‘When Glorious Eyes Close’

cats in a boxUp on  Hazard Cat now. And you thought I just wrote about psychopaths – pah!

I’m updating this post because, actually, the story is pretty much fact rather than fiction. I have kept cats for many years and once had 13 Persians, part Persians, and odd mogs at the same time. Many were related as I bred Persians – at least that was the idea, although Eric the Ever Ready, a beat up wonky eared tom who camped outside my house, had other ideas. Of all of those, the only two who showed any real bond was a mother and daughter who were inseparable and, when the daughter died following a series of seizures, Cassie looked for her on their favourite chair night after night for months. She never sat on that chair again.

Monty and Muppet were not related. Monty is a double pedigree chinchilla/devon rex cross with elegance running through his bones. He struts and poses, patrols his territory; and beats into submission any other male cat he sees. So dominant, in fact that his brother left home and found himself another family down the road where he still lives, perfectly happily, and doted upon in his one-cat household.

Muppet was a stray or an abandoned victim. Found by a neighbour in the bushes, she was broken and paralysed, skinny and lost. Gradually, movement in her hind limbs returned but the tail, hanging limply, was set for amputation and only avoided this due to bits of it dropping off on the morning of each scheduled appointment for surgery. She was left with a palm tree plume that she held stiffly in the air and with which she swore eloquently at any slight admonition.

She and Monty became best mates. So unlikely a pairing was hard to imagine. Monty, master of his universe and holding the rest in fearful submission; Muppet, a skinny pixie who went on to become a two-cat-cat in a one-cat-pack. They crammed themselves into boxes and baskets that really only held one. He came to her rescue when she got into occasional spats. They groomed each other, purred, and held each other in platonic embraces.

When she became ill, Monty really did not know what to do. Perhaps she smelled different; I’m not one for anthropomorphism so I don’t believe he ‘knew’.  Whatever the reason, he kept his distance as she went slowly down hill and was pretty much absent during the day or so before she died. When she had gone though, he howled and howled, and searched and searched. He had never sat on my lap but now he came up, stood on my chest and howled into my face. I was supposed to put it right. I should find her and bring her back. It was utterly heart breaking.

A year or so on, he has recovered, although at almost 16, he is an old boy and thinner. The stress of losing Muppet may have accelerated that. He sits with me much more but I feel as though I am second best. Not quite up to scratch, but good enough. Latterly, one of my other cats, a pretty little lass called Chaka who has always been rather insular and flighty, has persuaded him to be her best friend and now occupies the space on the sofa that Muppet once had. She is tiny. He has accepted her. But she isn’t Muppet and I think he knows that.

‘Glorious Eyes’ came out of that episode and is a bit of a proxy catharsis for a cat who can’t know what that is. Animals are extraordinary if you can only stand and watch.

Poetry is weird & quite possibly illegal

poem from Roli

Image via Wikipedia

For the last couple of months, I’ve been immersed in the peculiar world of poetry in order to produce something passable for my OU course. Today, the product of my bemused labours went off to the university for judgment and the long wait for a grade begins. Actually, anything above ‘WTF is that!’ will suffice. I did the required 40 lines; I put my name on the paper; I didn’t take the mick. That’s a pass, surely?

So did I learn anything? Well, for a start, I found that poetry describes itself in terms of both feet and meters, thereby flouting European Directives on measurement, which may still be a hanging offence in parts of Scotland. Worse, I discovered that poets communicate using an exclusive and arcane language that looks like a hybrid of algebra and a medieval incantation. There are iambic pentameters, metonymys, tankas, and tragic flaws. There are also words I’m pretty sure have been made up and get changed, like code, so that only the Insiders know what they mean. I’m onto them though. These are some of the ones I think I’ve figured out:

Trochee: an operation you have when you’ve got your breathing spaces wrong in your performance poetry [cf trocheeostomy]

Enjambment: a distortion of enjambonment which is a crush at the ham counter of Sainsbury’s, or any branch of the Doggerel Bank.

