Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Black Cab and Beautiful Frock

Must remember to book a cab from Waterloo Cars tomorrow to get home in. Today I spent ages trying to get a black cab, had to cross the road, and finally managed to stop a cab who refused to take me because he would have to turn around! Crossed back again, feeling hot, cross and a bit tearful, when a woman came up to me and asked me where I had bought my dress - 'they are such beautiful colours that I just had to come and ask'. I admitted that it had come from a very cheap catalogue, but this encounter cheered me up a bit. Just then a cab turned up, further restoring my faith in human nature.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Back from Barcelona and Wardrobe Sleeping

Julian arrived back laden with gifts for Kooky and me. I had some medication I can't get here and lots of tins of very good quality Spanish fish, and Kooky had a couple of cat harnesses, and a toy on a stick. So far he has been reluctant to try the cat harnesses, but has enjoyed the toy on a stick, which is long and fluffy with feathers at the end.

Kooky has taken to sitting in the window quite a lot, and loves to sunbathe in the open bathroom window, looking out at other cats, birds, flies, etc. in the garden. It is a long drop from there, so fortunately he hasn't so far tried to jump out. He has also been out for a couple of walks in the garden and is becoming slightly bolder, but often just sits on the doorstep looking out if the kitchen door is open. I tend to let him out just before a mealtime so that I can lure him in again. He has also made another 'bed' in the wardrobe in the studio. I panicked because I thought he had somehow escaped this morning as he was nowhere to be found, until I saw his head appear from the wardrobe where he had probably slept for the night. Seems that Dorothy is going to be writing speeches and attending a conference and will be available from Wednesday evening.

Coffee Bars and Milk Bars

I was musing idly about the past, which reminded me of coffee bars in the late fifties, which I used to frequent. They were everywhere - in London I would go to the 'Two I's and the 'Heaven and Hell'. Cappuccino and espresso coffee was sold, and always served in glass cups and saucers, for some reason. An earlier phenomenon had been Milk Bars. My great-aunt had 'The Green Door' in Ilfracombe, named after a pop song of the day, and there was apparently one in Notting Hill Gate called 'The Moo-Cow'. I can't remember the name of the one in Combe Martin, where I used to hang out when even younger. They specialised in ice creams, including huge sundaes, and milk shakes, and ice cream sodas, which were basically cream soda or lemonade with a ball of ice cream in it, and sometimes a dash of fruit flavouring. Teenagers and young children used to meet in these places, often sharing a milk shake with several straws.

Although they did not serve alcohol, coffee bars were seen as a young adult option, since they were inevitably furnished with juke boxes, another novelty of the time. They were seen as much cooler than pubs, and may have had a part in the mod movement later, with its Italian suits and motor scooters, all things Italian being in favour, even the wall murals with Swiss mountain scenes often encountered in these places.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Another Priest

This one has a cauliflower ear and a giraffe's neck. May adjust all this later!

Oh, and the nose is too long.

Back Again

As you will see from Kooky's posts, he is an inveterate liar. I will not dignify any of his accusations by refuting them. The only slightly true statements are that the house is a bit grubby, and I cannot sit on the floor and get up again easily.

Last night was another SE1 dinner. We started with a lovely smoked mackerel pate, followed by salmon en papillotes with ginger and onion seasoning, and side salads. Very good pudding of cheesecake with a bowl of strawberries to accompany this. The wines were all very good and the company excellent. I left at about 12.30, so had a comparatively early night.

Kooky had a wander outside early this morning and had to be lured back for his breakfast. I will let him out again this evening before his supper. He is less keen on being groomed than before, but obviously needs frequent serious brushing. He consumed some drugs last night, and the addiction is obvious - he immediately purrs and becomes much more friendly for a short while.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

It's Me Again: Kooky

I should be fair and mention the young visiting slave - though she's not been around for a week or two - can't stand the filth, I expect.

I am hoping she will come back. She did buy me some cat grass, which was a kind thought, and a very pleasant pheasant feather, and has spent some time playing with me, which was fun. I don't wish to express excessive emotion over this young slave, but at least I feel she is making an effort to accommodate my rather modest wishes, so I must express some form of approval, or she might start ignoring my wishes, like the very tedious old slave. I cannot allow this to happen.

I shall impatiently await her return.

The Service Here is Absolutely Appalling

I, Kooky Wookiee Harding, have taken over this blog to complain bitterly about this place and the resident cat slave. I used to have a young, pretty slave, who would play with me on the floor for hours on end (even if she was stupid enough to try and stuff me into a dress for a photograph - she bears the scar still). This one is very old and fat, can't sit on the floor, and can't move around fast, obviously. I have observed her constantly eating, when she remains in the house, like Jabba the Hutt, watching TV, without a single thought to my welfare.

As soon as I arrived in this dump I decided to hide under the sofa in her studio. She was stupid enough to leave my tray in the studio, so I rewarded her with a large pile of poo on the kitchen floor on the first day. That seemed to teach her to put my tray there, where it was required. She still hasn't found a suitable cat food, though she seems to have realised after a week or two that I am not keen on fish.

The place is an absolute tip - despite having a cleaner, the level of hygiene is atrocious - NOT what I am accustomed to.

She gave a wild party last Saturday - slaves rushing around the flat, supposedly having a 'dinner party' - more like a slave rave until 4.30am when they disturbed the neighbours as well as me when they went home.

She lost my drugs, my catnip drops, on which I am heavily dependant, so I have been suffering withdrawal symptoms. Apparently she managed to find them today.

I spend many hours sitting in her window, hoping my previous owners will realise the folly of their ways and come and collect me, meanwhile I will have to teach this particularly stupid old female slave how to behave, if she wants me to hang around her disgusting dwelling.

Rant over.

