2013 moves relentlessly forward*

* I must confess to having borrowed this phrase from a board game called ‘Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs’, where it was used to refer to lava erupting randomly from a ‘volcano’ at the side of the board. By the way, it’s an excellent game for children: it has little plastic figures that are explorers as the playing pieces, and somewhat larger plastic dinosaurs that can sometimes eat the explorers depending on how the game goes.

After its half-hearted efforts to intimidate the citizens of Edinburgh, winter has again retreated this weekend. We have dazzling sunshine, a blue sky with only a slightly wintry tinge to it, and no snow except on the nearby Pentland Hills. The cats are still suspicious of the weather and I’ve been spending a while at the open door with George as he sniffs the air and ponders the meaning of life.

Despite having an odd day off work in the middle of the week I was still exhausted by Friday, partly because I spent two days trying to produce figures that added up. I find people are suspicious of figures that don’t seem to add up to the same across the way as they do down the way, even if there’s a perfectly good reason for it, so I always try to pre-empt later queries by producing a table that is completely consistent in all directions.

During my odd day off, I worked some more on my novel of the 1950s. Fortunately this kind of work is a lot more fun, especially as it includes watching DVDs of Pathe News and spending ages on the internet trying to find out how late in the evening you could visit a news cinema and what Claridge’s looked like at the time. Both these were essential to the plot, needless to say. I’ve discovered – or reminded myself, because I feel I should have known this already – that 1951 was a particularly interesting year in all sort of ways.

Just a few words about medicating cats…

Apologies for the digression, but this is a topic that has been very much on my mind recently, and I thought my experience might be helpful to someone. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of these paragraphs that advise you, in a jokey way, about how many layers of clothing you should wear before even opening the bottle of tablets. Having wrangled cats for at least 35 years, I take all that as read. I too have had to try and give pills to a cat who had a special compartment in his mouth where he kept them until you got bored with holding his mouth closed, and who could detect pills in a plateful of even his favourite food (boiled fish) and would leave them in a soggy heap on the dish at the end of his meal.

My preferred method of medicating cats is (1) take cat to vet (2) persuade the vet to give cat a long-lasting injection and (3) take cat home, hoping whatever was wrong will go away quickly.

However, this time I have a secret weapon and it’s cheese! The particular cat who needs medication fortunately loves cheese, and if you press the pill into the cheese, just enough to make it stick for long enough for the cat to eat it, then he eats it. On the two occasions so far when he has turned up his nose at cheese – the wrong kind, perhaps? should I be buying specialist French cheeses from a delicatessen and not just cheddar from Tesco’s? – I’ve deconstructed some Cheesy Treats, which are a sort of more expensive Go Cat with a strong cheese flavour, and pushed the pill inside half of one. This shouldn’t in theory work so well, as the pills don’t stick to the biscuits in the same way that they do to real cheese, but again we are lucky with this cat as he tends to crunch up everything on the plate once he gets started, so he has occasionally eaten the pill separately without apparently noticing anything. I just hope the manufacturers don’t give up on Cheesy Treats, as the cat will almost certainly be on these pills for the rest of his life.




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