Category Archives: CATS


When I leave King Shaka airport, there’s no question that I’ve arrived In Kwa-Zulu Natal. I’m still trying to get my head around the combo of Zulu dolls next to reindeer, but ’tis the Season of Goodwill, so this is no time to niggle.


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As is normal in December,  the Summerveld area is either shrouded in mist, chilly and drizzly or else blazingly, tropically hot. I can’t say I enjoy the Mist Belt climate. Sunny, windy Cape Town suits me better!


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The family wear silly Christmas hats, festive cheer abounds, and a good time is had by all.

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The cherry on top of my Christmas visit was having the resident cat cosily curled on my pillow. Such a  relaxing pic!

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I hope your Christmas was equally relaxing and /or wildly festive, whichever is your   preference.

And now its almost time to say: HAPPY NEW YEAR!  May 2020 be a peaceful and happy year.




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Tip #1 – sit outside in the sun whenever and wherever possible. Following the example of my fat feline guest. Tip #2 – turn off all sources of media – radio and electronic. Tip #3 – refuse to listen to news bulletins. Tip #4 – take advantage of the glorious weather and go on an outing – fresh air and sunshine are a restorative combo. Tip #5 – once the sun sets, make cocoa. Enjoy!

*JAP = just a paragraph to keep my blog ticking over, whilst I’m busy with longer posts.




It will be part of my recovery process to admit that I am … yes, I have to steel myself  and say it out aloud: I AM A BOOK-BINGER.
There.  Now you all know.  One of my deeply personal flaws revealed.   Finally, after a lifetime of over-consumption I have made a public confession for all to hear.  Will you still like me? Still be my friend?  Can you try to understand?

My addiction is not so glamorous as the world class cocaine snorters; nor so classy as the Big League Dipsos – all those famous British actors working on their under-eye-portmanteaux and gently slurring their cut-glass vowels as they consumed heroic amounts of Beefeaters’ Gin or single malt whiskey, and still managed to produce rave-worthy performances every night in the grandest of theatres. Nothing so elevated.  Mine is a secret vice, kept behind a closed front door, feverishly carried out under the dim light of my eco-approved, low watt bulbs, my secret sin …. it is a solo guilty pleasure.

I’ve known its wrong.  For years and years I knew it wasn’t healthy, but I couldn’t admit it to myself and I couldn’t stop. I lost all sense of time, all sense of responsibility, I cared not a fig for the morrow, when I knew – oh ! how I knew! – I would be less use than a zombie.   I knew that the next day I would barely function, my strained eyeball muscles unable to focus, my social and civic  obligations abandoned.

And worst of all, much worse than the damage to my eyes, my life and my blood-sugar readings, worst of all, my book binges led me to neglect of my cat. Yes:  Cat  Abuse.  I have to whisper this one.  I feel  so ashamed.  Forgotten meals,  careless handfuls of kibble flung in the direction of the feed bowl, stale  water in the dish, a smelly sand-box. My desolate cat roaming the midnight  streets in search of a kind word, a warm bed. How could I have been so selfish,  so neglectful of my cat ? As I write this, my cheeks burn with shame.  I hang my head.

But my faithful cat always returned the next day, to cheer me through my binge  hang-over, take my mind off the crick in my neck, my sprained eyeballs, my  soggy brain, my sleep-deprived shambling.
Although once, possibly in a fit of exasperation, she fatally chewed the
corner of a hard-cover Library Book which I had to replace at vast personal expense,  but a fitting punishment I suppose, for my selfish addiction.

But I am determined to be a better person, a disciplined reader, a caring cat owner. I  have seen the light.  I will no longer binge read.  In fact I am planning a  letter to the Ministry of Health suggesting that all books in the leisure  category be branded with a warning on their covers. Like cigarette packets.  Perhaps something like “Over consumption of the printed page is dangerous!  Read with  discrimination.”  Or maybe something snappier “Binge Reading buys more Mercedes for Optometrists”.  I’ll work on it.

Meanwhile, I hope we’re still friends.  I have managed to  forgive myself, and  determined to make a fresh start.  My magnificent cat has forgiven me, and I hope you can too.




C   is  for:  Cats, Chik-lit, Comics,  Cockroach,  Critics

CatsCaboodle Ranch:  American Craig Grant,  has spent his life
savings, over $100 000, in buying a 30 acre property on which he runs a
home for stray cats – the population is estimated at 500 although nobody is too  sure about the exact count. Craig started the project in 2003.  He has built dinky little  wooden houses for his guests, there is a church building, perfect in its detail, with infra red lamps inside for the cats’ comfort and warmth –  awww, the man  is a saint.  All his guests have to be neutered/spayed, and he will not euthanize.
Give the man a medal!


Chik-lit: There’s a lot of sniffiness and opprobrium attached to this genre, and it’s the upper echelons of the elevated heights of Literature (with a capital ell, please note) that are generating the scorn and derision.  The title Chik-lit is quite a new nickname for the genre previously dismissed as Womens’ Fiction. Someone summed
Chik-lit up rather well, I thought, saying it was chiefly about shoes, shopping  and sex : a sort of print version of the TV series Sex & the City. Somehow the Aga-sagas of Joanna Trollope are considered to be modern novels, while other writers are banished to the outer shores of Chik-lit. I’m still trying to work out why light novels that entertain and amuse should be so disregarded ?

Have we abandoned the idea of reading for pleasure?
I do hope not! And, P.S. try South African writer Fiona Snyckers’  Trinity  novels for an entertaining read. As Trinity says “I’m so over the  Struggle literature thing”.  Hear hear.

Comics : my childhood was brightened immeasurably by the antics of the characters in Beano, the complications of family life with Oor Wullie and the Broon  Family (via the Scotsman newspaper) and the exciting adventures of  Dan Dare, zooming through the galaxy fighting the evil green Treens (of course they were green! all space baddies have to be  green).  These daring exploits left me with a lasting love of Science Fiction novels. My Dad organized the subscription to Eagle comic, and I have a sneaking feeling – with the wisdom of hindsight – that he enjoyed Dan Dare even more than I did. Later on I read girlie stuff like Jacky, but it was very  tame compared to the excitement of Eagle.
And I have to add a footnote about the Scottish cartoons.  My Mother found an Oor Wullie Annual  in a bargain bookshop in BLOEMFONTEIN, of all places.  Brand new book, never opened, new as new could be :  and on sale in a thoroughly  non-English speaking city, in Africa. She promptly bought it for R5-00 and  mailed it to me. I love it, and dip into it periodically, when I need a cheer-up.  Oh the mysteries of synchronicity … or fate …. or book marketing …. who knows?

Cockroach –  I think if you were to hold a competition to nominate the most hated insect, the good old cockroach would be right up there, along with the spiders. They seem to be universally loathed.  After being introduced to Archy, the literary  cockroach who wrote vers libre on his journo friend’s old Remington typewriter, by means of butting his little cockroach head against the keys – ag shame! (and yes, he did complain of headaches), I lost my heart to him and his no-good alley cat friend Mehitabel, whose life story Archy was gamely typing out.
All in lower case, and minus punctuation,  you understand.  How do you think he could operate the shift key and  type at the same time? Work with me, people!
Anyway, Archy’s poems and Mehitabel’s life story continued to entertain
newspaper readers for ten or more years, understandable because cats  have nine lives, and Mehitabel also claimed to be a re-incarnation of Cleopatra, so this was always going to be a long project.  I have a nasty feeling* Don Marquis’ books are now out of print (Faber & Faber were the publishers). Everybody should have a copy of Archy’s life of Mehitabel.  It contain such cynical gems as the following:

you ever

that when


get an idea


it all wrong


good many

failures are happy

because they don t

realize it many a

cockroach believes

himself as beautiful

as a butterfly

have a heart o have

a heart and

let them dream on


Critics: This Alphabet Soup section is ordered alphabetically, but perhaps it’s a Freudian slip on my part, that I’ve chosen to add Critics  the last ‘C’ entry  after Cockroaches.  Not that I am in any way implying that literary critics are in any way connected with cockroaches – perish the thought!  Maybe I should quit  while I’m ahead, and leave this topic well alone.  By the way, did you know this  scientific fact:  the cockroach is the only living thing reckoned to be able to withstand the after-effects of a nuclear blast? Which leads me to wonder whether there are already squads of radioactive cockroaches glowing a pretty phosphorescent green in the Los Alamos desert, come nightfall?  If there’s a Big Bang, all of us – critics included – will be fried to a frizzle but the good old cockroaches  will be waving their feelers and colonising what’s left of terra firma. Cats  and Cockroaches : two of natures most successful survivors.

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