Monday 12 December 2022

Vulpine visitor.


My flat is on the other side of the road from a large-ish park where, as I've known for years, a 'family' or more of urban foxes live. Over time, when I've got out of bed in the early hours, I've very occasionally seen one in the back gardens scavenging for food. Even with the odd cat around outside, including my own, they ignore or just accept one another, though cats seem the more wary and somewhat fascinated, without the overt hostility or fear they'd exhibit against dogs. 

A few nights ago I found the food which I always leave out overnight for my own furry threesome not only eaten up entirely and the milk-bowl licked dry, but also my indoor rubbish bag, prior to putting in bin outside, had been ransacked, with tea bags, avocado skins, cat left-overs etc littering the kitchen floor. (I leave the kitchen window open for the cats with a small gap for them to go in and out at will on their nocturnal prowlings). I didn't give the incident much thought then and there, thinking another cat had been the culprit. However, on the following evening, sitting watching telly with one cat on my lap and another nearby, they both became unsettled and got up to peer down the hallway above the stairs. I rose to look and there, disappearing through the kitchen window was the brush of a fox tail - and evidence of ransacking once again. It was clear that at least one of them had got bolder. 

Searching the internet for a fox-repellent, they all appeared expensive and more geared to gardens or farms rather than domestic 'invaders'. But it seems that scents which foxes actively dislike include garlic (I'm with the fox there!) and chillies, so I bought some of both and, as instructed, crushed some of them in a bowl and added boiling water, which I've left on the kitchen window ledge for the last three nights. Seems to have worked. But only this morning, at 5 a.m. and temps well below freezing, looking out with a torch, there on the wall, watching me dolefully was a fox, with a pleading look which said 'Please give me some food!' I felt so incredibly sorry for the poor creature, it was heart-breaking. But didn't dare to respond as I wanted to, knowing that if I did it would only return again and again - and then acquiring a dreadful reputation as a fox-feeder and attractor from all the neighbours and beyond - and, to top it all, the lovely young couple neighbours under me (he a doctor, she a former nurse - could be extremely useful!) have an 8-month old baby!

So, as at right now I'm hoping that I don't see the vulpine visitor again, though I'm sure I will. And what if it gets brave or desperate enough to push in past the stinking concoction I leave on the window ledge? What can I do? Oh, the heartache! It hurts so! 😟

Friday 14 October 2022

And yet a further milestone reached - they just keep coming!


Yes, today (15th) is my 'Trombones Day' - "With a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'B' and that stands for........" - Birthday! 

For those who've been enquiring after my well-being during recent months - something for which I'm eternally grateful and very touched indeed - overall, my health continues fine, all thing considered. As I often say, it's far better than a lot of folk of my advanced age (and yet older) have, if they have even ever reached it, which now just about all of my one-time small handful of friends failed to do. 
Previous eye difficulties are more or less gone now. Sight in both eyes is very good in one and quite acceptable in the other. Not needing spectacles at all, with contact lenses, after 50 years wear, also now being firmly relegated to the past. Lingering slight regret that there remains a discernible disparity between both eyes' visions but I appreciate how lucky I am having come through the sometimes dramatic difficulties with the result I have. So I've positively no complaints! 

Couple of months ago I managed to resume reading again, both newspapers and books - and to prove to myself that I can, a week ago started re-reading that readers' Everest, (or should we now be calling it 'Sagarmatha'?) of 'War and Peace', my ninth (and possibly last?) 'ascent' of it - and in a fifth translation. (Very curiously, this 'Penguin Popular Classics' edition, which I picked up for £1 some years back, doesn't give this particular translator's name, and which my Internet search has also failed to uncover. Most odd.) But it's a great relief to get back to what has been for me, viz. reading generally, one of the greatest pleasures in all my life since infancy.

I must poignantly mention in passing that today would also have been the b/day of Arteejee (RTG), hubby of our late, dear Anne-Marie of Philly - both much missed, and will continue to be so.

