Some years ago now a friend showed me chapters of an autobiography she was writing, and very good they were too. She said I should give it a go and eventually I did. But unlike her I had no aptitude for it. I began well enough, Hello, my name is Rod and I was born at an early age. But I wasn’t capable of keeping it going. More accurately, I was capable, technically, but completely lacked the motivation to do it. At root, I found myself boring. And if I failed to interest myself, why would I interest anyone else?

A few bright episodes came to mind, especially concerning my travels in Iran, Afghanistan and their aftermath. For instance, when I was finally released from the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Belgrade, a member of staff drove me to the UK Embassy prior to catching a train the following morning. One of his first acts was to drive the wrong way up a one-way street, and while he was at it hoped I would understand that he had a wife and children. Good for him, I thought. But it turned out he was afraid I would contaminate his family with infectious hepatitis. To eliminate this non-existent risk, he put me up for the night in an embassy outhouse, where I slept in a roll of carpet and was wakened with the lark by field telephone.

But if we included events like that in a novel, who would believe us? In any case, taking all such stories together, a string of narrative pearls though it might be, nothing came close to a continuous narrative. I was reminded of a description I had once seen of Berlioz’ Damnation of Faust, which someone had compared to reading Faust by lighting. So how about a succession of dramatic episodes? But that also failed to get me going. Writing biography would be a different matter altogether, provided the subject was of interest.

What follows from this?

Firstly, I think that those bloggers who are most successful are those who take themselves as their subject. Not only do they let strangers into their lives, they open the door and usher them in. If they could offer them refreshments they would. Not everyone can do this, though. I don’t have what it takes.

Secondly, those of us who write fiction give ourselves away all the time. I obviously can’t prove this, it is merely what I think. And some will reveal their hand more than others. I would say I reveal my hand quite a bit. In fiction there is usually an element of self-description at one remove. The reader can infer various things about the writer even if he does not divulge the name of his cat.


Whose chair is it anyway?

As we know, there is little point pretending that our favourite chair belongs to us, not when we are living with a cat. If the cat claims it, we’ve had it.

This is the message of a card I got for a cat-loving daughter.

Never Give In

And it  is also the experience of someone who submitted this photograph through the site Breakroom Stories. If I knew who the photographer was, I would happily name him.

round 2 - he still does not care

There was no way this comfort-loving animal was going to give up. Your average cat is a master of quiet determination.






Using a Facebook Page to move your product?

You could be a major international brand or you could be an author whose book has just come out. Either way, there is now a lot of evidence to show that any effort you expend on your Facebook Page will not be well rewarded.

The link is to an article by Chris Crum on WebProNews. If you don’t feel inclined to read the original, the gist of it is that FB is gradually reducing the reach of your page to one or two percent.

So if you have 100 Likes and you post an update, your update will reach only  2 of them.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon to compute that this is not effective. But these figures refer to the ‘free ride’ use of the page.  You could, of course, pay FB to promote your page, in which case your reach will no doubt improve.

Could this possibly be the intention?

facebook engancha

facebook engancha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Rent a Cat

It became clear recently that we have a mouse problem bordering on an infestation. The only one I got a clear view of was a harvest mouse, so the rest probably are too – coming in to the eaves out of the cold.

Being methodical in your thoughts doesn’t necessarily help much. How did they get in? Well, experts tell us that they can ooze through incredibly small holes. One expert I watched on Youtube said he used a Biro as a test. If he could stick his pen into a hole a mouse could get through it. So the possibilities are several. We need ventilation under the floor boards. If we don’t have it we risk wet rot leading to dry rot – a much more serious problem than mice. So we can’t just go around blocking off the vents. A fine mesh is required which will let air in and keep those pesky mices out.

And then there is entry underneath the bottom row of slates directly above the gutters. I have sealed a few obvious holes with metal wool but Biro-sized holes? There is no way I could find them all let alone seal them.

So I have been trying live traps, intending to remove these troublesome creatures to a safe distance when caught. But I’m still waiting to catch one.

Some might suggest poison, but I am very reluctant to go down that route. Firstly, it’s no way to die. And secondly, if the mouse dies in the wrong place you are afflicted by a very bad smell for two to three weeks. Is this really what we want? My wife tells me it is not.

So yet again I fall back on fantasy. There must be an agency out there, Rent A Cat, which will provide a feline for a few days at reasonable cost, a feline which – unlike me – will be able to traverse the eaves, yea even unto the small nooks and crannies, and rid me of these troublesome rodents.

If there isn’t, well, I have identified a market niche and can rush to apply for a business development grant – something which I like to think must exist in these entrepreneurial times.

The cat as philosopher

There is a book called ‘Henri, le Chat Noir’, written by William Braden.
It also has a sub-title: The Existential Mewsings of an Angst-Filled Cat, so we can tell that Henri inclines to the existential rather than the essential school of philosophy.

English: Black cat with white mark at the neck...

English: Black cat with white mark at the neck “Mizo”. Français : Chat noir à tache blanche au cou. “Mizo”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For copyright reasons the picture is not of Henri himself but another cat of the same name.

Unlike the book of napping cats I referred to in an earlier post, the quotations are not from authors musing on the subject of cats but (so Braden would have us believe) by Henri himself.

Henri makes a number of deep points, but this is my favourite:

‘I sleep because every time I open my eyes, the world is still there.’

Sleeping cats

kittens spooning

kittens spooning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I gave my daughter a book  containing  pictures of sleeping cats.

Opposite each picture was a quotation loosely based on the photograph.

Of these, this is the one I liked best: ‘The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.’