My mum often refers to my cat as an assistant. For example when we’re talking on the phone, she’ll ask: “how is your assistant?” My mum has these expressions that are very her.
But the truth is, Pepper is my assistant. Not that she assists me in any useful way, she is just there when I’m doing something, sitting and watching me.
This is her watching me while I wash the dishes. It’s my typical evening routine, I do the dishes at around ten or eleven in the evening, clean the counters etc. Pepper sits there at the doorway and watches me.
The below picture was taken on a different day, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the same day.
I don’t know what interests her so much about my washing of the dishes. She’s an indoor cat, her territory is a very small flat, so I guess she needs to find excitement in every mundane thing.
The year has been… strange. World as we know it will never be the same. But there has been success with vaccines.
For Some Photoblog, however, 2021 was the most productive year ever–89 posts! The major theme was pictures of flowers taken by my smartphone on my walks, with an occasional bird thrown in.
My DSLR camera, bless the poor thing’s mirrored heart, got some work done at last, after mostly idle 2020. The lens cap got stuck in the course of this long idleness, sending me into a state of panic (easily happens to me). I had to consult Google for a solution. Thankfully I managed to get the cap off. I even wrote a short flash fiction story about it! Which was actually inspired by a prompt at Online Writers Guild, but funny how that prompt, erm, mirrored, exactly what was going on in my life.
I didn’t get up to much this year, I only visited two places outside Manchester–Lyme Park and Halifax, but the visits were that much more enjoyable. I also took a walk to Castlefield one Saturday at the end of February to have a look at the sets of Peaky Blinders that was being filmed there, and I came home with some fantastic shots–not just of the sets, but of early spring too. I think there are altogether four posts made out of that one single walk.
Autumn has also been good, we’ve been really lucky with the leaves this year.
On the pop culture side, I covered some of my favourite things: Agatha Christie (a reposted entry from 2019 with new photos taken this year), Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and most of all, actor Sam Claflin to whom I dedicated a 5200-words-long post. (I didn’t realise it was that long!) I pretty much carry a flag with his name on it–because someone has to.
In the world of movies, after a dry 2020, we’ve finally seen some delayed cinematic releases, and more. Marvel have treated us to four films in total, and they were all fantastic (Black Widow, Shang-Chi, Eternals and, most of all, Spider-Man No Way Home), plus five series on Disney+. While I’m not a big fan of James Bond, I did go to see No Time To Die, as it was Daniel Craig’s final outing, and because it was the first major picture to be delayed in the early months of the pandemic. I can say it’s my favourite now–it really was something else–and I loved the gorgeous cinematography. Cary Joji Fukunaga also directed the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre; if you’ve seen it, you know it has the right gothic feel. (I acknowledge that, as much as I’m fond of butchering that story.) Dune also finally made its appearance, a difficult book to translate to screen, but Denis Villeneuve pulled it off. The soundtrack was just *chef’s kiss*, Hans Zimmer outdid himself–and that’s saying a lot!
In the streaming world, everyone went mad for Squid Game, and I’m happy for a non-English language show to achieve such a huge success. Speaking of non-English shows, French series Lupin also enjoyed big popularity–I love me some heist. The last show I want to give a shout out to is The Irregulars, a Sherlock Holmes adjacent series featuring the group of street kids known as Baker Street Irregulars. Unusually for Sherlock Holmes-verse, it’s a paranormal mystery, with a diverse cast. I liked it so much more than that bloody Enola Holmes last year (this is an unpopular opinion and I stand by it), but unfortunately it has not been renewed by Netflix. In episode three, I spotted a familiar sight–The Cage at Lyme Park. Thus I became the Leonardo Di Caprio pointing at the screen meme.
Just like last year, I listened to a lot of Taylor Swift, who has been re-releasing her old music to get back her rights. Most memorable is probably the ten-minute version of All Too Well, to which she recorded a short film as a music video. My most streamed song this year, though, was Wellerman, a remixed sea shanty that went viral thanks to TikTok at the beginning of the year. Not surprising since I played it on loop!
Elsewhere on my writing blog, it’s also been a successful year. I particularly enjoyed myself by murdering an English classic (guess which one), dreaming about being seduced to the dark side by hot villains, and experimenting with a day in the life of a very fictional Home Secretary in a fictionalised version of Britain. But the most popular story turned out to be I Fall In Love With You Every Day. Same as previously mentioned The Camera Smiles, it, too, was a response to a prompt by Online Writers Guild.
I think I went on for long enough, so let me wrap this up with Pepper, my constant and only companion. In October I had some massive work done on my flat (landlord at last realised what terrible state it was in), so I now have a brand new kitchen and bathroom–a side note, you don’t realise how a thing like that can completely change your mindset–and one of the builders remarked that every time they brought something new in, such as tools or materials, the cat “must come and check everything”. Of course, as all cat owners know, this is a completely normal cat behaviour, but the builder clearly didn’t know it, and it still makes me laugh to this day.
Thank you for visiting my blog in 2021 and all the best for 2022!
I encountered these two cats on my walk in the park, the walk from my previous post.
I took several pictures of this cat, who looked like quite a young cat, perhaps still half a kitten. I first spotted her (I’m going to refer to this cat as “she/her”) at that tree in the back of this photo. She didn’t run when I walked closer to her, but instead focused on something, which I soon saw were two squirrels. She wanted to catch them, or one of them at least. However, both squirrels dealt with the predator easily by swiftly climbing up the trees. One squirrel even–and I swear to you, it did–taunted the cat by shaking its tail and letting out shrieking noises. In fact both squirrels made this noise, and it was the first time I’ve heard squirrels making any kind of noise. And I see squirrels all the time in Heaton Park.