Watching the Neighbours Move In

There must be an escape route somewhere

Friday, 26 June 2009

Friday and Saturday Morning

Another SE1 dinner tonight. Must go through my wines to try and find a sauvignon blanc or pinot noir. There is always the pinot grigio left behind last week, which might be ok though it is very light.

Long lunchtime meeting at the office which went on all afternoon,and there's no air conditioning, so I became very hot and felt a bit faint, which affected my concentration rather a lot.

Just found Kooky's drugs in the bathroom cupboard into where I had tidied them for last week's dinner party.

Attempted a rather dreary little painting from last year's calendario Romano. I even manage to make priestly beefcake look crap. While I was painting him I noticed an obvious little hole in his right ear where he used to wear an earring before being called to higher things.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Celebrity Deaths and More About Kooky

Lunch with Romy, who has done a brilliant job on the newsletter. Kooky is still spending most of his time hidden away, mainly squashed under the sofa, but comes out for air when he gets too hot. Ate all his supper tonight - seems to really like poor old Fet's diet food, so he is going to be expensive to feed.

Dear me, Michael Jackson has died. Heard it late last night. On Twitter, there is a link to a news station that said he took an overdose of sleeping pills before a heart attack, but this is not referred to elsewhere. The postmortem will no doubt tell. Somehow it was a bit of a shock hearing about his death. Just that morning the death of Farrah Fawcett-Majors had been announced.

Kooky is totally obsessed with squeezing himself under the sofa. He's a strange boy. He ate most of his breakfast this morning which is a good sign. He seems more relaxed generally, apart from his odd hiding habits.

Cameos and Fakes

Apart from Kooky, I am still looking at cameos. Romy brought in a very pretty deep carved cameo of a bacchante, white with a pink tint. I had first thought this was ivory, slightly coloured after carving, but on Googling for a bit, we decided it may possibly be angel skin coral, which would make it quite rare and desirable. She may take it to an expert for an opinion.

Reading about Prince Poniatowski, who inherited 154 antique engraved gems. He added another 3000 to this collection, carved by four carvers in antique style in subjects suggested by him. However, instead of their own signatures he had them signed in the names of ancient or imaginary artisans. On his death, Christies had a seventeen day sale of these and the forgeries began to be detected. This brought the reputation and price of cameos down considerably, though ironically, it seems that they were eventually acknowledge as extremely fine works in their own right, and there is a market for them as collector's items. There seems to be a lot of fakery in the cameo world. Even shell cameos have been faked, so I have checked mine carefully.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Picky Kooky

Kooky has a penchant for hiding. I couldn't find him at all earlier this evening, only to discover he had managed to squash himself under the sofa upstairs - looking down, I saw a long black bushy tail appear. He is still being picky about food. He eventually ate all his breakfast but did not seem to interested in his dinner tonight. We shall see. I have ordered some more of his preferred drug - catnip drops - from Ebay, since I can't find the ones I already had.

This morning the food Romy had kindly given me was left uneaten - but he had consumed all of the dry food, which had included some IAMS. I decided to try him on some of Fet's old diabetic tins, which is recommended for weight loss in normal cats, being high in protein and low in carbs. He wolfed it back, so I shall certainly use the remaining tins for him.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Kooky Under Attack from Vile Brat

Poor Malvolio's ashes arrived back yesterday. I shall keep them until Julian and Dorothy are back, and we shall have a scattering ceremony in the Peace Garden.

Dear me, Kooky had gingerly ventured out for a second foray in the garden, when my neighbour's son, playing in the garden opposite, started throwing stones into my garden. Poor Kooky was most alarmed and I had to rescue him and bring him in. They often have a huge, barking dog in the garden, but at least it stays there and cannot attack anyone in my garden. I rang my neighbour and there was no answer. Seems the child has been shut in the garden and getting bored, has been up to mischief. Sometimes I am glad I don't have any grandchildren.

Mainly About Kooky

Kooky was wandering around miaowing last night. I also detected a distinct tomcat odour downstairs. Perhaps a strange cat came in while I had the door open yesterday. I can't find his catnip drops so I think that was another reason for discontent as he seems rather addicted to these. I think he is gradually becoming more friendly and spreading himself around the house more during the day at least. Though I found him in the sitting room in the middle of the night last night, so he must be feeling at home.

With the lack of drugs (though he crept into my bedside cupboard to search for some) Kooky demanded breakfast earlier, though was disappointed at what I provided - a brand of cat food which he had wolfed down previously. He is quite capricious.

Gave him a different cat food tonight, and he ate the jelly.

Cabbed it to Bankside gallery where I saw Margot's exhibition. She had some lovely paintings, and everything was different enough to make a good exhibition. Saw some other college friends there, but unfortunately one was unwell and had to leave. Quite a few of Margot's family were there, including her sister and her husband Patrick. I cabbed back and fed Kooky some different food. He ate the jelly, as usual. Neighbours have commented on his frequent presence in the window. He probably thinks he owns the street and is checking on the serfs outside.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Kooky's First Outing

I left the back door open and Kooky disappeared into the garden. His confidence is obviously growing. I crept out after him and he was cautiously walking about, sniffing at everything. I was rather worried that if I startled him he would make a leap for the fence and escape so I sat on the bench and talked to him. When I saw him crouching by the pond, mesmerised by one of the fishes, I managed to grab him, and brought him back inside. I should not be forgiven if anything happened to him while Julian is away. At least he has had a short foray into the garden. He probably thinks that the pond is stocked for him.

Telephone messages to say Malvolio's ashes are back. I shall call them tomorrow and see if they are willing to put them into a cab for me.

Coke Fiend

Had a bath and washed my hair this morning and put on clean clothes, then started tackling the debris from last night. I was standing in the kitchen and picked up the large coke bottle which had fallen over - opening the top I managed to spray coke over the entire kitchen, my face, hair, window, sink, clothes, floor, walls etc. For some reason this made me laugh like mad. I shall now go and have a shower and change, then carry on cleaning the kitchen.

