Wednesday, 31 October 2007


It's only 5 o'clock, but it's already dark outside this Hallowe'en. I still cling on to the family traditions from the days when there were three young boys in the house with me every day, along with an assortment of dogs, cats and rabbits. These traditions helped to keep me sane when my world was falling apart and so, today, the pumpkins that rather surprisingly grew in the vegetable patch this year - how? why? - have been carved into macabre faces and lit with tea-lights then placed outside the front and back doors to ward off the spirits that roam tonight.

I have spent a lot of time recently walking alone through the beautiful empty autumnal countryside that surrounds me here, a sure way of calming my turbulent thoughts, longing for a dog to keep me company. We have been dog-free for four years now, and I am trying to resist the temptation to fill the dog-shaped hole in my life. My animal family has gradually reduced to two cats and a rabbit. Very manageable. But just recently the desire to have a new little creature in the house has been overwhelming, so a very small ginger kitten is going to join us on Friday. I won't be able to take him for long walks with me, but I can sit and cuddle him on long winter evenings as I read my book by the fire. My son and I have very different ideas about naming him and negotiations are ongoing. Any suggestions gratefully received...


  1. Cat. Then there can be no argument about the name!

    I am more of a hindrance than a help I know but I do hope that whatever lies behind the turbulent thoughts soon becomes more tranquil.

    Buy a new handbag!

  2. I've tried five times to get this comment published - and each time I lose my connection at the critical moment! I am down in my hut of course, where connection is erratic - but even so, I suspect the intervention of Gremlins, perhaps left over from last night's Hallowe'en?

    I daren't try to write too much this time - but shall just say, lovely atmospheric post - and so glad about the kitten! Many thanks too for the letter you wrote me.

    (And if this one fails, I shall give up!)

  3. I was thinking of something a little more exotic Isobel, and with two resident cats already, things could get a bit confusing if we call him just Cat. I'm in favour of Orlando (the marmalade cat), my son wants something altogether more edgy. We might be able to agree on Dante - he's thinking Inferno, I'm thinking pre-raphaelite painter. Perhaps I should have gone for the bag instead.

  4. Not quite the puppy I so much want, Beatrice. Maybe next time round. Glad you managed to publish eventually. There are definitely gremlins about at the moment. Any input on names?

  5. Love Orlando. We have a huge ginger cat, rather the size of a concrete block but furry, called Henry. Suits him somehow although we didnt name him. We had great fun naming our chickens after family members: Ormerod, Edith, Doris and Annie.

  6. Not much help, but the youngest son wants to call his labrador pup 'Pig'. God knows why....

  7. Naming animals is almost more controversial than deciding to have one at all, Elizabeth. Henry is nice, but my son refuses to contemplate a real name. However, Tybalt is now edging up the list - could be Tibby for short.

    Pig is not a good name for a labrador. You are brave, having a puppy, @themill. I'm flunking that for the time being, although a friend is planning a litter Sprollies - do you know anything about them?

    Beatrice, I'm sorry, but I have somehow lost your comment in transit. I will get rid of the word thing - was having some trouble with spam, so trying to eliminate that, but probably also eliminating comments too.

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  9. Have now found your comment Beatrice, but can't put it under your name. Here it is:

    'm having so much trouble with your comment box Marianne! It's that wretched word thingy I think; most people have dispensed with it now - could I not entreat you to do the same?

    (Or perhaps it's only me?)

    What I was trying to say this time was that I thought Orlando good(ish) - but Dante somehow not quite ginger enough, to my mind.

    What was the name of that BBC cat? Bagpuss, wasn't it? Though on second thoughts, perhaps a cat would have to grow old and substantial-looking to carry off a name like that?

    I'm not a lot of help to you, am I?

    Our present ginger cat came ready named (Katoomba - after a town in Australia - don't ask me to explain that one!). And before that, every cat we had was Thomas...

    It could get a bit confusing of course, if there was more than one around at the time. But Little Tom, and Tommy, were useful stop-gaps I seem to remember.

    Call him Puss or Cat for a while -wasn't that what Holly Golightly called hers in Breakfast at Tiffany's? Until they'd both found their proper home...?

    And perhaps in time he'll suggest a name himself. Cats have a way of doing that I find...

  10. i'm useless at naming animals, I once wanted to call my gerbil Polaris. Pumpkin? in honour of the time of year? Fawkes? I keep thinking i might want a dog (with 4 kids, am i mad?), i keep reminding myself of the extra mess, dog hairs and grimy skirting boards. Glad you are back, I sense melancholy, hope the cat helps?

  11. Oddly enough, it's just when you have a big family that it seems right to have a dog - in for a penny I suppose PITK. I do find that the need to have little things to nurture does not vanish, it just becomes displaced and with no possibility of grandchildren for a while, it has to be pets. They do fill a gap.

  12. Oh gawd, tell your friend to avoid the sprollies unless she is absolutely rock solid about the collie's nature. We had a litter, by mistake, we kept two and they turned out to have all the worst attributes of a nervy collie and didn't appear to have an ounce of their most placid, easy going lovable Springer mother. They both ended up having to be destroyed.

  13. Doggy Horror story @themill! My friend has a sprollie that she says is absolutely wonderful and is planning to mate her with another sprollie. Maybe I should just stick to cats. We have always had black labs before - daft but lovely. And a lot of work.


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