Posts Tagged ‘Random’

I’ve fallen behind in my blogging this week (apologies!) on account of having just started my first day job since moving to the UK. The work falls well within my zone of competence, the people are nice and the commute by bus, if longer than I’m used to, at least allows for a lot of reading. Even so, it’s been something of a shock to the system to actually have to GET UP and engage in all the daily palaver that constitutes being employed. My last Australian position finished in mid-December, which means I’ve been out of work for three months, and even though I spent more of that time moving countries, finding a house and getting settled in than I did writing, I’ve still grown used to the freedom of setting my own routines, working on my own projects and generally acting like the self-employed author I strive to become. Which isn’t to say I’m not coping – I always have in the past. It’s just that it’ll take me a while before I slip back into my old routine of frantically cramming word-work into every odd corner of the day, as opposed to stretching it out at leisure.

Stupid pragmatism.

Also, and apropos of absolutely nothing, I’ve given up drinking for April. So far, I’m succeeding. A few people have asked me if I’m doing it for Lent, to which the answer is a resounding no, as I didn’t even realise Lent was upon us. But I’d noticed (belatedly) that some people had given up grog for February as part of one of those internet-inspired thingies that appears every once in a while, and so I decided to give it a try myself, mainly out of curiosity to see if I actually could. The first couple of days were the most difficult – not because I’m anything even approaching an alcoholic, but exactly because I know I’m not, and therefore had to keep justifying internally why I was depriving myself of something I enjoyed for no particular reason. This was also exacerbated by the fact that the night of 2 April involved a dinner out with many, many friends as part of a philosophy conference paid for by the university, which featured – among other things – copious amounts of free wine. I stuck to water and still had a good time. The next night was another round of conference drinks at the pub. Though tempted, I kept to lemonade. It’s all been much easier since then, even during other outings with friends, which frankly is a relief: I’d been worried that not drinking while other people were would inevitably result in a situation where, past the first hour, everyone else would be drunk and on one wavelength while I trailed behind on another. Instead, it turns out that either my friends don’t drink as much as I thought they did, or else they’re still all awesome and interesting and interpretable to sober people while drinking. Either that, or I’m just crazy enough not to notice or care to the contrary, but still – it’s nice to know that, should the mood take me, I can have a night out without alcohol and still have a good time.

If clothes shopping were a boardgame, my copy of the rules would have long since disappeared down the back of the couch, forcing me to play with only my own sartorial proclivities as a guide (warning, warning), issued with loaded dice and assorted mismatched thimbles instead of regulation tokens, with only a broken crayon and an old receipt on which to keep score, although given that I would always loose, this would be a pointless, jaw-grinding exercise in masochism akin to maintaining staunch optimism in the ability of the New South Wales Labour Party to suddenly turn into a quasi-worthwhile amalgam of human beings, as opposed to a ratfaced pack of liars, fraudsters and no-hopers who wouldn’t know common sense if it knocked on their doors, politely introduced itself and then gave them all a lapdance.

Anyway.

The point being, I am not good with clothes. It’s not as if I’m advocating a policy of conscious nudity or anything – it’s just that, faced with the prospect of having to sally forth and choose between innumerable rows of tacky, nylon, probably-made-in-a-sweatshop gimcrackery that I can actually afford and gorgeously intimidating, real-fabrics-but-desperately-overpriced couture, my native response is to decide immediately that I don’t give a rats’ and resort to slouching around the house in a dressing gown and a pair of little woollen socks that look like they were made by somebody’s grandmother. Which, yes, is comfortable, but as my beloved husband has on occasion pointed out, it’s not exactly business casual.

