Thoughtful Mondays: Lost Things

I think I shall do a little ‘thought of the week’ segment to start the flow of writing… So here is the first entry for ‘Thoughtful Mondays’.

Lost things are always a puzzle in my house. 3 years ago, I went on a trip to America and bought a rather lovely winter hat in a store there. I came home and it had vanished. After turning my room upside down, I was convinced that I’d left it in the hotel. Three years of room cleaning and renovation later, I opened the cupboard that I’d taken apart several times since that trip and found a drawer just would not close properly. So, I pulled out the drawer and there was my winter hat. Behind drawers that I’d pulled out and put back in at least half a dozen times. So, where did it go? I’m sure there’s some sort of mysterious vortex in modern houses, where the lost things fall for an undetermined bit of time before a mysterious being pulls it out and goes ‘oh, whoops, that should be over there’ and puts it back. Sort of but not actually like Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere but with winter hats instead of people.

Yet, it seems that this thing of being ‘lost’ has started to happen to animals. Out of nowhere appeared this gorgeous ragdoll cat.

Cat! It’s incredibly unusual because we live on an acreage and I’ve never seen a cat here in the past 15 years, save for the one who lived in the shed we kept the horse feed in. She’s been hanging around for a few days, rubbing herself on and purring at anyone who goes outside, and seemed to show no signs of leaving our front garden (or leaving a flower uneaten). She seems to particularly love rubbing herself on my legs. As lovely as that is, I didn’t expect to find out this late that I have cat allergies. Concerned that she was incredibly thin, I started asking around if people knew her. Yet, when I go out this morning to look for her before putting the usual ‘Lost a cat?’ in people’s letter boxes, she’s gone. I hope that she’s reappeared at someone’s back doorstep, where they’ll affectionately call ‘Crystal! Snowball!’ or whatever you call a white cat these days, and they’ll bring her back inside and feed her until she’s healthy again. For a few days, my house must have been that hole where lost cats appear. Or choose to go, if she was simply wandering.

Hopefully this vortex effect won’t extend to people. But for now, I shall keep an eye out for that mysterious cat and hope that she found her way home.

What have you lost or found recently? 


Review: The Salmon of Doubt

I don’t want to finish this book.

I really don’t.

If I finish this book that means I’ll have finished the last work of Douglas Adams. And since it is technically ‘unfinished’, that means I’ll actually need to acknowledge that he’s gone. Dead. Breathed his last. Snuffed it.

Have you read anything by Douglas Adams? If you were born in the last fifty years and are a fan of British comedy, I’ll assume you’ve come across The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Maybe you’ve even read about his detective Dirk Gently. Or his work of non-fiction, Last Chance to See, where he travelled to see almost extinct animals, like a very rare lemur in Madagascar and the Komodo dragon. If you haven’t, I must insist you do. If you don’t like British comedy? You may want to back away slowly. I’m sure there are many other book reviews you would find more pleasurable and I must insist you find one. Now, back to the book.

Adams’ friend and fan, Stephen Fry, introduces The Salmon of Doubt. It is a posthumous collection of things taken from his Macbook after he died (urgh, that hurts to say). The Salmon of Doubt includes articles from the late eighties and nineties about technology, book introductions, speeches and works that have never been published before. It is packed with Adams’ quirky sense of humour and contains plenty of the self-deprecating jokes common to British comic writers. Classic Adamisms include his section for children, where he explains how to tell the difference between things. Since I can’t actually for you to slowly wander to this section in the book, please continue to read it here!

You will need to know the difference between Friday and a fried egg. It’s quite a simple difference, but an important one. Friday comes at the end of the week, whereas a fried egg comes out of a hen. Like most things, of course, it isn’t quite that simple. The fried egg isn’t properly a fried egg until it’s been put in a frying pan and fried. This is something you wouldn’t do to a Friday, of course, though you might do it on a Friday. You can also fry eggs on a Thursday, if you like, or on a cooker. It’s all rather complicated, but it makes a kind of sense if you think about it for a while.

The second half of the book is the first half (or is it… technically if the first half follows the second half, I must be making a mistake somewhere) of Adams’ uncompleted novel The Salmon of Doubt. Dirk Gently is on the trail of half a cat and a mysteriously easy-to-track actor. It’s probably fantastic. But if I read it – that means I have to acknowledge that it is unfinished. Which means the story of Douglas Adams, the writer, the environmentalist, the radical atheist, and all around brilliant person, is finished. So, I haven’t read it yet. I will, I promise. But first, I must read the rest of the Dirk Gently series. Then I shall read it.

Anyway, you may ask who is this book for? If it’s not even finished, what’s the point? Unquestionably, The Salmon of Doubt is for the fans of Douglas Adams. Since I am undoubtedly that, I recommend this book wholeheartedly to other fans. If you want a few more Adamisms before you have to acknowledge (again!) that the man is gone, you can even divide this book up into each section and chapter. It truly is a delight to read. I found myself laughing in strange places and insisting the stranger sitting next to me or the friend I’m having lunch with read just this one paragraph.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go read another section as I edge slowly towards finishing this book.

But I really don’t want to.

Rating: 4.5/5 (It would have a 5 but I haven’t finished it yet and that’s not totally honest of me.)

News: It’s Done! & The Room Outside The Universe

Dining with Death

It’s complete! It’s done! I sit here with a bound copy of my thesis, ‘Dining with Death: An Exploration of Food Culture During the Long Black Death (1348-1771)’.

It is a very strange feeling to have this project completed so soon. I’m not sure why it feels soon… probably the rushing around for two days frantically making sure my citations are all correct, that there aren’t any typos, and god forbid that I accidentally screw up the formatting while trying to print it. Leaving aside all that stress… It’s done!!

When I’m a bit less sleep deprived and a bit more ‘haha, motivated‘, I shall make sure to write a post on what my thesis was actually about. But for now, I shall get ready to submit. Breakfast of champions… Coffee and Douglas Adam’s The Salmon of Doubt.

The Room Outside the Universe

In other news, this morning my short story ‘The Room Outside the Universe‘ was published by Mildred! I’m extremely grateful that they love science fiction! If you have any stories you’ve been hiding away for fear they’re not good enough, respond to magazines requesting them. You never know!