Trivial Pursuits

I was leaning out of the window watering the outside plants when I saw Beverly, an old acquaintance. She was going to change some shoes and came in for a chat. They were Chanel shoes which had cost over £200 in the sale. They were ballerina style flatties and the whole of the toe cap was silver metal with the Chanel logo on, and looked very smart. Trouble is, the metal part fitted immediately over the entire toe area which had obviously become completely inflexible and very uncomfortable. I don't know who designs these things but to me, that is a very obvious design fault. After all the old workman's steel toecap boots were very deep inside and the rigid part was well above the toe area in depth.

Bumped into my cartoonist pal, Tom, in the Lye Torng, chatting with Felipe. Tom said that the BNP were stamping their logo on currency notes. He thought that if you came across one, a very obvious way of countering the message would be to draw a Hitler moustache on the Queen's face on the note, which would make the whole thing look pretty silly.

Sunday Morning After

Just slightly jaded this morning: SE1 dinner party last night, which did not break up until just after 4.30am today, when it was growing light outside.

I think it could be described as a success, with a hearty consumption of food and alcohol. Jo's starter was excellent, the wines were very good and Nomad's pud was light and delicious. The Nigella ham cooked in Coca Cola went down well, as did the cold poached chicken with creamy lemon sauce. I demonstrated my uranium glass with a black light torch and my guests were suitably impressed by this curiosity, but rather concerned that a Geiger counter might make a rather fast clicking noise in the vicinity. Kooky survived the invasion, shut in my studio, and indeed ate rather heartily last night.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Fussy Kooky, Big Bro and Cute Squirrel

Kooky being difficult about his breakfast - I think it is because I was reducing some chicken stock on the cooker and he became carried away by the smell. He also shows signs of wanting to go out. I think a couple more weeks strictly inside first, then maybe a short exeat or two in a cat harness if I can find one. Currently I think he is too 'nervy' to venture outside because he is so easily distracted.

Night of shame watching Big Brother. I was rather surprised when Cairon was voted off, supposedly. The 'upper class hippy twit' Half Wit aka Freddie, seemed a more likely candidate, but I suppose he is slightly better entertainment value. The intensely irritating Sri seems to survive. I cannot help wishing to see him disappear from the programme. I really should stop watching this garbage.

A bright spot in the news of a baby squirrel 'adopting' a builder. Lives with him, eats and drinks with him, showers with him, sitting on his head, etc. Totally cute to the 'nth. Video clip on BBC news website.

Friday, 19 June 2009

No Mystery Guest and Hungry Cat

Just heard from Jo - she hasn't been able to find a replacement - but has made the starter, which seems unfair as Jo won't be eating it. She is giving it to Plum to bring. We shall think of Jo as we consume it! I suppose there will be more room around the table, but a shame Jo can't come. She had thought of popping around later, but says she has an early start on Sunday morning.

Opened quite a cheap rubbishy tin of catfood tonight, and Kooky fell on it, having scorned the IAMS. He has no taste whatsoever.

Cooked ham and boned chicken and put in the fridge. Couldn't breathe well then realised that someone was barbecuing outside. I had to shut the bathroom window to keep the smoke out. I seem to be quite badly affected by smoke.

Kooky has settled for a while, lying on the windowsill. He has not eaten all the food, but at least half, thank goodness. He does seem to like rubbish food. I don't think he likes the bits in jelly, as he just eats the jelly. He seems to prefer something more solid. Must speak to Nibby about the chicken puree thing.

Shopping and Cooking

It's after five and I haven't heard a word yet guestwise. I have told the other guests to expect a mystery guest and tried to email Jo to say she needn't bother with the starter since she is not coming as it seems rather a lot of work for nothing, and I can put something together very quickly. Watch this space.

Had a delicious chicken green curry at Lye Torng for lunch. Dorian kindly gave me some tealights for tomorrow night which I may either put in the garden, or somewhere inside when it gets dark. Today I am cooking the chicken and the ham. I shall let them both cool in the cooking liquid, and refrigerate to slice tomorrow. I shall make some sauces, cook the potatoes, assemble the salads, make some walnut bread and sort everything else out. I shall prepare something which will do for a starter, or if a starter arrives, can be eaten with the salad.

Yet Another Cameo

Dinner party tomorrow night and still don't know who the sixth guest is! Perhaps someone will enlighten me today.

This cameo is my favourite, and with a decent gold frame and a large size, the best so far purchased. If I buy any more, I might well go for one with a scene on it rather than a face, and may go upmarket to the middle end of the market. We shall see.

Brushed a huge amount of fur from Kooky today, and managed to cut away the last matted little clump on his back, bribing him with catnip drops.

Ocado have just rung to whinge that the traffic is awful and they will be an hour late. Dear me. I need to get out to purchase a large bottle of coke to cook the ham in, some black olives, and a few other bits and pieces. Also can't cook any bread until the spelt flour arrives.

Message from Dorothy in Barcelona. Seems they have purchased a new sofa, and at the same time not only arranged immediate delivery, but removal of the old sofa. Brilliant. I do hope they will now be able to concentrate on actually enjoying themselves a bit.

Small Cheap Cameo

Bought this one just to see what it was like. The frame is upside down with the chain loop at the bottom! of course it could either be snipped off, or used to hang a pendant teardrop jewel. The frame and pin are cheap gilt but I don't think the cameo was bad for its very low price.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Next Fifties Cameo

Note the romantic hairstyle - reminds me of 'Gone with the Wind'.

Mystery Diner, Kooky and Cameo

I am curious about the identity of my mystery diner, replacing Jo. Will it be Juanita, someone else, or indeed no one at all? Intriguing, this element of uncertainty.