Now it's disappointing that I can't show, as I always have done for every birthday, up-to-date photos of myself and my three furry flat-mates. Yesterday I took what I thought were good photos on my digital camera, but when I came to try to upload them onto this p.c. it seems that things have moved on and the old procedure doesn't work as before. The simplest way is now via a smartphone, which I still don't have, and to do it with a digital camera requires me to follow instructions which I just can't understand. Terms are used which are gobbledygook to me. So, until I can find some way to achieve it, unfortunately at present there are no new photos are to be seen. 

So, until the next time something happens in my life which deserves blogging about, I wish well to any remaining followers and readers of my sparse and rare posts.   
Very best wishes to y'all!

Saturday 23 July 2022

Boy oh boy! Wouldn't wish this on ANYbody!


My first ever surgical operation - and. oh the pain - during it!!!! 

In short (?), then - I reported as requested to Brighton eye hospital for their team to examine the botched cataract removal surgery, my 'other' eye having been done with no problem at all - and within just 10 minutes when I'd felt very little discomfort. Now the team of specialists were alarmed at the build up of pressure inside the faulty eye, now with no lens, and I was strongly recommended an operation without further delay. Any postponement, they said, would carry a grave risk of losing all sight in that eye. So no choice, really. It had never occurred to me that things would have to move so fast. 

That was last Wed. They scheduled the operation for the following morning, asking me to stay overnight so it could be done right away at 7 a.m. I told them "No way!" ( I had to return home to see to the pussycats - which I didn't tell them. Besides, I've never been to hospital to stay in my entire life!) So early on Thurs morning I journeyed back with more than a little apprehension. 

Pre-surgery was given several different tablets and eye-drops to, the theory was, deaden any pain - on top of which received an injected local anaesthetic for the eye and its surroundings. Right from the start, when one of the two main surgeons started poking into the eye the pain was simply excruciating, the like of which I don't recall having experienced before. I tried my best not to yell out, failing a number of times,  and so it went on and on for very nearly an hour! I was gripping onto the edge of the operating table like my life depended on it - and each time I shouted out a soothing voice would say "Don't worry, Sir. Just a couple more things to do." The number of times I was told this was unbelievable - "Don't worry, Sir. Just a couple more things, then we've finished". It went on and on until I really thought my heart was going to give up the ghost.

Eventually it really did end and I was able to sit up, very sore-eyed, to be wheeled to where I could relax(!) for a couple of hours. At last I was able - just - to struggle up onto my unsteady pins. Then after a cursory examination, my 'new' eye (with new lens inserted) covered by cotton wool and shield, I made my wobbly way back home on the bus.

Woke up yesterday morning after sleeping a full 14 hours, though disturbed during night by soreness in and around the eye. Then at last I could venture to remove the shield. I did have some vision there, for the first time in several months, though was disappointed by it being nowhere near as sharp as the 'good' eye - and I even now as yet can't read with it, either distance and close-up.

Had to return to the hospital the next day yet again for a routine post-operation check-up. Both doctors I saw were very pleased at how things were, the pressure inside the eye having gone back down to near-normal. I was assured that once the lens has settled I will be able to read with it, which is the blessing I was hoping for. So I go back again for one further check-up in 3 weeks time.

That's the saga as currently is. I was immensely relieved to be told that no further surgery will be necessary, which is just as well, as I'd do just about anything to avoid going through that again - above all, if it's to be subject again to the sheer agony of that hour 'under the knife'!

Now the morning following what I posted above:-

After a night's reflection, and having now regained some composure after that horrific experience, I've come to the incredible, but not totally improbable, conclusion that, by some oversight (not intentionally, one assumes - and I hope) I was not administered with any anaesthetic, general or local. When I was told about the surgery the previous day I clearly recall the doctor saying that I'd be given a local anaesthetic. However, come the day I do not remember my being given any injection prior to the operation or, indeed, after. If I'd made any assumption at all it had been that there must have been something in the several tablets I was being given which would do that service. What prevented me from crying out during the operation even more than I did was the notion that I would be thought a wimp! But can one actually anaesthetise by taking only oral medication? Surely it would require an actual injection by syringe into the relevant area, as when a dentist gives you a jab in the gums, then waits a couple of minutes or longer for it to take effect. There was none of that in my case here. 

