Monthly Archives: January 2017



Major panic this morning when I picked Mystic up for his pre-breakfast cuddle – they all get one – and found copious amounts of bright red blood pouring out of his nostril.

From the lack of any deposits anywhere I got the impression that it started as I lifted him (because?) As I soaked it up with kitchen towel and the other two yowled for food, my mind filled with about nineteen possible scenarios for the rest of the day, all racing past my brain. Was this it? Should I get the vet? Should we go to the vet? Was it hurting him?

He kept trying to wriggle away and after what seemed hours but was probably 2.2 minutes the flow stopped. So I put him down and he joined in the yowling.

Then they all ate their breakfast, Mystic cleaned his face, and everything settled down. I keep going to peer at him but he just opens one eye and says, ‘WHAT?’

‘Sorry, dear,’ I say, and tiptoe off.



Senior moments, D’oh! moments? What are they? I’m still not quite 69 but I’m detecting an alarming tendency towards re-inventing the wheel every time I have something to do. This in an age when everything about everything is available via this nice machine I’m using to tell you about how I always seem to wonder, ‘Where do I start?’

A couple of people kindly answered my post on FB last week in which I wondered how to find out the required format for a PhD proposal in Eng Lit.

It’s a comfort to me on reflection that neither of them actually said the words which today lit up in my head;

‘Check the website of the University you would like to study at.’

Yes, that’s a ‘D’oh’ moment, definitely.

Of course all the details were there and I have bookmarked them and printed them out. I wonder if I should write it on the back of my hand in indelible ink too, just to be sure?

So now all I have to do is find the way to express what I want to research, how and why – especially why.

I don’t think I’ll find that online!


Three happy cats 2

It’s taken a long time to dawn on me that the reason for the cats and I feeling hot and becoming sleepy, to the extent that I turned down the boiler in mid-winter, is very simple. It’s because I had the faulty panes of double-glazing replaced back in the summer.


While it remains true that in the autumn I was going through a generally ‘down’ spell, it’s an object lesson in looking at all the contributing factors to a situation. While I still feel rather tireder than I’d like, my brain seems to be more awake and I’m getting more done.

The cats still spend a lot of time asleep, and they look very cosy while they’re at it, so they’re not suffering. I haven’t exactly reduced the inside temperature to match the outside, but it’s making a substantial difference. I’m fairly sure the main source of my slowness is now ‘just’ the Sjogren’s.

Mystic is not too happy about me working more at the computer, however; he still feels my place is on the sofa so that he can sit on me. He is currently sitting on the landing outside my study, in full pose as a watchful Trafalgar Square lion, to let me know he doesn’t think much of this sort of thing.

I refuse to be bullied. Well, I try to refuse to be bullied, but it’s now only 1.25 hours to their lunchtime so I suspect the others may join in the campaign before long.

It’s still the case that by the evening, Mystic sleeps so deeply that if I need to leave the room he just goes on dozing wherever I put him down on the sofa, and sometimes on my return he doesn’t notice, so one of the others can then grab a sneaky cuddle! At bedtime I carry him to the kitchen and lay him gently in his bed, and he never stirs. But he deserves all this care, so do the other two old gents – they are smelly, importunate, hard work and adorable.



Be careful what you wish for, they say. And whoever they may be, they have a point.

While in ‘real’ life we may never find ourselves wishing a sausage onto the end of our nose, then having to waste a wish to get it off again, we are subject always to one immutable rule – change is never easy.

All change is a blend of what we’d planned and hoped for with simple blind occurrence. Changes that seem to us wholly good may lead to disappointment or even despair. Changes that fall like thunder on our unsuspecting heads turn out not to be the total end of all things good, though they may bring pain and sorrow that change us forever.

Thus do I find myself almost at the end of writing and publishing ‘The Dry Well’, and finding the experience wholly ambivalent. Partly because it means a good deal of work very much less congenial than its writing was. Partly because, for the time being, it marks a climactic in the development and publishing of the Skorn series. There remain several stories that can be worked up to make a collection, and some novel drafts conceived before Alistair McGechie and I discovered Skorn, but for the moment I feel there’s a natural break coming on Skorn.

Equally unsimple is the situation regarding my tremblingly fragile possibility of turning into a PhD student. Here I have been since 1984 wishing that I had done a Doctorate in the first place instead of an MPhil – which was pretty well as heavy on work, I think – and now a kindly response from a Professor has made the possibility less fantastic. I may be able to have what I’ve wished for. Already ideas are chasing themselves around inside my head, tripping over each other, quarreling, wiping each other out and insisting they’re better than the rest. Very exciting! But part of me wants to draw the bedclothes over my head and forget the whole thing. If it can become real, it will be an enormous change. Help, CHANGE!

All of this relates, I know, to my terrible loss in 2013. Ever since Andrew was taken from me, I have struggled with the sheer weight of things that I have seen and experienced, that he has not. I feel them all building up in my memory and can’t help anticipating a day when I will be able to tell him about them, can’t get over expecting him to come home and want to know what I’ve been doing.

To undertake a degree – if I prove capable of that – would be the single biggest thing of this kind since his death. Maybe that’s a main source of my procrastination?

But I know he would want me to do whatever feels right for me in my changed life. And would explain to me gently that going on to something new is not in any way equivalent to leaving him behind. Not that that makes it easy.

Reading about the life of Edward Thomas lately, I rediscovered Robert Frost’s poem about choices and decisions – I will quote it below. My situation differs from that of the narrator here, in that the road I most want to travel has actually been barred against me. But it sums up a lot of how I feel now.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



They have now all stopped vomiting and are peacefully asleep.

