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Not on My Watch!
The black-and-white cat sits in the window and watches the ginger cat that lounges on the porch and watches the five deer that stand in the woods at the garden’s foot and watch the neighbor’s little dog that watches the raccoon that disdainfully removes the garbage can lid and fishes out the food, scattering paper and wrappers and cans as four crows sit in the tree and watch the wind as it whistles the papers round and round in a windmill that wraps itself round the feet of another neighbor who is watching the raccoon with open-eyes as a seagull flies above him and bombs him from above, damn seagulls, and the bird poop falls right on my neighbor’s watch face and he cries out “Oh no, not on my watch!”
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Comment: The photo shows the Omega watch that my father gave me for my 21st birthday. I am wearing it now, together with the bracelet that my four year old granddaughter, his great-grand-daughter, gave me for my birthday two years ago. Four generations in one photograph. Unbelievable.
Five reasons why a Teddy Bear is much better for you than a Kitty Cat. I know, I know: cat lovers will go wild. They think cats are such lovely cuddly things. And they believe strongly that nobody can resist a warm, loving, darling, purring bundle of fur. Well, I can resist cats. And I can give you five good, sound, solid, 25 carat reasons why Teddy Bears beat Kitty Cats any day of the week.
One Teddy Bears do not need to be fed on a regular basis. In fact, one piece of kibble will last a Teddy Bear for a very, very long time. And you can’t say the same for your cat. So less expense, no need to feed, don’t have to put that fresh water down every day, no constant fawning attention when hungry or just plain greedy, don’t have to worry about treading on the cat’s tail … In fact, a Teddy Bear wins out every time.
Two “Don’t mention cleaning out the kitty litter. Promise?” “I promise. I won’t mention it.” “Word of honor?” “Word of honor. Fresh Walnut and all that.” “You just mentioned it.” “Mentioned what?” “The kitty litter.” “I didn’t.” “You did: you said ‘Fresh walnut.’” “So?” “So that’s what keeps the kitty litter from smelling.” “Does it smell much?” “Quite a bit. I hate cleaning it out.” “Why?” “It’s so smelly, filthy, grainy, lumpy, stinking …” “So, why do you do it, then? What you need is a nice, clean, environmentally friendly Teddy Bear. There’s no cleaning up after a Teddy Bear. Who’s ever heard of Teddy Bear Litter?” “You said you wouldn’t mention it.” “Mention what?” “Kitty litter.” “I didn’t, you did.”
Three Teddy Bears don’t have off-spring. You don’t need to neuter them, and they don’t need taking to the vet. Nor did they sit and wait in family groups for their photos to be taken. What we have below is a fake photo placed there by the unscrupulous enemy for their own pro-cat propaganda purposes.
Four Teddy Bears are very obedient. If you tell a Teddy Bear to “sit” or to “stay”. He does so. Immediately. And he stays where you put him. There’s no clash of wills and egos, no conflict at all. Teddy Bears are easily trained and very obedient. Also, they don’t want to go out in the garden and wander beneath the bushes to shriek and whine when the moon is full. Now, if you have cats and you want them to sit and stay still, you must give them something to watch or to play with. Chipmunks and garden birds aren’t cheap, you know, and they are less trainable than cats. How long do you think it takes to train a chipmunk to just sit there quietly to entertain your cat? Especially when it’s being hissed at and the cat is bouncing the window with anguish? Also, Teddy Bears don’t climb on furniture, nor do they break ornaments, nor sink their claws into your hair as you pass beneath them, nor do they drop on you, unexpectedly, from great heights.
Five Five and finally, when there’s a moth, a fly, or a mosquito on the ceiling at night, you can’t train your kitty cat to fly into the air and snatch it off the ceiling. But as for Teddy: grab him by one leg, preferably the back one; give him his commands “Ready, Teddy, Go!” and hurl him skywards. With a little practice, he’ll nail that nocturnal buzzing monster every time.
No: all things considered — and I promise I won’t mention, you know what, that little box the cat sits in — there’s nothing better than a Teddy Bear. Wise, silent, friendly, cuddly, obedient, friendly (did I say that?), needs no training, always there when needed, waits patiently for you when you’re away, never stalks off with tail in air, never gets out and hides in the garden where you can’t find him, adorable, cuddly (did I say that already?) … Give me a Teddy Bear anytime.
Comment 1: It’s one of those pandemic days when the steam stays in the kettle, the heart rattles, the ribs, and nothing happens. This is the hopeful grey squirrel who sits outside the kitchen window and tries to persuade us to come out and feed him. Look at him: one eye on us and the other on the world around him.