So that is my conclusion, unpleasant as it is, but now maintain what is likely to have happened. It would explain so much. When I went for the following day's check-up I did mention what a horror-show experience it had been - but no comment was made by the main doctor who just smiled benignly. (Perhaps he now realised it himself but didn't want to pursue it, maybe understandably so?) I think when I return for a further examination in three weeks' time I will mention it again and ask directly if it could happen that a patient is operated on without being anaesthetised first, to which the answer has got to be "Yes". I'd hardly have been the first! If there really has to be a 'next time', can't any more assume that the staff have got it all right.

Sunday 17 July 2022

Still here! - mono-visioned and newly disappointed.

Well, just in case anyone had wondered about, or even noticed, my absence, I can reassure such that I am still here and surviving, albeit in 'depleted' state. 

In April I posted about the 100% success of my first cataract removal. The other eye had the same operation last Tues, and (to be generous), I'll rate its 'success' at 0%. Different surgeon this time. The 'old' lens he was trying to remove apparently broke up into a myriad of pieces, all drifting into the jelly-like substance (vitreous humor) in the main body of the eyeball. Of course there could be then no attempt made to fix a new lens in. The result is that I have very blurred vision through that eye which now, unsurprisingly, has significantly more 'floaters' than it had before, some alarmingly large. The operation, such as it was, was twice as long as the first time, and unlike that occasion, was quite painful to undergo, with considerable jabbings. Afterwards, with me not being sure what had happened, while told to sit in a  post-operation waiting area, the surgeon came out, very apologetically, explained what had happened, and gave me a consolatory handshake. 

So now I have to await a call from a (different) hospital which will be sent my records to assess what can be done - hopefully quickly and none too complicated, assuming they've met this problem enough times before so they know how to remedy it.

Meanwhile, the medication I've been prescribed to take down the eye swelling has finished today. It's been zonking me out severely, my sleeping something like 18 hours a day - or more! Also it took away my appetite, everything tasting 'different' - even water - and not in a pleasant way.

And all this while we are suffering the most intense and prolonged heatwave in 50 years, peaking tomorrow (Mon) and Tues when temps over large parts of England and even into Scotland, are expected to hit or even exceed 40 C (104 Fahrenheit), which has never been seen before in this country's recorded history! Here on the coast we could have a slightly more 'merciful' high in the mid- or upper 30s. My poor pussycats have already been suffering badly. Only wish I could tell them it's just for another two days - at least we fervently hope.

I'll try to return to reading and commenting on blogs soonish even though reading still hasn't been that easy.


Sunday 3 July 2022

Trying to cure my addiction to....American politics


It hit me like a stone yesterday (or like a light pat on Rudy's back), that I'm now spending anything up to eight hours per day watching YouTube videos on the subject - news reports, discussion excerpts, talks, opinions etc, from the more dependable/progressive sites like TYT, RoF, Meidas, Rebel...... + MSNBC, CNN etc. This is just plain c-r-a-z-y! And the cause of my being drawn in like this? The advancing horror of what the U.S.A. could well be like in just a few months time - as though the state U.S. politics is in even now isn't worrying enough! It has not only consumed my days, pushing aside any time I'd otherwise have spent reading, listening to music or watching TV, it's taken over my nights too, with me regularly waking up after maybe two hours sleep only to lay there until perhaps 4.a.m. or later with these thoughts and fears churning over and over without cease.  

I'll refrain from mentioning specific issues or personalities as this will only get me (and others, no doubt) worked up all over again.  But I will mention just two differences between American politicians and British (the latter albeit with our own set of foibles) which in less serious times I would be bemused by rather than finding them grating as I do now:-

First, the observation of American politicians (almost exclusively of the 'right') repeatedly to declare themselves as 'Christian' as though it is a badge of honour - and furthermore, as though they expect to be respected for being so! In my 60+ years of being politically aware, that is something I don't ever recall a British politician of any party doing (though Mrs Thatcher did come mighty close to doing so at least a couple of times - but even she never wore it so conspicuously on her sleeve). In matters of 'faith' generally, we might see here the occasional Muslim female Member of Parliament with head covered, or the equally rare male Sikh member in a turban, but these overt signs of faith are never referred to either by the members themselves or, indeed, by anyone else, just as they need not be when not relevant. But to hold up being Christian (and it's always and only Christian, of course!) as a demonstration of one's 'superiority' would be, and should be, simply laughable in any other context, as well as in politics. (Careful now, Ray. Watch your blood pressure!

