Conversations with my cat – 3


This is Chester.  Back on the bed.

Another argument lost, another smug ‘I’ve got the better of you, again’ look.

Time to move on, pick a battle I think I can win.

Food.  There’s the old wives tale, that cats love fish, and it’s true to a certain extent.

Chester doesn’t believe fish live in cans or plastic packets, despite how it’s dressed up.  Fresh fish, he’s into it, but there always seems to be a measured reluctance to eat something out of a can.

I think he regards us humans with disdain when our food comes out of a can or packet.

He refuses to eat the leftovers!

Then there’s chicken, or its more expensive neighbor, turkey.

He loves turkey.

I’m sure he’d eat quail and spatchcock too, but no, he’s a cat, and cats have to get used to eating chicken.  We’ve had this discussion, one too many times.

And just for good measure, I told him if he thinks he’s coming to Italy with us, he’d better get used to the idea of eating pasta.

Of course, always with the last word, he said, quite nonchalantly, ‘then you’d better call me Garfield’.


Thoughts impinging on reality

You know how it is, you’re sitting at the lights waiting for the green, and everything is calm around you.

It’s a warm day, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and because they’re taking so long to change, you’re almost drifting off, somewhere else than in traffic.


That awful sound of two metal cars crashing, short, sharp, incisive, intruding.

Lights changed, driver next to me, in a lane that ends on the other side of the intersection, pushes his foot to the floor, trying to get in front.  Another driver running a red light hits him.

I sit in stunned silence before moments after the scene bursts into life, people getting out of cars to help.

My eyes are on the car than ran the red light.  The door slowly opens, and a person is getting out.  I look closer, it’s a woman, bright red hair, and blood running down her face.

She is standing, stunned, looking around, then sees a man coming towards her.

Is that panic.  She looks in my direction, our eyes meeting for a brief second, then she’s running.

Towards my car.

Seconds later the door opens, she gets in, and the door slams shut.

Two men are now running towards my car.

“Drive,” she yells.

“You’re injured, you should wait for …”

“Drive, now, or I’ll shoot you.”

I see the gun, now pointing at me.

“You’re joking.”

One of the men is pounding on her door, which I noticed she’d locked.


I did, pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor.

The two men were now running towards another car, reaching it before I’d got more than 50 yards.  My car was tired, old, and not very quick in a standing 100.

I didn’t tell her she’d picked the wrong car and driver if she hoped to make a getaway.

Before I made a 100 yards, there was a large black 4×4 hurtling towards us.

“Turn left here,” she commanded, pushing the barrel of the gun into my side for emphasis.

I did, nearly losing the rear end of the car in a slide towards the curb, just touching it before moving forward.

My heart was now in my mouth and pounding.

Death by a bullet or an accident, both were high probabilities.

Who was this woman, now indistinguishable because her face was covered in blood.  She should be bleeding out.  Perhaps she might, and that would save me from an ignominious death.

I could see the 4×4 closing the distance between us quickly.

Perhaps there was another way to die.


Another swerving turn.

“Left,” she yelled almost instantly after the last order.

A few seconds later, “Right”.  Then another “left, then floor it.”

The wrong car, I muttered under my breath.

No sign of the 4×4.  Had we lost it?

At intersection coming up, one I recognized.  The railway station.

“Don’t slow down, straight across.”

“Are you mad?”


Apparently so, and with a death wish.

The front of the car crunched on the driveway, as I hit it at speed, the slammed my foot on the brake.  A train was waiting at the platform.

She was out and gone before the car had stopped, and the doors of the carriage had closed, all just before the 4×4 pulled into the station carpark.


Tap, tap, tap.

I looked over at the passenger side and saw my granddaughter looking in.

“Have you been daydreaming again, Poppy?”


© Charles Heath 2018


Time Wasting

Have you ever wondered how much of your life you have spent

a) waiting for a doctor’s surgery or hospital appointment, and

b) waiting on the end of the phone to reach customer service or a public servant.

In the first instance, I have had a lot of recent experience with injured children and spouse, and, more recently myself.

What bothers me is that they give you a time and place and issue all the threats around the place if you don’t turn up on time, but it seems to be perfectly ok if they are late.

It could be for some perfectly logical reason but most of the time they don’t tell you why they’re running late, and sometimes don’t even apologize.

Then there are the chairs they make you sit in, obviously specially designed so you do not get comfortable, especially in hospitals.

But the most infuriating aspect?  Just how small the waiting room is and how often it is overcrowded with people also waiting to see a doctor.

They ask if we remain respectful but after an hour and a half in those chairs and not treating us with that same respect they ask for, I’m surprised I have only witnessed one case of the angry patient.

In the second instance, there are two circumstances I take issue with.

The first is where you have to select from a menu and what you want isn’t one of the menu items and there’s no catch-all just disconnection, and

After waiting patiently on the line for up to thirty minutes or more you hear the connection, you think you are about to get to an agent and the call disconnects.

That is only one step removed from being connected … back at the selection menu and then sent to the back of the queue.

I’m sorry, but this technology is no advancement but I doubt if we will get back to the ‘old days’.

Of course, there is that other major advancement in telephone answering technology, voice recognition.  I’ve been on the end of it, and quite frankly, it just doesn’t understand me.

Odd, I Know, because I speak very good English with no accent.  Perhaps that’s the problem.

I can’t wait for the first humanoid robots.  I hope they can understand me better than the inhuman phones do!

Conversations with my cat – 2


This is Chester.  T for Tonkinese, capital T for trouble.

If you think you can win an argument with a Tonkinese you are sadly mistaken!

So, we got over the abandonment issues, and have moved onto the sleeping arrangements.  There seems to be some misconceptions on Chester’s part.

He thinks the bed is his domain.


