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Saturday 26 December 2015

Blessings: Kitty update

A couple of weeks ago, Bast threw up in the lounge. A pool of white froth, it was startling mainly because he doesn't throw up; unlike Sheba, who does so at least three times a week.

Then he galloped around like his usual self. Cats throw up. It's one of the things you learn to live with if you have a cat.

That was a Sunday. Tuesday he came downstairs and threw up in front of Stace while I was at work. She called the vet and took him in, because he wasn't being his normal self: no appetite, no running around, and his sides were shrunken.

The vet put him on a drip because he was seriously dehydrated and kept him in overnight. Multiple x-rays followed. There was some sort of blockage in a lung. Possible heart damage. They didn't think he'd make it.

The next couple of days were a blur of vet updates and cold, hard fear. Fear is a funny thing. It's one of the most physical emotions, and it settles into your stomach and heart and mind and squeezes until your lips go numb and you struggle to think past it. It's the third time this year I've had that experience, and I'd sincerely like it to never happen again.

The vet had no clue what was causing the blockage. Stace and I scoured the house looking for something the boy might have eaten. Nothing. Nada. Zip. We've tried to make the house pretty much cat-proof - no poisonous plants, no sharp objects left lying around - but still, a house collects objects and he could've swallowed anything from cardboard to cinnamon sticks.

The vet took something like 700 ml of liquid off of his lung, and sent it off for analysis. Every time the phone went we expected the conversation to start with "I'm sorry, but..."

More tests and x-rays. More phone calls. Had he fallen? (Unknown) Been hit by a car? (Definitely not.)

In the meantime, Sheba and Hathor searched everywhere for him. In the cupboards. Under the pillows on the bed. Behind the couches. Eventually Hathor retreated to his favourite sleeping spots in turn, curled up and withdrawn. Sheba sat down on the stairs and howled.

The last set of scans after the fluid had been reduced showed something out of a horror story: Bast had a hole in his diaphragm. His stomach had navigated up and into his left lung. His heart was thankfully undamaged.

Bast was transferred to the vet school in Bearsden, and Stace and I rushed over to meet the surgeons. It was operable. Barring severe complications, and provided he made it through the op, we'd get our boy back.

We went home to wait.

They phoned the next morning to let us know he'd sailed through the op. He'd ended up with both his stomach and several feet of his small intestine in his chest cavity and lung; trauma usually only seen in car accident survivors. There is a chance it was a birth defect, or possible caused by the abuse they suffered as kittens. How he survived so long without it coming to a head before is unknown.

We picked him up on the Sunday morning, and he purred and cuddled up to us all the home through his carrier.

Three paws, his neck and his belly were shaved down from the frantic efforts to save him as well as the op itself.

He was stapled down the length of his chest and belly, which annoyed him because he kept wanting his belly rubbed and we wouldn't touch him there. So he'd walk sedately around the house after us and hurl himself to the ground if we looked at him, then complain bitterly because tummy rubs weren't on the menu.

We were given vials of oral painkiller that had to be squirted onto his gums, (after the first attempt ended up with painkiller on the ceiling, up my nose, and along Stace's sleeve, we stuck him in the carrier with his head sticking out and lifted his lip to squirt the stuff in. I'm fairly sure we were more traumatised by the process than he was.)  and a tablet that was crushed into his food for the next week.

This Wednesday the staples came out. He's eating and playing and back to being our usual happy boy. Hathor and Sheba are much happier as well. Christmas was definitely good; the best present was getting Bast back safe and sound.

Here he is in all his shaved-down, post-staple glory. You know Bast is happy because he gets a smile on his face.

I hope your Christmas was just as good.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Moment of Aargh (Glasgow series, Part 0001) and introducing Odin.

One thing definitely hasn't changed since moving to Glasgow. I am still the queen of WTF Did I Just Do? moments. I've managed to get to the train station in my slippers at least once in the last month.

Stace is on a baking kick, which is so awesome: I come in, and there's cake. And it's good cake, which is even more important.

This means that the butter, eggs, etc get used up pretty fast, so the other day when I went to make some toast, the butter was pretty much done. No problems - we have more in the freezer, one of those lidded little plastic tubs with an inner foil seal under the lid. The plan was to take it out, nuke it for 30 seconds so I could scrape enough off the top for the toast, and leave it out to defrost thoroughly, because in Glasgow you don't need to keep butter in the fridge come November. Hell, you could probably safely leave your milk out for most of the week. Our kitchen is the approximate temperature of a walk-in fridge anyway.

