Memories of the conversations with my cat – 43

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester, he’s just reminded me that it is International Cat Day.

I ask, are you really an international cat, because you live here, and haven’t travelled anywhere.

A studious glance at me, then at a map of the word, he then tells me I haven’t taken him anywhere, but he’s been with me in spirit.

Yes, and while I’m away, well, you know how it goes…

Again apparently that was my fault, I didn’t leave strict instructions on what he could or could not do.

I thought we’d set those boundaries a long time ago.

I’m old, is the quick retort,  Memory is failing.  I’m lucky if I can remember what I was doing yesterday.  You’ll have to remind me.

Every morning.

And even then I might still have trouble remembering.

Anyway, don’t you humans have a saying, respect your elders?

OK.  Now we’re back on the age thing.  And, by the way, I don’t think my granddaughter gave you permission to sleep on her pillow.

Seems it’s my turn to eave in a huff!

International cat day?????

 

A blank look means you’re in another world

I can see how it is that a writer’s life can be a lonely one.  That’s why, I guess, so many writers have an animal as a pet, someone to talk to, or just feel as though you are not alone in this quest.

I’m often sitting in front of the computer screen, or in a large lounge chair with my trusty tablet computer, writing the words, or staring into space!

Sometimes the words don’t make any sense, sometimes the thoughts leading to those words don’t make any sense.

Sometimes the most sensible person in the room is the cat.

I’m sure his thoughts are not vague or scrambled, or wrestling with the ploys of several stories on the go, getting locations right, getting characters to think and do their thing with a fair degree of continuity.

The cat’s world is one of which chair to lie on, where is that elusive mouse be it real or otherwise, and is this fool going to feed me, and please, please, don’t let it be the lasagna.  I am not that cat!

Unlike other professions, there is no 9 to 5, no overtime, no point where you can switch off and move into leisure time.  Not while you are writing that next masterpiece.  It’s a steady sometimes frustrating slog where you can’t just walk away, have a great time, and come back and pick up where you left off.

Stories have to be written from beginning to end, not a bit here and a bit there.

It’s a bit like running a marathon.  You are in a zone, the first few miles are the hardest, the middle is just getting the rhythm and breathing under control, and then you hope you get to the end because it can seem that you’ve been going forever and the end is never in sight.

But, when you reach the end, oh, isn’t the feeling one of pure joy and relief.

And, yes, perhaps you’ve just created another masterpiece!

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 18

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester, he’s lurking in the shadows.

This is near the front door, so I wonder if he’s waiting for someone, or keeping guard, or he’s spotted something outside.

The grandchildren will be here soon, and I haven’t told him they are paying a surprise visit.  He has a habit of disappearing the days they usually come.

We both hear a noise outside.

He goes into stealth mode.

Then I recognize the sound, of letters being shoved into the mailbox.

He shakes his head.  I think he was expecting a mouse.

I hear the back door rattle and the loud sounds of the grandchildren arriving.

He lifts his head, stands, and bolts.

That’s the fastest I’ve seen him move for a long time.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 16

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away about 2 years ago, and I still miss him.

This is my way of remembering him.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits, I will run the series again from Episode 1

Character development

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This is Chester, he thinks he is an expert on people

He has meandered in checking out what I’m doing, or maybe he’s here because the room is cooler.

He gives me the ‘What are you doing’ look.

It doesn’t matter how many times I’m a writer, it’s like talking to a brick wall.

I say I’m working on developing a new character.

Name?

I’m thinking of John.

A shake of the head and the eyes roll.  Can you be a little more inventive, like, well, Chester?

Predictable.  How about Xavier?

Would you call your kid Xavier?  He’s going to have a very rough time of it at school.  Unless this character has a tortured soul.

Good point.  How about William?

Bill, that’s what you get in the mail.  Another shake of the head.  You’re not very good at this, are you?

Apparently not.  Haven’t you got some mice to catch?

He yawns, then curls up on the seat.  Wake me when you’ve got some better ideas.

Maybe not.  I’ve come up with a name, Daniel, and I don’t care what he thinks.

For now.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 9

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester.   He’s undercover.

I’ve asked him to investigate the mouse problem, and this is how he responds.

Hiding in the ‘grass’.

Waiting, watching, ever wary.

Those mice will not see him coming.

I try to tell him that hiding on the chair, whilst the mice are on the floor doesn’t make much sense.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 7

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester.  He’s been caught almost red-handed climbing the curtains.

Of course, he is all innocence, because the evidence is circumstantial.  He was sitting on the window ledge looking out, thinking ‘if only I could get out there’.

Now he’s thinking how much trouble he’s in and whether it will be his least favorite cat food for dinner.

No, I’m not that mean.

Not unless I catch him red-handed.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 3

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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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’.

Grrrrrrr.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 2

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away about 2 years ago, and I still miss him.

This is my way of remembering him.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits, I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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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.

Right.

We have provided him with several very comfortable, warn, 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.

You can research anywhere, even in a, er, waiting room

Watching the doors that lead to the consulting rooms is about as exciting as watching pigeons standing on a window ledge.