Kooky spent another night under the sofa in the studio, which seems to be his preferred sleeping place, but made an appearance this morning. I shall have breakfast before feeding him, as lateish feeding morning and evening fits in very well with things, and means I don't have to rush back to feed him in the evenings.

My second cameo arrived today (above). This is between 1950's and 1970's. Fairly ordinary silver and marcasite mount, but the carving is quite good. The first one is larger but flatter, from a similar period, and again, not badly carved. I will post the snap of this when I manage to get it in focus.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Passport Problems and Kooky in Studio All Day

Last night Julian popped around to play with Kooky. Seems she is having such a bad time with bureaucrats and passport problems that she has to change her name by deed poll, to include some of her previous names. All this so that she has an official document to wave at customs when trying to enter or leave various countries. So far she has had to spend £300 on official translations, which have had no effect. I don't know how much the deed poll will cost. It is all a bit of a nightmare.

Kooky has survived a day locked in the studio while the cleaner cleaned. Julian and Dorothy left for Spain this afternoon. Brief lunch at Brindisa in the sun, quite pleasant. Kooky, stir-crazy, is sitting in the window examining the dubious neighborhood into which he has been thrust against his will. His tail is wagging crossly.

Jo has just rung to say she has double-booked Saturday, my dinner party night, and will not after all be able to attend. She is going to try and find someone else, and failing this, will provide her starter if not her company. We shall see. She is apparently going to contact Juanita, whose dinner party I attended last Saturday.

Retro Food, Retro Lunch, Kooky and Cleaner

Looking in my overcrowded kitchen food cupboards I was struck by how many tins I had. I am really becoming rather retro in this department. Damn handy though - I can knock up a mixd bean salad with some tuna in a couple of minutes. The other convenient food is the Look What We Found range. This is ready cooked meals in a package, which like a tin, keeps. The food is really quite OK, and again, just takes a minute to heat.

Talking of food, off we went yesterday for the farewell lunch to the Reform Club, where we had a superb meal. The Reform Club looks a bit dingy on the outside, but is extremely impressively designed inside - by Charles Barry who was the architect for the houses of parliament. The outside was influenced by the Palazzo Farnese, and the inside with huge mirrors, a large central hall and walls covered in large paintings was taken from other Italian buildings.

We had lunch in a private room, the walls totally lined with books like a library. We started with a couple of glasses of champagne, then went on to warm asparagus, roast tomato and blue cheese tartlets with walnut dressing which were delicious, served with a vin de Pays d'Oc, Terret and Sauvignon 2007 (this wine was absolutely fab, must try and get hold of some). After this came the tenderest noisettes of lamb with redcurrant and rosemary with vegetables and some Chateau Maison Sichell Bordeaux 2004, followed by strawberries and raspberries with cream, then coffee and chocolates. The dining room really was relaxing, as was the lunch, so we sat about for a civilised period, chatting and drinking coffee. There were speeches and gifts, and we knew we would all regret our colleague leaving, but it was a pleasant note on which to end an era.

Returned home with Romy, and found Kooky hiding as usual. He did venture out for a bit, and Romy had a look at my paintings. She selected a couple, including one of her cat, and one which might make a present for our leaver. I was dubious about this as I had not visited her house, and thought my efforts would not be good enough, but Romy undertook to hand a painting over one day when I wasn't in the office. It was a painting to put in a kitchen rather than in pride of place somewhere, so may pass muster. If not she can always chuck it out!

My cleaner is coming today so I shall shut Kooky in the studio for safety and so that she doesn't disturb him. I have written a note for her and pinned it to the front door so hope that all will go well. We shall see.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Cameos and Cat

My latest obsession is cameos. I recently purchased a fairly awful stretch 'lace' navy dress which I wore to the latest dinner party with some sixties navy crochet shoes as part of my 'old lady' look. Thinking that the ultimate 'old lady' signifier is a cameo brooch at the neck I looked on Ebay, and was absolutely horrified at the prices for things I had assumed would not be greatly valuable since no one wears them. This rapidly developed into a shopping obsession to find a cheap cameo, but one which was well carved, with a fairly attractive image. Not necessarily Victorian, but vintage at least, up to the seventies. Once you start looking at these, it is fairly obvious when they were made: the 1920's ones are quite funny, with the typical hairstyle, and the fifties ones. The faces change too: the older noses can be a bit beaky, but the more modern ones rather too retrousse. Generally the older ones are more skilfully carved, but there are one or two shockingly bad Victorian ones at 'bargain' prices. I eventally purchased two attractive silver framed ones and then a silver-gilt and a gold Victorian one at fantastic prices. However, this has not stopped me hankering after a fabulous one, prices over £200. How many cameos can you wear at once?
I may be forced to mount some on dark velvet and display in a frame at this rate. We shall see. Meanwhile I shall restrain myself. I shall try, at least.

By feeding Kooky less, he eventually eats all his food. He is used to a large tin of cat food plus dry food in between. I am giving him a small packet of cat food served with dry food separately and he now seems to be eating all of this. Since he has a penchant for cheap KiteKat, I am alternating this with better quality food.

More Slow Progress with Kooky

Kooky has become bored with the catnip drops. He has hidden for most of the day but leapt up to the windowsill to follow the movement of a bird in the garden. He was also persuaded to come onto my bed for a grooming, and I managed to remove a bit of matted fur with some blunted scissors. There is another bit of matted hair which I shall attack at a later date. I shall attempt to groom him properly all over in the future when Julian is around and he has become more used to the house. All the noises, such as the dishwasher and the washing machine, seem to disturb him a lot, and he runs for cover if anyone comes in through the shared front door. He rejected a very nice steak last night, so it is back to the boring catfood.

Kooky and Painting

Kooky still hiding most of the day and night. He seems to have stopped eating too.

