“It’s the most excellent cats that are missed the most”

About 14 years ago Rebekah and Jacob visited the Eden Animal Rescue in Cumbria with their Grandparents and picked out two brother and sister kittens, who they named Timmy and Tilly.
I’ve never really been bothered about pets since leaving my parents home, but when we moved house in 2012 I felt that the house needed a cat, but it wasn’t until early the following year that we managed to get one. Bob and Joyce moved from their home in Cumbria and Timmy moved ‘down south’ to join our family.
Sadly today he passed. He has had a heart condition for a long time, but as a result of that two weeks ago he very suddenly had a blood clot which temporarily robbed him of the use of his back legs. Over the following few days he became more mobile and appeared to be having a miraculous recovery, however he stopped eating and became even more withdrawn; he was in Kidney failure. In the end only his heart or his kidneys could be treated, not both, and treating one would cause the other to fail.
He’s stumbled through the last few days but was a shadow of himself.
We were preparing for today, and am so grateful that despite the subdued nature of this Christmas period we were able to spend it with him.
He was a loving cat, friendly, and funny. Extremely picky about his food, and always overly interested in whatever you were doing. Often a pain in the arse when he would choose to sit on you as soon as you sat down, even if he was quite comfy where he was already; frustrated the hell out of me many times. But I don’t think I really understood the bond between human and pet until Timmy. Last night, I sat watching TV until the early hours of the morning, just so that he could deaden my legs for the last time.
Taking him to the Vet this morning with Rebekah was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
I know I will miss him terribly. The house already seems empty with out him.

Full gallery of Timmy pictures…

*Thanks to Fergus for the post title.

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Into your hands, we commend…

Today I attended the funeral of a woman that I never knew in life. In fact the first time I met Flora Margaret Walsh, she had been dead for mere seconds. Flora was killed in a tragic accident when the forces of nature reasserted its dominance over our modern way of life. A forty tonne Oak tree, that likely started its life as a discarded acorn many years before Flora’s birth almost seventy years ago, was uprooted by freak 80mph winds, the roots gave way in soil, waterlogged from weeks of un seasonal rain, and the tree crushed the car of the unsuspecting Flora, taking a life, and blocking a road for almost twenty four hours.

The medics assured me that Flora was killed instantly and likely knew nothing about it, and as reassuring as this is, it does mean that the horrific sound of the tree crunching the car, will toll as a death bell in my mind for the rest of my life.

Since witnessing the accident I have found myself thinking, “was there anymore I could have done?” I know for sure, that there wasn’t. I watched two fire engines full of firemen, unable to do any more over the following hour, than support the tree and make the car safe for the other emergency services. It would be hours later before Flora could be removed from the car after a team of specialised tree surgeons dismantled the oak with a series of very calculated cuts. But still, time and time again I come back to that moment and examine every decision and action I made.

I have since joked that I now have a mild case of Dendrophobia, a word that I didn’t even know existed a month ago, but in all seriousness, for the last month I have found driving around the country roads of the area I live, on the edge of the New Forest, particularly difficult. Used to having to drive with your eyes peeled to the side of the road, scanning for Deer, Pigs, Cows, Sheep, and Ponies, I now find myself watching every tree with a fearful anticipation. The worst has been at night, when I can’t see the trees, can’t see them moving in the wind. I know they are there. I know that they are moving.

It’s no exaggeration when I say that I potentially owe my life and that of my son, to a small branch that fell in front of my car and made me navigate around it. It was this that made me pay more attention to the uprising of the wind and the movement of the trees at the side of the road. Without it, I’m not sure that I would have seen the tree fall and I wouldn’t have been able to stop in time. It’s strange that I didn’t remember this at the time, only later when giving my statement to the police officer.

I find myself feeling guilty. I feel guilty that I have spent a month struggling with something that happened to someone else. I feel guilty every time someone asks me how I’m feeling. Because honestly, I feel sad. Yes I have images in my mind of what I saw in the car, yes I’ve seen the tree taking its tumble night after night, yes I’ve heard the re-occurring crunch of wood on metal, but I’m alive, and Flora isn’t. I feel guilty every time the narrative appears to be about me, because it’s not about me, it’s about Flora, a woman who was on her way to visit her husband in hospital, and never made it. But I have to juxtapose this with the need to talk about it, I can’t hold this inside, writing about it is the means to help me understand and hopefully come to terms with what was a tragic moment in time.

