Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beauty and the Beast



He's OK!. He's still a little bit twisted in the middle, like a crumpled cushion, but he's walking and a bit happier now.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Big in Japan

Little over a year to go until I publish a collection of poems, but amazon.co.jp are jumping the gun a little. Will it be worth more than 1500 yen?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Ghosts in the Machine

I particularly like this last one where, channelling his mother and father already, he ('it' is now definitely 'he') turns away with an almost visible groan and mutters: 'Let me sleep! For goodness sake, just let me sleep!'

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Samuel Menashe (1925-2011)

More information here. Picture copyright Matt Valentine.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Inside Job

Images from the emergency room. Points of interest that don't involve the shadow of his beautifully involuted guts:
1. The nubbly bit is his heelbone, and the last long bone before the toes is his Beckham-esque metatarsal;

2. The hips are, apparently, meant to be about one vertebra-length lower down. He's a compacted cat;

3. The bright white patch at the top left of the picture is his locator chip, so that if we lose him at a point when he has any mobility in his back legs (i.e. if finding him is slightly more complicated than looking out of the window and screaming), then the chip contains information for the international veterinary database.

He's still a bit pissed off, but we don't have to take him back to the vet till Monday. In the meantime, antibiotics every eight hours: 1pm, 9 pm and yes, the other one. Marian's turn tomorrow, hooray.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Freefall Cat Syndrome

Yesterday Marian and I were in my study (oh, I like having a study), when we heard a strange noise in the street outside. I said to Marian: 'That's the noise that kept waking me up last night, that sounds like a cat. I thought that Blini had fallen out of the window.' Marian said: 'It must be someone else's cat.' The noise came again. 'It really sounds like a cat, close by.' Stricken by sudden panic, we both rushed to look out of the window. Blini was in the street, having fallen off the windowsill. Havoc, running, panic. We got him back to the flat. The last time he fell out of the window was from a first floor flat and he chipped a tooth and hurt his nose and serve him right. This was a second floor flat, and it was immediately clear when we put him on the floor that he couldn't walk, his back legs were twisted and he was clearly in pain, hissing and yowling. The emergency clinic is the other side of town. Town was closed because of our historic visitor. The taxi had to take a detour. Our sang-froid took a beating.

The emergency clinic. They took him in, sedated him, X-rayed him and came to the conclusion that he had no broken bones, but a blockage that was paralysing his back legs (a slight pulse in one, no pulse in the other, the one that was hit by a car when he was a kitten). They checked to see if there was circulation by cutting off one of the claws on each back paw (checking for sensation by pulling out fingernails - seems a little brutal to me, but cats can't say why they say 'ouch'). The vet said that they would keep him in for twenty-four hours, but that there was only a 1% chance that he would show any improvement, and that we should be prepared to have him put down the next evening. We paid (roughly 50 cents for every day we've owned him) and left. We did not sleep well.

This morning we went back. Different vet, who suggested that there was improvement, and said, to our surprise and suspicion and joy and relief, that we could start to think about taking him home. The prognosis was bad, and we would probably have to put him down in the next few days, but he could leave.

This afternoon we went back to pick him up. Different vet, who told us that he was very aggressive (they had written ¡¡MUY AGGRESIVO!! [sic] on his chart, but if I were in pain and in a strange place and being manhandled round the clock by people I didn't know, I think even I might lash out a little), but that he had a pulse in both back legs.

This evening we went to our local vet, who ho-d and hummed and said he didn't want to question a colleague's diagnosis, but that the X-ray evidence (he took another X-ray) suggested that Blini was badly bruised and that his hips had been pushed up by about the length of a vertebra (X-ray evidence coming as soon as we get the CD back from the vet), but that he had sensation and reflexes in both legs and that essentially this was something that could be cured and that would, inshallah, cure itself with time. This is a diagnosis we are happier with.

So, Blini, stupid, soft, adventurous, brave and, yes, pretty aggressive at the moment is now under house arrest: he doesn't want to and shouldn't move, and can't really walk at all at the moment, and he will need to be taken to the sand tray personally and sleep on nappies for a week or so, but, but, but... we hope he'll be better soon.

Bapi is showing solidarity, which is touching.

