Saturday, May 24, 2014

Introducing Mr Cheeky

I have a new friend and flatmate. His name is Mr Cheeky.

I visited the Lost Cats charity house in Brighton a little under two weeks ago and fell for the youngster at our first meeting.

Mr Cheeky (formerly known as Arnie) was abandoned and had lived rough on the streets for a month.

He must have lost a lot of weight, but a kindly person started feeding him and reported him as a stray to Lost Cats.

When I first set eyes on him, he was in a multi-coloured basket in an enclosure at the charity in Brighton.

He had had an operation the day before but immediately started miaowing and rose to bunt my hand with his nose.

It was as if he was asking me to take him home.

I put my name down for Mr Cheeky, and the Lost Cats ladies said I would not be able to have him for around three weeks.

However, a few days later, they phoned to say there had been a change of plan. On Monday he arrived at Chez Ol in Hove.

Fortunately for Mr Cheeky, I am now at home full-time.

He likes and needs a lot of love and affection.

I was worried about how he would settle in, but Mr Cheeky immediately explored the flat and made himself at home.

He loves to sit on my lap, to give me a nosey or follow me around and watch whatever I am doing.

He does not particularly like me going out but soon settles down for a well-earned rest on the bed.

At night he also sleeps on the bed, usually at the bottom. However, the other morning, I woke up to find him asleep stretched out lengthways, with his head on the pillow next to mine!


He likes to play with my slippper but his favourite toy is definitely his cloth mouse on an elastic line.

Sometimes he jumps two feet into the air to catch the mouse, almost somersaulting in the process.

If he does not catch it after a couple of attempts, he retreats stealthily behind chair before running and pouncing on the toy rodent.

He has also developed an interest in music, watching the records go round and round, and curling up next to me while I practise the guitar.

Mr Cheeky also likes to rearrange my singles while hiding behind them.

Lost Cats said he was two years old but I wonder if he is not younger than that.

He seems very kittenish to me, very fleet of foot and mischievous. He knocked a glass of water over this morning while checking out my bedroom table.

And he sneaked out into the hall in the blink of an eye while I leaned out to pick up the mail!

I did not notice until I heard him miaowing on the other side of the door!

He also bolts into the bedroom cupboard before you notice, meaning you have to check the compartments before closing the door.
In short, Mr Cheeky is a living joy.

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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Sleepy Time

It seems hard for me to write at the moment. 

The stress of my life, particularly my redundancy situation, has been getting to me.

When my present troubles began in February, I found it hard to sleep.

Now I find it hard to stay awake!

A combination of the medicinal drugs I am on and sheer, relentless stress means I drop off at the drop of a hat.

Sometimes I go to Starbucks at lunchtimes and just fall asleep for an hour.

If I am sick or on leave, I need only lie down for 10 minutes to find myself waking up several hours later.

It is weird. Like my mind wants to clock out.

I am trying to take a philosophical approach to impending unemployment.

But it is not easy.

I went to the National Union of Journalists' biennial conference, in Eastbourne, a few weeks ago.

It is some 30 years that I last attended an NUJ delegates' meeting - and it was a good experience.

I stayed at the Queens Hotel for two nights and met some really dedicated trade unionists. The industrial carnage going on in journalism is shocking.

The meeting itself was much as I remembered it from my last visit in the 1980s, when the Wapping dispute was in full swing.

I made the mistake of volunteering to be a scuntineer, a role that I am happy to admit is not my forte.

On one day, I was just going off for my lunch on the seafront when I was summoned to spend four-and-a-half hours counting - and recounting - ballot papers from the union's numerous and complex elections. Never again!

Still, someone had to do it.
Overall, the Brighton and Mid-Sussex delegates worked very well together.

It was also a good-natured affair with a jolly final night gala dinner.

Walking back to the hotel I was fascinated by the sight of a nocturnal dredger bombarding the beach with pebbles.

The mornings were also amazing.

The quality of the light can be exceptional.

What else?

I am trying to be positive although, God knows it is hard.

An hour listening to the strange people in LaPorte Cafe, Lewes, the other Saturday was almost unbearable.

My children stood me up. Again.

Miserably, I bought some pate and went to my therapist in Brighton who with his hands magically sends electricity through me. Odd but effective.

I returned to Lewes for the Mighty Rooks' final home game of the season. I had a hunch it was going to be a cracker and, for once, I was right.

After 40 minutes, Lewes FC was 4 - nil up against its opponents Leiston - a side, indeed a place, of which I had never previously heard.

By the final whistle, the scoreline was an excellent 5 - 1 to the heroes of the Dripping Pan.

It is good to have a reason to celebrate.

In a moment of elation I even bought a Lewes scarf. A classic red and white one without lettering.

Otherwise, my main entertainment has been my allotment at Earwig Corner.

The other allotment holders have become friends.

It is amazing how things have improved up there on the hill in recent times.

I have painted the shed - twice - and cleared it out. It is starting to look really good.

So far on my little plot, I have put in potatoes and garlic.

This year I am planting in a triangle. I intend to put in flowers around the outside.

Not having a garden at home, I want it to fulfil that function as well as providing vegetables.

Lewes Poetry trundles on.

My old chum Mac McFadden headlined in April and was good.

A Liverpudlian comedy and performance poet, he certainly has the gift of the gab.

I am also enjoying the compering, made much better by my moderate drinking regime.

That's about it.

I will leave you with a funny dog I met on the beach.

The owner said he swims in the sea every day and is unstoppable.

And there has been the occasional really lovely evening.

Summer is on its way and, like it or not, I will have a lot of time on my hands.

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