical proof. Think of it like dominoes”, I explain. “You prove that you can knock the first one down, then you prove that any domino will knock the next one down. Therefore, by deductive reasoning, you’ve proved that you can knock all of them down – ie that the formula is correct for all natural numbers. So it proves that people are idiots for buying leasehold properties.”
“So why did you buy this place?”
“Well, I hadn’t yet formulated this exciting, er, formula. I suppose that people quite happily put logic aside when they’re dealing with timespans of decades. They just assume that they’ll find somebody to sell the hot potato on to. So long as nobody questions the ultimate value of it, the system works.”
“Or you can just extend the lease.”
“Yes”, I concede.
“Or buy a share of the freehold.”
“Yes. I suppose.”
She returns to the book she is reading. It doesn’t look like a very interesting book, and I don’t know why she prefers its made-up stories about people who never existed to discussing the truth of mathematics with me, her boyfriend, who does exist.
A thought occurs to me. A thought that is both brilliant and terrifying.
“In fact”, I continue, “It’s like life.”
She puts the book down, wearily, and gives me her full attention.
“When you get to the last year of life, you’re not going to achieve anything worthwhile in the next 12 months, because whatever you do, you’re about to die anyway. So the last year of your life is pointless. So therefore the penultimate year of your life is pointless as you’ve still only got 12 months to go until a point that we’ve just said is pointless. And therefore every year before that is pointless. And yet we run around like idiots when we’re young trying to achieve things, thinking that these things are worthwhile. And you can’t extend the lease of life. Or buy a share of the freehold.”
I am inordinately pleased with myself. I have just proved, by mathematical induction, that life is pointless.
My girlfriend looks at me, discomfited. I am not sure whether she is contemplating the futility of her existence, or just the futility of her existence with me.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
I am recording a sketch for radio. I am just recording a demo at home as I think this is a better way of demonstrating the concept than a script. I am about to start recording when I have an idea – the sketch would be even better if I could get the old BBC Formula 1 music and use the bit that goes DUMMM, DUM-DUM-DUMM DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM DUMMMM. Once I have this idea I know that I cannot go back to recording the sketch without the music, despite the fact that it will only ever be heard by one other person. I am a perfectionist like that.
I know that this piece of music is The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, from their Rumours album. I also know that I do not own a copy. And I know that if I download it from somewhere like iTunes there will be all sorts of digital rights management issues so that I won’t be able to copy and paste the bit that goes DUMMM, DUM-DUM-DUMM DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM DUMMMM. And I will have to pay 79p.
I am scared of using illegal file-sharing software in case a burly policeman comes knocking on my door. I don’t want the contents of my hard drive to become an exhibit in court as my collection of internet pornography is embarrassingly small and conservative in nature. (That’s conservative with a small ‘c’. If I got off on pictures of Ann Widdecombe that would be extremely liberal. And if my pornography were Liberal in nature then a dodgy MP3 file would be the least of my worries.)
I do find a Russian website that promises any song for just nine cents though. This sounds like a good deal, particularly as it will be in MP3 format, so I can easily get the bit that goes DUMMM, DUM-DUM-DUMM DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM DUMMMM. But I am wary of giving my credit card number to a dodgy Russian businessman in case when I get my next statement I find that I have just spent £21m on Shaun Wright-Phillips. I would not know what to do with him. (Apart from play him wide on the right, obviously.)
So, I email a friend who I know will be in, in case he has a copy that he can rip and email to me. I am not sure about asking him though as his musical tastes are both eclectic and didactic. Either he will be insulted that I think he possesses a Fleetwood Mac album, or he will be condescending because I do not already own such a seminal piece of work. He doesn't reply. That could mean anything.
I could trek all the way into town and try to remember where I bought CDs before the internet, but the thought of buying something by Fleetwood Mac from somebody half my age fills me with horror. Even if I explain that I only want it for the bit that goes DUMMM, DUM-DUM-DUMM DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM DUMMMM, and that it is for a show that I’m sure all “da kidz” will listen to.