He'll be stevemcqueening before long.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Monday, August 15, 2011

Old Jokes' Corner

Saturday, August 13, 2011

W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911)

'Twas on the shores that round our coast
From Deal to Ramsgate span,
That I found alone on a piece of stone
An elderly naval man.

His hair was weedy, his beard was long,
And weedy and long was he,
And I heard this wight on the shore recite,
In a singular minor key:

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."

And he shook his fists and he tore his hair,
Till I really felt afraid,
For I couldn't help thinking the man had been drinking,
And so I simply said:

"O, elderly man, it's little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea,
But I'll eat my hand if I understand
How you can possibly be

"At once a cook, and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."

Then he gave a hitch to his trousers, which
Is a trick all seamen larn,
And having got rid of a thumping quid,
He spun this painful yarn:

"'Twas in the good ship Nancy Bell
That we sailed to the Indian sea,
And there on a reef we come to grief,
Which has often occurred to me.

"And pretty nigh all o' the crew was drowned
(There was seventy-seven o' soul),
And only ten of the Nancy's men
Said 'Here!' to the muster-roll.

"There was me and the cook and the captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig
And the bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig.

"For a month we'd neither wittles nor drink,
Till a-hungry we did feel,
So we drawed a lot, and accordin' shot
The captain for our meal.

"The next lot fell to the Nancy's mate,
And a delicate dish he made;
Then our appetite with the midshipmite
We seven survivors stayed.

"And then we murdered the bo'sun tight,
And he much resembled pig,
Then we wittled free, did the cook and me,
On the crew of the captain's gig.

"Then only the cook and me was left,
And the delicate question, 'Which
Of us two goes to the kettle?' arose
And we argued it out as sich.

"For I loved that cook as a brother, I did,
And the cook he worshipped me;
But we'd both be blowed if we'd either be stowed
In the other chap's hold, you see.

"'I'll be eat if you dines off me,' says Tom,
'Yes, that,' says I, 'you'll be,' -
'I'm boiled if I die, my friend,' quoth I,
And 'Exactly so,' quoth he.

"Says he, 'Dear James, to murder me
Were a foolish thing to do,
For don't you see that you can't cook me,
While I can - and will - cook you!'

"So he boils the water, and takes the salt
And the pepper in portions true
(Which he never forgot) and some chopped shalot,
And some sage and parsley too.

"'Come here,' says he, with a proper pride,
Which his smiling features tell,
' 'Twill soothing be if I let you see,
How extremely nice you'll smell.'

"And he stirred it round and round and round,
And he sniffed at the foaming froth;
When I ups with his heels, and smothers his squeals
In the scum of the boiling broth.

"And I eat that cook in a week or less,
And - as I eating be
The last of his chops, why, I almost drops,
For a wessel in sight I see!

"And I never grin, and I never smile,
And I never larf nor play,
But I sit and croak, and a single joke
I have - which is to say:

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig!"

'The Yarn of the Nancy Bell' (1866)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Current Favourite Sentences

He translated Ulysses and Gulliver's Travels into Polish, he was the only person in the world to translate all the works of William Shakespeare. His translations of Shakespeare were, however, subjected to critique for the lack of clarity, faithfulness to the original or any literary value.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915)

More information 0 comments

Hans Beck (1929-2009)

The father of Playmobil. More information here.

Enrique Serpa (1900-1968)

More information (in Spanish) here.

Aleksandr Fomich Veltman (1800-1870)

The Russian Sterne. More information here.

Baton Round

More information here.

Antanas Sutkus (1939- )

The Mother's Hand (1966). More information here.

Rimaldas Viksraitis (1954- )

Slaughter (1982)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Current Favourite Sentence

Bad luck relies absolutely on perfect timing.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Current Favourite Sentence

Even today, if a little person is the only dwarf in the immediate family, which occurs in about 80% of cases worldwide, popular Filipino legend dictates that the mother must have been watching "dwarf TV" while she was pregnant.

Current Favourite Sentences

Previously, such out-there thought-riffing led Hilton to suggest the use of nascent "cloudbusting" technology to create longer summers – no, really – and more famously, to dream up the "big society". Frustratingly for Hilton's critics, who like to paint him as a sort of misguided guff engine, the big society has been a resounding, concrete success. From the weeniest village to the hugest metropolis, there's a solar-powered big society community hugspace on every corner, staffed by volunteers in unicorn costumes.