Gardening – and Cats

There are times when writing is a sheer dream. Other times, of course, it isn’t.

Today I set out with the best of intentions. I managed to subdue the work displacement activities that immediately sprang to mind, and got on with work. Off, first thing, with the dog to keep her quiet while I worked, and then back home to see … that the house next door has a severe case of gardeners.

Now I can understand the joys of gardening. I’ve been trying to get into my own vegetable patch at regular intervals. In fact, I’ll be out there again later today, mainly with a view to spreading Agent Orange on all those places where some green is actually showing (and shouldn’t be). My garden is a haven. Mostly for birds, shrews, mice, voles, and cats.


I rather like cats. I always have. They are delightful little furry creatures, when they aren’t crazed, vicious monsters with nails like razors. We used to have a cat: Wallis. He was gorgeous. We moved him from the city into the country when he was ten years old or so, and he was freaked out by the – well, the space, I guess. His proudest moment was trying to bring a buck rabbit almost his own size in through his cat flap.

Sadly, he died a while after that. A feral cat arrived in the area. Over several evenings, it entered our cat door, beat up Wallis and ate his food. We didn’t realise what was happening, until one day it attacked poor old Wallis and left him to die in our garden. A few nights later it got into our neighbour’s house and almost killed his one-year-old kitten, going for my neighbour when he tried to get it away. In the end, after taking police advice, we had to shoot the thing.

Still, I prefer to remember Wallis rather than the feral brute.

But, and it’s a big but, I do dislike intensely all those other cats in the neighbourhood that like to use other people’s gardens as toilets. There is one that gets into my garden every night and does what cats do in a neighbour’s vegetable patch. When my daughter was very young, she was keen on learning about plants and gardening, right up to the moment she was playing in the soil I’d dug over the day before, and found something she shouldn’t have. That rather put her off.

A while after that, I built a play area for the children. It was great, with a massive climbing frame, a safe wall all around, and thick layer of rubber from shredded car tyres in case they fell.

Within a couple of days, the rubber was infested with little catty lumps.

The cure for cats in the vegetable garden?

The cure for cats in the vegetable garden?

I am always hearing people complain about dogs defecating in the street. Yes, dogs do so occasionally, and yes, some

owners don’t clear up after them. However, cat owners never come and tidy my garden after their blasted pets. So, generally, I get grumpy in the extreme about cats – and especially cat owners complaining about dogs. I loved Wallis, but I detest other people’s cats in my garden.

Perhaps it’s time cats were licensed. There are too many for the good of small animals and birds, apart from anything else. And when it comes to hygiene …

Anyway, so I can understand the need for gardening. However, when I’m trying to work, the sound of chainsaws, power hedge-cutters, ploughs and other powertools of various sizes and loudness, is not conducive to work.

Dogs Good. Cats ...

Dogs Good. Cats …

That being the case, I got back to work displacement activities with a vengeance.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about getting a new phone. This old HTC has done valiant service over the years, but it’s a bit past it now after 24 months. I could keep it on a reduced contract, but something a little newer appeals. So I’ve spent a good hour on the phone to save myself spending too much. However, the two phones I want, the HTC One (beautiful) and the Sony Xperia Z (waterproof – look, I live in Dartmoor, OK?) are just a little out of my league. The money is too much for me to justify. So I’ve gone for the slightly lower-specced Xperia SP. Hopefully it’ll do at least as much as the old phone, but the battery will last a damn sight better!

For the last week I’ve been working hard on ideas for the Medieval Murderers book – the tenth anniversary edition. It’s not been too easy (which is true for all short stories and novellas, in my experience), but it’s finally coming together today. I’m beginning to see how the story might develop.

At the same time, I’m mulling over book two in my Hundred Years War series. I have two possible kick-off points, and just now I’m not certain which way to jump with them. It’s a source of mild irritation to me, but I’ll get over it. I think what I may have to do is write an initial beginning around half-way through the story, and see where it goes from there.

Meanwhile I have a set of talks to give. From a delightful after-dinner to editors (I’ll be cautious with that one), to an evening on 6th November with Tom Vowler with the Plymouth Book Festival. They’ve just picked my latest, TEMPLAR’S ACRE, as their book of the month, so I like these guys a great deal! I’ve had confirmation that I’ve a stand at the Chagford Show this year, which is the third Thursday in August, and at the Dartmoor Folk Festival, which will be the weekend before. Both will be great fun – although I think there’ll be more beer at the Dartmoor show!

One of the key joys of Morris Dancing!

One of the key joys of Morris Dancing!

And now I’m getting myself ready to go up to London on Thursday. A full day of wandering the streets and trying to sign copies of my books in all the Waterstone’s I can find, ending up in the wonderful Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court. If you’re in London on Thursday, I’ll hope to see you there!

2 Responses to “Gardening – and Cats”
  1. I’m with you on the cats issue – my nephew who once worked in a zoo said lion poo was the thing to keep them away but it makes me wonder if the cure is as bad as (or very nearly) disease. Good luck with the book signings.


  2. knotrune says:

    I keep my cat in, primarily for her own safety. I find dog poo more of a problem, too many people fail to remove it from paths round here. Or if they do bag it, they leave it in a nearby tree or bush – why???


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