And thus my policy of buying the vast majority of my clothing second-hand. I have never, for instance, been sneered or giggled at by the girl behind the counter in a charity shop for daring to enter her place of business whilst dressed in jeans and an offensively geeky t-shirt. Similarly, I have never examined the price-tag on any article of clothing sold by the Red Cross and had to consider taking out a loan from the bank in order to afford it. I enjoy the act of rummaging through various disorganised racks, setting aside hilarious paisley mumus and PVC lederhosen in my quest for that one nice top I know must be lurking there somewhere. Tragically, however, the Nice Top is all too often a Nice Top Which Would Look Utterly Fabulous With Everything I Already Own If Only It Were A Size Bigger, Instead Of Which It Makes Me Look Like An Improperly Asymmetrical Sausage. Alas!

Which hopefully illustrates the main problem with shopping second-hand, viz: the unpredictability. Many’s the time I’ve been heartbroken after finding a wonderful article of clothing, only to discover that it’s just a weense too big or too small for comfort. (The latter is particularly dangerous, as it tends to lead to fantasies of immediate weight loss in order to jusify the purchase of a ten-year-old dress with a torn hem and ciarette burns on the shoulder straps. Sense, schmense: it’s the principle of the thing.) Which isn’t to say that I’ve never found a perfect bargain treasure (eight dollars for a leather jacket!), but when it comes to hunting down specific items, you might as well be randomly trawling the Pacific Ocean for that message in a bottle your Auntie Agnes set adrift from Bondi Beach in 1937. The cardinal rule of women’s fashion, as related to me by my mother circa age nine, is to Never Walk In Knowing What You Want, because doing so will automatically guarantee every shop within driving radius not to have it, especially if it’s a plain black swimming cozzie that doesn’t make you look like a walrus – and however true this is of normal shopping, it is about a quadrillion times more so of second-handing.

Take, for instance, today’s quest for a plain, brown top with long sleeves that one might wear under various t-shirts or singlety things in a bid to stave off the cold Scottish winds without actually cocooning oneself in a series of anoraks. When nothing was doing at the first three shops, I abandoned reason and ended up in a fourth trying on a pair of what promised to be size 14 bootcut corduroy pants and a greenish, satiny sort of hidden-clasps-that-do-up-at-the-front Raph Lauren shirt purporting to be a ‘medium’, whatever that means, though presumaby not that the shirt possessed an innate ability to commune with the spirits of the deceased. Absconding to the changing cubicle to try on my finds, the following problems soon became immediately apparent:

1. the definition of ‘size 14’ as promised by the pants did not in any way fit with reality, unless you happen to believe that buttocks are optional; and

2. that Ralph Lauren, bless his cotton socks, has apparently only had breasts described to him third-hand, thus precipitating the creation of a garment which, despite featuring the type of curving, low-but-not-too-low-cut neckline favoured by women of average bosom, was categorically too small to accomodate anything larger than a golf ball, or maybe half a lemon.

Now, admittedly, I am no longer the same undernourished sylph I was at the start of university, before a disposable income and close proximity to an all-night pide, pizza and kebab shop wrought their carbohydrate-laden magics upon my person, but neither am I particularly large. And yet, when it comes to finding a pair of pants that can actually accomodate my legs, I might as well be inquiring after the pricing and availability of unicorn steaks at the local butcher. (One has documented the phenomenon of Impossible Pants quite closely this past decade, and does in fact remember the point at which the Pants Conspiracy first reared its head, viz: with the introduction of teeny-tiny pant zippers that are approximately the length of a pinky finger back in 2005,  a trend which has not so much flourished as exercised a lantana-like stranglehold on the fashion industry ever since. Used in conjunction with skinny-leg jeans and bikini-cut everything, those of us with hips wider than the average dinner plate and any sort of padding in the arseular regions have found it nigh on im-bloody-possible to buy a pair of pants that actually fits for any price less than three-hundred and sixty-five trillion dollars and three Faberge eggs, or put another way, to buy any pants AT ALL.) And if you’ve got breasts above an A-cup and want to wear a fitted top? GET RIGHT OUT.

Faced by such impossible circumstances, what else is a sensible author to do but purchase a banana-and-peanut-butter-flavoured cupcake and retire to the internet for solace and ranting?