So, I bent down to the freezer, hauled the frozen tub of butter out, turned around to walk away, and promptly tripped over my own two feet. I didn't quite face-plant (Wahey!), but I flung out my hand to catch myself, and of course I used the hand holding the butter. It slammed off of the wall and escaped, sailing across the kitchen like The Little Butter Bar That Learnt How To Fly.

Me: Oh, crap. Not to worry, the lid's still on-

The lid must have been loosened during the bash against the wall. Half a second into the flight, it spun off of the top of the butter and tried to imbed itself in the microwave door.

A half second later, the inner foil fluttered gently down to the floor tiles.

Me: Aw, come on.

The butter, now lidless and foil-less, bounced off of the spare utensil drawer and whirred back at my face. I ducked. It slammed into the wall beside me and sailed back across the room.

Me: Holy sh-

The butter, which by all rights should've been firmly fixed by its own weight inside that bloody tub, separated from the container and dropped. On my foot. Frozen butter hurts, by the way. The container landed completely upright on the kitchen counter, spun twice, and stopped.

Me: Oh, fuck a duck.


Shortly after we moved into the house, we noticed a gorgeous black cat wandering around. The neighbour told me he's lived in the area for years, and the woman who had him died some time ago. One of her neighbours took him on. Unfortunately, I have no idea who, or if the person is even still in the area.

The cat I saw the first couple of times was desperately stalking pigeons. He caught a couple, and ate most of them. His coat was dull, and watching the way he walks makes me think there's a good touch of arthritis involved. Our bunch aren't allowed out without a harness or going into their outdoor pen, so the old boy spent a lot of summer sitting on the deck looking in at them, with Bast in particular watching him back and chirping. He was extremely skittish around humans, though.

Then he started coming to the front door. We have a couple of spare cat bowls, so I started putting a bowl down for him. (I later found out Stace was doing the same thing. There's a reason my cousin and I get on pretty well most of the time.)
On rainy, cold days, we leave a bowl of food in the front door alcove for him and leave the one door closed so he gets a bit of shelter and a place to sit while he gets his food.

His coat is starting to shine, and he's put on a bit of weight, but he's still pretty jumpy. We've called him Odin because his one eye tends to close slowly while he looks at you. I'm not sure whether it's a medical issue, but there seems to be constant clear discharge, and he won't let me close enough for long enough to get him into a carrier. I'd like to get that looked at, because it's bugging the hell out of me. He also has an overbite, which seems to be a thing with black toms in the UK. It is pretty freaking adorable, though. He'll let us stroke him, briefly, before settling down to eat.
He missed a couple of visits during the big storm we had last week, and we were both very relieved to see him one morning, waiting patiently for the doors to open so that he could get his breakfast.

We can't let him in the house because we have no clue whether his shots are up to date (Sheba got taken to the vet the day after I adopted her and was all up to date by the time the other two met her) and I won't take a chance with my three. Introducing a new cat can also be a tricky business, and it's almost impossible to turn an outdoor cat into an indoor cat and have a happy animal. Three indoor cats with no road-sense and access to a cat door would have the life expectancy of a soft-boiled egg since we live on a very busy road. It's a dilemma I can't see a way around just yet; any ideas that are feasible would be great.

Bast desperately wants to meet him. If he knows Odin is in the alcove, he hurls himself at the door chirping frantically. There's no hissing or growling, and knowing Bast he wants to play with a new friend, but since Odin could probably dismantle him in three seconds flat, that door is staying firmly closed for the meantime.

We're planning on putting a box and blanket down for him so if he wants to snuggle up for most of the day he can. It would be good to know he has a warm place when winter hits.

Friday 28 August 2015

Affordable Pre-Made Book Covers for Indie Authors - Available Now

I've been doing ebook covers for some time now for my fellow indie authors. It's fun and I love it, but doing book cover to spec takes a long time and can kill an author's budget in a hurry.

So I've put together a number of pre-made covers for you, at the very affordable price of $50.00 each.