I think he’s looking for his twin, or maybe his twain. But what if the twain never meet? Click on the link below, a real Golden Oldie, and you’ll see what happens when the twain really do meet. As they sometimes do.
Comment 2: When you click on the link, if you click on the link, remember: that was probably my first ever post. Oh I was a novice once upon a time, but never in a nunnery. And I still don’t like taking orders. That’s probably why I never became a bar tender or a waiter. Hey: wait a minute now. I think this pandemic lockdown is getting to you. You are as mad as a hatter or as confined as a teddy bear in a glass house. Oy! Whose is that voice talking to me on my own blog? It’s the other half of your split personality. Oh dear: I guess we are all getting to know that strange, locked up feeling.
He who would true valor see, let him come hither. One here will constant be, come bad or fair weather. No line length can him fright, he’ll with a paragraph fight, and he will have a right, to be a writer.
Those who beset him round with dismal stories, do but themselves confound: his strength the more is. There’s no discouragement will make him once relent his first avowed intent, to be a writer.
Rejections nor bad critics can daunt his spirit. He knows he at the end will a book inherit. So critics fly away, he’ll fear not what they say, he’ll labor night and day to be a writer.
Comment: John Bunyan tempted me and I fell into temptation. In fact, as my good friend Oscar Wilde once said: “I can resist anything except temptation.” So, ladies and gentlemen, change the he to a she or the pronoun of your choice, turn the writer to a sculptor, stoneist, poet, playwright, painter, novelist, dramatist, comedian, song-writer, singer. Breathe deep. Believe in your own artistic talent and remember: “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” Remember this too: “You’ll never get to Vancouver by bus, if you get off the bus at Montreal or Toronto.”
Boxing Day By the time I get up, the gloves are really off and the sparring has begun in earnest. I hear voices, walk downstairs to the kitchen, and a hush falls on the room. Knife-edge glances slice their menacing ways through the thick fog of war. Time for boxing: on my left, in the blue corner, my mother, smoking what is probably her second packet of the day. A thin haze of grey smoke escapes from her bruised lips and a cloud of exhaled fumes crowns her head with a murky halo. On my right, in the red corner, my father. White-faced, hungover yet again, truly into the spirits of Christmas. He breathes heavily, like a Boxer Dog in the mid-summer dog-days, snoring and snorting at a bitch in heat. In the middle, my grandfather, the referee. He is keeping the combatants apart, creating a tiny breathing space so the true Spirit of Christmas can disentangle itself from those false Christmas Spirits and bring peace to earth again for at least sixty seconds between each round. I look around the heaving, seething, threshing silence of a room where conversation has suddenly ceased. The fire is burning merrily. Beside it, tongs, poker, and small shovel stand to attention. On the hearthstone, the little red brush, with its long handle lies in ambush. This is what my father uses to beat me when he can’t be bothered to take off his leather belt. Scorch marks from the hot coal fire sear the handle and back of the little red brush. I threw it on the fire one day, hoping to see the end of it. Of course, it was rescued from the flames, resurrected, and I got beaten for that act of rebellion too. “It’s all your fault!” My father breaks the silence, pointing at me. His red-rimmed eyes blazing with a sudden and renewed anger. He starts to rise, but my grandfather steps between us. “Go and see your granny,” grandpa tells me. “She’s in the kitchen. Go now!” He points to the kitchen door. I run a gauntlet of staring eyes and go to my gran. As I shut the door behind me, voices rise higher in the room I have just left. Boxing Day, indeed. The gloves are off. The battle has begun again. My grandfather has evacuated me from no-boy’s-land and, for a moment, I am no longer trapped in the mud-filled, cratered, shell-holes between the trenches, the uncut barbed-wire barriers, the poached-egg eyes peering through periscopes and spying on me from the parental and priestly parapets. Here in the kitchen, for a while, I walk on the wooden duck-boards that keep my feet dry and clear of mud and water.
Comment: This is, of course, the true origin of the term Boxing Day. A genuine Boxing Day has nothing to do with the myth that it was the day on which the servants, who worked Christmas Day on the Lord’s estate, received their Christmas Boxes. Peace on earth and mercy mild has got nothing to do with alcohol-fueled quarrels, raging hangovers, and little children who should be seen and not heard. Sometimes, when all the elders are down at the pub on the corner, the night may, for a little while, actually be silent. But the noise when the drunks roll raucously home is most unholy. Then little children should be wise like the wise men, run quickly into bed, and lie there, neither seen nor heard.
An acolyte in a charcoal suit runs by. He neither stops nor speaks but slips on slippery words dripping from another monkey’s tongue.
This other monkey has eyes of asphalt, a patented pewter soul, ice water flowing in his veins. “Hear no evil! See no evil! Speak no evil!”
