Memories of the conversations with my cat – 99

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…

20151219_163915

This is Chester.

Not everything is fine in la-la-land, as he now calls it.

Not happy that I didn’t tell him about the second week of child invasion.

He should consider himself lucky that the school week started on Tuesday, and only one was staying home to do schoolwork.

The other has been able to return to the classroom.

One less tormentor, I heard him mutter as he slinked past the room where the homeschooler was working.

But a more sinister problem had arisen.

He’s stopped eating his food.  I first thought this was part of a two-week standoff, where he cuts his nose off to spite his face.

This is not the first time we’ve been through this.

So, just to see if it is a fit of pique, I get him his absolute favorite food.  Fresh Atlantic Salmon cut into small pieces just the way he likes it.

Yes, the aroma reaches him in his hiding spot, along with the call-out that I’d bought him salmon, but when he goes to the bowl, he takes a sniff, or two, then wanders away.

He doesn’t even look at me.

Very, very unusual.

I will be keeping an eye on this.

 

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 98

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…

20160903_163902

This is Chester.  He’s now over having the grandchildren staying with us.

As part of the COVIS 19 restrictions in place, the grandchildren cannot go to school.

However, because their parents are both working (which is very fortunate as so many others are not) they have asked us to look after them.

So, they arrive Sunday night, stay the whole week, and go back home on Friday.  It means they are homeschooling, so the internet is taking a beating, I have to feed them, morning tea, lunch. After school snack at three and then dinner.

Chicken nuggets, pies, and shoestring chips can only go so far, and, no, he does not like scraps from their plates.

And having to cater for four rather than two means a gentle shift in logistics.  More shopping for food, having to do the washing every day, tormenting the cat.

OK, that last part is where Chester comes in, or, rather, he stays hidden away.

Remember that phobia he has when the grandchildren are around?

Now they’re here semi-permanently, he’s in hiding, and coming out only for food and water.

And to let me know just how displeased he is.

He wants his domain back.

Pity I haven’t told him yet they’re going to be back next week.

 

Searching for locations: Harbour Grand Hotel, Kowloon, Hong Kong

The Harbour Grand Hotel, Kowloon, Hong Kong, is a modern, but luxurious hotel, one that our travel agent found for us.

I was initially worried that it might be too far away from central Hong Kong, but a free shuttle bus that runs at convenient times took us to and from the hotel to the Star Ferry terminal.

The luxuriousness of the hotel starts the moment you walk in the front entrance with a magnificent staircase that I assumed led up to the convention center (or perhaps where weddings are catered for) and a staircase where one could make a grand entrance or exit.  Oh, and there’s a chandelier too.

We booked into a Harbourview suite, and it was not only spacious but had that air of luxury about it that made it an experience every time you walked into it.

But the view of Hong Kong Harbour, that was the ‘piece de resistance’

I spent a lot of time staring out that window, and it was more interesting than watching the television, which we didn’t do much of.   Most of the time, when we travel, TV is limited to International English speaking news channels.

This time we had several movies included with the room, but I still preferred to watch the endless water traffic on the harbor.

The lounge area had several comfortable chairs, an area for the bar fridge and tea or coffee making facilities and on the opposite side the usual table and chairs for those who came to conduct business

The bedroom was separate to the entrance and lounge.  Notable was the fact the room had two bathrooms, one in the bedroom, and one out in the lounge, perhaps for the guests who were having friends in.

We dined in one of the restaurants, Hoi Yat Heen, where we experienced Guandong cuisine.  I tried the roasted goose for the first time, and it was interesting to say the least.

There’s no doubt where we will be staying the next time we go to Hong Kong.

Searching for locations: Eating In, Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

Hotel dining can be a very expensive experience, but if you are there as one of those bucket list fulfillments like we were, then it’s not unusual to go the whole nine yards.

Since the stay coincided with my birthday, the first day was set aside to have dinner at the Chinese restaurant upstairs and was one of those sublime experiences.  Of course, it had to be Peking Duck, expensive champagne, and several cocktails.

Oddly enough, breakfast wasn’t included in the room rate, but that seems to be normal for a lot of hotels.  It can be if you want to pay upfront, but we don’t always have breakfast, particularly if we have dinner the night before.

Or can be bothered getting out of bed the next morning because quite often the breakfast hours do go with staying in bed.

During this stay, we decided to have breakfast one morning, cereal, bacon and eggs, coffee, toast, you know, the usual stuff.

No paper placemats here and the silverware was just that, silverware.  This was going to be full on old world charm.

Coffee served from a silver coffee pot, fine bone china from Staffordshire, not Thailand, tea service for milk and sugar, condiments all in a row.
The only disappointment, I don’t think the eggs were free-range.

And, when the conversation dries up, there’s always a steady stream of people coming and going through the front door, and the doorman is always at the ready to open the door.