All covers are one-off designs - you won't find these popping up again with a different shade or font type. (Having two different ebooks by different authors with the same cover on the Amazon store is kind of like wearing a fancy dress to the dance and having the prom queen pitch up wearing it. Awkwardness abounds.)

Font size, type and colour can be changed if needed, and of course sub-titles and blurbs will be added if you need them

Covers will be sent in high resolution jpeg files, minimum 300dpi, perfect for an ebook thumbnail.

Availability is strictly first come, first serve, and all sales are final once payment is received to avoid any awkwardness. Once a cover is sold it will be noted as such on this page to avoid dashed dreams, broken hearts, and sobbing from all parties.

Payment is through Paypal, and if you don't already have an account it is very easy to setup.

To select your cover,:
1) Drop me an email at shadowkatzdesign(at) with the file name (under each cover on this page), your title, author name and any changes to font colour, size or type, plus the sub-title and blurbs if needed.
2) I will send you the Paypal details, and
3) As soon as the payment is through, the file will be sent to you using the email address you contacted me with.

Q: I don't have a Paypal account. Do I really need one?
A: Yes. It doesn't take long to set up. Trust me, if I can manage, anyone can. 

Q: I bought a cover and I want to keep it for a series with some minor changes. 
A: Something small like a colour-wash and font changes can be negotiated.

Q: I want a spec-built cover.
A: Happy to oblige - drop me an email at shadowkatzdesign(at), and we can discuss rates.

Onto the good stuff! Some of these fall pretty squarely into a single category, others can be used across a couple of genres.

Romance & Erotica

Erotica 001


scifi 001

scifi 002 SOLD

  YA, Urban and Dystopia

YA Urb 002
YA Urb Dyst 001

Thriller & Mystery

Mystery 001
Thriller 001
Thriller 002

Mystery 002


    Horror & Supernatural


Ghost 001

Horror 002

Friday 17 July 2015

Scotland, wahey!

We've been in Glasgow just over two weeks. So far, loving it - I'm surrounded by family, which is huge for me, and the neighbours are awesome.

The house is great. There's a standing joke that visitors from London will weep when they see the size of your place and hear the rent price. That's pretty spot on. I have a house with a garden for less than what I was paying for a dingy flat that had crumbling spots on the walls. Lumps would fall off whenever a bus idled outside.

The cats are having a blast. We've had to block off all the fireplaces (there are 4) because last week Hathor vanished. We could hear her crying, but the silly kit kept quiet whenever we were in the lounge.
Whenever Bast or Sheba came into the room and we asked where Hathor was, they went over to the fireplace. We thought there was just no way; there is a metal cap over the chimney. It turns out that cap pushes inwards.
We found her 3 days later, in the lounge chimney. I think she must have been licking condensation off of the bricks; 2 of those days were scorchers. To be honest, I was starting to think we were looking for a dead cat. She was hauled out, black from nose to tail, with Stace receiving a head full of soot herself.

Bast sat on the edge of the bath and watched her get thoroughly soaped and washed, right up until she tapped out with one little paw on Stace's arm. No claws, just three little taps asking for it to be done.

Then he climbed into the cupboard with her, held her down, and washed her all over again while giving her a thorough scolding. We've got her a collar with a bell; but catching her to get it on is a whole different story, since she has decided I'm the Spawn of Hell and am to be avoided unless she thinks I'm sleeping. I think she blames me for the bath.

The floors are mainly wood, and Bast has discovered that he can take a running start and skid through rooms on his bottom. This doesn't always work so well when he hits the carpeted stairs, and I'm waiting for him to get a splinter.

Sheba swops between my bedroom and the lounge, watching me work. Her greatest delight is staring sleepily out of the window, watching the neighbourhood trees move in the wind. At 3a.m. she joins in the nightly cat stampede up and down the stairs.

I'm sure winter is going to hurt, temperature wise. But the people are good, the prices are sooooo cheap - I can't remember the last time I spent £60 on groceries and staggered under the weight of what we bought - and we are happy.

Saturday 30 May 2015, You're a Numpty

Fair warning here - this entire blogpost made me feel stabby. Allow me to show you why.

The post is called 8 steps to confront your wife's sexual refusal

Yeah. Confronting someone because they don't want sexy times instead of asking them what's wrong will definitely get you nooky.

Let's look at the first paragraph: 

"How should you as a husband handle it when your wife directly refuses to have sex without a valid reason?"