The hatch of his mind is battened tightly down. Nothing gets out nor in. The acolyte’s fingers grasp at a khaki folder, his manifesto for success.
Senior monkey stalks to his office and turns on the radio. His favorite music: the clink of mounting money.
Disturb him at your peril: this monkey is very important, and very, very busy. He’s also clever: a real smarty.
First, he empties all the chocolate candies from the box then he sorts them into little piles: green with green, brown with brown, blue with blue, red with red.
Then, like the Good Shepherd checking His flock, he counts them again and again, to ensure that none have been stolen and not one has gone astray.
Comment: Another Golden Oldie, this time from Monkey Temple. I have updated it slightly so it won’t be exactly the same as it is in the printed text. Senior Monkey has, of course, built a bigger box into which he can place all his chocolate candies and tuck them away for ever and ever. I guess if he were a bull and not a monkey, he would have tucked them away for heifer and heifer. Such is the sad state of reality in the Monkey Temple. But if monkey were a bull, he would be living in the cow shed, not the Monkey Temple. Oh dear, oh dear: and oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive with fiction, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, and all the other sugar and spice which goes into the spinning of spider-webs and fairy tales. Speaking of which, did I ever tell you the story of the… well, maybe next time. So tune in again tomorrow. Same thyme, same plaice, and I’ll sing you a song of the fish in the sea… and a fishy tail that will be.
Memories deceive me with their remembered shows, shapes shifting with a click of the magician’s fingers. What magic lantern now slips its subtle slides
across night’s screen? Desperate I lap at salt-licks of false hope that increase my thirst and drive me deeper into thick, black, tumultuous clouds.
A pandemic storm lays waste to the days that dog my mind. Carnivorous canicular, hydropic, it drinks me dry, desiccates my dreams, gnaws me into nothingness.
At night a black dog hounds me, sends my head spinning, makes me chase my own tail, round and round. It snaps at dreams, shadows, memories that ghost through my mind.
Tarot Cards and Tea Leaves are lost in a Mad Hatter’s illusion of a dormouse in a teapot in an unkempt tale. Hunter home from the hill, I return to find my house empty, my body devastated, my future a foretold mess.
Comment: Tough days around us and even tougher ahead. Covid-19 in the schools and people I know, young and old, frightened and in quarantine as a result. People I know and members of my far-flung (thank you, Jennifer, for that long-lost word) family. Funerals to the right of me, funerals to the left of me, of friends I know, acquaintances I hardly know, and many more whom I’ll never know now. “Into the jaws of Covid-19 rode the gallant six hundred, all masked, many falling, fewer of them every minute of every day.” Gallows humor keeps me alive. Last night my favorite teddy bear went AWOL. I got up at 3:00 am and sent out a search party. Sharp eyes spotted the copper band I lost last week. It had been hiding under the pillow. Then, joy of joys, they spotted Teddy’s black velvet band, the one that ties up the hair that falls over his shoulder and gets up my nose and makes me sneeze. They hauled him out from under the bed. I picked up the phone and cancelled the 911 call before the masked men in their jackboots and their PPE could break down the door and strip search the house for a missing bear. Alas, dear Mabel: I would if I could but I am not able.” How those words resound in my ears. Left ear, right ear, and, like Davy Crockett, a wild front ear. I will not give in to morbidity. ‘He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.” I will survive for another day. Meanwhile, I’ll call for General Worthington, the fellow who can always make the enemy run. “Will you have a VC?” I said “Not me: I’d rather have a bottle of Worthington.” Alas, they don’t make it anymore. And Watney’s Daft Red Barrel has bitten the dust and gone the way of the dodo. And all my friends are in the doldrums, watching, as Admiral Brown abandons ship, mans the boats, and hauls away into fairer weather and cleaner waters. You say you do not understand? ‘Blessed are the poor in intellect, for they shall know peace in these troubled times.’
Monkey is tired of writing reports that are never read. He is fed up with frequently asked questions and their unread answers. To every lock, there is a key. Monkey looks at the red and gold locks of the last orang-utangs and wonders how to unpick their DNA.
Monkey would give his kingdom for a key, a key, a little silver key: the key to a situation, the key to a heart, the office key, the key to the door, at twenty-one, the keys of fate, the Florida keys, the key to San Francisco’s Golden Gate, a passe-partout, a skeleton key, the key to Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, where she hides dry bones …
On the last day, when monkey leaves work he takes a lifetime of keys and throws them down a deep dark well.
As they halve the distance to the water, he listens to the sound of silence and wonders if they’ll ever hit the bottom.
Monkey Temple: the complete book, is available on KDP and Amazon.