A significant omission is Cat

I have not yet mentioned Cat, the cat. A significant omission. I have enormous fondness and respect for Cat, although she wants feeding five times a day and is always asking to be let in or let out, she seldom rests and so neither does anyone else. I think maybe she has a tapeworm, she doesn’t get fat but she refuses to eat the food I put tapeworm-killer in, only the other stuff tapeworms like.Or maybe she has another lonely person somewhere feeding her, you don’t know.

When Cat spends a rainy night on the bed she takes care to pay rent: one mouse. She has two games, one where she leaps high on to the wardrobe from my bedside table, then plummets down onto the bed just as I am going to sleep; the other where she likes me to pretend to step on her as I am going downstairs, and goes all wiggly and flirty and purry and I can’t get to the kitchen.

My heart is in my mouth when I am sitting typing in the window and see her race across the main road between cars that hurtle past doing 60, through our 30 mph zone where you seldom see a policeman. She spends a lot of time across the road, hunting in the scrubland around the railway behind the flooded houses, that are now having nice new kitchens put in. But she always knows when it is going to rain, like now, and stays in, restless and bored.

I wish I had not had to bring her here from the country estate where we lived. My father moved beside a road in France with his little cat that he loved and it was soon bye-bye puss. But Cat was first of all a town cat, I guess she knows how to look after herself here better than I do.

And whatever happens, Cat is the cat.

Introducing the Mindbogls Information Hotline

I have discovered there is another blog on this website! It must explain why I have had only 10 Comments in four months, five of them mine, since this other blog has had 159.

Of course, it has been going for much longer, and is chocfull of valuable information. To increase my traffic, I propose therefore to introduce the Mindbogls Information Hotline. Among the first interesting facts to become available are some things I have learned on my teacher training course:

1  We say ‘A apple’ but ‘An university’. This is because University begins with a J.

2  The Gaelic word for ‘tea’ is ‘ti’.

3  The capital of Liberia is Monrovia. (That’s one I knew before!)

Remember, you can subscribe to the service for only $14.95 a month (PayPal accepted).

Like. Don’t like. Didn’t notice


A apple fer the Teecher

The end of week one of the teacher training course. Only four more to go. I had never realised teaching was so easy. All you do is stand there and tell people stuff you remember. Then they play a game running around with little slips of paper while you write more stuff on a big board. Then you tell them to break up in pairs to discuss the game, and you know what? THEY DO IT!

Finally, you get to write a report on how many left-handed students you taught, and how you felt positive about the whole experience, to hand in to your supervisor before the next funding round. Before you know it it’s one a.m. and you don’t have to be up to clean the kitchen floor until six. Great life. I put down the fact that I have started walking into walls to having given up alcohol only seven months ago.

The guilty pleasure of posthumous celebrity

One gains a certain weary satisfaction from writing possibly the least-commented upon – and, thence, possibly least-read – blog on the interweb. For, with the excision of items of interesting and not entirely misdirected Spam, my Comments tally has fallen to ten. Not bad, for three months’ work. (I should mention that five of them are my own, customarily jocose dismissals of the banal Comments of the other four, each of whom is, I am sorry to say, a person I know or love. Plus, that is, one item of Spam I have kept because she seemed so nice, even if she hasn’t read the blog.)

Themindbogls stands therefore quite, quite alone as a substantial body of work, slotting the author firmly into the pigeonhole of colleagues down the centuries whose efforts have gone unsung in their lifetime. I can look forward with pleasure to posthumous celebrity, without the bother of having to turn up in person to festivals and awards ceremonies, book-signings, dinners, readings, late-night TV crit. shows, panel games, fatwas and all the paraphernalia of modern literary success.

The one thought that troubles me is reincarnation. What if… there is a small group of souls doomed forever to return to the world as unsuccessful writers in their own lifetime, and I am one of them, the spirit of Thomas Chatterton, Kafka, Vasily Grossman, Bramwell Bronte and  “what’s-‘is-name”? Gordon Brown.

Suddenly, life feels more than ever like a Greek myth.

Damp squibs

Day nine of the Great Flood of Aberystwyth, and over on the retail park B&Q, Curry’s, Halford’s and Carpetfluff have still failed to reopen after experiencing a few inches of water in the car park, that dried up eight days ago.

It seems completely astonishing that three-and-a-half of the biggest and best-known national  retailers in Britain apparently had no emergency planning in place for dealing with, well, emergencies.

It used to be the first instinct of every retailer to reopen, come hell or… er… but no longer, it seems. I imagine it’s got something to do with the slump in retail sales. For ‘Business as usual’, read ‘fuck you, hated customer’.

Mind where you tread

So the dog was doing his business as usual on the grass between the beach road and the shingle barrier, I was pretending as usual not to notice, when an alarmingly fit sergeant-majorish type in late middle-age wearing only shorts and hiking boots breezed past, muscles akimbo, yomping half-naked to Port Stanley, and threw over his shoulder in that ‘It Ain’t ‘Arf Hot Mum!’ Welsh accent Windsor Davies used to put on, “I ‘ope you’re going to clear that up (‘Luvly boy’… not quite)! Kiddies play on this beach!”

He had me bang to rights. What can you say? I blustered something about having forgotten to bring a bag, which was quite true, I have forgotten every day for several months now, but at least there is a roll of sanitised, fragranced doggybags forgotten in the kitchen drawer, it wasn’t entirely a lie. And at least the dog hadn’t crapped on the path, or the beach, he never does. A faint ‘That’s no excuse!’ drifted back from old blood-and-sand vanishing into the middle distance.

The French have a phrase, ‘l’ésprit d’escalier’, for all the clever things that go through your  mind that you could have said but didn’t think of until you were on the stairs, heading down. I think what I wanted to tell him was yes, I knew perfectly well that I was failing dismally to live up to my civic responsibilities and fully prepared to accept blame for blinding half the children of Wales (who have a habit of rubbing dogshit into their eyes to watch the eggs hatch) with Toxocara canis; that I am perfectly capable of taking my own moral stance against almost everything I do, without public assistance; that I didn’t want to hear it from some officious, self-appointed public guardian with his bullet-head so far up his arse he wouldn’t notice if the sun was shining.

Fortunately he was already three miles ahead by the time I thought of it, so, burning with shame, the dog and I skulked off home. I’ll keep the bags in the car from now on, Sarge. Honest.

What am I like? Corner…

So, the next day I put the roll of fragranced bags in the car. We drove to our walk. Off we set into the teeth of the rain-lashed gale. After half a mile the dog hunkered down beside the path, and… damn, I forgot the bags in the car. I’m not fit to be let out.