Farewell, FatCat

Today, FatCat was put to sleep.

Over the last couple of months she’d slowly been going downhill – not eating as much, not keeping food down, losing weight, blood in the poo, and a bundle of other things.  I’d initially put it down to a change of diet (for whatever reason, I hadn’t been able to get their usual food, so I’d been changing things and giving them whatever was available) but she should’ve got used to the changed food in that time.

She’s never been in pain, and I’ve kept a close eye on that as well as everything else, but I’ve been aware she’s doing less well.

This week, though, she took a bigger downward turn – more lost weight, worse poo and so on – and the really significant thing for me is that she was a lot more cuddly, and was actually choosing to sit on me or against me most of the time.  That was absolutely new behaviour – she normally avoided that sort of contact like the plague – and definitely not a positive sign.

As the week went on, things didn’t improve, so I made the appointment with the vets.  And today, we went in. She didn’t even fight going into the cat carrier, so she knew things weren’t good.

I’ve always known that this was how it would work out – she’s antisocial enough that even taking her to the vets for an examination would’ve led to her not trusting me as much for [x] weeks, if not months. (It usually takes her about two to four weeks to recover trust of me after I’ve applied anti-flea stuff to her, so God knows how long it’d take after a vet visit)  Similarly, traumatising her daily in order to get meds into her would’ve utterly knackered her quality of life, so it was always likely that this was how it would all work out.   (The same is true for the Bengal, so that’s something to look forward to…)

The vets themselves were really good – the entire process has obviously changed in the current Lockdown, but it was all done as well as humanly possible.

As it is, I still feel like an absolute shitbag. I know it was the right thing to do, I know she wasn’t well and that this was the best (indeed, the only) way to do things that kept her life as good as possible.  I know she wasn’t in pain, I know she had a really good eight years here with me, and I know the end wasn’t a vile experience.   But I still hate being the one to make that life or death decision, it just doesn’t sit well with me.

I’m going to see now how the Bengal – a change-averse little twat at the best of times – handles things, as she’s never been a solo cat before. She’ll either do fine and accept it, or she’ll be a nightmare for a while.

All told, a shitty, shitty day.


Lockdown – Missed

In a similar vein to the previous post about things that might survive, I’ve thought a lot about the things I’ve actively missed in this time, as opposed to the things I just haven’t done.

The list of things actually missed – the things I’ll look forward to being able to do again – is really quite short.

  • Seeing films at the cinema
  • Meals at my favourite places – with Mere being the key one I’ll be at as soon as they re-open
    (There are a couple of other places I want to go back to, but Mere is the only one I’ve actively missed)
  • Walking in London

And that’s it, really.

Of course there are other things I want to be able to go back to doing and so on, and I’ll enjoy life slowing going back to normal. It’ll be interesting to see how it all works out


Lockdown – Changing Values

One thing I hope will be interesting – as and when the current lockdown is properly eased – is to see the things that people decide are important, the things they’ve actually missed, as opposed to the things they’ve just not been able to go to as part of a routine.

For example, I wonder if [big chain] coffee shops will suffer, as people have (hopefully) realised that they don’t need all that caffeine and sugar.
[Note : I amended this afterwards, following Gordon’s comment, because I’d particularly meant big-chain (Starbucks, Costa et al) places rather than independents/locals that definitely deserve the business and support]

On the evidence of the things that’ve currently re-started, I don’t think it’ll be the case – as soon as they’ve re-opened, there have been huge queues outside places like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC.

It’ll be more interesting to see what happens longer-term, once the “Oh good, they’re back!” novelty value fades.


Bow Time

Decades ago, I used to be highly into archery, and enjoyed it a lot, including shooting up to County level.

Then life got in the way for a while, until I was reminded (15 years ago now) that I enjoyed it when we went to Center Parcs that I went and sorted out a bow and so on and started to get back into it again, and then life got in the way again.

I’d kept the bow and so on, even though I wasn’t doing the archery, and kept on looking for local(ish) archery clubs whose schedules worked with my own. (This is actually a lot harder than you’d think – most of them are on school grounds or similar, so only open specific evenings, and usually ones where I was already doing stuff)

Anyway, about a month ago now, I found a semi-local (within about 30-40 minutes drive) club that has an outdoor range which is open to use seven days a week, which does suit me. But before I could join properly, I had to do their beginner’s course, in order to prove I could use a bow safely.

I did that a couple of weeks back, and again really enjoyed myself.

The final step was to get my bow properly checked out and serviced (it’s not been fired in eight years, I wasn’t going to try it without getting it inspected!) and that happened a week ago on Friday at a place I’d been recommended to use.  Again that was a really good – if not cheap – experience, and by the end of my time there, I was grouping my arrows (at a shorter indoor range) within the space one gets if you circle fingers into an OK gesture.

I filled in, signed and sent off the membership forms the following day, so now I’m just waiting to get my confirmation and card.

All told, I’m generally feeling pretty optimistic about it, and looking forward to seeing how things go.


Petrol and Diesel

This week, one of the main stories in the news was about the UK announcing it had brought forwards a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars to 2035 from its initial target of 2040.

That’s all well and good, but it does have its problems as well. To my mind, the biggest of these is the necessary infrastructure.

You can tell that the great majority of the people proposing these requirements (and expecting everyone in the country to follow suit) live in houses with driveways – or at least off-road parking – as well as the funds to pay for a significant increase to their electricity usage.