This one ran away as soon as I started getting closer.
Well, it’s been a while–and a long one at that–since I took part in a challenge on Some Photoblog!
Almost exactly two years ago, I posted an entry Home, hence the number 2 in today’s title. I had in my mind an idea of the comfort and cosiness of home, the warmth and blankets and cups of hot coffee or tea, the snug leisure wear, that sort of thing. As the days shorten and weather gets colder (in the Northern Hemisphere, of course!), this is appreciated even more.
I also made “home” a tag on my blog, although it only features a few posts so far.
Hercule Poirot, one of my favourite fictional characters ever, liked being at home–he was definitely not an outdoors person. Quite a contrast to your traditional English country squire, fond of sports and hunting!
I’m very much like Poirot in this, though I do like to take my walks and photograph the outdoors. Staying in and watching movies or TV shows on streaming is how I spend a lot of my free time. I have three streaming services, so there’s always something good to pick. I like a lot of stuff of various genres.
My home is not only a home for me, it is also where my cat Pepper lives. She doesn’t go anywhere else–she’s an indoor cat, and no doubt she considers herself the boss around here!
There is a lot I could write about the subject of home, with regards to immigration, for example (where is home, really?) but I’ve talked about it enough and I’m tired. So, I’ll end it here.
I’ve been tidying my blog lately; by which I mean sorting out my tags, mostly, and even deleting some older posts. One of the deleted posts was titled “Animal” and I wrote it in response to the WordPress Discover Challenge. (Remember that one? Yeah. They killed that one before they killed the Weekly Photo Challenge. What was good about the Discover Challenge was that you could respond in any way you wanted, using text, photo, video, music, anything. I made four posts for this challenge before it quietly disappeared, all of which I have now deleted.) It was a good post, though, so I decided to repost what I wrote, with better pictures. If you’ve visited my blog before, and even from the title of this entry, you can guess that the animal in question was a cat.
My cat is called Pepper and, as you can see, she is black. Black cats are not popular, they struggle most with being rehomed from shelters, whether it’s due to prejudice or the fact that people think they won’t look good on Instagram–both stupid reasons. And that’s why I like them. Someone has to stick up for the unloved, forgotten creatures.
I’ve learned a lot from Pepper. Without her I wouldn’t have known how magnificent cats are. And most of all, I would never have discovered that I was a cat person. I would have lived my life without this knowledge. She made me know myself better.
That’s her resting her head on the book I was reading. It’s The Hollow* by Agatha Christie (actually it’s a volume of four novels, also including Three Act Tragedy, Sad Cypress, and Evil Under The Sun), featured in my post about Yggdrasil tree.
People joke about cats wanting to take over the world, but I disagree. They already rule the world. They do what they want and we love them and feed them. Why would they bother? Also, they’re quite lazy. Ruling the world would be just too much work.
Here’s some good quotes about cats:
I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.
Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
Robert A Heinlein
If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.
Cats are far wiser than we; their language is silence.
What greater gift than the love of a cat.
Dickens got it right. There’s nothing better than a love of a cat.
And finally, let me throw in some Star Trek.
And creative beings too, I’d argue.
*I feel I have to mention this, The Hollow contains some bad antisemitism, so just content warning about that. The book wasn’t fresh in my mind when I did the Yggdrasil post, and only on the recent re-read I noticed how bad it really was. Although *** spoilers, I guess *** the Jewish character is not the victim or the culprit. It’s just a minor character, Midge’s boss, but she’s badly stereotyped.
My cat is very unbothered by *points at everything in the world*. What matters to her is what has always mattered to her: that she gets fed and finds a comfy place to chill out. This sometimes means she steals my spot, for which I have to fight her for.
She is constant.
However, she is also constant in other ways.
Pepper came to my life seven years ago. She’s been with me while I went through all the stuff I went through, the good and the bad and the ugly; she’s never left my side. She may not be able to speak human, but she’s still a faithful companion. Better than other humans, often. She’s not the one who, for example, disbelieves me when I tell her something. She’s not the one who dismisses my trauma or handwaves my worries and fears. She doesn’t belittle me and she never laughs at me.
There is evidence that pets are good for our mental health. Of course, everyone who has a pet knows this, but it’s good to have it backed by science nevertheless.
Sign on the floor in the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester.
At the entrance to my local park where I spent so much walking this year.
Sign at the door to my launderette. It makes it very clear.
Sign on the side of Selfridges department store, a popular spot for sitting. I mean the side of the store is popular spot for sitting, not the actual store. So they put the sign there for people not to sit there.
Narrator’s voice: nevertheless, they still sat.
Sign on the Metrolink tram.
Construction site. The sign is also concealing a wheelbarrow, which was parked further up the road, after the yellow barriers in the distance. You know how I love my wheelbarrows. See what this virus is doing!
Staying at home not only helps save lives, it also gives one an opportunity to snap some neat cat pictures. My living room faces east, so gets the morning light. Light is most essential when you have a black cat, it also shrinks the pupils in her eyes, making them greener. Normally I would be at work at this time.
Here are some pics of Pepper supervising me while I’m homeworking.
Those damn birds outside.
Wearing the ribbon with a little bell from Lindt chocolate Easter bunny.