Um. Dude, your wife doesn't need a valid reason. Nobody does. Let me repeat this: NOBODY NEEDS TO GIVE YOU A REASON AS TO WHY THEY DON'T WANT SEX. 

"Is there anything a Christian husband can do about this?"
Yes. Leave her alone.

"This will be my last post specifically about sexuality in this series on “How to be godly husband”.

"Christian Husbands – let me be crystal clear here. The situation I am addressing in this post is not your wife occasionally turning you down for sex (even with a bad attitude, as opposed to for health or other legitimate reasons). What I am addressing here is the wife who consistently and routinely denies her husband sexually simply because she does not need sex as much or she thinks she should not have to do it except when she is in the mood or she thinks her husband should have to earn sex with her by “putting her in the mood” by doing various things she expects or likes."

Wow. Imagine a woman daring to only want sex when she's in the mood, or wants her husband to arouse her. Next thing you know she'll want to learn how to read.

"I have not, nor would I EVER advocate for a husband to force himself physically upon his wife or to physically abuse her in any fashion.  The issue being discussed is how a husband can confront a wife who chronically or willfully denies his sexual rights in marriage without just cause(be it legitimate health or mental conditions).  He has the right, both under Biblical law, as well as under American law, to reason with his with his wife and try to convince her to willingly(even if grudgingly) yield herself to him, and thereby fulfilling one her most important duties in Christian marriage."

Yield? Your wife is not bloody road traffic. Making someone have sex with you when they are unwilling and grudging about it is abuse. 
The phrase for what you're advocating is passive rape. 

"In two previous posts in this series I addressed these key issues:
In “Christian Husbands – You don’t pay for the milk when you own the cow!” we established this Biblical principle:
Neither the husband, nor the wife have to earn sex in marriage.
A wife cannot flatly refuse her husband, she may only ask for a delay (a raincheck) and then she needs to make good on that raincheck as soon as possible.
A husband has the right to confront his wife’s sexual refusal as a sin not only against him, but also against God.
In “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?” I elaborated further on this subject of sexual refusal in marriage with these principles:
A husband ought not to feel guilty for having sex with his wife when she is not in the mood if she yields, even grudgingly.
A husband needs to use prayerful discernment to discover if her reasons for “not being in the mood” are for legitimate physical or mental health reasons or if the problem is wrong thinking and wrong attitude on the part of his wife. If her reasons are legitimate, then she needs to seek medical or psychological help as soon as possible.
Now in this post we will talk about how to handle the sexual refusal of a wife when it is because she has a wrong attitude and wrong thinking about marriage and sex."

OMFG, dude. This is not how healthy relationships work. Also, you just made me throw up in my mouth a little.
Yes, a woman can totally refuse sex. This is because she is a person, and not a blow-up sex toy, and has rights over her own body. Also, did you seriously just compare women to cows? What are you going to do when you get the munchies, butcher her? 
I think you're overly concerned with the interest your God has in your sex life. You also appear to have an ego problem if you are putting yourself in the same role as a deity.
A husband that makes his wife have sex should feel guilty. He should also be in jail.
Here's an answer for the prayerful discernment: 

Then there's a bunch of stuff about husbands refusing their wives, which is being saved for another series (Oh, joy.) and lot of biblical quotations from Corinthians and Paul. I'm not pasting it because it will turn this post into something that takes two weeks to read. However:

That's not how it works.

 "Let me be clear on something, even if you do follow the steps below I give, this does not automatically mean you will get a change from your wife, or her repentance for her sexual immorality." 

Let's have a quick look at the steps he wants you to take. I'm just taking the headings, because the explanations he gives repeats them in a variety of annoying ways:

"Step 1 – Rebuke her privately"

Sure. Treat a grown-ass woman like she's 6. That's guaranteed to make her want sexy times.

"Step 2 – Rebuke her before witnesses"

Because it's always good to have someone else see what an ass you really are.

"Step 3 – Bring her before the Church"

Note: He points out that you may have an angry wife after this stage. Ya think?

"Step 4 – Stop taking her on dates or trips"

This boils down to "No nooky, no fun." Because you should always punish someone for not having sex. It's guaranteed to get you lai- 
Oh, wait.

"Step 5 – No unnecessary household upgrades"

Also known to 10 year olds as cutting your nose off to spite your face. Have fun, guys.