WE went once for lunch, and yes, we had to go to the famous Afternoon Tea, for which you had to book or stand in a very long line.  We booked and discovered preference was given to those who were staying at the hotel.

Out came the silver tea service, and one could imagine that this was the same as what it had been a hundred years ago.  I had tea, after all, it was afternoon tea!

The cakes were interesting, there were quarter sandwiches rather than finger sandwiches, and though I’m not a fan of fruit scones, I’m always up for something different.
After it, it’s probably not a good idea to go out for dinner too.

Overall, the experience was worth it.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 94

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…

20160921_071506

This is Chester.

We are in the middle of a philosophical debate.

No, it’s not about whether the world is flat, though sometimes I think he has that notion, as well as all humans are basically stupid.

I’ve been thinking about the pandemic and how it might meld into a plotline for a story.

Chester is not happy that I should use China as the country with global ambitions, after using the term ‘global domination’ and got a very silky retort.

He doesn’t seem to think that by causing a pandemic, making each of the G20 nations basically launch themselves into insolvency in order to maintain some semblance of economic stability, that China, who miraculously recovers, becomes the nation who saves the world?

It sounded quite good in my head.

Particularly when you see nations like the USA, the only other country that could tackle China as a ‘savior’ state, is going slowly down the gurgler.   Or so it seems, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

Chester and I now have mandatory viewing every morning, the Donald Trump show, where we lay bets as to whom he’s going to fire or lambast.

Chester thought the Doctor was gone for all money on Monday.

My money was on the reporter, who wouldn’t stop asking questions.

But today, it might be about Joe Biden and the Democrats, and the ramping up of the Republican’s political campaign.  Who said the COVID briefings had to be about that mundane virus?

Still, it’s back to the drawing board.  The overall plot is good, creating a virus that brings almost every nation to its knees, and one that rises out of the ashes to ‘save the world’.  It’s like you don’t need bullets and arms to fight a war, just a hell of a sneaky virus; you know, infecting people when you don’t know you’ve got it and infecting others.

Hang on, Chester’s calling.  It’s time for the Donald Trump show.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 90

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…

20160922_161958_001

This is Chester.

He’s not looking forward to being in quarantine.

Yes, he’s been keeping up with the latest developments regarding the Coronavirus, but like many, he doesn’t seem to think it will affect him.

After all, he says smugly, there hadn’t been one recorded instance of a cat getting the Coronavirus.

Of course, he’s right, but I still search for a searing reply.

That may be, but what if they’re not reporting cat infections so as not to alarm the cat population?

Aha, got him with that one.  He ponders that for a moment or two.  I decided to add fuel to the fire.

Apparently, dogs can contract the virus, but after reporting one, there hadn’t been any more.  What if they’re not telling anyone that more dogs have contracted the virus so owners and pets don’t get alarmed.

A reply quick as a flash, Dogs get everything that’s going around.  We cats are more resilient.

Until you get cat flu.  Yes, my nana’s cat got cat flu and it killed him in 2 days.  This virus is a much deadlier form of flu.

A suitable look of concern crossed his face.

Maybe I’ll stay indoors for the duration.  It’s not as if you’re going to let me roam the streets any time soon.

Maybe I will, I say.  Perhaps it is time I started letting you out from time to time.

A shake of the head.

We’ll revisit this when the crisis has passed, he says getting up and walking off, tail flicking in annoyance.

One to me, none to him.  Yes!!!

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 89

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…

20160921_071506

This is Chester.  We have been discussing the possibility of being stuck in the house for anything from 14 days to 10 months.

Yes, the Coronavirus is finally arriving in Australia, and though it is slow to catch on, we are being warned that it could get a lot worse, very quickly.

Chester has suggested we barricade the doors and windows.

Alas, I tell him, this is not the same as the American cowboys fending off an Indian attack.  No circling the wagons, and definitely no John Wayne to ride in and save the day.

Too many westerns on Fox.  I keep forgetting Chester has mastered the art of turning the TV on and changing channels on the Foxtel remote.

I also tell him that the virus is not only airborne, spread by those who cough or sneeze, but also by touch, like shaking hands, and hugging.

At that, Chester takes a good three, four steps back away from me.  So, he challenges me, what are the options.

Well, firstly cats may not get the virus.  Only one dog, as far as I know, had got it.  You, I tell him, do not need to worry.

As for the humans, well, we are in trouble if it comes.

We will be staying in, in some sort of forced quarantine, trying to avoid the rest of the world until it goes away,

So, he says, that means you have enough cat food and litter, the proper one?

I shake my head like he does when he’s annoyed.

Well, if it happens, I’m sure we’ll find out.  Besides, I add, you need to lose a kilo or two.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 88

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…

20160909_062838-2

This is Chester.  He had reminded me that it is Dr. Seuss’s birthday

Or perhaps that of the Cat in the Hat.