But…

When you have little else to do while waiting to see the doctor, it can take on new meaning, especially if you don’t want to be like 95% of the others waiting and be on their mobile phones.

What you basically have is a cross-section of people right in front of you, a virtual cornucopia of characters just waiting to stay in your next novel, of course with some minor adjustments.  It’s the actions and traits I’m looking for, and since it is a hospital, there’s bound to be some good ones.

It’s a steady drip of patients getting called, and it seems like more are arriving than being seen, and those that are being called have arrived and barely got to sit down, whilst a steady core has been waiting, and waiting, and waiting…

Everyone reacts differently to waiting.

A lady arrives, walking tentatively into the waiting area.  It’s reasonably full so the first thing she does is look for a spot where she doesn’t have to sit next to anyone else.  I’m the same, nothing worse if you sit next to a talker, and getting their life history.

Another sits, looking like they’re going to read, they brought a book with them, but it sits on her lap.  The phone comes out, a quick scan, then it remains in hand.  Is she expecting a call or text wishing her luck?  It’s not the oncology clinic so she doesn’t have cancer.  Hopefully.  The fact she brought a book tells me she’s been here before and knows a 9:00 appointment is rarely on time.

As we are discovering.

A couple arrives, maybe a mother and daughter, maybe a patient and her support person.  Both of them don’t look very well do it’s a toss-up who is there to see the doctor.

Next is a man who could easily pass as living on the street.  It’s probably an injustice to say so, but his appearance is compelling, and I’m not the only one.  He sits and the person next to him gets up, apparently looking for something, then moves subtly to another seat.  Someone else nearby wrinkles her nose.  Two others look in his direction and then whisper to each other.  No guesses what the subject is.

More arrive, fewer seats, some are called, but everyone notices, and avoids, the man.

The sign of the door where the stream of patients are going, says no entry staff only, and periodically a staff member comes striding out purposely, or sedately, clutching a piece of all-important paper, the sign of someone who knows where they’re going, on an important mission.  Names are being called from this door and various other sections of the room, requiring you to keep one ear open.

It seems all hospitals are branches of the United Nations, medical staff, and particularly doctors, are recruited from all over the world, and it seems to be able to speak understandable English is not one of the mandatory requirements, and sometimes the person calling out the name, has a little difficulty with the pronunciation.

Perhaps like the UN, we need interpreters.  No, most of the names are recognizable until there is a foreign name that’s unpronounceable, or a person with English as a second language calls an English name.  It makes what could be an interminable wait into something more interesting.

And then there are the people who have names that are completely at odds with their nationality.  They are lucky enough to have the best of a number of cultures, and perhaps a deeper level of understanding where others do not.  I’m reminded never to judge a book by it’s cover.

When there is a lull in arrivals and call-ups, there’s the doctor in consult room 2.  He’s apparently the doctor with no patients and periodically he comes out to look in his pigeonhole, or just look over the patients waiting, and more importantly checking the door handle when not delivering printouts to the consulting room next door.

He’s a doctor with no patients, get my drift.  Well, that joke fell very flat, so, fortunately, he comes out, a piece of paper in hand, and calls a name.  His quiet period is over.  Someone else will have to look at the door handle.

But we’re still waiting, waiting.

It’s been an hour and four minutes, and a little frustrating.  Surely when you check-in they should give you an estimated waiting time, or better still how many patients there are before you.

I guess its time to join the rest and pick up the mobile phone.

The good news, I only got to type one word before my name was called.  By a person who could pronounce it correctly.

The doctor, well that’s another story.

Just when you think you’ve found the right wordprocessor

It was as if Microsoft Word was sent down from that place in the universe where a group of torturers sit around a table to find new ways of making our lives just that little bit more difficult.

I mean, most of the time it works really well and behaves itself.

But…

Then there are the times, usually when you are stressed about a deadline, or you are nearly at the end of what you believe to be the most brilliant writing you have ever put on paper.

Then…

Disaster strikes.

It could be the power goes off, even for just a few seconds, but it’s enough to kill the computer.  It could be that you have reached the end and closed Word down, thinking that it had autosaved, all the while ignoring that little pop up that says, ‘do you want to save your work’?

It’s been a long day, night, or session.  You’re tired and your mind is elsewhere, as it always is at the end.

You always assume that autosave is on.  It was the last time, it has been since the day you installed it however long ago that was.

So…

When the power comes back on, you start the computer, go into Word, and it brings back all the windows you had open when the power failed, and the one with the brilliant piece you just wrote, it’s just a blank sheet.

Or up to where it last autosaved, which is nowhere near the end.

Or it didn’t save at all.

You forget the software updated recently and that always brings changes.  Usually unwanted changes.

By which time you have that sinking feeling that all is lost, deadline missed, brilliant work lost, it’s the end of the world.

You promise yourself you’re going to get Scrivener, or something else, where this doesn’t happen.

Or if you’re like me, you put the cat on the keyboard and tell him to sort the mess out.