Then a memory stirs. Perhaps I do own this album after all. When I was a student, my friend Amy moved house and stored some things at our place. She collected them, but left behind a shoebox of tapes. She never wanted them back as they were a load of 70s music that her brother gave her because he didn’t want them any more. I took ownership, eager to broaden my musical horizons, but it was a bit like buying a complete set of classic novels. I never played a single one of them.
I have, however, taken the shoebox of tapes with me on each of the seven occasions that I have moved house since, each time thinking, “I must either play these or throw them out, not just put them in the wardrobe”. And I have a feeling that one of the tapes is Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.
But where in the wardrobe? An entire wall of our bedroom is floor-to-ceiling shelving behind sliding doors, storing many large boxes of things about which I have thought, “I must either do something with this or throw it out, not just put it in the wardrobe”. It is like looking for a box that is hidden amongst many other similar boxes.
The shoe box is, of course, in the very last box. But when I open it I see that it does indeed contain a copy of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. I am overjoyed. There was a reason for paying seven different sets of removal men to transport it from one home to another over the past 16 years. I must remember to tell my girlfriend this the next time she suggests having a clearout. Triumphantly, I take it out of the shoe box.
The case is empty.
The inlay flutters to the floor.
Defiantly, I pick up my guitar and try to work out the tune. DUMMM, DUM-DUM-DUMM DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM DUMMMM...
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I go out to post a letter. On a street corner that I have to pass stands a group of youths. At no stage in my life have I felt comfortable walking past groups of youths on street corners. When I was a young child they scared me. When I was a youth myself, they scared me. And now they still scare me.
As I am about to pass, the alpha male of the gang says, “Excuse me”.
I just about manage not to fall to the ground yelping, “Please, not my face!”
Then he says, “Do you know Puff the Magic Dragon?”
My Terminator-style Head-Up Display kicks in, analysing the question from every conceivable angle and giving me a list of possible replies.
Are they talking about drugs? Puff sounds like it’s something to do with drugs, magic probably refers to magic mushrooms, and I’m pretty sure that chasing the dragon is smoking heroin. But are they trying to sell me drugs, or wanting to buy drugs from me? Do I look more like a drug user or a drug dealer? I look down at my attire – it says neither “crackhead junkie” nor “Mr Big”. It says “middle-aged man hurrying to catch the last post”.
Perhaps he just said something random to throw me off my guard before one of his mates sticks a screwdriver between my ribs. Maybe I should just throw myself to the ground and get it over with.
Then a third, even uglier possibility flashes up. They are going to embarrass me. It’s one of those cruel questions that whatever I answer they will have something funny to say in return that will make them all laugh at me. From primary school I remember “Were you born with happiness?” (“a penis”) and “Have you ever touched a BMW?” (basically you were damned if you had and damned if you hadn’t). And I can still recall the shame of replying to “Do you know Theresa Green?” in the negative, only to be told “DERR! Don’t you know trees are green?”
But as hard as I think I can’t remember any such trap involving this particular mythical creature. They’re looking at me like they want an answer.
“Er, yes”, I venture cautiously. “He lived by the sea?”
Alpha Male smiles and turns to his mates. “See – I told you so.”
That was it? They wanted me to settle an argument about a nursery rhyme? What about stabbing me or at least laughing at my trainers?
As I walk away, I hear another of them say, “People round here are really nice, aren’t they?”
A third one agrees: “Yes, they wouldn’t do that where I live.”
I stride on to the post-box, happy and confident. Whatever I had read about the youth of today, they weren’t all bad.
Though I still walk home the long way to avoid them.
Monday, September 11, 2006
There are two main advantages to having met my girlfriend on September 11th 2001:
1. I approached our blind date that evening with much more confidence than I would usually, knowing that I had an absolute banker of a conversation topic up my sleeve. Should things begin to flag on the “What’s your second favourite book/film/type of jam?” front I knew that I could always slip in “So, did you see the news at all today?” Though if she had replied, “Yes, wasn’t it great? Die, infidels, die!” I am not sure how far I would have played along to get a shag. I would like to think “not very far”, but I had been single for a while.
