60k On The Clock

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ephemeral.”

60k

I make no apology for the quality of the image. This was taken when I was a passenger in my husband’s car, and the milometer had just done that magical thing and moved on from 59999 to 60000. Not everyone gets so excited about that moment but we did. We patted the dash and said something like “Good old Dave, 60k and still running well”. All our cars have had names. At least since I decided they should. Now that is a whole new thread….

Reading the title of the photo challenge, my mind was initially pulled towards clouds, sunsets, magical views glimpsed by chance. I then started to consider the definition:

 Lasting for a very short time

And I thought about our place on earth. We each last a very short time, relatively speaking. As I trawled through old photos, looking for a moody graveyard shot, I came across this, and I thought “Ahh, yes.”

It’s a pretty poor example of digital photography (I think that I used my then phone, the trusty HTC Radar), but it captured that moment. Actually, it didn’t. A single shot couldn’t capture the exact moment that 60k showed up. You would need two shots, before and after. Better still, a short video clip.

But why did I bother? Why were we so hung up on capturing that moment? It was meaningless. Just a number. Made less significant by the fact that we didn’t buy the car from new. So this didn’t mark 60,000 miles together. We were on our way back from a short holiday. It seemed appropriate at the time that our automotive buddy had hit the Big Six-O on a journey home. Why? I honestly have no idea.

On a related note, the break had been postponed because we had been caring for our sick cat when first planned. He wasn’t well enough to stay in a cattery, so the holiday company let us reschedule. Said cat died the following new year.  After a good innings, but relatively ephemeral existence. We are accustomed to marking significant anniversaries. Birthdays, weddings, important events in history. I understand that.

What I don’t understand is my need to sigh wistfully at about ten past six on a Sunday evening, and think about that cat.

I might raise a glass, or mug of tea, sometimes, “To our dear lost friend. Never forgotten”. The time varies, I can’t even get that right because at on the original Sunday evening, I was more consumed by the sadness of the situation to take note of the exact time of departure. Why the ritual?

I can only assume that I, like many others, do this to not forget. It’s a practice that was instilled in many of us at a young age. Remembrance Day, St George’s Day, Christmas. Each on their own set day of the year. Why should we be forced to feel grateful, patriotic or celebratory at these times? I can be paralysed with grief over the loss of the cat at the unlikeliest of moments. I can also be minded of his traits and I will smile. I won’t forget. The Sunday ritual only serves to keep the wound fresh and do I really need that?

As I write this post, it is the first Sunday of British Summer Time (yes it’s all ours folks!) The clocks have been moved forward.

What could more ephemeral than an hour taken before it has started.

I wonder at what time I should raise the glass?

MinG

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Tuppence For My Thoughts : 1998

Found in the box of coins.

Found in the box of coins.

This is a slightly late response to the Daily Post entitled Buffalo Nickel:

“Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?”

I made an eyes-closed dip into the box of coins which I keep in the den and drew the coin you see pictured above. The coin is a 1998 two pence piece, known as a “tuppence” in ye olde Englishe, is made of copper-plated steel, but is often just referred to as a copper coin.

I was slightly surprised to find something over 10 years old, but old coppers are hardy little chaps.

Anyway, back to 1998. This post has not only made me think about what we were doing, but what weren’t yet.

Home Sweet Home

We were both still in our thirties. This was the first full year that my much beloved and myself spent in the first (and only) property that we bought together. It was home and still is. We were having all the window frames replaced, although we had the original 1930s leaded lights re-fitted, and were facing up to the responsibility of a slightly larger than average sized garden. It was the garden that help sell the house.  We’re lucky to have good sized gardens to front and rear, giving privacy and space. I vividly remember us standing at the bottom of the garden looking back at the house in the previous summer. Despite a few issues with the house, we just knew it was right. Nearly 18 years on, we are still here. I think that we made the right choice.

In 1998, we hadn’t yet had the pleasure of tasty home grown produce. We’re still beginners on this front, but I’m always willing to learn.

 

On The Road

Automotively speaking, my pride and joy back then was an old Rover Mini Mayfair called Henry. Si  gave him the name when I had test driven Henry and another mini, a Mini Sprite. The Sprite was a more basic model and when we walked past the smart little Mayfair, Si said “He’s so posh. We would have to call him Henry”. Well, a car named is a car sold, so I extended my budget and the deal was done. Henry had a walnut dashboard. I bought him alloy wheels and a gear knob to match the dash. I sill have that knob somewhere.

Henry the Mini Mayfair

Henry the Mini Mayfair

Me and Henry visited local craft fairs, where I sold my hand-crafted jewellery and beads. It was no mean feat fitting two folding display boards, signs and stock into that little motor, but I did it and Henry and myself had a fun time on the road. I was sorry to sell the little chap, but he was getting a bit long in the tooth and felt rather small and slightly vulnerable on busy roads. In an old mini your body is the crumple zone. But he was great fun to drive, especially around roundabouts. Sometimes I would deliberately miss a junction just to go around one more time.

Much beloved drove  a blue BMW 328 with more grunt, but a lot less personality.

 

New Best Friend

1998 saw our first cat share our home. He was called Hughes and had a very calm personality. Hughes knew things, which he kept to himself.

The Very Thoughtful Hughes

 

We took Hughes in when a friend’s mother died and he needed a home. He was initially quite concerned about his change in abode and kept hiding, which is common for a cat facing upheaval.

On his second day with us, I had been left in charge, and settled down to watch television coverage of the Italian national football team in the World Cup in the room where Hughes  was currently hiding. Unfortunately for Hughes, just as he had mustered up enough courage to venture out from cover, the Azzuri scored. I expressed my pleasure at this by shouting “Yes!”, and Hughes scampered back into hiding, which sadly was the moment when I noticed him. Oops. Treats and soft words won his confidence and things improved between us after that!

