Monthly Archives: May 2017


They sat quietly again for a while. Then Montague said, “Brother, next spring we must invite Elyn to stay with us

here at the farm. I have been concerned for her ever since we heard that she was widowed. It would be a fine thing for that lad of hers to grow up here, nourished by your good fruit. And we are getting on now, a helping hand would be welcome, and who better than our own niece?”

“It would be a big change for us. A young child about the place, won’t that be noisy and troublesome?”

“Oh, Agravin. You met young Perian two years ago when we visited them in the town; a fat solemn baby, no trouble to anyone. It will do us good. I will tell him tales of the mountain, and you shall sit with him under the tree. Do say yes, brother.”

“Oh, all right,” said Agravin.



One day, while walking past the trees on the way home they heard a voice cry out:

“Help me, please!”

They looked round, but nobody was there.

‘Perhaps it is a ghost, or a bad spirit,” said Agravin, looking

nervously about.

“Perhaps it is,” said Montague with a laugh. “Let’s go and see.”

They left the path slowly and moved towards the voice

“Help me, please,” it said again. They were getting nearer. There was a large tree in a small clearing and the voice seemed to come from behind it. They walked round the tree but there was no-one there.

tree shadow

CATALOGUE 111; into that goodnight

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Every time I look at Mystic just now, I realise that he’s taking no notice of these famous words of Dylan Thomas.

Those of you who’ve followed any of these CATALOGUES will know that Mystic, Fluff and Felix were already old when they came to live with me almost a year ago. Mystic already had skin cancer, but was still physically strong and imposing, and it was clear that to the ‘boys’ of 16 he was still, at 18, the leader they followed admiringly (Fluff) or resented bitterly (Felix).

They’ve had their squabbles since then but I was touched from the beginning by Mystic’s tendency to wash any part of the other two he might happen to come into contact with during poly-feline cuddles with mummy. I suspect that whether he’s actually their dad or their older brother, he has played some parental role in their kittenhood.

The balances of power and tides of affection are now shifting. Fluff leaps happily upon my lap when Mystic has decided he’s had enough cuddle for today – which he now decides more frequently. Felix’s reaction is fascinating to me. He’s much calmer than he was, since his special kidney diet has stopped him feeling so hungry all the time. He’s not hitting Mystic so often! However, I’ve seen him several times stand close to Mystic and stare at him, sniff his nose (from which of course a bad smell now issues), and pat him tentatively with one paw. Yesterday he even touched foreheads with Mystic. However, this is not all good news, since he’s made up for it by chasing Fluff round the room now and then to maintain his toughcat cred.

Mystic is a gentle soul, and is wandering gently now along the path he needs to take, towards The undiscovered country, from whose bourn/ No traveller returns

Of course he may not perceive himself to be nearing the dying of the light, but he’s very calm and contented, and no cat-lover could avoid calling this resignation and dignity. He’s withdrawing from lots of things: eating less, seeking cuddles less often but snoozing in the next chair on his nice towel. He likes to be outside as much as he can, so I have had my wish that he might enjoy at least part of another summer. And he’s made it to 19; his baby brothers are both now 17.

His weight is coming off rather quickly, his nose worsens each day, his energy is lower. But there’s no sign of distress or pain, and while he’s eating enough to get by and enjoy his simple pleasures I won’t be summoning the vet precipitately.

His purr is fine – every time I hold him it reverberates till my teeth rattle. A lovely cat, a good friend. I hope he can stay for a little while at least.

Mystic snoozing


He saw a flower growing beside a stream and he heard a voice saying:
“Know this for a sign. For all flowers fade and die in the heat. This flower burns, but it will never die.”
And, as the voice fell silent, the flower burst into flames and gave out a brilliant light but was not consumed by the fire. When Verumis woke up he remembered his dream, and looked about him at the lovely valley of the Siannen, and he said:
“I will stay here and dwell by the river, in this green valley. For the meaning of my dream is that this is a good place, where flowers are not withered by the fiery sun.”

Perian cover pbk


Cats all bemused and delighted by the sudden arrival of nice weather, and are going in and out like anything, even dear old Mystic, who is now decidedly wobbly.

I’ve managed my small allocation of time to gardening every day for the last four days, bringing gardening time since March up to 2.3333333 recurring hours. (I can only manage about 20 mins at a time due to joints.)

I seem to have a million small things to do, they must have been building up while I was typesetting. I’m not writing at all, am still reading, and have become annoyingly hooked on a silly game I’ve discovered on my phone.