Another difference is how (again, the American 'right') uses words like 'Socialist' and 'Progressive' as terms of abuse - and expects those they accuse of being so to feel shamed at having such pejorative words aimed at them! Over here even the Conservative Party has long since dropped that ploy as being fruitless, which it is. In fact those of us who do consider ourselves as 'Socialist' take pride in being referred to as such, as Conservatives themselves have long since realised. Moreover, the most extreme word, 'Communist', itself carries very little or no stigma here nowadays, except when referring, say, to the current Chinese and North Korean governments or to Soviet Union days. It's a complete waste of breath for those words to be fired off as insults 'cos they're virtually inapplicable in a British context.

Anyway, having got those two matters off my chest for now, going back to my reason for this blog, I genuinely do fear that unless there's a Deus ex machina moment well before the end of this year, the U.S.A. is going to be firmly in the list of one of the world's most repressive democracies - if we can even continue to call it a 'democracy' at all. If I was a praying man I'd get down on my knees right now to beseech the old man in the sky to let it not turn out so. On second thoughts, as no harm can come of it, taking a knee might not be such a bad idea after all!  

And btw: it's now getting on for 4 p.m. here and I've not (yet?) taken even a peep at any YouTube posts today. I'm determined to see the full day through without any such transgression.

Sunday 15 May 2022

Ukraine wins Eurovision. Who'd have guessed it? Everybody!

 ..........and with a song I'd have ranked around 10th out of the 25 finalists. However, to be fair to the winners, even before the Russian invasion it was being talked about as a leading contender to carry off the prize. At least it blows Russian President Putrid another raspberry if, as increasing evidence suggests, he is playing out the terminal stages of his ignominious life (Parkinson's? AND thyroid cancer? Cancer of the blood? All triggered by excessive use of steroids?) And all as if his country having been banned from even entering this year's contest wasn't hurtful enough to someone who sets such store on international prestige! 

Turin was the host for this year's consp-icuou-sly gay extrav-aganza, Italy having won the contest in 2021 - and with the usual indifferent (to me) entry. 

Other than the winners, the main headline was that the U.K. entry, Sam Ryder, took our country out of its habitual laughing-stock zone of finishing last - even attaining the dreaded nul points two years ago - by now finishing second, even though I rated his song 'Space Man' (with its 1970s-ish Bowie-esque title) worthy of ending in around 20th place. 

It's 20 years since we attained even 3rd place and it was 1997 when we last won outright, so this was a most welcome result. This entry, sung entirely in high-register voice, actually came out top when the first round of voting was announced, that being the verdict of each of the 40 countries' music jury, so there must have been something special about it, though that merit escapes me - possibly an 'age thing'?

Ukraine's winning entry ('Stefania' by the 'Kalusha Orchestra') was in no way bad - just unexceptional to my ears. It merely ticked the requisite boxes.

Third came Spain, one to run to the kitchen and make a mug of coffee. 

Fourth, Sweden and fifth, Serbia - the latter with its curious continuous hand-washing act, the singer being attended to by a group of male, bearded acolytes with towels at the ready to hand to her to dry before she dipped her hand in the washing bowl again. A strange offering among several oddities! 

The event's presenters Alessandro Cattelan, Laura Pauosoni and that brief 2007 sensation, the British-Lebanese,  Mika (yes, that one, 'Grace Kelly' and all that - so impressive at the time that I actually bought his first two albums! I wondered what had become of him - but he's apparently still a celebrity in Italy, among other places).