 

Technologically Speaking

I should point out at this stage that we still have the same TV (bought in the mid to late 80s). Yes, our big fat Cathode Ray goggle box at the time of writing was displaying the Manchester City vs Barcelona game, which I was not watching, so our current cat slept undisturbed.

Talking of technology, which I wasn’t, things were quite different.Our PC  in 1998 ran Windows 95. Minesweeper was my preferred game and my mobile phone (Panasonic) was, like the TV, fat and clunky. Unlike the TV, I no longer have the phone! Our connection to the internet was on a 56k modem which made emitted a screaming binary chant (some of which I can still ‘sing’) as it formed a communication link to the outside world. There was no broadband.

In case you have never heard the sound of the modem dial up, or for those who would like a little trip down memory lane, click here.

 

That’s Entertainment

There was also no Geocaching, but the first recognised cache was only two years away. It took us another 12 years to join in…We hadn’t discovered the local network of footpaths.
Musically, amongst many others, we were listening to post-Marillion Fish and post-Fish Marillion. Much beloved prefers Fish-led Marillion but I prefer them separate. This Strange Engine was probably being played a lot, including the beautiful but haunting Estonia .

 

Physically we were both a little slimmer with less grey hair. Himself was still clean shaven and had shorter hair than me – that’s changed.  But we are still the same crazy, sarcastic, loved-up couple that we were then. Long may it last.

 

MinG

Impossible Exchanges: Reg, the Lincoln Cathedral Cat

 

IMG_0469

 

This is part of the “Impossible Exchanges” thread, an opportunity for fact to cross into fiction. And maybe back again?

 

Lincoln, UK. April 2013

Whilst on holiday in Lincolnshire a couple of years ago, Si and myself decided to combine a visit to Lincoln cathedral with a spot of geocaching.

Close to the northwest corner of the cathedral is a cache. For non-cachers, a couple of terms below need explanation: GZ means cache location and muggles are non-cachers.

If you want to know more about geocaching, try visiting this Geocaching Guide.

 

But back to the exchange….

We had been searching the GZ for longer than we would have liked, given the number of muggles in the vicinity. Si asked for the clue again and I read it out – I’m not going to give it away here, that would be breaking geocaching etiquette. He was still perplexed. We both were.

All of a sudden, he started to grin, like the idiot he isn’t (or so he tells me). Not grinning at me exactly, but at my ankles. Well, just behind my ankles to be precise. Leaving me perplexed on two counts.

Then I felt something familiar on my lower leg and looked down to see a splendid tabby and white cat rubbing itself against my jeans.

We both crouched down to say Hello, and gave the chap a tickle behind the ear. We decided it was a chap on size alone. After much purring from our new friend, with that familiar cutesy voice reserved for pets and infants, I asked,
“Do you know where the cache is old chap?”

Of course I do, but if you don’t stop talking to me like a baby I am not going to help you.

“Good Lord! A talking cat!”

Good Lord! A human who understands!

Like triumphant cachers in a city centre, we both scanned the area to see if anyone else was aware of our discovery. Then asked

“So, you can really talk?”

Oh yes, but please keep it to yourself. I don’t want to draw attention to us. Do you promise?

We both nodded. “Guide’s honour” I said.

The cat stared at Si, and you?

“I wasn’t a guide, but you have my word”

 

Another scan of the square revealed that no one was paying us any attention. Phew!

“Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your name? Do you live in the cathedral?”

You can call me Reg. Everyone else does.

Reg yawned, stretched and sauntered over to a nearby bench. We followed him, then we all sat down. Si, Reg and me.

To answer your second question, no, I do not live in the cathedral, but I like to think of it as my study. It’s a magnificent building, don’t you think?

We agreed, thinking back to when we had entered the knave earlier in the week. We were both brought to tears by the serenity to be found in such an immense space.

“You are lucky to have such a palatial study”.

Oh yes, but that’s only part of my abode. I have a comfortable bed and the promise of regular food with my keeper, but I am blessed to be able to roam around this part of the city. People adore me and I like their company, but I’ve never stopped for a proper chat until today. Thank you for catching my attention.

“Well, you caught our attention”.

Are you cat servants yourselves?

“We used to be, until last January. A particularly special old boy did us the honour of his companionship for over 10 years. Let’s just say that we are between cats”.

Reg appeared unimpressed with this terminology, BETWEEN CATS? He asked pointedly.

“Sorry, we re currently not in service“.

That’s a shame. You should put that right as soon as you can.

“You are probably right, but he was so special that it will be difficult to find the like again”.

Then don’t look for the like. We are all different. Beyond our paws and soft snouts there are different personalities. And I’m not probably right, but definitely. By the way, do you have any treats on you?

We shook our heads.

Shame, next time visit the cheese shop in St Martin’s Lane. Splendid place. Not that they would welcome me, but should you be passing this way again I would welcome a little piece of their wares.

“We’ll bear that in mind”

See that you do. There are several good food shops around the Cathedral quarter and not far beyond. You should take you time to explore this area. Beautiful buildings. Copious amounts of history.

There was a slightly awkward pause, then Reg cocked his head to one side and gave us a long hard stare.

You are probably wondering how it is I came to be able to talk. What you should really ask yourself is how you are able to hear me.

Then he nodded towards where the cache was hidden and winked at us. Not a two eyed cat blink but a very deliberate left eyed wink. I’d never seen a cat do that before and to be honest, I found it quite disconcerting.

And with that, he jumped down from the bench, and chased after a leaf caught on the April breeze.

 

MinG

  • Reg can be seen on Google Street view here.