Just done a bad painting of Nibby's ex. I thought of people buying portraits to give people they didn't like as presents. Either I could paint them or Peter Howson if they wanted to spend the money. I seem to be very good at deeply unflattering portraits. I have noticed people have stopped offering to sit for me.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Kooky Drugs Klue

The secret with Kooky appears to lie in the catnip drops. Shaking the tube, I was able to lure him onto the bed and groom him for a bit. I also managed to get him upstairs several times using this method. Julian came around later and played with him for quite a while.

Had lunch at Lye Torng today and Ray very kindly popped to the shopping centre to buy an Observer for me. I felt really spoiled, it was so kind of him.

Devil's Nipples Jelly

Last night I made up a half quantity of water with some low calorie jelly and poured it into an old glass Victoria jelly mould over some blueberries. I was creating some more retro food. When I demoulded it this morning, the blueberries had gone into the rounded shapes and crevices forming a kind of devil's multinipple creation which is quite funny.

Another Dinner Party

Went to an SE1 dinner party last night. The flat was lovely, on the sixth floor with fantastic views all over London. As usual, I was the only oldie, with two young couples and another young singleton. Lovely starter, a crisp spicy squid salad with a Thai influence, followed by a main of salmon wrapped in prosciutto accompanied by small roast potatoes and onions, with baby sweetcorn, carrots and peas. The pudding was a very good orange cake soaked in Grand Marnier, with orange and pink grapefruit. The wines were excellent and I imbibed far too much as usual, and finished with coffee and chocolates. I lurched off into the night feeling distinctly unsteady. I arrived home to find Julian had fed Kooky, who had apparently been wandering around the flat and managed to knock my kitchen utensil container into the sink - in a bid for freedom, I assume, examining the kitchen window over the sink, which fortunately was firmly locked.

Visiting all these smart apartments, I am somewhat concerned about my grotty old flat and the complete lack of space for my dinner party next Saturday. I am also rather concerned about Kooky's reaction. I shall have to shut him in the studio for the duration.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Slow Progress with Kooky

In the studio doing a bad painting of my cat Bacon, so called because he was streaky, a wonderful silver tabby. I have not done him justice, but quite enjoyed doing the painting. Once or twice Kooky emerged for a stroke, and has finally finished his breakfast. I heard him go upstairs and he knows where the litter tray is, and may have used it, as the litter is piled up. I hope this will encourage him to return to the same place. Pity as I was hoping to keep it in the studio, but Kooky has made his wishes eminently clear. I do hope he eventually starts coming upstairs generally, as I did want a cat mainly for the company, and Kooky is conspicuous mainly by his absence. I think he has been trained not to jump on sofas or beds, which is a nuisance since I was hoping he would sleep on my bed, but we shall see.

Cat Poo - Ugh

Kooky has deigned to appear a couple of times downstairs. Interestingly he leaves his food for hours, then eats the jelly, leaving the rest. I gave him a small amount of better quality food this morning. He ate some at once. He may finish the rest before tonight. We shall see.

Despite putting his cat tray into the room, he generously deposited a huge pile of poo where I used to keep the cat tray near the back door. I have now put the cat tray there, hoping to encourage him to use this, rather than make deposits all over the house. If I can't get him to do this, he will definitely have to go. I am not keen on cat incontinence.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Teething Problems with New Cat

Just read that I did it wrong - should have shut him in the studio with his poo station down one end and food and drink, not let anyone else in and just gone in to feed him and talk to him. It seems some cats like a bonding room where they hang out for a week or so. They hate loud noises such as hoovering. I shall shut him in on Wednesday when Annie comes and tell her not to hoover. I just hope she doesn't let him out of the room and open the back door so he escapes. May remove back door keys as a precaution. I shall shut him in my studio when I have to do the dinner party on Saturday week.

Julian is here and helped me clear out the studio a bit, releasing the sofa as a cat bed and removing the cloths from the floor so he can wander about. I put his tray in the room and he ate a few morsels of dry cat food. Julian is down with him now while I watch the soaps. Apparently he is walking around a little which is progress.

Hidden Cat and Crap Painting

Thank God he has crept back under the sofa in the studio, but still not had anything to eat or drink apart from some catnip tablets and has not peed. It is now 11.45 and presumably he has not eaten since yesterday morning.

It is now 4.30. He popped out for a short walk around while I was painting, but still has not had anything to drink or eat.

This horrible painting is from a snap taken in 1994. We went on an art trip for a few days in the Welsh mountains - the only time I have done sheep and landscapes, plus a few of the other inmates. We escaped for a day in a campervan and went to Hay-on-Wye. It was sunny but absolutely freezing.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Kookie Problems

Early Friday morning and not a peep from Kookie. He is still hiding under the sofa, but I did hear him walking about once during the night. He has not touched the food and water I put out for him last night, which is rather worrying, and he has not had a pee, on examining his tray, which is close to his hiding place. I do hope he will settle in a bit soon. I was hoping that when people left last night he might become a bit less coy, but no signs of this so far. We shall see. He is taking no interest in food this morning. I have tapped his dish and rattled the dry cat food, as well as having a cooked breakfast myself. All to no effect.

I finally took his bowl to where he was hiding, but while I went away he disappeared. There was a big lump in my bed, and I found him hiding under the top thermal mattress, boiling hot. I am becoming a bit more worried about him. He has slipped away back into my room so I shall see if he has returned there. A bit of a nightmare, really. Oh dear, he was back there again. I have pulled him out and sprinkled some catmint on top of it and put my comforter over him, in the hope that he will stay on top of it. The thermal mattress is very heavy and hot, and with no food and drink and his thick coat I am very unhappy about him being underneath it.

Kooky-Wookiee - the Arrival

Kooky arrived tonight with his retinue: two owners, soon to be ex-owners wanting calling rights, several toys, two tins of catfood, some catnip nibbles, various immunization certificates and two rather fine ceramic bowls.