Today couldn’t have been any different than a month ago, blue skies, no wind, and a warm low winter sun. I met Flora’s daughters, Lucy and Claire, and Claire asked if she could give me a hug. I had been in two minds about going to the funeral, I felt that I needed to go, it seemed that I might find some closure, felt that I should meet the family, but I didn’t feel quite right about it. However, in that brief moment, held in the arms of a woman that I now have only a small but tragic link with, as she said thank you to me, it lightened by heart, and I think she gave me the little extra strength that I needed to move forward.

I don’t recall ever crying at a funeral before, but I cried at Flora’s. I cried for her, I cried for her family, I cried for my family, and I cried for myself.

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in the giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned, and in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Flora is survived by her husband Martin, daughters Claire and Lucy, and 6 year old grandson Nye.

Donations in memory of Flora are for Knitted Knockers and Waggy Tails Rescue.

Waggy Tails

Knitted Knockers

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Yesterday was a difficult day…

It was late yesterday afternoon before I managed to watch the Rugby final. At half time I really didn’t care anymore and forwarded it to see the final result. The match just seemed irrelevant.

Yesterday  morning before the match I popped out to pickup Jacob from his friends. On the journey home we witnessed a tree come down a kill a woman in her car.

Jacob and I had stopped meters away, a mere second from being underneath it. We saw the tree come down, it was a bizarre moment, almost slow motion, but it was obvious the woman had’t seen it, we were able to stop in time, but the tree landed directly on top of her. I’m pretty sure the sound of the tree impacting the car will haunt me.

As first person to the car, it was obvious that she had’t made it, there was no signs of life, but to be honest with the state of the car, it would have taken a miracle. I’ll spare everyone the details. More people turned up, but we were powerless.

We watched helplessly as the various emergency services tried to work out what to do, but later sat in the back of the fire engine it was clear that they were no longer trying to get to the woman to help her, they’d called it, and it was now about recovery. The huge tree was still unsafe, a number of times we watch the fireman run from the tree as vicious gusts of wind threatened to dislodge it even further, indeed a little later the bow cracked. Eventually a special team arrived on the scene to start dismantling the tree in order to get access to the car.

One of the firemen who been looking after confirmed that she was dead and that she would have died on impact, I’m not sure it it’s true or just to ease the worrying, but apparently she wouldn’t have known or felt a thing.

Finally I gave my statement and the police recovered my car through the mass of emergency vehicles and we were able to leave. Driving back the way we’d come it was unnerving to see a large amount of other tree debris that had come down behind us.

I thought watching the match might help distract me, but it didn’t, and it just seemed so pointless. In the end, I just didn’t care. Part of me is glad England didn’t win, I’m not sure I could reconcile the joy with the utter sadness I feel.

Strong winds: Woman killed and ferry travel disrupted

Woman killed after tree falls on car in East Dorset

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The Lords of Midnight Novel

Why is the Solstice so important?

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Midwinter, Sid Meier, and the Chinese restaurant.

I’ve had a number of people contact me with regard an interview with Jane Whittaker in Retro Gamer. It seems part of it details the origin story of Midwinter which took place in a Chinese restaurant in Liverpool and includes Mike, Jane, and Sid Meier.

Firstly, some caveats from myself. I didn’t personally know Mike during the time of Midwinter, not did I ever work in one of his companies, nor involved with their projects at that time. So I cannot vouch for the accuracies or inaccuracies of the interview myself.

What I do know is that a number of people have contacted me with stories of that time. People who knew Mike and people who knew Jane. From speaking with them, Mike’s family, original members of Maelstrom, and direct members of the Midwinter team, I believe I have enough corroborating  information to suggest that the Midwinter parts of the interview are untrue as are much of the Mike Singleton references, but it also casts doubt on much of there rest of the interview.

It’s not my place to detail this. If other people want to go public with their information that would be their choice. I just wanted to publicly make it known that I think the Midwinter parts are complete hokum.

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