"Step 6 – Stop doing the little extra things"

This is so incredibly specific I'm guessing he's going by personal experience. Apparently he gives a great massage.

"Step 7 – Remove her funding"

What the absolute fuck?

Good of you to note that this only works if she doesn't have her own income. Stop giving her pocket money??? 

"What if none of these 7 steps work?

If your wife remains willfully defiant, yet she has not left you, it could be for a variety of reasons."
Yeah. She could've grown up in a cult that views abuse like this as normal. She could be terrified of you. She could be trapped with no money and no skills to make a new life.

Let me be clear. This is not how Christians are supposed to behave. This is not how any decent human is supposed to behave. 

"You have the option to divorce her for her sexual immorality."

There's sexual immorality here. Yours. Quite frankly if divorce gets your wife out of the living hell you've put her in, I'm all for it.

"Why bother with the first 7 steps if divorce is an option for sexual denial?"
Blah blah blah duty blah blah blah Israel blah blah blah "we owe our wives and our marriages this fight."
Following the above steps will and should result in: 

"But aren’t these steps a form of manipulation?"

But that's okay, because husbands need to discipline their wives :

"Discipline, on the other hand is very different from manipulation. Discipline is performed by one who is in authority over one who is under their authority. It is action taken by an authority to attempt to modify the bad behavior of the subject of that authority so that they will behave correctly in the future."

Dude, I can't even.

Christian husband, you are not powerless to act against your wife’s sexual refusal. But you must realize that this may be a long and costly battle. Your confrontation of your wife’s willful, sinful behavior may result in your marriage ending."

But wait: there's more!

"That is why we will talk about “10 Ways to know your wife” and then “12 Ways to honor your wife” now that we have concluded our discussion of sexuality as it relates to being a godly husband."



Thursday 28 May 2015

What To Teach Your Daughters

1) Nobody else has jurisdiction over her body 

She decides when or if she can have sex. The thing here is to educate her properly, and not the equivalent of what I received, which could be condensed down to "OMFG if you have sex with a boy you will like, explode. Or die. Or something. It's bad. Don't do it."  Kids aren't stupid. Teenagers have a lock-in on anything adults try to prevent them from doing, especially when said adults are doing the same damn thing on a regular basis.

Rampaging hormones and abstinence are not a good mix.  The result of the sex education we got in school was three pregnancies in the same year, thanks to myths like "you can't get pregnant if you're standing up," and the inability to understand how condoms work.

Teach her about the possible repercussions, tell her about birth control, and most importantly, teach her that she can say no. If you've never taught your child that she has that option, what do you think happens when the boy she loves tells her she has to do it?

2) Nobody else has jurisdiction over her body (this includes you)

The whole issue of virginity pledging is so creepy I don't really want to touch it, but here goes: you are dressing a girl up in something that looks like a wedding dress and pledging her to her father. This is the guy who probably changed her diapers and watched her learn how to walk, and now you are making her promise him that she won't have sex because he's the most important man in her life.

She decides whether she likes boys or girls, both or none. It is none of your business who she bumps uglies with as an adult, or whether she does this at all. It isn't your vagina.

Later on, she decides whether or not to have kids. This is not a parental decision, because she is not a stuffed toy with no autonomy.  If you want to decide on whether something breeds or not, get some pet fish. I understand the yearning for grandkids; I've watched in my own folks. But it's her choice, and again - it isn't your vagina involved.

The interest some parents seem to have in what their grown or over-age teenage children do with their genitalia is fucking disturbing. Stop it.

3) Nobody else has jurisdiction over her body and nobody has the right to shame her for it

Females come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us are tall, some of us need to stand on a stool to reach the kitchen cupboard. Skinny, average, plump, fat. Drop-dead gorgeous, kinda plain, somewhere in the middle. Sporty, geeky, ripped - just like guys.

You know what we don't have in common with guys? We usually don't like our bodies that much. We are taught, constantly, that we are not enough. No pretty enough, no submissive enough, not smart enough, not good enough. Not skinny enough. Too damn skinny. Too fat. Too plump. Too tall, too short, too blonde, too dark, too pale. Too old.