Julian and Dorothy turned up, and Kooky immediately vanished under the sofa in my studio, to reappear later and sniff his way around the house. We sat about and had some tea, and Julian packed up some of my reject glass and china to donate to someone, and they went off with these bits and pieces. He is still very shy but has popped his head around the door a few times and even ventured into the sitting room once. It seems he is fed at nine or ten in the evening. Hopefully this means he won't start torturing me at 5 or 6am.

Good lunch, Bad Painting

Quiet day at work with lunch at the Chop House. Strangely bumped into someone I knew who lives nearby. Romy inspected the boat we chose for an outing, and it passed with flying colours.

I was having a very bad time with this perfectly awful painting, but have now given up completely. I may return, like a dog to its vomit, but since the proportions are all wrong may try again another time.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Back to Work Again

Wednesday today. Romy due back tomorrow, and possibly Kooky-Wookiee tomorrow evening. Have left a message with the current owners to let me know which catfood he eats and how much, though I suspect a diet may be required. He probably eats anything he can get his claws on. We shall see.

Work today, working on annual report and figures for this. Rainy and vile this morning but the sun is now out. I am still missing Malvolio - the worst thing is that he went downhill so fast, so I did not have time to adjust to the inevitable. I think I was fooled by finding the hairball, thinking it was why he had lost his appetite, then when the food had been eaten it gave me a false sense of security. After I discovered it had been eaten by the other cat I realised how ill he was. I found a water bowl in the bushes yesterday where I had put it for him to drink. Julian wants to scatter his ashes in the Peace Garden.

Call from Kooky's current owners: seems he likes anything, particularly cheap catfood, has a meal in the morning and evening and a very little dry food in between, with occasional raw meat. Sounds fine. I may make some home-made cat food if I can get the recipe from Nibby to give him a change of diet. I seem to remember it consisted of cooked rice mixed with chicken , previously cooked until it is dropping to bits, then deboned and pureed, with some herbs, before being placed in balls in an individual tart tin and frozen, then wrapped and left in the freezer to be defrosted before use. I shall check with her anyway. I think it is higher protein than commercial catfood and therefore less likely to cause diabetes. My previous vet thought that high-carb commercial catfood had given Malvolio diabetes, so this is something to watch out for.

Maybe he won't show up. Julian is already talking of getting a female cat to keep him company but I have said no to this. If he doesn't come, the female cat is an option, but this time I shall find it, probably at the Celia Hammond place.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Trying to Eat Healthily - hmmmm

Toasted some bread for lunch, and meanwhile mashed up a can of sardines in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and squeezed half a lemon over them, assembled on toast and put under the grill for a while. Delicious - and they have now discovered that oily fish can halt or prevent AMD so good for oldies, or getting oldies.

Have been attempting five a day veg and fruit, today so far have just consumed strawberries and a large orange. Tonight will eat some sweetcorn and have a chicken salad with a pile of iceberg lettuce, and maybe some cucumber to make up the five. It's quite hard work, but starting with mushrooms and tomatoes with breakfast would help a lot. May do this tomorrow.

I should collect some altered clothes from E & C, but just haven't the energy to get over there. I shan't be able to do it until Friday now as I am working for the next couple of days. If Kookie turns up I shan't want to leave him, so maybe Julian can either catsit or fetch my stuff on Friday afternoon.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Kooky, Maybe

I went to examine the possible new incumbent last night with Julian who was very excited about the prospect. Kooky currently resides in Abbey Wood with a lovely Polish family whose daughter, unfortunately, is allergic to him. He is neutered, chipped, jabbed etc. I have to say he lived up to his photographs. He is black, fluffy, and rather enormous with a huge fluffy tail. He has a very large round head. He is four years old and I suspect has been a little overindulged in the food department. The family are very fond of him and reluctant to let him go, understandably. Of course, Julian fell for him straight away. As soon as I saw him I knew it was a foregone conclusion, and unless they have a change of mind, he will be delivered here on Thursday evening. This will give him time to settle in before I have to go back to work. I shall keep him in for a week or so and butter his paws (if I can catch him!). I may get some Feliway to make him feel at home. We shall see.

It does seem wrong to acquire another cat so soon after poor Malvolio's demise, but Julian is so excited about Kooky that he may as well take over my residence. I am used to being a cat slave, after all. I am not totally convinced that they will bring him on Thursday, but will report back. Julian thinks an addition to his name could be Wookiee, after some mythic hairy beasts in a film so Kooky-Wookiee may well be his full name, poor sod. Must find out what make of food he eats.

Lovely Lunch Treat

Dorian rang up and offered me lunch at the Hilton - Galvin at Windows. This was an offer I could not refuse after all the recent misery.

I put a smart suit on and we went to the 28th floor, fab views over most of London and Buck House with its back garden and had a super cocktail. Cant remember what it is called but it was a lump of sugar with Grand Marnier poured over, then a peach liquer, then topped up with prosecco. For lunch we both had starters of octopus and those spicy Spanish sausages, all sliced very thinly among a green leaf salad. We consumed a bottle of white wine, and both went on to a decent pork cutlet (quite large) which had been cooked freshly with pommes puree petits pois and broad beans - damn good. I finished up with an excellent gooseberry fool and Dorian with a wonderfully artistic and delicious strawberry parfait. We had two lots of coffee and petits fours, and they sweetened the bill with home made strawberry and coffee marshmallows. Excellent, and many thanks to Dorian for putting a smile back on my face!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

More Cat Stuff

Julian is going to see the cat which is an indoor cat, i.e. suitable for them if I don't like it. I feel very unfaithful to Malvolio, even considering having another cat. In fact the house has been strangely silent. I was definitely going to wait for a few weeks before acquiring another cat. My ideal would have been female, at least two or three years old if not older like myself, probably about nine to twelve in cat terms, an outdoor cat to defend itself against the vile cats around here, and quite probably a well marked silver tabby like my old cat Bacon, who was a very good artist's model. It is probably not to be, though. I can see a large black male monster arriving at any moment. We shall see. At least it has had decent owners, it is fully vaccinated and microchipped.