We have provided him with several very comfortable, warm, and inviting places about the house where is he quite welcome to sleep, or keep a watchful eye over his domain.

That’s right, I thought I owned the house.

He has his own bed in our room where he can stay when he feels lonely, but it seems he has to be near us.

When he’s not walking across the bed, and us, or ‘resting’ on our feet.

And if we move, you’d think we’d taken a big stick to him.

Come to think of it …

Just to show his displeasure at his bed, the blankets always seem to be on the floor, and when I ask what happened, it was, of course, Mr Nobody.

After I’ve picked them up six times in a day, I ask him what his last slave died of?

And there’s the Siamese coming out, a snarl, and then aloof dismissal.

There is banishment to the great outdoors, but that’s another story.

Things I’ve learned while away

Probably the main one is that we should appreciate living in Australia more than we do.


We do not have many of the problems that exist in countries like America and Canada.  Our politicians, or as they are called here lawmakers, are stupid, but they do not hold workers to ransom to score points.

We do not have the multicultural problems at home like there are in both Canada and America.  Perhaps that’s because we live on an island, and there’s no need to build walls.  We just have people arriving in boats.  Or used to.

But politically, we have developed a universal attitude that all our politicians are like children, you only have to read Hansard to discover how childlike they are, and nothing ever gets done because we have a three-year political cycle.

Best of all is the political campaigning at election time.  Each side blames the other for the lack of progress and promises to make it better.  And once elected, blames the other side as the reason why they can’t.  The end result, another three years of nothing happening.

I can empathize with everyone in America.  Your politicians or lawmakers are the same as everywhere else, blame the other side, and bury their heads in the sand.


At least everything is cheaper than at home, or almost.  Lego in Canada is dearer.  Or perhaps I should say you never can tell what the price of anything is in Canada because there’s the price on the shelf, then the one that ends up on the receipt at the cash register, invariably higher.

At home, the price on the tag is THE price.

Petrol is cheaper, though out in some areas it can be very expensive, and particularly on Manhattan island, where the price is three times that in New Jersey.

Books, which is one of the reasons I was excited about coming, are dearer than at home, much dearer in fact, so I’m leaving disappointed.

As for the tourist experience, we have had only one bad experience, and that was in an Avis office in New York where the black woman behind the counter called me ‘stupid’ in front of other customers, for breaking the GPS which she did not think to check before giving it to us.

It was a case of treating foreign white trash with contempt, and it was amusing, not annoying.

It was the only bad experience, and every other person, no matter what nationality were the epitome of the best ambassadors their respective countries could offer.  I have nothing but respect for people who sometimes work in very unappreciated positions, but all of that can easily be undone by one person.

This time it did not.  I just will never use Avis in New York ever again.

There’s more positives, but this can wait for another time.

What do they call it? A busman’s holiday?

It has any number of names, from Leave of Absence to Vacation, but it is meant to be a time where you can rest and relax.

And by the time you finally get to go away, preferably somewhere as far from home as possible, you are sure ready for it.

Those long days at the office, the decisions, the deadlines, the endless pressure of having to achieve the impossible all melt away when you walk out the door, and what a feeling it is when you tell everyone, ‘I’m off on holidays, see you when I get back.’

As anyone will tell  you, it’s not wise to travel the next day if at all possible, because you need some time to decompress before tackling what sometimes can be an arduous getting to the final destination, especially if it is at a peak holiday period, or on planes where anything and everything can go wrong very quickly.

Been there done that.

We traveled the next day, nothing went wrong, and all is fine.

Except …

As a writer and having spent the last few months finishing off my last novel, I was looking forward to some down time.  The editor has the final draft, and I’m happy.

Then, as it always does, the best laid plans of mice and men …

It all comes unstuck.

Inspiration often comes out of left field; something happens, a piece in a newspaper, an item on TV, or just lying down staring at the ceiling, when ‘bang’  it hits you.

The start of a story, a theme that you can run with.


I’ve been away for four days now and written seven chapters and the words will not stop.

If only …

Hey, what a great title for the story.

Sorry, got to get back to work!



More from here

So, I have partaken in two distinctive American pastimes, though probably not for all.

The first is ice hockey.  It’s not for everyone but I’ve adopted the Toronto Maple Leafs as my team, and they were playing at ‘The Rock’, otherwise known as the Prudential Center.

It’s not as big as the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, or as noisy, and the 80’s theme, I thought, fell a bit flat, but the game was good edge of the seat stuff and went down to the wire.

The Maple Leafs won, so I didn’t leave disappointed, like the last time in Toronto.  I could not say the same for the many thousands of Devils fans.

Going to the game involved negotiating the underground and NJ Transit, which with a little help was painless, just two stations on the A train, and two stations on the NJ line, about 45 minutes each way.

Before the game, we dropped into a bar and burger place and the burgers and beer were spot on.  So far we have not had a bad burger experience.

That was yesterday.

Today we went to a diner.  The Brooklyn Diner to be exact, and it was everything I expected it would be, atmosphere wise, as it looked old, and had a picture of Ebbets Field where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play.  That the waitresses were not in the dress of yesteryear was perhaps all that was missing.

I was looking for traditional American food and was not sure what was on the menu, but there were spaghetti and meatballs, chicken pot pie, and thanksgiving every day.

I chose the turkey, and it was delicious.  I had a local beer which was different, and I finally got a cup of coffee that was exactly what I wanted.  Who thought it would be from a Diner?

Now, all we have is one day left, and that’s going to be for Red Lobster in Times Square.

Oh, and we did go for a walk in the Park just to lose some calories.  It was cold, about minus three, but we were undeterred.

Tomorrow its going to be warmer.  How odd it is to be cold one day and warm the next, then cold again.