Blog: It was over.

One morning in bed, Gwen turned to Colin and said that it was over. She had never been able to do it before. Goodbyes were always fraught with worry; she worried about the appropriateness of the moment, the handholding until it was safe to let go, even  the renewed bursts of passion that would distract her from why they had to go their separate ways. She worried about lying there and letting him mount her because that would mean settling back into things that she had never been able to put up with in the first place. She would settle for a few weeks. Then the sex would get better and she would delay her departure for several months. Four years had passed, but the niggling ate away at her, at first just when she was falling asleep, and then in the waking hours, like a vengeful ghost.

They loved each other. As she stood by his door with her haversack and laptop bag and three tightly packed suitcases that she would pick up one by one over the next few days, they embraced. It was a genuine one, and not one of those embraces you gave somebody because it was good manners. Colin stood by the door: this middle aged man who she still loved and admired. He always had a slight hunch, perhaps to compensate for his tallness; he had been the tallest person wherever he went. But today he was deflated.

“Perhaps I will come back,” she said.”If it’s meant to be.”

“I’m too old to leave things to Fate,” he sighed, but he harboured hope. Colin had been broke for too long, and it had been a long time since he took home a pay cheque; the prospect of finding work was daunting, more daunting now that Gwen was leaving. Perhaps he could call up his mates at the dock or the old hands at the garage who knew they could use his over-educated brain and years of experience, but it had been a long time since he used his hands. His perfect eyesight had blurred over the last few years, which made him more deliberate and deliberateness was a blessing in his trade, but too much whiskey had made his once firm grip unsteady, and his temper fractious.


Blog: Puddy da Tat is a silly name for a cat

IMG00112-20110730-1313Puddy da Tat is a silly name for a cat. Puddy da Tat doesn’t roll off the tongue like Duke or Oscar or Spot or Tigger. It’s the kind of name that owners of purebreds snigger at. It’s the kind of name that vet assistants find difficult to hear and pronounce over the phone.

“What’s the name of your pet?”

“Puddy da Tat,” I said. I’ve stockpiled enough patience to last the duration of this phone call, or so I think.

“Oh, Pahhhdy the Tat.”

“No, it’s Puddy da, with a D and A, Tat, T-A-T.”

“Right. Hang on,” the vet assistant says, forgetting to put on the wait music.  “What’s the name of the chocolate British shorthair?” she calls out to a colleague.

“Paddy as in Paddle. P-A-D-D-Y,” is the response.

“Thanks for holding.”

“Would you like me to spell it for you?” I sigh. “It’s P-U-D-D-Y, space, D-A, space T-A-T.”

“Ok, P-A-D-D-Y…”

“Not it’s P-U-D-D-Y. It’s Puddy da Tat! Puddy da Tattt! Puddy da Taaaaatt!”

This is a cat that responds to my calling his name. The white critter with its wet chocolate nose and black tail bolts into the living room and joins me on the sofa. He makes a sound that is something between a chirp and a meow, rolls onto his back and starts licking his bollocks. A tiny pointed pink thimble starts to extend from a black furry nub on top of them. Puddy licks it too.

I watch the creature in fascination, stifling the urge to finger the thimble.  I have read somewhere that a cat’s penis is very much like its tongue, rough and bristled.

Just then, John shuffles out of the washroom belly first, fingering the garter of his old shorts.  “That’s right Puddy da Tat, lick ‘em while you still have ‘em, pervy cat.” He turns to me,  “When’s he chopping off his bollockses?”

“Next Friday morning, at the crack of dawn,” I reply. “Well nine in the morning really, no food or drink for 12 hours the night before. “ Puddy da Tat is now glaring at my face with his transparent blue eyes; his pupils are tiny black dots in the sun, his little tongue sticking out mid-lick.

“Poor Puddy da Tat. Next week this time, no more bollockses.” John gives him a consoling stroke at the back of his neck. Puddy flops onto John’s open hand and makes more of those chirp-meow sounds. Then he yawns and stretches and puts a tentative front paw on my left breast and then the other paw, hoisting his entire furry bundle onto my chest. He starts to nuzzle my hair, licking and chewing the strands while making deep purring sounds.

“Look at that pervy Puddy,” John says, tutting as he goes into the kitchen. “Sitting on mummy’s rack like that.”

“Nothing pervy about that. Adopted kittens often look for surrogate mothers – other house pets or humans – to nuzzle. It’s more for comfort than anything else. He’s not getting much else from this does he?” Puddy has stopped purring. He is now on the sofa and on his back again, his paws and hind legs akimbo, his little pink tongue showing by just a fraction. I rub his belly one big firm stroke at a time.

“Not, him, you!” John says. “He will still have his penis after he’s being neutered if you’re thinking of fingering him. But I’d advise against that.”

I make a face. “Why would I do that?”

John waves a well-thumbed Paul Theroux paperback at me, opens a page and says, “Read that.”


“Great opening line, isn’t it?”

I follow his finger down the page until it stops. “Never give a dog a hand job or you’ll never get rid of him.” I make another face. “He’s a cat. That doesn’t apply.”

“I think he thinks he’s a dog.”

Under the pool table, Puddy da Tat is chasing his own tail.

Blog: By the quality of the models…

mOcXTg6By the quality of the models I knew it was going to be a low budget show, which was a disappointment for a somewhat big brand. The models were sullen, stiff and two heads too short even by local catwalk standards; their overweight middle-aged parents tucked in the corners of the store with cameras to catch their princesses in action. They were modelling shoes and somehow the rest of what they wore – their clothes and other accessories – did not quite matter, or did they? Among the guests were trust fund kiddie bloggers who probably took two hours to get dressed and another two hours to iron their hair and put on their makeup, the tetchy fashion writers on their third glass of wine and always within reach of a deadline, and the gamine, limp-wristed stylists in their perpetual practical flats, distinguished from each other only by how ridiculously cut, ripped and flared their trousers were. As soon as the show ended and the one-night-only 20 percent storewide discount was announced, everyone dropped their civilised veneers and vapid banter, returning to their desire of espadrilles and mules and stiletto heels in the brightest hues of the season. Perhaps everyone had forgotten the scarce, rationed wine except for me. I redeemed my complimentary pair of shoes and bought myself a pair of sensible black heels at a discount only to appear to the PR girl that I was not a freeloading cheapskate so that I would be given reasonable access to more freeloading opportunities. I did not leave until I had enough glasses of wine to not mind the rush hour crowd at the train station.