Thursday, 28 February 2013

Still cold

Brrrrrr. Is actually the main thing I'm thinking at present. It's not even that wonderful bright, clear cold you sometimes get in winter. It's cold, grey and overcast, which seems unfair.

This week I've been doing a lot of dull stuff, too, to match the weather - mostly sorting and throwing away old magazines and other junk from my office, reviewing my budget and making a few financial tweaks, and things like that.

This weekend ought to be more interesting.

Tomorrow is my parents' wedding anniversary (which I admit is more interesting for them than for me), but I shall probably speak to them at some point. It reminds me that they were snowed on on their wedding day, which I suppose puts our current weather into perspective.. They will have been married for 44 years!

Then at the weekend, after spending Saturday morning at work, I shall be going to the theatre in the evening, to see Lenny Henry in 'Fences'. I saw his 'Othello' a few years back, and was really impressed, so I'm very much looking forward to it.

And the Bath Literature Festival starts this weekend, and I shall be going to my first event on Sunday - a talk about maps.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

In Which I am Cold

Yesterday was icy cold - it kept trying to snow; there would be a few flakes of snow, then it would give up again.

I went into Bath to pick up some books and tickets from the wonderful  Mr B's, and to run a few other errands - including popping into the Post Office to buy some of the new  Jane Austen stamps, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. There's something rather nice about being able to send a stamp featuring 'Persuasion', from Bath. Although I am not sure whether there'll be a legible postmark.

I love this building. Even though it's not a Library any more.
Today I woke to find we had had a tiny bit of snow overnight. Just a light dusting, visible of the roofs of the cars, and on windowsills, and gone within an hour of sunrise. However, the cold makes me think I must have a touch of squirrel, or bear, in my ancestry, as I just was to curl up and hibernate, emerging occasionally for honey and nuts.

I learned yesterday evening that my application to be a giver for World Book Night again this year has been successful, so I shall be handing out copies of Patrick Ness's 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' on or around 23rd April, which makes me happy. It's great sharing books, and I loved watching twitter last night and  seeing lots of other people getting equally excited about joining in, too.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Family, and the Right Kind of Sparkly Vampire

This post is a bit late, for obvious reasons.

Last weekend, I travelled up to Birmingham, to visit my sister, and to see Sleeping Beauty at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Originally, the plan was for both of my sisters to be there, but K couldn't make it (which was a shame)

I haven't been to a ballet for a while, and I don't think I have ever seen Sleeping Beauty, so I came to it with an open mind. Having seen, and enjoyed, several of Matthew Bourne's previous productions I was expecting something non-traditional, and, light-hearted, and that's what we got.

The ballet opens in 1890 (which, in a neat twist, is the year that the original ballet was first performed), with the Princess's coming of age being in 1911, and the ending, when the sleepers wake up, in 2011.

(Photo (c) Sadlers Wells Theatre)
Bourne has got around the somewhat troubling idea of a total stranger kissing an comatose young woman who immediately falls in love with him by introducing as the Princess Aurora's love interest the gardener, Leo. And the Lilac Fairy (the original Fairy Godmother) is in the production 'Count Lilac', a Vampire Fairy (or Fairy Vampire?) with fangs and wings, who bites Leo so he can survive long enough to wake Aurora. I think I can live with a sparkly vampire who is also a fairy godmother!

The ballet was on the Saturday evening, and on Sunday my cousin and her husband and son came over for lunch - I haven't seen them since my sister's wedding in the summer, and J is not quite  2 and a half yet, so as can be imagined, he has changed and grown a good deal since then.I like him. We had a fun afternoon, and I was sorry to have to leave, especially as it was snowing as I set out, so not a lot of fun to drive in!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

R.I.P. Tybalt 1998-2013

This is a really hard post to write. I'm sitting in a house which feels a lot colder and emptier than it ever did before.

I met Tybalt in 1998. I'd just managed to move out of shared, rented accommodation into a place of my own, so pets became a possibility, and I pretty much immediately started to look around for a kitten.

There was a card in one of the local pet shops offering grey kittens, free to good homes, and I'd always rather fancied a grey cat, so I arranged to go round to see them. They were adorable, and then their owners  said 'oh, and there's a tabby kitten from another litter. He's a bit older" so I explained that no, I really wanted a grey one.

And so, inevitably, 20 minutes later I was driving home with a small, fuzzy, annoyed tabby kitten in a cardboard box on the seat beside me, and he has been with me ever since.

I named him Tybalt, after the character in 'Romeo and Juliet' and on the basis of the notes on my school copy of the play, which said that Tybalt was a common name for pet cats in Shakespeare's day.

He never lived up to his name. He wasn't a rat-catcher, he wasn't a fighter. Indeed, if I didn't love him so much I might be tempted to say he was a bit of a wuss. He did run away from a rabbit, once. Admittedly, it was a large, and aggressive rabbit, but still. He used to moths, and the odd wasp which got itself trapped against the glass in the windows, and he tried to catch the vultures on David Attenborough's 'Life of Birds' (I had a really small TV then)

He was very nervous, to start with, and would rush off if I had the temerity to cough, or move, or breathe too heavily while he was sitting on me, but as he got older he got more relaxed. After 10 years or so he would even, occasionally, sit on people other than me, if I wasn't available.