Complete with the ever-maddening "Now, are you ready!" - when we'd been yelling at the telly "Jeez, just get on with it!!!" for the previous 20 minutes - she in the middle was by far the most gratingly irritating, and being well known in Italy, just had to start the show with not one, but a medley of four of her hit songs in Italy - and all when there were no less than twenty-five competition songs to get through! Sheeesh! It was nearly 20 minutes in before we heard the first entry proper. Then in the pre-results hiatus Mika himself gave a selection of his own songs, which was better and, at least, more familiar and less jarring. 

My own three favourite entries were not supported by results corresponding to my opinions. 

I put Lithuania top - a song for which commentator Graham Norton expressed surprise that it had got into the final, so what do I know? A gentle, unshowy foot-tapping number sung by the sleek Monika Liu in slinky dress, entirely alone with no distracting dancers or visual fireworks. I thought it was the best by a mile.  It finished 14th. 

Then I placed the happiest entry - from Moldova, even if it was about a railway line! They seemed so darned cheerful and were having a whale of a time performing it, and lifting my spirits.
 Finished 7th.

And then in third place I'd have put the dottiest entry, Norway's 'Give that Wolf a Banana' by Subwoolfer (in yellow wolf-masks). Daft, but original, funny and compelling. Finished 10th.

A few curiosities - I was disappointed that Israel didn't get through to the final as I thought it the campest of all the turns........

Then Australia, which did make it to this final, coming 15th, featuring one Sheldon Riley singing tearfully how he, as a young boy, felt 'different' and his coming out as gay - all the while dragging a heavy train of white plume behind him which must have been ever so uncomfortable - and he looked like it was!  

San Marino, ditched in the semi-finals, had ended with a man-man kiss. But the song wasn't 'special' enough - as weren't over half of those that actually did make it to the final.

This year's wooden spoon prize went to Germany, just below France - two of the biggest financial contributors to the contest taking the bottom two places.

And what about the voting? We'd always been used to beng allowed to cast just the one vote by telephone (now plus computer and other modern means of communicating) - but obviously not for one's own country. This time the presenters twice said "You have twenty votes at your disposal!" "WHAT?" I thought. Yet Graham Norton went on about voting for your favourite song/entry - emphatically in the singular! Did he not hear them? Didn't he know? Did it mean that we could, if we wished, vote for up to 20 countries which we liked? I can't have been alone in noticing this. If it meant that we, perhaps along with other countries, were deprived of registering all our likes, then surely the final results will have been skewed, to some unfavourably, to others in their favour. I await someone else pointing this out - and the verdict thereon. 

So, all in all, a reasonable contest, even if my last point leaves me with an uncertain taste in the mouth. But hey, at least the U.K. is once again one of Eurovision's big league players, and that's no mean thing.

Kyiv next year then? Russian-less and defiantly independent we trust - and by then as much 'repaired' as we can help with. 

Wednesday 20 April 2022

Back in business - one eye cataract gone, one to go.


Surgery on my left eye took place yester-day. And, so far at least, things are 'looking' very fine indeed. The difference in visual acuity between both eyes is now nothing short of extraordinary. I hadn't expected to have been missing as much as can now be seen with the remedied eye, for both distance and even close-up reading without any aid. Being short-sighted, I'd been wearing contact lenses for exactly 50 years this year, while until recently had always been able to read easily with no assistance. That changed around Xmas time when the speed of deterioration in both eyes for both long-distance and near was alarming, such that for the last few weeks have been hardly able to see or read little at all, even with large magnifying glass - and any writing on this laptop had to be zoomed in on enormously, with my own typing becoming arduous and slow. Now no more. Henceforth I can resume reading others' blogs and making comments on them. Happy days! As at now, though, have to say that seeing properly with just the one good eye feels awkward and lop-sided, though suppose it just needs getting used to. Was only allowed to remove the taped-on transparent, plastic eye-shield this morning, and have just begun the eye-drops ritual, one type four times daily, another twice daily, for two weeks. The uncomfortable grit-in-eye sensation I had yesterday from after surgery until bed-time has receded significantly, though not entirely. Now there's a wait till mid-June to return for a follow-up check which, if satisfactory, operation on other eye will be scheduled. So, assuming the right eye will have the same sort of timetable,  it could be all done and dusted by September, or maybe October - when then I can say "Farewell forever, contacts!" - and perhaps the same for spectacles too. I'd been told that despite being able to see distances I'd probably need glasses for reading. However, that's not the case so far, even if today it's been a little bit tiring. But if it turns out that specs just for reading are needed it'll cause me no consternation at all - and will in any case be far, far cheaper than contacts. 