Chester told me once he auditioned for the role of Cat in the Hat, but he couldn’t get the hat to sit right.

A stitch-up, really, he added.  There was this fat cat, and he told everyone the role was his.

Period.

So, I had to ask, did he get the role?

No.  You’ve seen the Cat in the Hat, haven’t you?  Nothing like him.

So, other than trying to intimidate the competition, what was so scary about him?

Oh, I wasn’t scared or anything like that.  I just didn’t want to make a scene in front of the ladies.

I take a minute, trying to equate the cat in front of me, and that of the Cat in the Hat.

No resemblance at all.

And as for the scaredy-cat part, I decide not to remind him of his all-conquering fear of the grandchildren.

I’ll just wait until the next time they visit…

In less than two hours.

“Trouble in Store” – Short stories my way: Character refinement

I have reworked the first part of the story with a few new elements about the characters and changed a few of the details of how the characters finish up in the shop before the policewoman makes her entrance.

This is part of the new first section is the one that involves Annalisa, and her boyfriend, Simmo:

 

Annalisa looked at the two men facing her.

Simmo, the boy on the floor, had told her that the shopkeeper would be a pushover, he was an old man who’d just hand over the drugs, rather than cause trouble for himself.

Where Simmo had discovered what the shopkeeper’s true vocation, dispensing drugs to the neighborhood addicts, she didn’t know, but it was not the first place like this they had visited.

She had always known Simmo had a problem, but he had assured her he had it under control.  Until a month ago, when he had tried something new.

It had changed him.

The breaking point came earlier that day when, seeing how sick he was, she threatened to leave.  It brought out the monster within him, and he threatened to kill her.  Not long after he had changed into a whimpering child pleading with her to stay, that he hadn’t meant anything he’d said before.

All he needed was one more ‘score’ to get his ‘shit’ together, and he would do as she asked, and find help.

She believed him.

He said he knew a place not far from the apartment, a small shop where what he needed was available, and said he had the money.

That should have been the first sign he was not telling the truth because she had been funding his habit until her parents cut off the money supply.  She suspected her father had put a private detective on to find her, had, and reported back, and rather than make a scene, just cut her off so she would have to come home or starve.  Her father was no better than Simmo.

And, as soon as they stepped into the shop, Simmo pulled out the gun,

Instead of the shopkeeper cowered like Simmo said he would, he had laughed at them and told them to get out.  Simmo started ranting and waving the gun around, then all of a sudden collapsed. 

There was a race for the gun which spilled out of Simmo’s hand, and she won. 

That was just before the customer burst into the shop.

It had been shortly before closing time.  Simmo had said there would be no one else around.

Wrong again.

Now she had another problem to deal with, a man who was clearly as scared shitless as she was.

This was worse than any bad hair day, or getting out of the wrong side of bed day, this was, she was convinced, the last day of her life.

She heard a strange sound come from beside her and looked down.  There was a trickle of blood coming out of his mouth and Simmo was making strange sounds like he was choking.

Any other time she might have been concerned, but the hard reality of it was, Simmo was never going to change.  She was only surprised at the fact it took so long for her to realize it.

As for the man standing in front of her, she was safe from the shopkeeper with him around, so he would have to stay.

“No.  Stay.”

Another glance at the shopkeeper told her she had made the right decision, his expression said it all.  Gun or no gun, the moment she was alone with him, he would kill her.

 

© Charles Heath 2016-2020

A writer isn’t just a writer

Is he, or she?

No, we have any number of other functions, so the notion we can sit down all day every day and just write is a misnomer.

I know for a fact I can’t.

I have jobs to do around the house, and therein lies the problem.

I sit down, once the jobs for that part of the day are done, and fire up the computer, or sometimes sharpen the pencils.

Then, free to write, it’s like starting the lawnmower, wait till it settles into a steady rhythm, and then, as you begin to mow the lawn, it runs out of petrol.

Yes, that’s happened to me a few times, and only goes to highlight the other problems.

When you have to do something else, your mind is happily working on the book, story, article, piece, or whatever, and then, when you sit down, your mind is on the next lot of chores.

Only the most disciplined mind can separate the two so that each allotted timed time is allotted to the task.

Me, I suck at that.

Like now.  I want to get on with one of my longer stories, and my mind is telling me I have to write a blog post.

So, I’m writing the blog post.

I know that tomorrow I’m not going to get much writing time because the grandchildren are over for a mini stay and we’re going to see Doolittle.

But, can I get it done now?

No.  In the background, the Australia vs India one day cricket match is murmuring, and we’re not doing so good.  It’s a necessary distraction, but I still haven’t learned to multitask.

Perhaps it’s too late for that.

Anyway, I got to go.  We just got a wicket, and the tide is turning.

I hope!