I have female family members ranging in age from 6 months to over 80 years, and apart from the 6 month old, they all criticise their bodies. They've been taught to, and I would like to drop-kick society out of a window when I hear my mom say her thighs are too big. It makes me want to cry, because my mom is beautiful, but she doesn't realise it.

Teach your daughter to like herself, all of herself. Don't buy into the myth that she isn't enough. And teach her to tell anyone who has issues with her body that they don't deserve her time or company. Most of all, teach her that she is enough.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Election Blues

Most people are well aware I distrust (and in some cases severely dislike) politicians, especially the current batch dismantling the country.

I'm not sure most people are aware that I vote, and I do so in every election.

I grew up in a country where the majority of the population did not have the right to vote until I was out of high school. People marched, protested, bled and died for the right to scratch a cross against a name on a piece of paper.

When those people were finally given the right to vote, to step behind a curtain and clutch a pencil for the first time, the ink stamp that declared them voters still smudged and sticky on their flesh, they changed the face of a country.

As a female, I am very aware of the fact that women had to fight long and hard to get the right to vote. South Africa gave that right for the first time in  1933. The UK allowed us to vote in general elections in 1913, providing we were over 30 and meant property requirements. We got full voting rights here in 1928.  Once again, people died for that right.

Voting seems to be considered a pain in the fundamental. It's inconvenient. It means lining up in queues in draughty church halls and smelly, underused buildings. It means selecting the best of a bad bunch who might not make the changes they promise anyway (looking at you, David Cameron) and who might make the whole damn mess slightly worse.

The people who were disenfranchised only a century ago would have some trouble understanding this.

Politics haven't changed much. Politicians have always been corrupt, have always abused their offices, and have always ignored the social classes they don't want to know about. There are a few, battling against the cesspool of hand-outs and back-scratching, but they aren't the ones who get soundbites and their names in the papers.

The thing is, the people in parliament know about complacency, and voter apathy, and the feeling that one is pretty much the same as the other. They know that despite the rage seen everyday on the street, the average person doesn't feel they can make a difference. They encourage this. It is a lie.

If every person enraged by the callousness of the current system voted for someone else, the government would change; the people in their towers would fall. If every person dreading the thought of the Tories coming back in voted for Labour, the ruling party becomes Labour. If every woman condescended to by Cameron and co voted Green... Well, that's pretty much every female in the country. Bye, Dave!

And if you don't like what the new people do, you vote them out again. Make them realise that if what they do is unacceptable, there are repercussions, and we are the ones that bring those repercussions home. With a bit of pencil and a sheet of paper.

I watched a country changed by the voters, by the people who never believed they'd have a voice. It has happened in so many places, so many times.

Not voting is not an option. Humanity bled too hard to get us here.

Monday 27 April 2015


Things have been a little bit hectic, and I've had some massive personal changes. Most of them I couldn't mention until they were official, so I've made myself scarce on the blog; the temptation to go "Oooh! Guess what happened!" is just too much.

I went through redundancy for the third time in about four years. This time I took the payout. When the universe thumps you on the head this pointedly, it's time to listen.

The migraines reduced almost immediately. I've suspected the combination of fluorescent lighting and computer screens for a while now, topped up with a fairly unhealthy dose of work-stress. I've been almost completely migraine free since I was informed I was up for redundancy and escorted from the office carrying whatever I could grab from my desk in five minutes.

The problem is that almost every office (at least in the UK) has fluorescent lights. I have no intention of losing a job because my body hates me, and migraines three or more times a week guarantees that. I also really, really like being pain-free. It's a novelty that I appreciate.
The solution for me is to work from home and take regular breaks from the computer. Freelancing, whahey! Part of me wishes I'd done it years ago; the other part knows without this push and the migraines I would never have done so.   I'm also web-site testing and doing transcriptions (better money, slightly harder than pounding out 500 words for an article) and I've recently rediscovered how much fun I have repainting gates. Not a joke, I really do enjoy it.