The surgery itself wasn't too bad, only a little discomfort at having to keep on staring at a very bright light while the surgeon tinkered around and in the front of the eyeball, taking out and replacing the defective lens, which was disconcerting if thinking too much about it, especially when I could see and feel the eye being irrigated every few seconds. The whole procedure must have lasted just seven or eight minutes. Hardly any true physical 'pain' as such. 

Before and after the operation one had to go through a series of specialists, each taking care of a particular aspect of the procedures. All were making an effort to be cordial and to set one at ease, but for every one I could detect a cold efficiency beneath, which was okay as there were about a dozen patients all there for the same operation, and no doubt others too later when mine was passed.

Now I can see the clarity and the colours I'd been missing it's really like another world - Dorothy opening the door onto Oz! I've yet to go outside but it'll be such a relief to be able cross the road safely again and to be able to go shopping without having to guess that what I was picking from off the shelves was what I needed just because the shape of it felt like what I was after.  

Incidentally, it's now more evident than I suspected that the vision in my uncorrected right eye is so much like those sepia-tinted photographs of old, the 1930s and before - exactly like that for my experience - blurred outlines with all the colour toned right down or completely washed out. (Not quite as in the comparative illustration I show above). What a difference in sight to the other untreated eye. Truly extraordinary! And oh, to be able after several months, to read a newspaper again - and books, books, books! 

By the way, one snag I had both getting to and returning home after the surgery, was discovering how prone I now am to travel sickness. The eye-clinic for this area is in the middle of nowhere, an outlandish place to get to, about 20 miles from here, inaccessible by regular public transport of any kind. However, thanks to our glorious National Health Service, a lift both ways can be arranged at no charge (a taxi would cost over £40 or $50 U.S. - each way!). Of course the operations themselves are paid for too. (Ta muchly again, NHS!). Last month had to make my first visit there for a pre-surgery assessment involving several test. But being driven there and back, in a Health Service-provided car, was a most uncomfortable experience. It was my first time on any mode of travel - train, bus, car - in three years, and, boy, did I feel it! Travel sickness. Up and down, start and stop, crawl and shoot along. Yesterday, expecting the same, I went prepared with bottle of water and several plastic bags which I could heave into if the worst came to the worst. In the event, the worst did occur, both going and returning - though thankfully, both times nothing was brought up, my having purposely eaten very little, though making the two drivers, different ones each way, express reasonable alarm at my several loud retching noises. Terrifically embarrassing. Must get something from the chemist for when I have to go next time in June.

So I'm halfway there now. Quite enough to make my presence better known on these pages once more. Can't promise that I can catch up on reading all the blogs I've missed but I still hope to slot myself in here and there without being over-conspicuous and over-bearing. We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, though I know that several of those who read this blog will have undergone cataract removal surgery themselves and will recognise much of what I've described. For those who haven't and have yet to tread this path, I can assure them that although a degree of trepidation as I experienced will be entirely natural, there is nothing to fear - and there's a very high chance indeed, that your result will be as positive as mine seems to be - and that you also will be singing its praises.  

P.S. All my pussies are fine - now including a 'new' young black-and-white sweetie from a few doors away, and who, without asking permission, has filled the vacancy left by my late, dearest Blackso. He now sleeps and eats here all the time, though of course he can always return to his rightful home should he prefer. I can only hope the landlord doesn't find out as I did promise him that when my then four 'residents' disappeared one by one (for whatever reason), I wouldn't replace them. A photo of the new one, whom I've yet to name, will appear in due course. 

'See' y'all shortly!

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Copious tears for my now late, dearest little Blackso.

(In writing what follows below I did not wish to claim an exclusivity in depth of sorrow towards a departed, much loved  pet. I'm only too aware that a lot of readers of this blog, very likely the large majority, will have experienced similar feelings perhaps several times in their lives, or even many times. I might, however be unusual in having no one else in the whole world to talk to about it. So please understand if I use this channel to off-load my feelings here. Thanks).