However, lots of people don’t live in those situations. Those in blocks of flats, for example, wouldn’t necessarily have access to anything. For those who (like me) live in a house with on-street parking – and even then it’s not guaranteed or reserved parking, so I regularly end up parking a distance away from my place – but even if I were parked outside the house, an electric car would mean dangling a power cable out of the house, and across the pathway that’s regularly used.  For that scenario, I’m honestly not sure what the infrastructure requirements would be – and I don’t think anyone else knows either.

The costs are another matter. Yes OK, you’re cutting out the costs of fuel, but if the demand for electricity shoots up that much, then so will the costs of it. Additionally, there are plenty of people who are on paid-supply meters, or high tariffs (whether because of laziness and not changing, or because that’s all they can get because of debt, income, whatever) and that can also be an issue.

Alongside those concerns – and just using myself as an example – there are plenty of drives that fall outside the range of all but the most expensive electric vehicles.  An ‘affordable’ vehicle like the Nissan Leaf, for example, apparently has a range of 135 miles. So I could do a return journey from home to London, no worries. But I couldn’t do a trip down to see my friends in Somerset (which I can do in 3 hours currently) without a recharging stop each way. (And again, they don’t have a power point for charging a car down there)  Same when I go to see friends in Manchester, or Newcastle.

Hell, I’ve even done daily commutes that would take me past that kind of mileage – and the office was (again) somewhere with no connection to a decent charger, it would’ve been power-cable-tastic – which would have been entirely impractical.

If that kind of target for everyone to have electric vehicles is to be realised, I think there need to be quantum leaps in several aspects, including (but not limited to)

  • Infrastructure for charging vehicles
  • Battery technology, to improve both the range of electric vehicles, and to improve the speed of charging
  • and to improve at-home-storage, allowing the potential for using home-based renewable generation – solar, wind, whatever – that can be stored to provide the charging without draining the grid
  • A huge review of the costs of that electricity, and to ensure increases to the supply that will handle all that extra demand
  • Consideration of the impact on petrol and diesel industry – including the effects of all the staff who might then be in less demand at filling stations and so on

Personally, I think a lot of stuff round electric vehicles is a load of old cock. I’m not convinced that they’re any more efficient (among other things, there’s a lot of power lost in the transmission over cables, so it needs a *lot* more generation in order to provide the supply) and while they’re less polluting at the point of use, I’m not convinced that it’s doing anything more than moving that around. We don’t know what happens with the constituent parts of the car batteries, or what happens when they expire (or when a car crashes or whatever)

I don’t claim to know what the answer is – but I also don’t think that a wholesale change like this is necessarily the best plan.  It needs a lot more thought, and a shitload more planning than currently seems to be happening.


Organising

Among all the usual stuff, I’ve spent some time this month getting things a bit more organised, and kicking off things that had slipped last year.

So in the last two weeks, I’ve…

  • Moved/merged my credit-card crap onto one interest-free balance-transfer card.
    It’s not a huge amount, and not something I’m worried about, but it’s good to have it in one place and no interest for the next two years.
  • Started playing hunt-the-pensions, seeing if I can find them and merge them into one fund, so I know where the hell things stand.
    I’m not expecting much, but again, it’ll be good to know
  • Started sorting a new will, as the last one was done while I was still with Herself. So yeah, that *really* needs to be sorted
  • Booked in cat-sitting people for all the stuff I’ve currently got lined up (which is more than it should be, but less than it could’ve been)
  • Actually also done less – in each of the three weekends so far, I’ve had a day of doing very very little, as per the plan for this year.  I don’t know if that’ll keep on happening (in some ways I’m finding it more exhausting than being busy, but I’ll write about that another time) but so far it’s worked out
  • Completed another project outside of my usual work, which has already made me more productive than last year
  • Oh, and visited my first Michelin-starred restaurant of the year as well (and it was bloody excellent)

It’s been interesting, and eventful – and it’s good to have some of that stuff checked off the list already


Into 2020

It’s been interesting (for no good reason other than that this is a year that ends in a zero) to look back at what was going on this time ten years ago.

It’s fair to say that a lot has changed in that time – albeit none of it recently.

Back then I was still in Norfolk, and working in Bury St Edmunds (and I did keep the promise to stick with the one workplace for the full year of 2010)  I’d just had the first (and still only) accident of my driving career, sliding on ice onto a set of concrete fence posts, which did a blinding job of twatting the front nearside.

So in that ten years, I’ve

  • split with Herself, had another shorter-term relationship, and been single now for much longer than either one.
  • moved four times – and been in one place (the current one) for far longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived since leaving home
  • changed jobs more times than I care to think about (I could work it out, but truly can’t be chuffed) and been doing the current one for far longer than I ever expected
  • been through the whole bankruptcy process, and come out the other side
  • been to more plays and theatre things than I’d ever have thought I’d have been to
  • and the same for restaurants – Michelin-starred and otherwise. This time ten years ago, I’d not been to any Michelin places – that happened in mid-2010, and I wasn’t impressed at the time. Maybe I should go back there, maybe not.
  • changed car twice, and rented a bundle of others as needs directed

There’s a lot of other stuff – it’s interesting to see how a lot of the things I wanted to change then that I still want to change now, for example – and I’ll write more about that elsewhere/elsewhen.

It’s a whole new decade out there (and I can’t be arsed with the argument about whether that’s 2020 or 2021, so don’t bother) and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.