P.S. Bonus points to any reader who drew a connection between the style and content of this blog and the fact that I’ve recently reread the collected columns of Kaz Cooke, more of whom later. Now there was a lady with sense!

So, in terms of actual day job work, as opposed to being an author, I’ve been unemployed since the middle of December. Hopefully, that won’t be true for much longer, but it may go some way towards explaining how I’ve managed to read 33 books since the start of the year. This might also explain why I’ve gone hog wild on the bookshopping since we came to the UK: even taking into account my many birthday monies and vouchers, the fact that I spent all of them exclusively on books is noteworthy. Thus, my alphabetised shelf of Things I’ve Read In Scotland –

– and my current TBR pile:

That is all.

Street Hawker

Posted: February 10, 2011 in Fly-By-Night
Tags: , , , , , ,

Tomorrow, we head to Bristol. We’ll spend a week there, and then head to London for another week, before coming back to St Andrews. That means waking up at early o’clock tomorrow, which means I should already be in bed, but right now, I don’t care about any of that, because I’ve just met my first hawk.

It’s Thursday night. We went to the pub to see a friend who’ll be gone by the time we get back. We stayed, we talked, we drank a bit, and then we headed home. Walking through the city, inebriated undergraduates were everywhere, roaming in packs. And then I stopped, because there was something in the road, occupying a space usually inhabited by parked cars.

It was a hawk.

It was there, and it was strange, and it was beautiful. And then the man to whom it belonged – older, slender, Scottish – got out of his Jeep, smiled, and asked if I’d like a closer look. I thought he was offering to hold it up for me, give me an inspection that way. Instead, he handed me a thick leather falconer’s glove, which I put on my left hand. Then he bent down, undid the hawk’s jesses – red, with silver bells – and placed her on my outstretched arm.

Her name was Amy, he said. She is five years old, and a harrier hawk. And when he raised my other hand to touch her, she felt like satin.

The man has four birds right now, he said: two harriers, a kind whose name I didn’t catch, and a peregrine. He likes harriers because of their intelligence; they for live up to 25 or even 30 years, and are easy to train.

Like Amy the hawk.

He asked nothing for the privilege of holding the bird. Of all the people who stopped to look, I don’t know why he singled me out to hold her – maybe it was because I had a camera, or because I was visibly less drunk than the raucous students shrieking at the sight of the bird in the road. But in a night overcome with noise, both man and hawk were a pool of quiet, as though they’d stepped out of a different world. I don’t know why he was there, though our friend said afterwards that man and bird are known local quantities. When I handed Amy back, my arm wobbled slightly, and she reacted by stretching her wings, flapping briefly, yellow feet digging into the leather glove. I didn’t feel a thing. And then the falconer smiled, and I smiled back, and we walked away, leaving him surrounded by a staring crowd.

I love Scotland.

Or, more specifically, St Andrews!

We have now been living here for nine days, in which time the following things have occurred:

  • Frolicking through the snow;
  • Jetlag recovery as aided by copious amounts of Top Gear;
  • The purchase of twelve novels from various bookshops;
  • Friendly drinks at several pubs;
  • Eating pheasant;
  • My catching a week-long cold;
  • Toby wearing plastic bags over his socks because his shoes leaked;
  • Befriending an astrophysicist;
  • Several successful dinner experiments;
  • Completely forgetting how the coin-operated washer/dryer system works, twice;
  • Yelling at the stove because the dials turn the wrong way, so that I keep setting them on low instead of high;
  • My old laptop catching a virus and dying in the arse;
  • The purchase of a shiny new laptop, on which I am now writing this blog post;
  • The inexplicable loss of my favourite smooshy purple knitted hat;
  • The discovery of a cafe that serves hot chocolate with marshmallows, whipped cream AND  a chocolate flake;
  • One aborted trip to the movies, being as how it was too cold and we were knackered;
  • One sighting of a genuine Scottish gentleman wearing a genuine Scottish kilt;
  • The discovery that there is, lurking about somewhere, a town cat called Hamish; and
  • The acquisition of a very strange bird-puppet, which I have named Archie the Arche Mascot.