 My little treasure, Blackso (the Second) had been with me for less than three years, arriving on and sleeping on my outside kitchen window- sill, when with the colder weather, he finally accepted my coaxing invitation to come in. He was in a bad way - his spine and rib-cage easily felt under his fur, and with a deep wound on his crown, and he remained so for all his time with me, such that I'd assumed he must have been ill-treated and poorly fed at his former home, and had made his move to run away. But other than his more obvious physical ailments he got to be comfortable here, settling in easily, and eating well and sleeping in a corner by a heater - though drinking loads of water, a sure sign of kidney problems. But he seemed okay so I chanced avoiding the extra expense of taking him to a vet as he wasn't in any obvious pain or discomfort. I'd no idea where he'd come from, nor his age, which could have been anywhere between 10 and 20, and was alert to looking for any notice asking for the whereabouts of a missing all-black cat, notices which one sees all the time here, pasted onto lamp-posts or other street furniture.... but nothing. If he'd wanted to move on I wouldn't have forced him to stay.

I knew the day would come, and it did the day before yesterday, when I caught him pitifully trying to drag his hind legs along the carpet to get to his litter tray. He'd also been coming out with occasional alarming  'yowls' during recent nights as he slept, sometimes under my bed. I made an appointment with my regular vet for early yesterday morning, bracing myself for the likelihood that he was beyond practical help, especially considering his apparent advanced age. Carrying him in the cat-cage the mile or so to the vet was a miserable experience for both of us, me letting him regularly hear my hopefully reassuring voice that I was by his side while he gave little frightened miaows. 

The vet, on taking him out of the container, started on an unexpected note of hope that it may not be the end for him. But then with scan along his back, discovered to my surprise that he'd been microchipped, which I had never suspected for one moment, assuming that if he had been badly treated by his former owner(s) they wuld hardly have bothered to get him microchipped.  For obvious reasons of confidentiality I couldn't be told the owner's identity or where they lived, but the vet had been in contact and a lady was to call round later in the day and I was to leave Blackso there while they'd check him over thoroughly. I was told they'd ring me when there was any news. I returned home with a bit of a spring in my step, having asked the vet to inform the owner that I'd be happy to keep and care for Blackso for the remainder of his days. Of course they didn't call me back. At my wit's end I finally rang the vet at 4 o'clock. The receptionist, with smile in voice, said cheerily "Oh, he's been put to sleep". I was speechless. I spluttered to enquire if the owner had been in and was told that she did indeed come in, had a look at him but didn't want to take him asked the vet to have him put down. (She was, after all, his 'official' owner, like it or not). I had to finish the call quickly before I started blubbing uncontrollably, just after the receptionist gave me a cheery "Goodbye!". I went into the bedroom where my other three cats were sleeping - yes, I've still got three, and I dare say that many might think that I should be grateful for having them, and I most certainly am not in the least ungrateful. I value each of them as the best friends I've got   But the tears flooded, my wailing waking up all three of them, looking at me curiously, then putting their heads back down and continuing their dreams. But what hurt most - and still hurts deeply - is that I never got to say a proper farewell to my good, affectionate little pal, leaving him to exit this world alone in a strange and frightening environment, as if I'd deserted him -  and my not having expressed my gratitude to him for choosing me to live with and have the privilege of my appreciating and caring for him. But you will live on forever in my heart, my dearest one.

As a p.s., I'll just mention re my eyes and their cataracts, that I go for an assessment in 6 weeks time and which, if favourable, an operation on left eye should take place 2-3 weeks later, with the other eye being done some weeks after that. This all happens 20 miles away. If I preferred to wait for a more local hospital to do it there's a current waiting-list time of two years!

When ths interminable nuisance is all over - this blog has taken me more than two hours to write, such a slow, painful process it is -  and I've got some semblance of 'normal' vision back, be assured I'll return to both blogging more regularly and (most importantly) resume a daily reading of all your own blogs. Any 'hiccups' in my progress will be duly reported on.