The house seems amazingly empty and silent. Though in the night I heard a neighbouring cat trying to get in through the catflap which I have now locked. The general air of peace is slightly disconcerting, but somehow healing. It has given me time to think about the fifteen years I spent with Malvolio.

Sunday Afternoon

'Lost' a couple of hours this morning. I went back to bed and didn't wake up until about 2pm and thought it was 11am. Too tired to get the papers, so had a Bloody Mary in Lye Torng. Everyone sympathetic there, and when I got back there was a bunch of lilies with a note 'For Fetish' outside my door. I think it was from my neighbour upstairs. I had just collected myself but this started me off again. I put the lilies in the window with a couple of pink roses from the garden.

Julian is hot to trot on the cat question, and has already fallen in love with a snap of a cat she's seen on Gumtree, apparently needing rehoming because the owner is allergic. She will go and see it soon, if she likes she will bring it back and if I don't want it says she will keep it. I don't see Dorothy taking to a cat, so I can see I shall probably soon acquire another cat PDQ. We shall see.

Sunday Morning

I am grateful for Dorothy's wise advice about Malvolio. We shall scatter his ashes in his garden. Somehow it seemed suitable that I woke up to a thunderstorm this morning. Madeleine reminded me of Malvolio's disappearance when the ITV cameras were around - clever cat! and with hindsight, wiser than me.

Received some pictures of my great-niece this morning. A pretty baby, Violet.

Spoke to Nibby and had a long discussion about the great value of pets to us. She has to shut Willow, her Siamese, in another room at night to try and get more undisturbed sleep since Willow seems rather typical of her breed in being noisy and temperamental. The vet was surprised that Malvolio had lived so long with diabetes, he said the average even with treatment was only two or three years.

Romy has sent me news of even more kittens in Spain, which will cause a human depopulation soon, I suspect. I can see them growing and mutating, slipping into houses to pinch the food, watching villages from the trees for anyone leaving a house so they can slip in en masse and colonise the place. We shall see.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Farewell Fetish My Furry Friend

It's the end of an era. Fifteen years with Fetish, a Bermondsey Boy from a cat rescue, misrepresented as long haired, but grew into a medium haired mog. Always in 'brave' fights (i.e. wounds to the face and head rather than the rear) causing abscesses when young. He settled down eventually but was always a bit punchy. He very quickly learned how to headbutt the catflap and get into the house as a small kitten. Will be very sadly missed.

I had to finally get the animal ambulance to Elizabeth Street, where they agreed that he was very definitely on his last legs, and gave him several injections which eventually dispatched him, poor boy.

I have to say I am glad now that I did this, after sleepless nights and stir-crazy days, creeping about the house and not daring to upset him by making too much noise. He might have gone on for another week, in more and more pain, resisting the inevitable. I had a large Remy Martin in the lye torng, and a chat with Felipe, before carrying home a Thai chicken curry. I shall no doubt be in and out of complete misery for some time, but at least I felt I did finally do the right thing, against my instincts.

Cavalry Arrived

Contacted Dorothy and Julian. They are trying to get hold of a vet who will come and put him out of his misery, and will ring back. Rather a tall order anyway, but particularly at a weekend I should think.

Malvolio just threw himself onto the floor again so I put the goatskin rug on the carpet and he crept on to it.

Dorothy and Julian arrived and discovered that a domiciliary visit is not an option but that there is a cat ambulance who would take him to the veterinary clinic in Elizabeth Street who would put him down, but Julia felt that he was peaceful and that nature will take it's course, but left the number with me just in case. They have gone off to do a bit of shopping for me as I just can't leave the house with all this going on. I nearly poured myself a stiff drink, then remembered I was taking antihistamines.

Malvolio has now crawled back into the studio. I have been persuaded that he should get the animal ambulance to Elizabeth Street and be put down - Dorothy thinks he could go on for days just dragging himself about and being in more and more pain, so the ambulance is arriving in a couple of hours and they are coming back to help.

Unending Misery

God - I thought he had died out there in the rain, but somehow he has crawled back in and was trying to get downstairs, so I carried him down to the goatskin rug where he is now lying. This is absolutely ghastly.

Went downstairs and amazingly, he has managed to crawl up on to my bed. Went down again and he's just lying there sleepily. With hindsight I should have taken him down to the vet last night, but he hates the vet so much. I was hoping he might just die quietly in the garden in the evening. But he clings to life and is a wanderer, it would seem. He seems to be hanging on down there for now. I do hope he stays on the bed, which is at least as comfortable as anything else.

He is still on the bed and seems to have gone to sleep recently. I am incredibly upset by all this. I am creeping about the house, afraid to go out in case he falls on the floor or needs help, though he seems quite beyond anything I can do. I just wish he would die soon, in case he is in any pain, though he is not showing any obvious signs of this. It seems that dying is quite hard work. Makes me think of Dylan Thomas.

Friday, 5 June 2009

More misery

During the night he crawled into the studio. I went to the loo and on my way back to bed I saw he had crawled to the studio door by my feet. I lifted him and put him on my bed where he stayed all night, just moving around now and then to get more comfortable. Early today he slipped off the bed while I was asleep and crept slowly back to the goatskin rug in the hall. I put the heating on as it has turned very cold and there is a radiator nearby.

I just heard a tiny mew and found him dragging himself upstairs to the kitchen. He ignored the water and some milk and went outside into the rain. I think he is determined to die outside, but will leave the door open in case he wants to come back in again. It really is awful, I have hardly slept, just dropped off for a few minutes at a time, and can't stop crying. I just went outside to check on him and the black and white cat was under the bushes and poor old Malvolio was sitting in the rain so I chased the other cat off, and Malvolio has now crawled back to his usual place under the bushes, and I think the garden umbrella will help keep the rain off. It is not working as I can't get it close to where he is lying so I have put my umbrella over him stuck in the bushes above which seems more effective.