So, as you can see, it’s been a pretty packed program – even so, I apologise for the lengthy radio silence. Doubtless I’ll have more to say (and the strength/will to say it more coherently) at some later date, but in the mean time, here is a photo of Archie, who was given to me by a nice lady at one of the town’s ten charity shops.

Cheerful little fellow, isn’t he?

Prior to getting rid of my desktop computer this afternoon, I had to transfer a bunch of old files to my laptop. Mostly they were random photos, ancient word documents I wasn’t sure I’d archived anywhere else – and a folder of video diary entries I made throughout my second year as a college student, way back in 2005.

As memory serves, I first started making them as the end result of a thought process that went something like this:

1. What does my head really look like from the side? Whenever I see photos of me from that angle, I always look like a giant nose with a face attached. It’s sort of unflattering. I hope I don’t look like that all the time.

2. Can I see my sidelong profile in the mirror, ever?

*several failed attempts later*

3. No. Because my eyes are on the FRONT of my head. Because I am a PREDATORY MAMMAL, not a PARROT, despite my APPARENTLY GIANT NOSE. Also, I am an IDIOT.

4. But wait! I have a shiny new digital camera! I can take PHOTOS of my sidelong profile by holding the camera at arm’s length from the side of my head while looking in a different direction! Problem solved!

*several failed attempts later*

5. I AM STILL AN IDIOT.

*bing!*

6. Hey, I know! Why don’t I put the camera on top of my bookshelf and make a video of me moving around?

7. And if I’m going to go to all that effort, why don’t I talk about my life, too?

And thus, the video diary idea was born.

There are 33 entries, all taken between the 24th of April and the 28th of October 2005 – I saved each file according to time and date. The digital camera I used wasn’t particularly good, and I could only talk for about six minutes before the recording cut out, but despite all this, the results are fascinating. To me, anyway. I never posted them anywhere; they were only ever for my own enjoyment. It was a novel thing, being able to watch myself on film. My parents never owned a video camera when I was growing up, and until that point, I’d only ever seen stills of myself; or, if I were very lucky, a three-second cameo in some other family’s tape of a school event. When I rewatched each entry after making it, I remember being more interested in how I looked than what I was actually saying: not just on the level of a nineteen-year-old girl attempting to gauge her attractiveness, but how I moved, the way my eyes flicked sideways or down, how my mouth twisted or my hands moved. Even my voice, which always sounds deeper to me on tape than it ever does while speaking, was a source of interest. Trying to learn all the tricks of my own face – all the things that my friends and family must have known by heart, which in some ways defined me as much as my words or actions, but which were foreign to me – was both strange and compelling.

Now, almost six years later, my reactions to the entries have changed. I look at the girl I was then, and think:

I was so beautiful! What on Earth possessed me to think otherwise? Why did I constantly disparage myself?

I was so young! I look at teenagers now and there’s this freshness to them I sort of assumed was generational, but in those videos, I have it, too! Why do none of us realise it at the time?

I was so earnest! And awkward! But that self-conscious humour and weird, dreamy introspection, it’s all the seed of who I am now – I was still learning to be me. I just didn’t know it yet.

Did I really care about all those things that are so unimportant now, but which were so important then? How much of what’s important to me now will be just as unimportant in another five years? Or is it all important, always?

Did I have any inkling how significant that year would end up being? If I look hard enough, can I see it there? Could I ever have guessed?

This last is the thing that sticks with me most, which moved me to write this post. Because 2005 was, in many respects, the year that turned me into who I am now. I recorded the final entry the night I acquired my then-kitten, Quill, who crawls across my shoulders as I talk. I say that I’ve made the decision to defer my studies for 2006 in favour of finishing my novel, what I now refer to as the Great Unpublished Epic. Several times in earlier entries, I talk about Toby, the man who is now my husband, but who was then a friend and ex-roomate of my college boyfriend, Sean. I only watched a few entries tonight, but what struck me from that random selection was the number of times I mentioned doing something without Sean – usually karate lessons, which he’d started me on, but often seemed to ditch, at least by this subjective record – compared to the number of times I talked about doing things with Toby, like playing music or hanging out. A month later, beyond the scope of the video entries, Sean and I had parted ways.  By Christmas, Toby and I were living together. The next year, we saved our money and moved to Melbourne, where I finished my novel and, eventually, started the story that grew into Solace & Grief. The year after that, we were married.