Still in the Dog Days, then, even though (a) the date is wrong and (b) I’m a cat lady.

And this is a burble, rather than a blog. But don’t worry, I’m fine really. I even Tweeted just now!



An Open Letter To The 20-Year-Old Faceless Girl On My Book Cover

Agree wholeheartedly, as so often, with Tara on this.

Tara Sparling writes

Open Letter To The 20-Year-Old Faceless Girl On My Book Cover

I know it isn’t technically your fault. You didn’t ask to be there.

One day you’re just a working model standing on a beach, a clifftop, a bridge, or under a lamppost; the next, you’re blazing across bookshelves and bookshop windows, the cover girl of a bestseller.

I know you were just thinking to earn a few quid, getting your photograph taken whilst preserving your anonymity (because your job is to never face the camera, and girl, are you GOOD at that). You didn’t ask to be the Faceless Representative Of All Femininity. And yet, here you are.

Or rather there you are, your twenty-year-old legs firmly planted on the soil of whichever dreamy landscape was photoshopped around you. There you are, your twenty-year-old arms lithe and long, clutching that old-fashioned handbag, quaintly addressed letter, or hand of a small child. There you are, facing away from me, your slim and trim twenty-year-old body…

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Job Done Mrs May

It’s called research!

John Howson

We will create a single jobs portal, like NHS Jobs, for schools to advertise vacancies in order to reduce costs and help them find the best teachers.                                                         Conservative Party Manifesto page 51

Good news for the Conservatives: this already exists and is free – TeachVac is now the largest teacher job site in England and is free to all users; schools to place vacancies and teachers and returners to locate jobs that meet their needs.

So, Mrs May, pick up the phone and call the team in Newport Isle of Wight and we will happily show you how the service operates. We are already saving schools millions of pounds in recruitment advertising and with government support, such as is envisaged for…

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Just a question or two today rather than a blogpost of any sort.

Are some people constitutionally unsuited to Twitter? I keep forgetting I have an account and have just checked it today for only the 3rd or fourth time since I opened it.

How do you use yours?



…is the last mile home, according to the old song. In my case it’s often the smelliest mile home too, as en route I need to pick up the cats from the cattery. There’s so little to do on the journey, pooing helps to occupy the time.

It’s lovely to get them home again, though overwhelming after being out of the routine that keeps us all fed, watered and mostly sane.

This time, when I collected them Mystic had been very low-spirited and not keen on food. All week. Of course a cat with terminal cancer will have bad days, but a week is alarming. The kind cattery aunts had been hand-feeding him bits of chicken and getting his meds gently down him.

Tuesday bedtime I lay awake planning how I would phone the vet first thing and get someone to come round and assess whether this was the end. [Stop me if you’ve heard that before. Yes, I thought you had.]

He didn’t want his tea and remained very depressed all evening in spite of cuddles.

Then Wednesday he had three quite decent meals and has so far had two the same today – little and often for old tummies.

He’s much less dejected and avidly seeking cuddles, indeed just before I started this he came upstairs to the office for a desktop cuddle, one of his recent things. He didn’t stay long, but purred a good deal, maybe saying thanks for bringing him home.

No trips scheduled now for a few months; his weight-loss is faster and his nose worse, so realistically I may not have to worry about that next cattery date. But if he is still here by then, I guess I’ll have to hire a home-carer!

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– one of those phrases we use without thinking. I’ve been under it for some time now, as evidenced by my lack of effort online and the dearth of blogposts, even the mogblog.

As I’m going away soon and will be offline again, I’ve dropped in to say hello and bore you with the details of my sub-weatherish state.

Firstly, what does the phrase mean? here’s a link to one popular explanation of its origins for you to contemplate:…

Sounds plausible to me.

Secondly, in what does my sub-weatherment consist?

Here’s another link to one of the culprits, sadly with a lot of extraneous material but it’s a pretty good coverage of the problem:…

Yes, the relentless march of rapeseed cultivation – it’s closing in on our village more each year, so I feel permanently as though I have a cold and/or hay fever all through spring and summer. It exacerbates the dry-eye aspect of Sjogren’s syndrome, and bungs up my head and settles on my chest.

Plus I may have a dental infection developing but my inner ostrich is still undecided on that.

Perhaps the chief factor today is that it’s Andrew’s 71st birthday, and I once again will be marking the day by taking flowers to the graveside instead of giving him gifts and taking him out for dinner.

So I aplogise for my absence, but you see how it’s been.

Hopefully when I get back from the Mildenhall Register Reunion I’ll be at least a little out from under the weather.…

Andrew focus