2. It makes it very easy to remember our anniversary. Most people greet Osama bin Laden’s annual late August video promising yet more death and destruction to the Western world with fear, anger or revulsion. My first thought is always, “That reminds me – I must pop into Clinton’s and get a card”. And should I ever get confused with the month/date order thing and find myself trying to celebrate on November 9th I can just say, “Hey, do I need an excuse to buy you flowers?”
But, despite our obvious debt to the man, my girlfriend won't let us call any first-born son Osama. If I had known then that she would turn out to be so unreasonable...
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Saturday night. It is my friend Hannah’s birthday. She, her friend Carrie, my girlfriend and I have gone to see The Singer and the Song ("A Celebration of Vocal Performance"), and are waiting to see the headline act, Japanese karaoke show Frank Chickens.
Whilst Hannah is in the loo, one of the venue staff starts chatting to us and finds out about Hannah’s birthday. She then reveals her devious ulterior motive. She wasn’t just being friendly, the conniving witch, she was trying to get people to sign up for karaoke. I am shocked by her underhand tactics. Carrie, my girlfriend and I all look at each other. The woman pleads. She cajoles.
“You could sing your friend Happy Birthday”, she finally suggests.
I don’t want to do it. I have a terrible singing voice and hate any kind of public speaking. I know that my girlfriend doesn’t want to do it either. But Carrie looks like she isn’t sure. We don’t know her very well and I can’t tell if she secretly wants to do it, and is looking unsure so that we don’t feel pressured by her to do it, or if she absolutely doesn’t want to do it, but thinks that we secretly want to and doesn’t want to be rude and stop us two doing it.
“I’ll do it if you two do it”, Carrie says politely.
“I’ll do it if you two do it”, my girlfriend says politely.
“I’ll do it if you two do it”, I say politely.
This was probably how the Third Reich got started.
We find out that none of us want to do it, but only after we've filled in the slip of paper.
The karaoke starts, and the bar is immediately set very high with an excellent rendition of Van Halen’s Jump that includes air guitar, air drums and air keyboards, obviously lovingly rehearsed. The next man sounds great too, and has even brought his own sparkly gold jacket.
But as the evening wears on and I have a few more drinks, my hope that they don’t get round to us fades. I’ve been in restaurants where one table starts singing Happy Birthday to somebody and usually at least half the other tables join in, so at a show like this, actually dedicated to amateur singing, I am sure that the audience will help us out.
By the time we take to the stage I am feeling confident. We wait for the opening bars. I hear the opening bars. The opening bars of this*.
There is a split second of nagging puzzlement before the bowel-liquefying realisation that a simple, but significant mix-up has occurred.
I look at my girlfriend and Carrie. They look back at me like rabbits caught in the spotlight on the Mastermind chair, having just been told that their chosen specialised subject has been changed from “Carrots” to “Causes and effects of the Franco-Prussian War”. They each give a panicked shrug and take a half-step back from their microphones. The first lyrics appear on the screen.
I have a choice. I can either make an elaborate throat-cutting gesture to the man who cues up the music, explain the mix-up, then try to lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday To You”. Or I can launch into a full-blooded impersonation of helium-voiced Clare Grogan singing a song that I have never even sung in the privacy of my own shower, let alone on stage. I look at Hannah who is staring at me with a beguiling mixture of incredulity, amazement and hope.
My grandfather served in the First World War. My father endured National Service and could have been called up for years to follow. I am lucky to have been born in a time of relative peace, but that hasn’t stopped me wondering how I would respond in a combat situation. Now I knew. This was my D-Day, my Flanders field. There was a Boche machine gun that needed taking out and the rest of my platoon were dead, dying or didn't know how the tune went.
“Happy, happy birthday in a hot bath
To those nice nice nights...”
Some random thoughts as I sing:
(a) So that’s what the lyrics are. All these years I thought she was singing...
(b) ... I can’t remember what I thought she was singing. This means I now have no idea how the verses scan.
(c) Why is my left leg dancing in the way that my central nervous system is asking it to, but my right leg is just wobbling?
But maybe it’s not going too badly. The song only has about four notes in it, and none of them are particularly high or sustained. Coincidentally, my voice has a four-note range, and by a stroke of luck it is pitched an exact number of octaves below the melody. In the second verse I even have a go at the little yelps Ms Grogan does on “I got such a fright”.