I made a few more entries much later on, using the camera function on my laptopeleven in 2007, four in 2008 – but they weren’t the same. Lacking regularity or purpose, made in response to boredom and without the camera’s ability to cut me off if I waffled, they devolved into indulgent ramblings about whatever it was I thought interesting and profound at the time – topics which, in retrospect, usually weren’t. Given another few years, there’s every chance I’ll find them as interesting as the original 33, but right now, they’re just that little bit too recent for proper retrospect: the only lesson I can take from them now is that I’m not always as fascinating as I might think.

As I type this, I’m lying on a borrowed bed. The computer clock has just ticked on past 12AM: technically, it’s Wednesday already, which means that tomorrow night – Thursday night – we’ll board the plane for Scotland. Not a new life, because that implies escape, or erasure somehow, as though I were trying to forget Melbourne and what living here has meant to us. But a new start? Definitely. And with everything that entails – with the ghost of my teenage self still flickering in my vision – I think that, like 2005 before it, 2011 will be a year worth documenting, too. It just so happens that I received another new digital camera for Christmas: a belated replacement for the earlier model, which died some time ago. The new video function cuts out after eight minutes, not six. But then, I’m older now. Perhaps I’ll have that little bit more to say.

Something old. Something new. Something borrowed.

Something true.

This time last year, Toby and I were still in England. On New Year’s Day, we walked through the snow in Leatherhead, Surrey and talked about what we wanted most for 2010. Among the usual small hopes were two important ones: a successful debut for Solace & Grief, and a chance to come back to the UK. It’s taken a lot of hard work, but we’ve achieved both those things. The Key to Starveldt is due for release this year, and in just five days, we’re moving to Scotland for a minimum of eighteen months. It is thrilling, terrifying, wonderful. We worked hard for this, and the reward of actually getting it is monumental. And now we’ve crossed the threshold of another new year, and we get to do it all over again: more work, more plans, more effort and hope and sheer hard yakka, because both of us have the kind of dreams that are easy neither to achieve nor dismiss.

I want to be a professional writer. Toby wants to be a professional academic. In bald terms, we already are these things, but there are no laurels to rest on for being able to claim that much, and even if there were, I doubt we’d be content to do so. Stories are the blood in me, just as my husband breathes philosophy. We understand and love that about one another, the degree to which who we are cannot be readily separated from our aspirations. This year, we have a real chance to make something of ourselves in the ways that matter most to each of us. We have come this far, but the aim is to go much further. And I think – I hope – we can do it.

Beyond all that, I still want the same small things for 2011 that I want every year: to eat healthily and exercise regularly, to pay off our debts and live within our means, to try new things while reconnecting with old passions. It might seem repetetive and futile make the same resolutions each year – or at least, it would do, if any of them were finite achievements. The point of such things isn’t to find some magic, perfect level of successful compliance and declare yourself done, but to constantly look for improvement. This past year, my domestic skills have started to be worthy of the name, not because I suddenly woke up one morning with a desire to be tidy, but because I spent months telling myself that I needed to be. Because in a lot of ways, the biggest change of 2010 – and the one I’m most keen to uphold in 2011 – was the realisation that I could set goals for myself and reach them, even if they were difficult.

Maybe I’ve just grown up. But I hope not. I like having room for development.

Happy 2011, everyone!