The problem with freelancing is that money can be sporadic and London is expensive. Food alone seems to have tripled in the last few years; rent is no longer even remotely funny. Spending 70%-80% of my new income on rent does not appeal, and since I was doing that on a regular salary, I could end up in trouble.
So I'm moving to Scotland. Good people, cheaper prices, I'm trying not to think about winter. I've been there in winter. It hurts. The Scots do, however, believe in central heating and double-glazing, two things which have been sorely lacking in every rental property I've been in during my time in London. I'm looking forward to not getting frostbite in the bathroom. I'll have a garden for the first time in over ten years. I can hang my washing outside, and trust me, that's huge. Ten years of indoor laundry. *shudder*

The logistics of getting two people (Stace decided the move would be good for her too), three cats and a house full of stuff to a different country is slightly mind-boggling. When I moved to the UK I had a suitcase with a few clothes in. Now I have books and art stuff and computers and furniture, and my subconscious keeps sitting up, blinking stupidly, and wondering when the hell I got all this stuff.

On kitty news, Sheba is bouncing around quite happily. She has also managed to FaceTime my mom and take a selfie, which means my cat is more technologically advance than I am. I had no clue how to reverse the camera until she did that.

"So you tap here, see? And then you take the picture."

Bast and Hathor just keep growing. They've turned into well-adjusted, happy cats and are thinking about writing a book called How to Train your Human, and will include chapters on "How to get More Treats without Trying", "How to Throw up on Their Favourite Slippers" and "How to Clear a Mantlepiece".

Thursday 12 March 2015

Kitty Update

So. It's been awhile, but since the last kitten post, Bast turned out to be a boy. We ended up with a calico male, which is very, very rare. In everyone's defence (including the vet), the area under his tail is pitch black, and so were the  pertinent bits.

Hathor went into heat 2 weeks before Bast was due to get the snip. It took us a while to figure it out because she's still quite young and doesn't actually miaow. She chirrups, chirps, and squeaks, but there isn't a miaow in sight. Bast is the same.
It took three days of noises like a demented canary before I clicked, and that was only because I caught them trying (and yes, I mean trying. Let's just say Bast has no clue which end to aim at.) to have sex on the stairs. I also caught them in the missionary position a day later, which is disturbing on so many levels.

We appear to be pregnancy free, mainly because Bast often dealt with the increasing demands by biting Hathor on neck while leaning against the wall, and looking at us as if wondering what the hell was supposed to happen next. He'd escape by climbing into the bath and hiding away from her.

Bast got snipped last week; Hathor is due the end of the month. He still limps as soon as he sees the treat packet.

Two weeks ago I saw a message from a friend about a cat that desperately needed a home.  You can guess the rest. Part of me was thinking WHAT ARE YOU DOING. It was drowned out by the part that went KITTY!!!

So Sheba is currently living under my bed. She is black shot with slivers of copper and gold, and slow-blinking yellow eyes.
She's eight, and she's lost her human and her home and the poor old girl is heart-broken. She loves being stroked, hates the vet with an almighty passion, and has Bast infatuated.

He keeps offering her his favourite toys. Then he climbs under the bed and chirps at her. As soon as my light goes off for the night, she wiggles out and romps through the house with the other two. I think she'll be just fine.

Hathor, playing with her mouse.

Bast - King of the Cupboards

Buy a new cupboard, make your cat happy...

Sunday 15 February 2015

An Open Letter To David Cameron

Dear Mr. Cameron

Your recent announcement about obese people, drug addicts, and alcoholics losing benefits didn't really come as a shock to me. There was more a sense of resignation and futility, because you haven't got a clue about what real people are like, or the issues they face.

Addiction has long been recognised as a medical condition. If you could cure it, I'd be the first to hold your coat. However, since medical science hasn't achieved it yet. I have my doubts. Cut the benefits, put desperate people into an even more desperate situation, and watch both the death toll and the crime rate rise. Is that really what you have in mind? Don't you think enough people have died through the new benefits system already? I won't go into the idiocy of the current drugs policy, except to say that no sane dealer wants it legalised, because you'd remove their customer base.

So onto the obesity issue. I have a few problems with this. Obesity isn't simply a matter of eating too much, Mr. Cameron. There are a number of factors involved, including, but not limited to:

1) Thyroid problems
2) Medication (known as iatrogenic obesity)
3) Genetic disposition
4) Psychological pain
5) Not being able to afford decent food. This one's a doozy, isn't it? Because the average person living on these benefits simply can't afford to live healthily and pay their bills. If you think this is sufficient, I challenge you to live like this for 3 months. No extras. No help from friends or family. Live on this, and see how you feel afterwards.