Tis all my fault, you know; another of my well-meant attempts to see whether they would like to try something new to eat.

But these old boys are purrsitently loyal to their food brands (the two most expensive in the market) and I really must now give up worrying about it and just stick to what they know.

Of course, on days when one cat or the other doesn’t feel like one meal or the other – not so uncommon as they get older – one has to endure the reproachful stare. This induces temporary insanity in the human servant, and a compulsion to see if there is anything his majesty would like better. If we could ignore The Stare, and just say, ‘Well, maybe you’ll fancy the next meal,’ all would be well and the planet would not spin backwards.

Felix distinguished himself last night by being the first of the three to commit a ‘naughty’ act in the kitchen. He’d just been out, and on arriving back through the catflap he YOWLED as he usually does to tell us how lucky we are that he’s back.

Then the yowling got louder and began to take on that ‘I’ve brought you something nice’ tone that they have when they bring in mice or birds. I hastened in an elderly way to the kitchen and he was indeed crouched over something on the floor. MY sausages! (Thankfully still in a a bag.) They’d been on the worktop finishing their defrost before I cooked my tea. Felix was very hurt when I rescued them and hid them under a heavy lid.

Then when they were cooked he sat close to me and watched every forkful raised to my lips, while his big green eyes said – ‘I’ve only had three measly little meals today, you know!’

He’s a cat.



Ben Batten E’s frum Newlyn
Way down near Cornwall’s end;
E’ve got a sister down thur
Fer yurrs she’ve bin me friend.

Tho I do be frum Devvin
They’s rare polite to I
Prap’s tis cos at teatime
I’ve cream, not jam, on high.

That Ben’s a proper poet,
As you may now all see
In this yer book E’ve written;
Newlyn be proud of ‘E.

There’s word to make thee chortle,
An’ words to make thee weep,
Speaking of home and heritage,
Of Dear Ones now asleep.

E’ve many poems spoken
As they down Newlyn talks;
But some they be in English too
So posh as furinner’s squawks.

The sea do fill ‘is poems,
And his love for Kernow dear,
And pride for all the history –
In that land tis ever near.

Tis good to read thy book, Ben;
Tis proper ansum, dear
So hands across the Tamar, biy
An’ raise a hearty cheer.


Word power in wind and water…

No more to be said now – we all have to wait and see, whatever our personal affiliations.

Jan Hawke INKorporated

swept through Washington today. Right into the Oval Office unfortunately for some. Not for everyone of course. I’m sure that President Trump’s followers who’ve placed themselves willingly in the tidal current were very pleased to hear what he had to say in his inaugural speech. Even though they’ve heard it all before.
And even as the colours of the new administration were brought out and, naturally, went very well with the stars and stripes, there were many who could be forgiven for wondering if this torrent of wind and water was of the kind that is best contained in the bathroom plumbing…

I promise I won’t go political on you. Trump is the duly elected, and now, incumbent President. People voted for him, rather than the alternative. So no talk of percentages, nor other semantics, because they don’t matter now. He got in. What worries me is that the most…

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It’s time you had an update on the cats; I’ve been failing to blog, failing to write, failing to catch up with all sorts of things that I somehow could not get on with during my weary period in the autumn – I’m now getting tired from the work involved in catching up! But that’s a different sort of tired, and far less worrying. It’s the sort of tired you get looking after three gericatrics with varying special needs!

The cats have now been with me for seven months and it feels as if they have always been here.

They remain basically very settled and content. Fluff is so settled he can’t be bothered to go outside at all, but at least he’s remembered what the litter tray is for – he’s the current star at doing it in the right places. His coat is finally back to its full glory after the shave he had to have before coming to live with me, and he even lets me brush some of it some days.

Mystic’s settledness now has strong overtones of exhaustion and not feeling well. He would be happy to sit on my lap all day and snooze. His nose lesions are slowly, slowly worsening and I’m glad the vet and I decided on the daily painkiller, it must be helping him. He still looks ridiculously well for an eighteen-and-a-half-year-old, with a glossy coat which he grooms carefully and an appetite like a sumo wrestler.

Felix is pretty OK – like Mystic he likes to go out once a day, leaving by the front door and returning by the cat-flap at the back. Mystic seems to do this straight off and is back almost before he’s left, while Felix is sometimes away a little longer – not usually more than ten minutes, though. After all, they are old and it’s winter. My concerns for Felix are all food-related. I still have to be very careful what varieties of food I give him, as the wrong thing produces a throw-up or the runs. Basically, though, the problem is that he’s recently started to eat and drink even more and I shall be booking him in to see the vet in the next couple of weeks – he can’t go any longer without a kidney function test. I dread it because he hates the vet and lashes out in his fear, but there’s no alternative sadly. At least he’s now a little more responsive to cuddles, and actually purrs while on my lap.

Only seven months and I dread losing them. That’s how it goes with cats.

photo0039 sleepy-fluff

Wherever you lay your hat…

Love this!

Jan Hawke INKorporated

Despite the best of intentions, of course, I’m falling behind time with blogging activity already! On Sunday I came back from visiting Mum to discover, on sitting down to the keyboard, that it was National Hat Day. In the USA anyway. That’s a great idea for a blog, thought I – and promptly went off to play Patience (Solitaire across the pond).

writehat But it stayed at the back of my mind because I have two hats in my new study that carry deep meaning for me. So, without further ado, meet my writing hat!
Now I won’t kid you – this is me being a huge fan-girl! 😀 The late, great Terry Pratchett, as some of you regulars may know is a big literary hero of mine – to the point of my now being a regular attendant at Discworld conventions in the UK and Eire. He had a thing for…

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