And there is so much reverb on my voice that for the first time in my life I can actually hear myself sing. My voice sounds familiar. During the repeated “Happy Birthday”s after the middle eight I try to work out who I sound like. I go though a whole list in my head – Sinatra? Crosby? Nat King Cole? No. I sound like Mark E. Smith from the Fall.
Oh well. But then I look around and see Carrie, my girlfriend and various Frank Chickens all dancing behind me. We’re somehow pulling this off. The crowd cheer - tonight they have been celebrating vocal performance in its most diverse forms, from barber's shop quartet to conceptual art installations, and it probably hasn't got more diverse than this: the world's least convincing female impersonator doing a Fall tribute act. Perhaps I should get measured for a sparkly gold jacket after all.
Afterwards, Hannah hugs me and says, “That’s the best birthday present I’ve ever had”.
Great. What can I get her next year?
* For those of you without speakers, that was the unmistakeable xylophone riff at the start of Happy Birthday by early 80s Scottish New Wavers Altered Images.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
I was sorry to hear about the death of Steve Irwin. Sorry because he was a passionate man, cared about the environment and left a young family.
But a tiny, nasty, selfish part of me is sorry because an article that I wrote about crocodiles will now have to be rewritten or shelved. This is by no means the first time that this has happened. A few examples:
– A radio play, Final Score, abandoned half-way through writing when Len Martin (read out the football results on Grandstand – everyone over a certain age remembers trying to predict the score from his rising or falling intonation) died. The play would have made no sense in a world without him.
– Another radio play, hastily rewritten just before recording to change a reference to the recently deceased Emlyn Hughes. It was only one line that needed changing, but I was never happy with the replacement by Howard Wilkinson. All I could think about during the broadcast was that I should have gone with Alan Ball instead, though even he wouldn’t have summed up the exact Emlyn Hughes-ness required by the set-up. Emlyn Hughes was perfect – why did he have to die? Why, God?
– An article for a national newspaper that jokingly referred to fatal rail crashes. The target was the privatised rail industry, not the victims, but it was still hastily pulled when a train ploughed into a car on a level crossing. Never subsequently published, probably because there has never been an acceptable time period since during which there have been no fatal rail crashes.
– A radio sketch about how the broadcast schedules would be moved around when the Queen Mother died. Written, submitted, accepted and pulled all in the week when, yes, the Queen Mother finally died.
I am beginning to worry that I have some kind of curse, and that everyone I write about dies soon afterwards. I am sure that a statistician would tell me that there is nothing out of the ordinary going on, but I do sometimes wonder if I should change careers. For the innocent victims, not myself, obviously. Alternatively:
“It was a dark and stormy night. Robert Kilroy-Silk, Carol Vorderman, Michael Winner, Linda Barker, Guy Ritchie, Rhona Cameron, James Blunt, Anne Robinson and Jeremy Clarkson were gathered in the library. Esther Rantzen was there as well. And the cast of Big Brothers 1-7. And the man who invented the Crazy Frog ringtone. And my neighbour whose car alarm went off last night. They were all gathered to watch a musical by Ben Elton...”
Friday, September 01, 2006
I see a cat on my way to the park. I work from home and have little human contact during the day, so I seem to have compensated by making friends with a lot of the cats in the area. I like cats, but can’t have one at my flat, so I always stop to stroke them on my way to the park/shops/library. My life is great. It is like being old without the incontinence issues.
I know which cats live where and which ones are friendly. This is one of the friendliest – a white/ginger/tabby mix who lives in one of the houses on the left, approximately halfway to the park. I stroke him and we have a little chat. The chat is quite one-sided, mainly about how shiny his coat is and how nice it is to be stroked under the chin, but it’s still better than a lot of conversations I had working in an office. I carry on to the park.
On my way back, I see my friend standing once again by the gatepost. I am very happy. Some days I don’t see any cats at all, so to see the same one twice is special.
I kneel down again, but the cat just runs away. Puzzled, I look up. A man is coming down the path. He is probably wondering why I am kneeling in front of him saying, “Come here, gorgeous”.