So, for a whole lot of reasons I won’t go into, today kinda sucked. Like, crying-at-my-desk-after-getting-off-the-phone, oh-look-another-invoice sucked. There were also some good bits! I feel obliged to point this out, primarily because I feel guilty about scaring the work experience girl by telling her that the most important skill she could have post school was knowing how to work a photocopier. So I phoned Toby in the middle of the day and established that, in order to compensate for the aforementioned suckness (which had also afflicted him), I would bring home the final two disks of Avatar: The Last Airbender, because not only is it awesome, but it’s so good that the narrative actually has the power to redeem the suckitude of everyday humanity. Being as how I work in Port Melbourne and getting to the city of an evening by bike is problematic, I rang the only local store known to stock the series for sale, viz: Blockbuster Video.

Now, for those of you who’ve been living in a hole, Blockbuster is primarily a DVD rental store. However! The Blockbuster in Port Melbourne dedicates an easy 50% of its floorspace to the sale of games and movies. Given my lack of a membership there, this has always ensured that I think of it as a place to buy things, rather than rent them. So when I rang up at lunchtime and asked if they had discs 3 and 4 of Season 3 of Avatar, and they said they’d reserve them under my name, it never occurred to me that they would, by default, assume I was after rental DVDs – especially as the sales dude never asked if I wanted to buy or rent, as is traditionally the case with every other movie store on the planet.

So, having endured a stressful day, I cycled out of my way and walked up to the counter to collect my purchases, only to find that, yes, they had reserved the rentals for me. Distressed, I explained the error and walked over to their For Sale section, where I found disc 4, but not disc 3. On asking at the counter whether or not they might have a 3 lurking elsewhere, I was told no. At that point, I sort of lost it. I’d had a hard day, and the only thing that had kept me going since lunchtime was the thought of watching something good when I got home. On the brink of tears, I dropped the disc 4 I’d picked up and rushed back outside to my bike, where I lurked for a minute or so until I’d calmed down. Then, hat in hand, I went back inside and asked whether or not I might be able to rent the DVDs in question.

Now: the reason I hadn’t considered this as an alternative straight away is simple. I can’t drive, and therefore have no valid photo ID, which is necessary in Australia to sign up with any DVD rental store. My only photo ID is my passport, which – of course – was at home. I told the guy this, but at his request, was able to produce an official document I had stuffed in my bag with my name and our current address on it. In a move that was clearly motivated by my obvious ditress, he even let me hand over expired photo ID in lieu of the valid sort, allowing me to sign up with the store.

All documents signed, I rummaged around in my wallet to pay – only to realise I didn’t have the $3.50 in change the transaction required. The ever-compassionate clerk explained that, if I wanted to pay by card, the store had a $5 minimum charge. Happily, one of the items prominently displayed at the counter was a small, metal tin of lollies in the shape of a Mario Bros 1-up mushroom. Together with the two DVDs, the cost was now eight dollars. I handed over my card, and the charge went through.

As he handed the DVDs to me, the clerk took it upon himself to explain when they were due back.

‘Disc 4 is a new release,’ he said. ‘You need to return it tomorrow.’

I stared at him.

‘Any time before 10pm is fine,’ he added.

‘But I won’t get to it tonight. I’m not up to it yet. I’ve got a whole other disc to watch first,’ I said, pointing to disc 3. ‘If you’d told me beforehand that it was an overnight rental, I would’ve just bought the disc 4 you’ve got here along with the disc 3 rental.’ A pause. ‘Can we do that, then? I know you’ve just put it through, but can we change it?’

The glare he glared at me could’ve melted glaciers.

Seriously.

I have worked as a waitress. I have even been one of those quasi-annoying students who stands on a street corner and tries to get random strangers to sign up to World Vision knockoff charities. I don’t like to be a difficult customer, because I appreciate the suckness of low-wage jobs. But I really felt like I’d been dicked around: admittedly, I hadn’t specified that I wanted to buy during the original phone call, but the guy on the other end – and I was pretty sure he was the same guy who ended up serving me – hadn’t asked which type of disc I wanted; he’d also waited until after the transaction went through to point out when the DVDs were due back, which, as a new customer, and given also that I hadn’t even held the cases until he pushed them across the counter, I couldn’t possibly have known beforehand. So even though he was clearly pissed off at the extra effort, and even though I still felt guilty, I had him go back on the computer, remove the charge for the second disc, then ring up the cost of buying it instead.