My Poor Old Cat

He has come inside now, must have been feeling the cold. I gave him some insulin and food but he didn't eat, and his skin felt very stiff, I think he is dehydrated. He slowly crept downstairs to lie on the goatskin rug - one of his favourite places. At least it is near the radiator which will keep him comfortable. Horrible though the whole thing is, I am happier to have him inside the house at night so that I can keep a bit of an eye on him. I just turned the bedside light on and drew the curtains so that I could turn the hall light off downstairs which means there is a little light without too much glare.

Watching and Waiting

Poor old Malvolio. He is asleep now and seems to want to be left alone. The food I thought he had eaten last night was consumed by another cat who managed to get in. Julian has seen him and thinks he may have a terminal case of cat 'flu and just wants to die in peace. I find it very hard to just leave him - my instinct is to drag him off to the vet, but it is too late today anyway now. I shall pop out and see him during the night and make a decision in the morning as the vet is open then. I somehow think he may die soon. He is obviously very ill, and may have pneumonia. I had noticed he sounded a bit wheezy recently, but put it down to old age. The trouble is I suspect that the diabetes has compromised his immunity which is why he may have caught some vile bug from the two cats who hang around outside. I have been Googling and it does seem that cats do hide somewhere outside when they are going to die, and just want to be left alone.

Poor Malvolio, and Young Nunks

Malvolio still lying in the same place. I check up on him every now and then. He has changed his position, and is dozing.

Just done a painting from a snap of my stepfather as a young man in the late nineteen thirties. This was taken when he was in his early twenties. He won a scholarship to Cambridge, had bought the books and met his tutor, then just before he was due to go up, his father was chatting with a colleague who told him that university was a complete waste of time and that he should do his articles and become an accountant. His photograph was probably taken after this, poor chap.

Useless Vet

Rang the vet and they said I should try and get someone to catch him and bring him down there. However they don't see animals between 11 and 4, so I shall have to leave him outside in the rain if I can't lure him in, try and get him into his basket at 4, then ring the bloody vet. How useless are they? We shall see. I think he has definitely gone outside to either die or cure himself.

I have put some water near him and put the garden parasol up to keep the rain away. I think he is sleeping most of the time.

Had another look - he is still sleeping.

Poor Malvolio, Still Ill

Malvolio was on my bed but went outside in the middle of the night. I put out half of a tin of dressed crab and a few bits of dry catfood which he did not touch in the evening. However, I found a large furball later, and the food disappeared during the night, but he seems to have difficulty moving about and is lying in the garden this morning. I shall have to ring the vet and see if I can get him into his basket. He won't be able to have the diabetes blood test as he has eaten, but we shall see. Maybe he has cat 'flu, there have been quite a few cats hanging around in the garden recently which I have seen off with my new water pistol.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

New Big Brother

The usual shower of show-offs, but a twist in the tail - they each have to successfully complete a task before becoming housemates. I recognised one of the contenders - Charlie from Newcastle, who I met doing a dry run for Hell's Kitchen (not televised) standing in for celebs. He is really funny and I hope he gets in. I remember liking him a lot in the four days we were in HK.

I have improved my ex a bit and will redo the snaps tomorrow. I am too kind, really. He probably looks much worse these days, since that snap was taken in the seventies, about forty years ago. I bloody well do.

Sick Cat and Seventies Bridegroom

Poor old Malvolio is definitely under the weather. Strangely it does not seem to be diabetes related - he sneezed last night, has slept a lot and not wanted to eat today. He has spent most of the day lying in the garden. I may have to take him to the vet tomorrow. We shall see whether he perks up or not.

Did a terrible painting of my ex from a seventies snap taken at our wedding with the flash on his specs. I am not sure whether I am feeling a bit spiteful, or whether I am an atrocious painter, bit of both maybe, though I may become kind and touch it up a bit later. For now, I can't be bothered.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Last day for this week - not in until Wednesday next week. Spent most of the day looking up info for the annual report, but at lunch was reading about John 'Hoppy' Hopkins, an old man I think I once met when he was a very young man years ago. He is more known as a photographer but when I briefly met him he was probably at university and I was just a schoolgirl. We lived in Runfold, near Farnham, and our neighbour, a bank manager with several studenty, arty daughters lived down the road. During the summer they walked around barefoot, which impressed me greatly, and during one summer a young man, introduced as 'Hoppy' - John Hopkins, came to stay with them. He was very tall and slept in a tent in the garden which was not long enough so his legs stuck out when lying down in it. Maybe he wasn't the same Hoppy, but I think he was, as he is now 71, so the age would be right.

Seems his life has been one long adventure since. There's an exhibition of his photography called 'Hoppy Against Tyranny: Talking about a Revolutionary' at the Idea Generation Gallery, London E2 from June 19 to July 19th. I may even go. We shall see.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Very Rash Indeed

The rash became even more spectacular overnight so trotted it off to the quack this morning. The markings had become more like a heat-related rash, but there may well be an allergic element. I have chucked out the Calgon and the cheapie baby oil from the pound shop. The quack thought it was not the glucosamine,thank goodness and gave me some antihistamine tablets. No booze and will feel drowsy.

That done, I took delivery of more food for Malvolio. He has been off insulin for a few days and seems to be fine, though I shan't be sure for a few weeks, probably. Perhaps he has type II diabetes, since they didn't diagnose it until he was about 10. If so, it can be controlled by diet alone. We shall see.

Making slow progress with yet another portrait. This is one of Ivan, a drinker and bar owner from Barcelona. His passions are bullfighting, sniffing various substances, women, fast cars, sevillanas, flamenco and mixing with the criminal underworld.