Synecdoche: a form of currency used by the old East London Jewish community [cf ‘That’s a faarkin ridiculous amount of dosh!‘ in reference to the salaries of Premier League footballers.]

Quatrain: Gene Hunt’s off-roader.

Squint poetry: poetry written in size 8 font.

Anapest: a type of wallpaper that obliterates structural flaws.

Caesura: poetry needing radical surgery that ends up delivering a litter of haikus

A Found Poem: something Network Rail Lost Property won’t let you have back even if you can prove it’s yours and no one else wants it anyway.

And now for something sensible; a book reading by Dean Koontz in Second Life:

http://ht.ly/40zSr Dean Koontz reading excerpts from his book in Second Life

Cathryn Grant’s ‘Demise of the Soccer Moms’

In music, I have eclectic tastes. Just check out my iPod where Nine Inch Nails share space with Shania Twain, Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club, Vampire Weekend, and a bunch of one-offs like Mungo Jerry (In the Summertime), Eric Clapton (Autumn Leaves), and Smoke Fairies (Strange Moon Rising). So why am I so picky about my reading? A die-hard SF consumer (no black hole too deep), I sweep on by past anything that smacks of the suburban, contemporary, or frankly, wimminy. Well, I just learned my lesson, and via an indie author, at that.

book coverCathryn Grant’s Demise of the Soccer Moms had been flagged on twitter for a short while, discussed by writer blog-buddies, and finally let loose as a kindle download just a few weeks ago. I bought it, more out of a sense of comradeship than anything else. After all, I don’t play soccer (or football, for that matter), and over here we have Mums, not Moms, so what common interest could this possibly tap?

Let me tell you what that was. Demise of the Soccer Moms has an intricate and tightly written plot centred on three main characters; women whose daughters play for the school soccer team. Each of them has baggage that underpins their actions so that, bizarre and irrational as they increasingly become, there is no point reached of inconsistent absurdity. They do what they do because they are what they are.

I wanted to slap them. To tell them to wake up and join the real world. To stop fawning over their ridiculous obsessions. To be sensible, for goodness sake! But I never wanted to put the book down because they were unbelievable. I am a psychologist; believe me, they are believable. Although possibly not in Sussex where the concealed hand gun would more likely be a large jar of face cream.

If I have a criticism, it is that the voices of the three women are, at times, a little too similar so that I sometimes became slightly disoriented. That said, the use of internal dialogue is very effective in exposing the mental machinations of  characters whose heads are full of the complex and unspoken issues that drive them. Their ironic loneliness in the context of a desperate need for connectedness is starkly drawn by this technique so that, infuriated or not, I felt sorry for all of them in the end.

Most telling is that I would like a sequel.

Cathryn writes suburban noir material and hangs out at Suburban Noir where you can also see the wonderful cover of Demise and pick up links to outlets.

Indie Authors’ page – new

The Forth Railway Bridge taken by Euchiasmus (...

Image via Wikipedia

This could just possibly be the daftest idea I ever had. I’ve opened a page where I will list indie publications as I hear of them. Mostly, I suspect, written by blog- and twitter-mates, but of course, the floodgates may be creaking on their hinges as I prepare this post.

I don’t intend to review or even read everything that’s listed, although I’m starting off with Cathryn Grant’s Demise of the Soccer Moms which I have reviewed (just waiting for Cathryn’s say so about using the cover image). But I’ll be ensuring nothing offensive – to me, as this is a personal blog – gets listed. Mostly, that will be gratuitous violence, racism, and pornography. I don’t intend to censor for rubbish so if that’s yours and you get listed, you take your chances. And anyway, judging by my preferences on CC and EscapePod, my dog’s dinner is more often than not, other people’s haute cuisine so I’m obviously not much of a judge! But – I don’t think it works the other way round so, when I say that Cathryn’s book is worth a sequel, trust me, I know a good thing when I see it.

So, would you like this list to go by author or by book title?

Image above is of the Forth Bridge in Scotland. It has nothing to do with anything here but how often do you get to shoehorn a structure like this into a post, eh?