‘Do you want to keep the mushroom candy?’ he asked.

I looked at the mushroom. It grinned at me.

Fuck it.

‘Why not?’ I said. And then, in an effort to ameliorate my being an annoying customer, I explained that I’d had a shit day, and that I was sorry for taking up his time, but that I’d really just been looking forward to watching something good when I got home; and to his credit, he didn’t seem entirely unmoved, although he did simlutaneously appear fed up with dealing with me, for which I can’t really blame him.

Half an hour later, I finally exited Blockbuster with one rental and one purchased DVD in hand. The former has now been watched in its entirety, and will be returned forthwith. The other remains dormant, until tomorrow.

And the mushroom? Contained sour apple candy. It was delicious.

Also, the container is just awesome.

So I guess it worked out OK, after all.

Meet The Cats

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Life/Stuff
Tags: , , , , , ,

We have two of these. They are dearly loved, and much on my mind of late, as we are in the process of figuring out how to move them from Australia to Scotland with the minimal amount of fuss. So, here they are.

Name: Quill, aka Quilleth, Quilliam, Quilderbeast, Quillfish, Quoo, Owlcat, Fish, Emopard, Panther, Sook, Pest, Large Cat, Bigness, Bigbeast and Pineapple.

Current Age: Sixish.

Rescued From: A creepy albino stoner living in Newtown, and also a warehouse full of crazy recreational stoners who had his stillborn sister encased in resin to use as a paperweight.

Likes: Sleeping, eating, sunbeams, tall places, uncomfortable nests in improbable locations, slinking, aluminium foil, hugs, grooming, licking the ears of the Small Cat, and watermelon.

Dislikes: Sudden loud noises, car trips, going in a cage for any reason, being Off The Map, and rain.

Special Skills: Strategic immobility, forming a hemisphere that slowly expands into whichever region of the bed you happen to vacate, stretching to extraordinary lengths without actual dislocation, picking fights with dogs, knocking things over, clumsiness, playing fetch, and singing to rats.

Name: Indi, aka Indipard, Tinypard, Daintypard, Smoo, Duchess, Littleness, Midget, Smidget, Mooj, Bunnet, Munnet, Small Cat and Tinylion.

Current Age: Fiveish.

Rescued From: A knee-deep patch of ivy between three adjoining fences in the middle of a storm.

Likes: Tall places, evading insolent humans, colonising sedentary humans, food that goes crunch, sunbeams, glaring, sharpening her claws, destroying the Large Cat, and mice.

Dislikes: The vacuum cleaner, birds, unfamiliar humans who don’t sit still, being thwarted, being hugged, using the litterbox at night, being kicked off the end of the bed, and dogs.

Special Skills: Eating an entire dove in one go, vermicide, precision bopping, an extremely loud purr, velcronic claws, the ability to furl into a perfect circle, riding on shoulders, getting out of a completely sealed house while leaving no visible exit point, and base cunning.

They really are very sweet beasts.

Prior to seeing The Social Network today, my beloved and I were lunching in the Crown Casino foodcourt. Apropos absoluely nothing and after a long silence, Toby looked up from his Grand Angus burger and spake thus:

TOBY: I have a strange question.

ME: Mm?

TOBY: What if you had an implant or something – a microchip under your skin – that worked as a wireless internet network. Would you say you had a wireless network, or that you were a wireless network?

ME: *stunned silence, followed by helpless laughter*

TOBY: But it’s a relevant question! Because you might say, I have a guitar, but you’d also say, I am a doctor.

Such are the everyday perils of being married to a philosopher.

The everyday perils of being (a) geeky and (b) a writer mean that I eventually gave a serious answer, once my ribs had stopped shaking.

But that’s another story.