Perhaps the biggest issue I have is that once again, this is a huge personal intrusion to people with these conditions. You do not have the right to dictate how somebody deals with their body, because we are not supposed to be slaves.

I realise that this puts pressure on the NHS. (So does underpaying the staff to the point that doctors and nurses are emigrating to greener pastures with better pay and living conditions.) But, Mr. Cameron, the NHS was designed to help everybody who needed it. Either the system works, or you start excluding on the basis of colour, gender, religion, body shape etc. You can't have it both ways.

One of the arguments is that people die from these conditions. Yes, they do. People die every day. They also die in car accidents, house fires, from homicide and sheer bad luck. So far your government has attempted to press ahead with raising the speed limit for HGV's despite the warning that it will increase deadly accidents, destroyed fire-fighters pensioners, and released long-term tariff convicted murderers early, only to have them kill again. If you were willing to run the risk of harm to people by doing all of these things, please explain why you are so hell-bent on controlling our lives and bodies? Will the next step be making anything over a size twelve illegal?

Do you know what happens in a country where the leadership shows it's okay to be prejudiced, Mr. Cameron? That it's fine to hate and despise anyone who is other, who doesn't march in line to the official drum? You get this. And this. And this.  And directly to the point, this. People die or are attacked, harassed or mutilated because you thought it was cool to get some extra attention. You should be protecting people, not encouraging prejudice.

What's truly heartbreaking, Mr. Cameron, is that you and your government could have made some truly effective and good social and economic changes in this country. Instead you have reduced us to xenophobic paranoids, willing to point the finger at everything except ourselves. We dance to the tune of the red top tabloids, because our leader panders to the worst of them. Instead of investing in the country and creating a workforce, you pushed people into starvation and told us it was for our own good. By pushing education out of reach of all but the elite few, you have created a nation of frustrated, under-educated people who are drowning while you stand on the shores and watch. And you just don't stop.

I truly hope that this was yet another misguided attempt to get your name in the headlines because of the upcoming elections. Unfortunately, it has once again revealed you to be a man who does not do his research, does not think about the repercussions of his proposals, and does not give a damn about anyone who is not on the same economic level as yourself.

What a waste of an otherwise intelligent man.

Sunday 25 January 2015

Francis Fahrenheit - Rock n Roll Clown Review

One of the best parts of living in London is the musical talent. I love music. Can't play much (started drum lessons years ago, but stuff happened) and I sing like a dead frog, which just makes me appreciate the people that can do this well even more.

Original music is still my favourite. Covers are great and all, but I like finding the guys that put their hearts and souls out for the rest of us. It takes a strange degree of courage to stand up in front of a live audience and give them a view into how your mind works; compared to that, writing is easy. You aren't there to see the reactions.

Moxy Ru was one of the best indie bands to hit the scene in years, and when they split it was a sad moment, so having Francis Fahrenheit carry on the music as a solo artist was great.

I got my paws on a copy of Rock 'n Roll Clown a while ago and I've pretty much played it to death. 

The use of synthesizers throughout this album break out memories for me of early Depeche Mode, particularly in 'You Can Change The World But You Can’t Change Me'.

 'Building Up Your Wall' is the perfect “We Need To Split” song. There’s pleading and sneering and despair in a toxic, unstoppable mix I replayed over and over. The vocals here have an edginess that I’d like to hear more of; just a slight rasp in places, but enough to shoot this song out of okay territory into something really good.

'Rock & Roll Clown' is a gorgeous mix of percussion and strings and Francis uses his voice to great effect in harrowing lyrics. The video up on YouTube is powerful and perfect for the song, do yourself a favour and check it out. I've tried to imbed the video below; but you guys know me and tech.

The lyrics of 'Glass Spiders' are frankly creepy as hell, but it makes you want to move to it; the beat pounds through you remorselessly. It’s one of my favourite tracks on this album, currently fighting with 'Building Up Your Wall' and the title track for personal best of. I could see this one crowding the dance floor.

'Beauty Hides' is another track with strong percussion and an eerie use of synthesizers through the song. The hook line is hypnotic, but I admit to preferring Francis using his vocals to the chanting bits.
'I Am Stardust' brings to mind The Killers song Human; it just has that feel, although the two songs are nothing alike. This is the most optimistic song on the album, and you can’t help tapping your feet as this one plays.

Links to buy the album are here: 

And check out the official site: