Friday, 29 January 2016

Cute Cat Friday 2016-01-29: Celebrating Belle

One thing about Belle, she is a beautiful cat.

Here she is in the Blue Cross shelter in October 2013, just before we adopted her. She is back there now and still listed for adoption, but we are hopeful she will find a new home soon.

Below the fold are some more pictures of the very lovely Belle. Particular highlights are confronting her mortal enemy, the printer; and studying the life of the Dowager Empress of China, for ways of commanding her human servants. We hope she and her next humans are happy together.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Election Stories 2: The Labour Party

Part One looked at the narratives of the big winners and smaller losers in the 2015 general election. We now turn to the Labour party.

So, what was Labour's story in the last election? As far as I can tell — and I'm trying to be generous here — it was:

Mumble mumble squeezed middle burble rail fares something utility bills.

Ed Miliband thought a manifesto was a substitute for a story. There were some worthy policies in there, but no inspiring narrative.

When Miliband condensed his offer down to six bullet points, they were positively embarrassing, even before he had them carved onto a big lump of rock. Campaigning for a strong economy isn't a story; it's like saying kittens are cute and chocolate is delicious. That's very nice, but it's no reason to give away the keys to a whelk stall, let alone 10 Downing Street.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Cute Cat Friday 2016-01-22: Joni

Empty wine rack repurposed for cat storage.

Joni is enjoying having the run of the house, and she and Zach are getting along beautifully. It was hard deciding to rehome Belle and we miss her, but we are sure we made the right decision.

Belle is now listed for adoption at the Cambridge Blue Cross. We hope she finds a good home soon. If you are interested in adopting her, please contact the Blue Cross directly.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Farewell to Belle

I never thought I would write this sentence: We have decided to rehome Belle.

We did this reluctantly and with heavy hearts, but after much thought we decided it was the right thing for all of us, including Belle. I took her to the Blue Cross animal shelter on Saturday.

Regular readers of this blog will know we adopted another cat named Joni in November, and hoped she and Belle could live together peacefully. Belle is very much afraid of other cats. Joni is considerably smaller, and her body language was not at all aggressive; but Belle responded with hissing, growling, and pointing her ears back whenever Joni was nearby, occasionally swiping at her with a paw.

We knew Belle had lived happily with Dexter, so we persevered and hoped she would calm down. It was going very slowly, but we believed we were making progress. Then one morning there was an incident, Belle struck hard at Joni, and Joni was bleeding heavily on our kitchen floor. Thankfully there doesn't seem to be any lasting injury, but it was clear we could not continue. One of the cats had to go.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Cute Cat Friday 2016-01-15: Belle

Regal lady in her cat bed.

We've had a major setback in relations between Belle and Joni, and I'm afraid this will not work out. More details to follow when we know what is happening.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Election Stories 1: Winners & Losers

Very few people vote for a detailed manifesto; we vote for stories.

Any major party's election manifesto makes for deadly dull reading. It's an earnest, detailed description of actions they would take if they get into power. It's important to have one, so the government can be held to account for what it promised.

However, no normal person would read the whole thing. Anyone who studies it closely is being paid to do so, or is an obsessive political anorak, or quite possibly both. I take a closer interest in politics than most people, but I've never read a manifesto in full and seldom read them at all.

Instead, we vote for a story. Pundits like to call it a narrative because that sounds fancier, but really it's a story. It needs to be short and simple, because we're easily distracted, and the stories on Game of Thrones are more entertaining. Successful political parties understand this.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Cute Cat Friday 2016-01-08: Joni

Lap dwelling cat (slightly angled).

Introductions are still making progress. Belle is now able to sit in the same room as Joni for short periods without hissing, running away, or otherwise freaking out, which is definitely a good sign.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Libraries and Inspiration

One day I wondered what happened to Martyn Godfrey; Google told me he passed away more than fifteen years ago. It was one of those weird, uncomfortable moments the Internet makes possible. I felt surprised, saddened, and irrationally guilty I hadn't found out earlier. I hadn't thought much about him for more than twenty years, but he made a big difference to me as a child.

Some context is needed, for those who may not know who Godfrey was. Martyn Godfrey was born in Birmingham, England in 1949. He moved to Canada at the age of eight, worked as a teacher, and had a successful career writing childrens' books, largely fantasy and science fiction. In 1989, he was the Edmonton Public Library’s writer-in-residence.

Old Strathcona branch of the Edmonton Public Library.
Source: Wikipedia

Godfrey passed away in 2000. He was only fifty-one years old; he would be sixty-six now. He left us tragically young, but he gave joy and inspiration to a great many people. A copy of his eulogy is here.

The eulogy mentions the dedication in Godfrey's book The Last War, and just that dedication line brought a lot of the story back to me. Most of all though, I remember Godfrey not for anything he wrote, but for something he did.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Cute Cat Friday 2016-01-01: The Year of Four Cats

Ancient Rome had the Year of Four Emperors; this was our Year of Four Cats.

Only Belle was with us at both start and end of 2015; but fervently knocking wood, we hope Joni will be a keeper. The other two of course were the late and much missed Dexter, who passed away in May; and Freddie, who we adopted and kept for two months, but had to send back when he proved too aggressive towards Belle.

Top row: Dexter, Belle. Bottom row: Freddie, Joni. Click for larger versions.

Belle and Joni are gradually growing more tolerant of each other; not yet hanging out in the same room, but we have high hopes of getting there soon.

Incidentally, my new favourite Wikipedia disclaimer is, "not to be confused with the Year of Five Emperors or the Year of Six Emperors".