Unlike many cats, he was unfazed by travelling, and after a few minutes complaining, would settle down in the car and snooze his way through the drive, and would then be perfectly happy in whatever new house I took him to.

He came to my parents home for Christmas, when he was younger he came with me to my grandmother's house (where it took him around 5 minutes to find the airing cupboard) and after these visits, he would always remember the houses, and be able to find his way to the warm spots, and to whichever bed I was sleeping in, without any difficulty, even after over a year.

He could be playful - my friend Stacy sent him a quilt filled with catnip, which he loved (the video was from when it first arrived)

He could be beautiful, and elegant, and sometimes he could be goofy as anything.

about 18 months ago he developed thyroid problems, and lost a lot of weight before he was properly diagnosed and stabilised, and he's started to slow down.

He spent a bit more time lounging and snoozing, and a little less playing, but he still enjoyed life, and in particular the extra treats and meals he got to try to get his weight back up.

He continued to hold me responsible for the weather, and for anything else of which he disapproved,

Whenever I went away, leaving him to the tender mercies of visiting minions, he would loudly proclaim, on my return (and often while standing next to a well-filled bowl of cat biscuits) that he had been cruelly starved and neglected in my absence, and he would always forget and forgave, and be curled up on my lap purring loudly within minutes.

This morning, when I came downstairs to give him his breakfast, he was as pleased to see me as he normally is, but I found he had not eaten his supper, and he had no interest in his breakfast, or even in his sardine (the delivery method of choice for his medication) and he was wheezing and not breathing well.

He couldn't be bothered to hide when I got his carrier out, or to protest when I put him in it, or to hiss at the vet when we got there. I had to leave him there, so they could start treatment for likely acute anaemia, and do tests to see what was causing it. I got a call about 2 hours later, to confirm that the blood counts showed he was very anaemic, but that he was sleepy, not too stressed, and they were going to treat the symptoms while they waited for more test results to identify the cause, but then an hour or so later there was another call. He wasn't responding to the treatments, his condition had deteriorated a lot, very rapidly, and he was fitting. They didn't think he would make it long enough for me to get back to the vets so I could be with him while they put him to sleep, or fair to him to make him wait for me.

And now I am sitting here, in this suddenly empty house, with tears running down onto my keyboard, because I've just been able to write a whole post, without anyone walking over my keyboard, or butting at my hands until I remember that laps are for  cats, not laptops, and move it so he can sit there.

Tybalt. 1998-2013

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Fun, and UnFun Things

It's been a busy couple of weeks. last Friday I was due to meet my dad's cousin, M, for a meal, and to go to the theatre to see The Mousetrap in Bath.

We'd booked at a nice restaurant near the theatre, we had out tickets, I arranged to take a short lunch break in order to leave work a little early, to give myself time to go home and change, and it was all intended to me a nice, relaxed evening.

It didn't work out quite like that.

On my way home from work, I stopped to fill up the car. And when I got back in the car, it wouldn't start. It made a little feeble cough and that was it.

So, I called the RAC. Who said, cheerfully, that it would be about 2 hours for them to get to me. Which would mean they wouldn't even arrive until 45 minutes after out restaurant reservation, and I'd be lucky to get to the theatre at all. However, it seemed that it was the battery, so I kept my fingers crossed that it might recover on it's own, enough to start, given a little rest. It didn't, but after a Looooong rest, it did condescend to start. So I called my cousin to arrange to meet at her home rather than in town (on the basis that then if it did it again when I stopped, I would be stranded at her home, not in the middle of Bath) And I was hopeful that the time spent with the engine running outside my house, and then the drive to hers, would be enough to recharge the battery enough to allow me to go home.

We didn't have time to eat together, but did make it in to Bath in time for the show.  It's fun, in a predictable way - and despite the murders, it has a lot of very funny moments. The touring production is going all over the UK, I think the tour as a whole lasts about a year, although this is nothing compared to the London production. I can't help but feel it must get a little dull for the actors, though. According to the programme notes, there have been actors who have stayed in the show for 10+ years !

Oh, and my car did start again, so I think it was probably just the cold, plus not having driven much for the two days beforehand. I shall pop into the garage and see about getting a new battery, as I suspect that it perhaps getting towards the end of it's life!

At the weekend, I met up with my parents, as my christmas gift from my brother was delivered to their home (late. It should have got there in time for christmas, when he and I were both there). We thought it would be a good excuse to meet halfway and have lunch, rather than them just posting it to me. And it was. We met up at a pub, and had a leisurely lunch (including succumbing to the lure of the dessert cabinet) and I got to come home with Vol.3 of the Absolute Sandman, so it was a bit of a win all round.